Monday, July 21, 2014

Stories from Bovina Cemeteries - The Stott Family

Walter Stott was the son of Walter Stott and Jennet Ormiston, born in Scotland in 1800. His future wife Mary Neish was the daughter of Alexander Neish and Jennette Drummond, also a native of Scotland, born in 1821. They were married in 1841 and would have nine children but most of these did not make it to adulthood. When Walter died, two children survived, and by the time of his widow’s death at the age of 90, only one child survived her.

The first Robert, died 1846
Alexander died in 1847
The Stotts lost two children in the 1840s. Robert died in 1846 just after turning a year old. His brother Alexander died a year later when he was 27 months old. Walter and Mary would lose five more children during the 1860s. They lost three children in a week in 1861. Their second son named Robert died on March 30, 1861 when he was 10. Brothers James and Samuel died within the week, James being three and Samuel just past one. These deaths took place just as the United States Civil War started (see this blog for April 12, 2011 for more information about this time in Bovina).

The second Robert died March 30, 1861

James died April 2, 1861

Samuel died April 5, 1861

At the start of the war, the Walter and Mary still had their eldest son, William Henry, as well as sons Walter and John. Their last child and only daughter, Elizabeth, was born in 1863. In August 1861, William would enlist in Company F of the 3rd NY Cavalry. On May 14, 1864, during the battle of Chala Bridge, William was killed in action and his body was never recovered. The grieving parents erected this monument to their son in the Bovina Cemetery.

Memorial stone for William H. Stott, who was killed in action in the Civil War in 1864

Less than two years later, Walter and Mary faced yet another sorrow in the loss of their 11 year old son, John in 1866.

Amazingly, given the string of sorrows that Walter and Mary suffered, they both lived into old age. They had moved to Hamden by 1870. Walter was 72 at his death in 1872, survived by his son Walter and daughter Elizabeth. Mary survived her husband by almost 40 years, dying in 1911 at the age of 90. Poor Mary also would outlive her daughter. Elizabeth was married in 1891 to William McPherson but died 9 years later in 1900, after having three children. Mary was survived only by her son Walter, who was living in Kansas, and three grandchildren.


An interesting footnote to this story about the Stott family concerns the last surviving child. Walter Elliott Stott was living in Hamden when his father died. About a year after his father’s death he was appointed the Delancey postmaster. In April 1874, he renounced his appointment as executor of his father’s will and at around the same time had resigned as Delancey postmaster. The cause of these resignations was his arrest in late March for using forged notes to buy out his partner. When his case opened in June 1874 he pled not guilty but about ten days later, he changed his plea to guilty and was sentenced to two years hard labor at Auburn prison. He was back in the Delhi jail before the end of his sentence in February 1876 to answer another forgery charge, but he never went to trial. In early morning hours of April 3 he escaped from the jail, with the help of someone who got into the jail and opened the cell where Stott and another prisoner, Coonrad Marble were housed. Whether that person was trying to release Stott or Marble or both has not been determined. Marble was recaptured in May, but Stott disappeared.

When Mary Stott’s will was probated after her 1911 death, we find that Walter is still alive, listed in her estate file. He is no longer in New York, however, and has changed his name. Walter is listed in his mother’s probate record as her son, Walter Elliott, living in Belleville, Kansas. A search of various census records does turn up a Walter Elliott living in Kansas, starting with the 1880 census. The information provided in the census about him closely matches the Walter Stott who escaped from the Delhi jail, including his age and the fact that his parents were Scottish born and he was born in New York. The 1910 Federal census provides the most solid clue because a Walter Elliott shows up in the census in Belleville, Kansas. This Walter very likely is the one listed in Mary Stott’s will as her son and is the Walter Stott who left the area in 1876.

Walter did some moving around during his time west, starting Logan County, Kansas. Around 1885, he married a woman from Missouri named Malvina. They had three children, two daughters and a son, all born in Kansas. It appears the son died young. In 1892, Walter was appointed the postmaster of Oakley, Logan County, Kansas. It is not clear how long he held the appointment – the record is hard to read – but it appears it was not much more than a year. In 1900, Walter and Malvina are living in Phelps County, Missouri, where Walter is a farmer and Malvina a teacher, but by 1910, as noted before, they are back in Kansas in Belleville in Republic County. Walter’s occupation that year is listed as agent for sewing machines. The couple shows up in Concordia in Cloud County, Kansas (which borders south of Republic County) in 1920, the last time Walter shows up on the census. He has no occupation but his wife, who was 59, is listed as a milliner. When Walter or Malvina died I have yet to find out.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

July 1914 - 100 Years Ago in "That Thriving Town"

From the Andes Recorder

Rev. J. B. Lee died on July 8, after an illness of a few months. The funeral was largely attended and the status of Lee’s widow was reported by the Bovina correspondent in the weeks that followed. It was a month of accidents – Mrs. Doig was in a buggy accident and Andrew Coulter’s car went over a bank in Bovina Center.

The Andes Recorder also reported on an assassination in Europe that led to the start of World War I.

July 3, 1914
The old hotel building at Lake Delaware is being re-painted
A child of George Foreman is recovering from a severe attack of pneumonia.
Mrs. Mary Phinney, widow of Dr. Phinney a former physician here, is a visitor in town.
The condition of Mrs. Jas Monroe, who recently had a shock, is considerably improved. [Margaret Storie Coulter Monroe did not recover and died on July 28, aged only 47. She was the grandmother of Frances Burns and Lauren Monroe.]
The Methodist congregation has graded along the front of the church and parsonage and laid a sidewalk.
Alex Hilson and John Hilson were at Delhi on Tuesday attending the meeting of the feed dealers association.
Mr. and Mrs. Fred Thomson, Mrs. Estella Oliver and Mrs. Harry Martin attended the Dumond reunion held at Walton last Friday.
Professor Leon Taggart, of Potsdam Normal, and family are spending the summer with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Thos C. Strangeway.
The Reformed Presbyterian congregation has extended a call to Rev. Graham. The call was moderated by Rev. Sampson, of New York.

Gerry Camp For Boys Opened - Eighty-two Boys Arrived Wednesday at Camp Maintained by R.L. Gerry
The Boys Camp maintained by Robert L. Gerry on the Wight farm in southern Bovina, opened Wednesday and will remain open for two months.
Wednesday evening 82 boys arrived at Andes and were conveyed to the Camp. They will remain for two weeks and then a new group will take their place. Any whose health may require it will remain more than the two weeks.
The Camp Officers are: Governor James L. Whitcomb; Captains Donald H. Morse, Gregory Prout and Linn Bruce, jr.  The chaplain is the Rev. Phoenix.

Heir to Throne Assassinated
The heir to the Austro Hungarian throne, Archduke Francis Ferdnand and his morganatic wife, the Duchess Hohenberg, were shot to death Sunday while driving through the streets of Sarayevo, the Bosnia capital.  A youthful student fired the shot that ended their lives, and added another to the long list of terrible tragedies that have darkened the reign of Emperor Francis Joseph.

July 10, 1914
During June there was not birth, marriage or death in the town of Bovina.
Brundage Erkson, who is unable to work, recently applied for admission to the County Alms House and is now at that place.

July 17, 1914
County Superintendent of the Poor, Jas F. Foreman, was here Wednesday.
Professor and Mrs. Archie Coulter, of Belleville, N.Y., are guests of his mother in town.
Mrs. Thomas Scott, of Staten Island is visiting her brother, Thos Ormiston, and other relatives in town.
Brundage Erkson, who has been at the County Farm for a few weeks, returned to Bovina on Tuesday.
Mrs. Mary Phinney has sold her house and lot in Bovina Center to Dixon Thomson, a farmer residing up Pink street. (This property is the Virga home next to the Brushland Eating House - 1915 County Highway 6 - 42.2623°N 74.7842°W)
Mrs. William Rogers and daughter, Mrs. John L. Gordon and two sons, of New York, are at their summer home at Lake Delaware.
It is stated that the widow of the late Dr. Lee will return to her old home in Scotland as soon as she can settle up business affairs here.
Miss Jennie Hoy, who for several months has been keeping house for her brother, Milton Hoy, at Oil City, Penn, is here on a visit.  Two nephews, John R. and Nevin Hoy came with her.
Rev. Joseph Dysart, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, preached in the United Presbyterian church on Sabbath.  Rev. Dysart is a native of Bovina and made the trip of one thousand miles to be present at the funeral of Dr. Lee. He is stopping with William T. .Russell, who resides on the old Dysart farm.

July 24, 1914
Milton Liddle and Sloan Archibald are under the doctor’s care.
Mrs. Edna Henderson, daughter of D.C. Worden, has gone to Colorado.
Center creamery 34 cents/pound butterfat.  Uptown 35 cents
Robert Gray, of Delhi, who has the contract to construct the reservoir on Coulter Brook for the Bovina Center Water Works, commenced work on Tuesday, with a force of about a dozen men.

Bovina Woman Breaks Both Legs - Mrs. Robert Doig at Tunis Lake Meets With Bad Accident Thursday
Mrs. Robert Doig is confined to her home on the shore of Tunis Lake, in the town of Bovina with both legs broken below the knee.
Last Thursday afternoon Mrs. Doig with two small daughters and son Wilber, a lad of 12, started to come to Andes village. One horse was attached to a two-seated buckboard and Wilber was driving.  When about 30 rods from the house Mrs. Doig asked the boy to give her the umbrella which was in the front seat as he did so the top end of the handle hit against the spokes of the wheel making a clicking noise and this caused the horse to jump. Mrs. Doig was frightened and without waiting to see whether or not the horse was going to run, she jumped.  Just how it happened is now known, but when she was picked up it was found that both legs were broken.
Dr. Whitcomb of Bovina, and Dr. Ormiston, of Delhi, were called, and Dr. Mendal also accompanied the later.  It was found that one leg had both bones broken below the knee, and in the other the large bone was broken just above the ankle.  Miss Beatrice Forbes is the nurse in charge.

July 31, 1914
There are a few cases of measles in town.
The work of putting in the concrete for the reservoir for the water works was commenced Tuesday.
The young team of Mable and Gill, the Andes meat men, took a lively run about William Crosier’s flat at the rear of the hotel, on a recent trip here.
William H. Maynard, County Clerk, has purchased six thoroughbred Holstein calves, of E.E. Risley, of Walton, and put them on his farm in upper Bovina.  The price paid was about $1,000.
Mrs. J.B. Lee held a sale of her household goods Thursday. Saturday she will accompany Mrs. Jennie Lee Thompson to her home in Yonkers and sometime in August will sail for her old home in Scotland. [Mrs. Elizabeth Campbell Lee was the widow of Rev. J. B. Lee, who had passed away earlier in the month. She was Lee’s second wife – they had met in Scotland when Lee was vacationing there. Elizabeth passed away in Comrie, Scotland in March 1921.]

Auto Over The Bank in Bovina - Car of Andrew Coulter Takes Plunge on Sabbath and Turns Turtle
Sabbath afternoon the automobile of Andrew Coulter swept over the steep bank near the residence of Alex Myers* in Bovina Center and Mr. Coulter was caught beneath the car.
The car which was driven by Mr. Coulter, and with Tony Gabriel was a passenger, came down the street at a good clip and when at the top of the pitch opposite Lancelot Thom’s at the Chas F. Smith place, the car turned to the left and when it struck the shoulder at the die of the road the rear end went up in the air and remained upright for an instant with wheels spinning and then went over down the bank and turned over again and turned end for end and was stopped in its mad flight by landing right side up against a tree.
As the car left the road Mr. Gabriel jumped and landed on his feet, but was hurled in a complete summersault and again landed on his feet and was only prevented making another by grabbing a small tree or he would have landed at the bottom of the embankment. He escaped with bruises and cuts about the knees. Mr. Coulter was thrown from the car when it made the plunge and when the car landed he was beneath it.  That he escaped serious injury is due to the fact that he landed between the wheels.  He is able to be around but is very sore.

*42.2619°N 74.7875°W

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Succession of Physicians - Bovina Doctors – Part II

Before looking at Bovina physicians in the latter 19th and early 20th centuries, there is the story of the Drs. McCune, a married couple who offered the "Fish Lake Water Cure" in the early 1860s. Dr. William S. McCune would not have a long career, dying at the age of 36. Born in Bovina in 1829, he was the son of James McCune and Phoebe Ann Nichols. He was married to Olive Frisbee, the daughter of Daniel Frisbee and Elizabeth Lee. Olive has the distinction of being one of the first female doctors in the area. In the late 1850s, William and Olive were living in what is now the Lake Delaware area of Bovina and advertising their water cure. Water cures or hydrotherapy was popular in the 18th and 19th century, with its origins in Europe. (For more information, here's the wikipedia article on water cures:

From July 1863 ‘The Herald of Health’
Dr. William McCune died in East Delhi in 1865. Dr. Olive McCune continued in the medical profession, living at one point in the 1880s in Brooklyn with her daughter and son. She died in Binghamton in 1907 at the age of 78.

It is not clear whether either Drs. McCune provided regular medical services in Bovina. When Dr. Calhoun, who had been a doctor in Bovina for over 20 years, left in 1864 to become Delaware County Sheriff, one doctor who came in to fill the void was Charles Frisbee. Munsell's History of Delaware County noted that he “was a prominent doctor here quite recently, and occupied the present Methodist Episcopal parsonage.”  Frisbee was born in Meredith in 1838. He was an assistant surgeon during the Civil War. When he left service at the war’s end, he came to Bovina and was a physician there from 1865 to 1871, when he moved to Bainbridge. Dr. Frisbee gave up the practice of medicine, instead engaging in running a drug store in Bainbridge until 1901 when he retired. He was 88 at his death in 1926 in Binghamton.

Dr. William Telford practiced in Bovina from around 1871 to his death in 1884, the son of the Dr. John Telford mentioned in the previous blog entry on Bovina physicians. He studied with his father, then entered the College of Physicians and Surgeons of the City of New York, graduating in 1871. William married Agnes Hastings in 1880 and died four years later from blood poisoning, caused by being bitten by a hog. He left his widow and three children as survivors. His son died a year later in the town’s diphtheria epidemic. His daughter Wilma, born after his death, died of TB in 1892. Agnes survived her husband by 61 years, dying in 1945.

Gilbert Dickson was a Bovina native, the son of Michael Dickson. Born in 1854, he attended the Albany Medical College of Union University, graduating in 1879. While serving as a physician, he built the building that is now Brushland Eating House in 1880, running a store and a pharmacy. He and his brother James also had a drug store in Oneonta under the name of Dickson Brothers. Dickson died suddenly of a stroke in January 1912, while tending to chores in his barn. He was survived by his wife, the former Jane Laughren and their five children. Jane and the children continued to run the store and at one point the post office in the building he built in the 1880s.

Active around the same time as Dr. Dickson was Leman Phinney. Phinney came from Greene County, NY specifically to succeed Dr. Telford. He graduated in 1879 from the New York Medical University. Like at least two of his predecessors, his practice was cut short by his early death at the age of 51 in 1901. He left a widow and two children. His mother died on the same day as he did. Dr. Phinney is buried in the Bovina Cemetery. His widow died in Sandpoint, Idaho in 1927. She is buried with her husband in Bovina.

Monday, June 30, 2014

This Day in Bovina for June

Eighty five years ago today, on June 1, 1929, the "old horse of T.C. Strangeway fell down on Saturday in the plowed land when at work and could not be gotten up." The Delaware Republican, in reporting the incident, did not elaborate further, but it likely was the poor horse's end.

Ninety two years ago, on June 2, 1922, the home talent play "Old Fashioned Mother" was held and, as later noted in the Andes Recorder, "well attended." The library made $78. The play was repeated the next evening but the attendance was small.

116 years ago today, the June 3, 1898 issue of the Andes Recorder reported that in Bovina, "While the usual Memorial Day exercises were not observed here this year, the graves of the fallen heroes were marked with the flag they loved so well and strewed with the sweet flowers of nature."

Ninety one years ago today, on June 4, 1923, Alice Jane Boggs died. The daughter of John Russell (1822-1902) and Jane Chisholm (1815-1886), she married William F. Boggs in February 1871 and had two sons, Harry and J. Russell. She was the grandmother of Don, Bob and Norrie Boggs.

118 years ago, the Andes Recorder reported in its Bovina column for June 5, 1896 that "Telephones will be put in by T.E. Hastings and A.T. Strangeway, in their residences." Hastings and Strangeway were both merchants in town at that time. In the same column and in another telephone related report, " Perhaps there is no other town in the county that has much more telephone line than has Bovina.  Now there talk is of running a line up Coulter Brook to New Kingston, and another line up Pink street and connect with Almeda [South Kortright]."

114 years ago today, on June 6, 1900, the Andes Recorder Bovina correspondent reported that "...Bert McNair completed a successful year of school in the Butt End district." The paper went on to report that that McNair and the district had "one of the most successful schools in town the past year…" The paper noted that "The attendance was thirteen and of this number Elmer Russell and Orlena Russell passed spelling, geography, grammar, arithmetic, reading and writing and physiology at the Regents examinations at Andes High School in January, earning their preliminary certificate and physiology besides in the one examination.  In the January and March examinations Libbie Hastings and Charles Hastings also earned their preliminary certificate and physiology in addition.  Maggie Liddle passed spelling and geography, and Willie Hastings and Herman Russell passed spelling and physiology.  Where is the school that can beat it."

Seventy years ago today, on June 7 1944, Carl 'Art' Reinertsen, son of Andrew and Sophie Reinertsen, was killed in action in France during the Normandy invasion. Art was born in Bovina in 1919 and was 25 years old at his death. He was survived by his parents and eight siblings, including two other brothers who were in service, Robert and Sigurd.

Eighty six years ago today, the June 8, 1908 issue of the Andes Recorder reported in its Bovina column that "Miss Eleanor Campbell has completed a business course and taken a position in the Sheffield Farms office at Hobart." Eleanor was the daughter of John Campbell and Nancy Smith. She married Leroy Worden in 1930 and they settled in Bovina. They were my next door neighbors when I was a kid. Eleanor died in 1979, Leroy in 1982.

113 years ago today, on June 9, 1901, Robert Gerry "had a narrow escape from injury." Gerry was driving his dog cart out of his Lake Delaware property onto the highway when the hub of the cart "was struck by an automobile running at high rate of speed…" The cart overturned and threw Mr. Gerry out. He injured his shoulder and the footman with him had a badly bruised leg.

122 years ago today, in it's June 10, 1892 issue, the Andes Recorder published the following from the Bovina Center correspondent to the Walton Standard: "It is our object to report what has happened, but we do wish that we could report that our mail route had been changed so that Robert Forman would go to Bloomville instead of Lake Delaware. We would get our New York mail one day earlier, and our letters going west would go somewhere the same day. If our three ministers would move in the matter they could have it changed, and would not have to send or go to 'The Valley' after their mail every night. It would be better other ways. Mr. Forman would get more passengers, and during the summer would have a large amount of fruit and other express matter to carry.  Let us move in the matter, for we are afraid it will be some time before we have that 'electric railroad.'"

Ninety four years ago today, the June 11, 1920 Bovina column in the Andes Recorder reported that "A Buick touring car from South Kortright collided with the iron bridge at Lake Delaware, and was saved from falling into the stream by one wheel being caught in the bridge."

118 years ago, the Bovina correspondent reported in the June 12, 1896 Andes Recorder that "The bills announcing the re-union of the Delaware and Otsego veterans have been posted.  A number of the old veterans will attend, and again meet old comrades and clasp their hands once more.  These Reunions will soon be a thing of the past and all should go and enjoy them while they can."

118 years ago today, on the afternoon of Saturday, June 13, 1896, as later reported in the Andes Recorder, "John Irvine’s eldest boy was drawing the lawn mower around wrong side up and the youngest boy, who is about three years old, stuck his hand into it and it took off the two middle fingers at the first joint.  The pieces were found among the grass, and Dr. Phinney stuck them on, but they had been off to long for there to be much chance of their ever growing on."  The eldest Irvine son was William (1887-1929), the youngest was Lloyd Irvine (1897-1980), who was Isabelle Russell's twin brother.

116 years ago today, June 14, 1898, as later reported in the Andes Recorder, "A..J. Akerley was seen driving in town with a young lady Tuesday evening."

Seventy six years ago today, on June 15, 1938, as later reported in the Andes Recorder, "Marjorie Russell, a student at Muskingum college at New Concord, Ohio, arrived home ... for the summer."

Seventy six years ago today, June 16, 1938, as later reported in the Andes Recorder, "Herbert Parsons, little son of Mrs. and Mrs. William Parsons broke his arm….by falling from an old truck."

Ninety three years ago, the June 17, 1921 Andes Recorder reported that "Nelson Reynolds is making alterations in the interior of the United Presbyterian church." The paper went on to note that "the first row of seats has been removed and the pulpit extended forward in order to give more room for the choir behind the pulpit."

Seventy seven years ago, the June 18, 1937 Bovina column in the Andes Recorder reported that "The state road from its junction with the Andes-Delhi state road through Bovina Center, has been resurfaced this week."

118 years ago today, the June 19, 1896 Andes Recorder had the following item its Bovina column: "Bovina young men ought to petition farmers who have hired girls to keep good tempered dogs or shut them up at night.  One night not long since a certain man heard a terrible holloing, and on investigation found a young man up a tree and a dog keeping close watch.  On being asked what he wanted, replied in a trembling voice, that he wanted to see the hired girl, then under his breath 'I will kill that man eater as sure as my name is O.K.'"

116 years ago on June 20, 1898, as later reported in the Andes Recorder, "John Blair bought over forty hogs…"

115 years ago today, the June 21, 1899 Andes Recorder reported in the Bovina column that "Alex. Burns returned home last Wednesday from Potsdam St. Lawrence county, where he purchased a thorough bred Jersey bull calf, from the herd of George W. Cisson, Jr."

120 years ago today, the June 22, 1894 issue of the Andes Recorder noted in its Bovina column that "Bovina has six graduates at Delaware Academy this week."

120 years ago today, on June 23, 1894, Dick Johnson was badly injured in an accident at a saw mill, likely the Johnson family mill. As later reported in the Andes Recorder, "he was running the saw in the mill and a stick flew from the saw and struck him on the side of the head, cutting his face and mouth quite badly.  He was unconscious for some time, but it is thought he will recover." How this Johnson was related to the Johnson family is not clear.

116 years ago,  the June 24, 1898 Andes Recorder Bovina column had the following item: " Who of your readers has ever tasted oranges grown in Delaware county?  From her orange tree Mrs. G.D. Miller has plucked ripe fruit.  Your correspondent tasted one and they are of good flavor." Mrs. G.D. Miller was the wife of Gilbert D. Miller. She was Mary Jane Banker and married 'Gib' in 1869. Mary died in 1924.

Eighty one years ago today, on June 25, 1933, Margaret Russell, the mother of long time Bovina merchant Cecil Russell, passed away. Borin in 1862, she was the daughter of Patrick Doig and Sarah Hodge. She married Robert Hamilton Russell in 1884, who had been widowed in 1881. Margaret was widowed in 1921.

120 years ago today, on June 26, 1894, as later reported in the Andes Recorder, "a private hop was held in James Hastings new barn…"

120 years ago today on June 27, 1894, as later reported by the Andes Recorder, "[t]he cyclorama of the battle of Gettysburg was given here on Wednesday night [June 27]."  Cycloramas were popular in the late 19th century.  There were four very large versions of the Battle of Gettysburg painted by French artist Paul Philippoteaux (one is at the Gettysburg National Military Park).  Given the size of the cyclorama, 22 feet high by 279 feet in circumference, it doesn't seem likely that the one shown in Bovina was this one, especially for just one night. Some of these cycloramas are believed to have traveled, however, so who knows?

119 years ago today, in the June 28, 1895 issue of the Andes Recorder, the Bovina correspondent reported that "Irving Phinney has a new bicycle." In the same column, it was reported that "The most healthy thing for tramps and thieves, who are so numerous in this vicinity, to do is for them to leave before they get a dose of lead."

114 years ago, the Andes Recorder of June 29, 1900 reported that "The census enumerator has nearly completed his work and it is thought the number of people will fall short of the number of census ten years previous." This, in fact, turned out not to be the case, though it did not go up much either. The 1890 census had 926 people. Ten years later, it was 932.

103 years ago today, on June 30, 1911, Margaret Laidlaw was born in Bovina, the daughter of Adam Laidlaw and Emma Campbell. She married James Hoy in 1935 and had three children, James, Janet and Thomas. Widowed in 1956, Margaret was the Bovina Town Clerk for many years. She passed away in 1981.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Pinpointing the Past - The Moon Mountain Plane Crash

Readers of this blog will have read past entries from 2011 (April 29, May 30, June 1, and October 16) concerning a plane crash in the Bramley Mountain area of Bovina in April 1945. Though I haven't written about it in some time, I have continued efforts with filmmaker Chris Ingvordsen to locate some of the wreckage and had some success last fall in finally locating something, thanks to Bovina resident (and SUNY Geneseo student) Samantha Misa.

Because of her continuing interest in the crash and the fact that her grandfather was in World War II, part of the 100th Bomber Group flying missions in Europe, she joined The 8th Air Force Historical Society. When she put her age down as 18, staff from the society actually contacted her to confirm that this was the right age - they weren't used to 18 year olds joining the society. This started an e-mail conversation between Samantha and the editor of the society's magazine - essentially an interview about her grandfather and about the search for wreckage from the Moon Mountain crash. Her e-mail became an article in the society's June 2014 magazine, somewhat to Samantha's surprise. The article included some photos, some of which have been presented in this blog before. I am including a photo of Samantha in her 'detecting gear' and a photo I took of the pieces she helped us locate that are believed to come from the crash.

Pinpointing the Past: A Promising Life Cut Short by Samantha Misa

I am 18 years old, and I’ve always had a great interest in and love for history. I’m not quite sure where it comes from. Maybe it’s because my grandfather fought in WWII. My grandfather was Edward C. Rogers, a T/Sgt and top turret engineer on the B17 King Bee. He was part of the 100th Bomb Group during the war, and he and his crew flew 35 missions, 6 of which were to Berlin.

I learned this through research and family paperwork that I found. My grandfather, although alive for most of my life, died before I was mature enough to develop an interest in the past and ask him myself of his experiences during this amazing, interesting, and extremely important part of history. I will never forgive myself for not having talked to him when I had the chance.

At the end of high school, after working at a museum for the summer, I was told of a WWII plane crash that had happened in 1945 a block away from my house. I live in Bovina, a small farming community in upstate New York. The Bovina town historian, Ray LaFever, works with me at the local museum, the Delaware County Historical Association. LaFever, along with some other locals, had made a few expeditions to the spot in town where the plane went down. The army had been called once the crash happened, and most of the wreckage hauled away, but they went up trying to find the exact spot where it happened. No one seems to know the exact location, but it is known that the plane went down on what is called Moon Mountain.

The pilot was Robert Bragg Clark, who was flying an AT6 Texan trainer. He had left Bolling Field, Washington and was on a training trip to Stewart Field in Newburgh. It was 9 PM on April 29, 1945, and the weather conditions were getting progressively worse. There were showers and clouds at 3,000 feet. Around midnight, Clark, who barely had an hour of experience flying on instruments, realized that he had passed his target and began to circle the area known as Moon Mountain. According to the records, Clark, who was flying below the clouds at this time, got too low and his plane’s left wing struck a tree. The plane crashed into the east side of the mountain. Early the next morning, the wreckage of the plane was found. Clark had been killed instantly, and human error was ruled to be the cause of the accident.

Although the site soon was put under guard, it did not stop the townspeople from coming to see what had happened. The debris field was so large that not all of it could be watched. A 43 pound engine piece was taken away as a souvenir by a local man. Even groups of school children were brought up to the mountain to gawk at the crash site.

Robert Clark was a young man who was full of promise. He had been the class valedictorian, and was a member of the National Honor Society. Clark won state recognition for his debating talents, and had been appointed to the United States Military Academy at West Point by a Nebraska state senator. At the time of his death, Clark had almost gained enough flying hours to earn his wings. What makes his achievements all the more remarkable is that, when he was in high school, his parents divorced. They later remarried other people, but his mother would later commit suicide. To me, the saddest part of all was the the war was nearing its end, and Clark would not live to see its completion.

As I mentioned, there had been a few previous expeditions to Moon Mountain to attempt to locate the exact crash site and maybe find some debris. Treks up the mountain had so far been unsuccessful. Moon Mountain is 2,665 feet high, and the altimeter from Clark’s plane read 2,460 feet at the time of the crash. Using GPS technology, the right altitude was found, but the area was still too broad to do any real searching. The debris field was estimated to be 300 feet around from the actual impact, so we had a lot of ground to cover. In an effort to make our task easier, I brought out my trusty metal detector and swept the area. Along with historian Ray LaFever, I was joined by the property owner Donald Farley and videographer Chris Ingvordsen, who was there to document our search.

It was a cold, bitter fall day when we set out. I began sweeping the entire area, letting the guys point me in any direction they thought might be significant. The metal detector was silent. The landscape was peaceful and undisturbed. There had been many “ear” witnesses to the crash, people who had heard it but had not seen it. Some people remembered that they could see the wreckage from certain sides of the mountain, but these reports contradicted each other. One local claimed that he remembered playing in a cave that was on the mountain near where the crash had happened. We figured it was worth sweeping around any area that had been in these descriptions.

There was a cave on the property, and we eventually found it. I swept the area with the metal detector, and, for the first time since I had turned it on during that expedition, I got a hit. Cameras rolling, we gently moved the dead leaves and dirt away from the spot, carefully, until we unearthed something out of the ordinary: A pile of cut wires. More than 20 of them were found in the spot, all of them different lengths. Many had performed ends, some U shaped or circular. We know that they are steel, because the smaller pieces were picked up with a powerful magnet. Many were smooth and unbent, leading to the conclusion that we had found something that was not barbed wire or discarded farm refuse.

We sent photos of our findings to an aviation expert who reported back that he believed that they came from the plane. This was part of his report: “Control cables would be of steel or stainless steel. Main control cables would probably be 3/16" or 1/4". Trim tab cables would probably be 1/8"electrical wire ends that would connect to a terminal, a #8 or #10 machine screw. Generally, there would be a predrilled connector crimped on the end of the wire, but with war time production, the end may have been flattened, soldered and then drilled. The "U" shaped end may just be the wire untwisted, or if drilled, could be a control cable end that would be connected to a bellcrank with a pin.” At the end, he added “I would say you have pinpointed the crash site. Good work.” And that made it all worth it.

Even though Robert Clark did not die in combat, he was still a young man who gave his life for his country, and anyone who has done that has not died in vain. Clark’s death also embodies the sacrifices made by those on the home front, those who were not in combat but still gave so much. So maybe that’s why I love history so much; it gives me the opportunity to record andpreserve things like this for the people that didn’t leave anyone behind to do it for them.

I would not have known any of this if it were not for the help of Bovina Town Historian Ray LaFever, who knew the intimate details of the crash and where to start looking. It’s probably thanks to his efforts that material on this event are still around. We plan on making another trip to Moon Mountain this spring of 2014.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

June 18, 2014 - "This section was visited by a severe rain and wind storm which did much damage"

A relatively brief thunderstorm in Bovina in the small hours of June 18, 2014 managed to do considerable damage in the Bovina Center hamlet and in other areas around the town. Here's a series of pictures I took the morning and evening of June 18. 
By Brush Cemetery, next to the library - 42.2622°N 74.7814°W

The Manse - 42.2631°N 74.7808°W
Another view of the Manse on Maple Avenue - 42.2631°N 74.7808°W

Bovina Museum - 42.2621°N 74.7833°W

Roz Foster's house - 42.2621°N 74.7867°W

Shoemakers - the large tree branch that looms over the house has broken from the tree and will need to be removed - 42.2621°N 74.7827°W

The old Currie house, now the house of Bea Vides and Walker Pond. Another tree that must be removed - 42.2621°N 74.7837°W 

Maple Avenue after start of the clean-up
Certainly not the first such storm in Bovina. A quick perusal of the Andes Recorder Bovina column brought up these three items:

July 25, 1902: On Sabbath [July 20], this section was visited by a severe rain and wind storm which did much damage. Perhaps John W. Blair on the J.T. Miller farm sustained the most damage – there it tore up the evergreen and other trees and damaged things in general. G.D. Miller’s butcher shop was literally tore to pieces.  In the village trees were blown down and some of the school house roof and chimney were smashed. In other parts of the town there was also a lot of damage.

September 1, 1916: A cyclone struck southern Bovina Sabbath afternoon [August 27] and did considerable damage.  Starting at the Boy’s Camp conducted by Robert L. Gerry on what is known as the Wight place, it blew down the doctor’s tent and uprooted some twenty apple trees.

The greatest damage was done on the farm of Thos A. Raitt where 88 trees were either up-rooted or twisted off.  Trees eighteen inches to two feet in diameter went down before the fury of the storm.  Among the trees were twenty apple trees and five or six pear trees and the others were in the woods.  Nearly all the apples were whipped off the remainder of the orchard.  The other trees taken were in the woods but fortunately the sap bush escaped.  A rocking chair which was in the front yard was picked up and carried about eight rods.

From Raitt’s the cyclone skipped over the hill and again swooped down at E.R. Worden’s at the top of the hill on the Turnpike.  There an apple tree, a maple tree and an elm were its victims. The next swoop of the instrument of destruction was made into the head of Gladstone Hollow.  At James L. Doig’s two chimneys were torn off his residence, an oak tree fell onto the milk house and smashed it, and some fruit trees and smashed it, and some fruit trees were torn up by roots.  What damage was done further on we have not learned.

September 18, 1925: A heavy storm of rain accompanied by a high wind, passed over Bovina on Saturday evening [September 12] and numerous trees were blown down.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

June 1914 - 100 Years Ago in "That Thriving Town"

Work continued on the town water system – the state finally issued a permit to allow the digging up of the highway to run the pipe.

From the Andes Recorder:

June 5, 1914
Clark Miller is ill with an attack of the measles. (Clark was killed in action in France in 1918 during the First World War.)
Howard McPherson, town superintendent of highways, has a new Ford roadster.
Solomon Menaker, on the Hewitt farm up-town, has purchased a large touring car. (This farm was up Mountain Brook Road, now owned by Tom Groves.)
Dr. G.T. Scott is having his house, known as the Gow place, treated to a coat of paint. (Likely is the house at 42.262°N 74.787°W, or 1771 County Highway 6)
In a ball game Saturday between the married and single men, the latter were winners.
Word has been received by the Water Company that the permit to dig the ditch through the street would be issued early next week.

June 12, 1914
In a ball game here Saturday between Bovina and Andes, the visiting team won by a score of 10 to 9.
Dr. Norris B. Whitcomb was elected vice president of the Delaware County Medical Society at a meeting held in Delhi last week.
Robert Agnew, of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, was a visitor here this week.  His father had a blacksmith shop in Bovina some thirty years ago.

June 19, 1914
Professor James Hastings, of Cape May, N.J., is visiting his father, Thos E. Hastings.
The Water company has finally received the State Permit to dig thru the street, but must not put the dirt onto the macadam.
Mrs. Lucy Coulter has purchased the John G. Russell house and lot in Bovina Center.  The price paid was $1,200 and she moved to the property Tuesday. Years ago this place was occupied by the parents of the late Chas. R. Lee. (This property appears to be the now clear lot to the right of the Bovina Community Hall - more research is needed to clarify this and determine what happened to the house.)

June 26, 1914
Myer Jacobson will move to this place from Pepacton.
The little three year old son of Tony Gabriel, on the Thos Mabon farm, fell Saturday and broke its arm.
Robert Gray, of Delhi, was here on Tuesday and arranged with the Water Company to put in their reservoir.  He will begin work in about two weeks.