Thursday, October 17, 2019

"Political Corruption in Bovina" 1889, Part Two

1889 Bovina and the surrounding towns saw a very contentious race for the State Assembly involving Andes' James Ballantine and Bovina's Isaac Maynard. In the September 17, 2019 entry in this blog is the more complete story of the contest. The main issue of interest to Bovina was an unsigned letter written to and published by the Delaware Standard (Walton) in September 1889 concerning this election, representing Mr. Ballantine as "drunken and licentious." There were other complications with this election and the local caucuses, but in the end, Ballantine was triumphant and won by a slim margin.

Ballantine did not drop his lawsuit against the editor of the Delaware Standard, however. He felt the need to defend himself against charges of being a drunk. There were several delays in getting the trial started. By the time the case had come to trial, Ballantine was already out of office, having only served one year in the State Assembly. 

W.H. Howie, publisher of the Delaware Standard, was arrested in May 1891, at which time bond was posted for him. When it came time to appear, he was unable to do so due to injuries sustained in a fall. He finally gave his deposition in June and provided a list of several instances over a 10 year period in which Ballantine was drunk or behaving licentiously.  One instance took place in Bovina in the fall of 1884, when during a political meeting he “did drink intoxicating liquors and did become intoxicated and upon said occasion was so intoxicated as to require assistance from others.” 

Howie also testified about the Bovina caucus meeting in September 1889. He claimed that before the meeting, Ballantine “did expend large sums of money for the purpose of bribing voters to support him….” He also promised “Frank R. Coulter that he would purchase his….dairy of butter if he would support him….” Howie also claimed that Ballantine promised to secure an appointment to office for a relative of David Coulter and James Ward and for the son of James Mabon. 

Howie’s testimony did not carry any weight with the jury. On September 24, 1891, the jury found for Ballantine and awarded him $500. Howie did end up paying the $500, with help from a number of people, but Ballantine wasn’t done with suits. During the trial, it was finally revealed who wrote the ‘Political Corruption in Bovina’ letter to the Howie’s newspaper – Archibald B. Phyfe. Phyfe was a Bovina farmer and an ardent champion of the temperance movement. Ballantine almost immediately filed suit against Phyfe, seeking $5,000 in damages. 

Ballantine gave his deposition in January 1892, covering much of the same issues as with his suit against Howie. Phyfe was arrested on January 14, 1892 and placed under bond to answer the suit. The case did not conclude for over a year. When it did, Phyfe did not appear in court, so Ballantine was awarded $4,000. It appears that Phyfe did ultimately come up with the funds, but the court records and newspapers provided no further information after the verdict.

Ballantine was elected to the New York State Senate in 1895, but only served a few months before his unexpected death in Andes in May 1896. Phfye continued to live in Bovina, taking over the family farm. He lived with his sister and two daughters, having been widowed in 1885. His sister died in 1928 when overcome in their home by coal gas. Archibald was also overcome by the gas but managed to survive. See this blog for February 4, 2011 for more information about this incident. Archibald died in 1934.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

October 1919 - 100 Years Ago "in That Thriving Town"

October 3, 1919
·         Robert Hunt and Robert Fiero were the only ones to bag a partridge on the first day of hunting.
·         Everett Joslyn has moved from Coulter Brook to the rooms in the rear of old Strangeway store.
·         A new roof is being put on at the creamery to replace that torn off to allow the installing of new machinery.
·         G.D. Miller has been showing a good sized cluster of black raspberries of unusual size which he picked on September 27.
·         The Bovina Town Board held a meeting Friday to arrange for re-surfacing the Lake road.  The Gerry’s will furnish the material.
·         George H. Russell has moved from part of Harvey Burgin’s house to his (Chisholm) house.  Herman Joslyn has moved into the rooms vacated by Mr. Russell.
·         Mrs. John Oliver had the misfortune to fall off the porch at the Gowanlock house last Friday afternoon and sustain a dislocation of the shoulder and numerous cuts and bruises.

Bovina Farm Sold

William A. Hoy sold his farm, the John Hastings place at Bovina Center, on Thursday to Charles J. Russell.  The sale includes the Pressley house, but not the other three houses.

October 10, 1919
·         Julius Ringholm and family have moved into the Rogers’ cottage at Lake Delaware.
·         John R. Aitken has purchased the Kennedy house on a contract from James Hastings.
·         Mrs. Harold Robinson has purchased what is known as the old hall from her father W.A. Hoy.
·         Fletcher Davidson is in Sullivan county assisting H.E. Mason & Son to install lighting plants.
·         Charles A. Lee and wife, who last fall moved to Gt. Barrington, Mass, will return sometime this month to their old home at Lake Delaware.
·         Henry Rockefeller, who is in the navy returned to his duties Wednesday.  Owing to the illness of his mother he exceeded his furlough by 48 hours.
·         There was no preaching in any of the churches in Bovina Center last Sabbath – a think that has happened but once before as far back as runneth the memory of man.

October 17, 1919
·         The registration in Bovina on Saturday was 415.
·         The V.I.S. has hired John Howden to light the gasoline street lamps.

October 24, 1919
·         The total registration in Bovina was 465.
·         Mrs. Lucy Coulter has arrived home from visiting her son, Archie Coulter, in St. Lawrence county.
·         James Ackerly, who has been building a new house for Geo. Decker, will soon move to Bovina Center.
·         John W. Northrup has sold his farm to E.A. Quick, who last spring vacated the John Hobbie farm.  Possession will be given November 1. He has rented rooms in the Dickson house will take up his residence in the village.

Bovina Landmark Being Torn Down

John M. Miller has commenced tearing down the old Stott cooper shop building and will use the material for the construction of a barn.  Nelson Reynolds is in charge of the work.

October 31, 1919
·         Mrs. Fred Thomson has been confined to her bed for a few days with tonsillitis.
·         Mrs. Marshall Thomson was given a surprise Monday evening, the occasion being her birthday.
·         Thomas Gordon, town clerk, was at the Gerry summer home at the Lake on Friday issuing hunting licenses to visitors.
·         A large willow tree at the rear of Alex Hilson’s residence blew down on Tuesday and broke the telephone line which runs up-town.
·         Mrs. John Hilson and two children and James Hilson were at Delhi on Wednesday.  Master Alex had gotten something in his eye and the services of a physician was necessary to remove it.
·         Henry Rockefeller, who was in the Merchant Marine service for a year and was eleven months at sea, going to France, and also to South America, crossing the Equator twice and stopping at several ports in the West Indies, coming out of the service with a chief machinist’s rating, has received his honorable discharge.
·         The remains of John M. Russell, who died at Billings, Montana, were brought here and the funeral held from the R.P. Church on Sabbath and the internment made in the Center cemetery.  He was born on the Russell homestead in southern Bovina 66 years ago and his early life was spent there, but for many years he had resided in the west.  He is survived by two brothers and two sisters.

Monday, September 30, 2019

This Day in Bovina for September 2019

134 years ago today, on September 1, 1885, as later reported in the Stamford Mirror, "…a large crowd assembled on the farm of Robert Thompson to witness the trial of Andrew Johnson's new engine and thresher.  It worked to perfection and bid defiance to the wet sheaves of oats and rushed wildly on."

Ninety-two years ago today, the Andes Recorder for September 2, 1927 reported that Agnes Burns, the daughter of John Burns, recently had her tonsils removed.

130 years ago today, the Bovina column in the September 3, 1889 Stamford Mirror reported "The lecture by Mrs. S.E. Johnson, late of India, in Strangeway's Hall, on Monday evening, was not very largely attended."

123 years ago today, the September 4, 1896 Andes Recorder reported in its Bovina column that "Miss Emma Campbell has purchased a ladies bicycle and will ride to and from her school in Pink street."

Eighty-nine years ago today, the September 5, 1930 Delaware Express reported on the dedication of Bovina's Community Hall. 

138 years ago today, the September 6, 1881 Stamford Mirror reported the following in its Bovina column: "A young man known here as John Howard, who has been employed in the cooper shops here for the last two seasons, was arrested today in Charles Palmer's shop by Under-Sheriff Crawford. He is said to have escaped from the Schoharie County jail about four years ago, where he was confined on the charge of burglary."

173 years ago today, September 7, 1846, the will of Francis Coulter (1771-1846) was probated at Surrogates Court in Delhi. Coulter emigrated from Scotland in the late 18th century and settled on Coulter Brook Road.

133 years ago today, the September 8, 1886 Delaware Gazette reported that the name Brushland for the post office in the present-day hamlet of Bovina Center had been changed back to Bovina Centre. Here's the article about the change and why it happened: 

107 years ago, on September 9, 1912, the trustees of the "D.J. Miller district" elected a new trustee, James Mabon. The report in the Bovina column of the Andes Recorder noted that "the only scholar in the district is being sent to the Center school. From 60 to 70 scholars went to school in the same district half a century ago, and even 30 years ago 25 attended." This is the school that was located at the intersection of Lee Hollow and Miller Avenue. The school managed to keep operating until 1944.

102 years ago today, on September 10, 1917, as later reported in the Andes Recorder Bovina column, "the South Kortright Band gave a concert with a dance afterwards at the town hall…" This would be Strangeway's Hall, now owned by Tom Hetterich.

136 years ago today, September 11, 1883 Bovina column of the Stamford mirror reported that "The funeral of Malcolm McNaught passed through Brushland today on the way to the place of burial in Andes."

101 years ago today, on September 12, 1918, as later reported in the Bovina column of the Andes Recorder, "There were 91 registered for selective draft last Thursday, and of these 35 will be in the first call."

110 years ago today, the New Kingston column of the September 13, 1909 issue of the Catskill Mountain News reported that "Gilfred Scott began his school duties in the Pink Street District, Bovina…"

109 years ago today, the September 14, 1910 issue of the Delaware Gazette reported that "from the artificial lake made last year on the Mabon farm in Bovina, 30 fine trout were taken the last day of the season by D.L. Bruce and T. Hyzer of Andes." This lake is now known as Coles Lake or Silver Lake. Here's a postcard view of the Lake, known as Lake Mahikan or Mahican when first built.

Robert Biggar died 118 years ago today, on September 15, 1901. Born in Bovina in 1833, he was the son of Walter Biggar and Janet Cowan. He married Isabella J. Miller in 1865. They had no children. Isabella survived her husband by less than two years, dying in May 1903. His death was reported in the local papers: "Robert Biggar, an old resident of Coulter Brook, in the town of Bovina, died suddenly of heart disease Monday morning, aged about 70. He was apparently as well as usual on Sunday, and on Saturday was in Delhi. He was a man very highly respected. He leaves a wife."

The Bovina ball team hosted a game 108 years ago today, September 16, 1911, playing against Andes.  The Bovina team won 13 to 4.

John T. Clement died 106 years ago today, September 17, 1913.  Born in 1836, he was the son of William Clement and his wife Margaret Thomson.  He was married to Margaret E. Liddle.

107 years ago today, the September 18, 1912 issue of the Delaware Gazette had an article under the title "Car load and a Half of Beer." The article read as follows: "A strange condition has existed in the town of Bovina for the past two weeks and many people wonder why such condition is permitted, as Bovina is a dry town, and the people have voted down license for a good many years. A man who was in that town several days ago, relates that at a point between the villages of Andes and Bovina liquor and beer were sold openly at an Italian shanty, that the proprietors had two barns in the same and that a few Sundays ago the building was packed with people most of the day. A carload and a half of beer was shipped to Andes on the D&N a few days ago for the 'joint' in the town of Bovina and that it doesn't by any means represent the total amount of wet goods shipped there. It is extremely hard for the temperance people to understand just why such a place is permitted to exist in the no-license town of Bovina." The article concluded "the above seems so nearly impossible that many will be inclined to doubt that such a condition as stated is true." A week later, the paper reported that the sheriff and D.A. made a thorough investigation but that they failed to locate it.

119 years ago today, the September 19, 1900 Delaware Gazette reported in a brief article entitled "Good Price for Butter" that "Bovina farmers have been selling firkin butter at 20 cents a pound. Delhi dealers took all they could get at that price." A firkin is a small barrel often used for butter.

108 years ago today, as later reported in the Andes Recorder, "Miss Belle Strangeway, daughter of Thos C. Strangeway of this town, and Frank J. Dickson, of Delhi, were married Wednesday evening, September 20, [1911] by Rev. A.M. Forrester at the First Presbyterian parsonage in Delhi." Margaret Bell Strangeway was born in Bovina in 1880. She and Frank would have four children, including Howard Dickson. Frank died in 1953. Belle would live past 90, dying in 1972.

102 years ago, the September 21, 1917 issue of the Andes Recorder reported in its Bovina column the following: "Ed Seacord left a five gallon can of gasoline on the sidewalk in front of the hotel and when he returned a little later the can had disappeared.  When he came around to go home, he found his can, but the gasoline had been taken out and the can re-filled with water." The hotel mentioned was located across the street from the present-day playground in the Bovina Center hamlet.

183 years ago today, on September 22, 1836, James and Nancy Coulter suffered the loss of two of their three children, their daughters Elizabeth, age 3 and Nancy, age 2. The next day saw the death of their only surviving child, a son named Andrew. They went on to have 10 more children after this tragedy. More about this family can be found on the Bovina NY History Blog at

165 years ago today, on September 23, 1854, the "National Democrats of the Town of Bovina" met at the home of Walter Hamilton (now the Jardine residence) "for the purpose of choosing two delegates to attend the County Convention….and for the transaction of such other business…"

Sixty-six years ago today, on September 24, 1953, the Bovina Recreation club held its first luncheon of the year at the Bovina Presbyterian Church. "Mrs. Harry Eckert, an accredited judge of floral arrangement" was the guest speaker and taught how to do flower arranging.

Seventy-seven years ago today, on September 25, 1942, a round and square dance was held in Bovina Center, with music by Melody Boys. This was one in a series of dances that took place about once a month in Bovina in 1942 and 43. The Melody Boys included fiddler Hilt Kelley, who passed away in March 2015 at the age of 89.

111 years ago today, on September 26, 1908, as later reported in the Delaware Gazette, "Louise, the 15-month-old daughter of Superintendent and Mrs. J.F. Forman of the County farm, died of Cholera Infantum." She was buried in Bovina. Photo of grave by Ed and Dick Davidson.

101 years ago today, the September 27, 1918 Bovina column of the Andes Recorder reported that "Cameron McNee of Iowa is visiting his nephew, John Aitkens. Mr. McNee was former resident of Bovina but had lived in Iowa for 42 years. He was a cooper when in this town." Cameron appears to be John Cameron McNee. He settled in Hamilton County, Iowa and died sometime in the 1940s.

145 years ago today, September 28, 1874, as later reported in the Delaware Gazette, "Mr. William Bramley of Bovina dropped dead…while plowing." Bramley was born in 1816 and was in Bovina his whole life. He was the son of Henry Bramley and Elizabeth Wright. He was survived by his wife Angeline, daughter Elizabeth and his mother. He was predeceased by his father and his son William Augustus.

134 years ago today, the Stamford Mirror for September 29, 1885 reported that "J.D. Mitchell of Bovina, exhibited a portion of his fine Jersey stock at the Delhi Fair and captured numerous prizes, as follows: second best 2-year-old bull, best and second best calf, best and second best heifer, 2 years, best and second best 1-year old heifer, and best and second best heifer calf - $31 dollars in all. At Hobart he took first prize for farm team." The Mitchell farm was on Crescent Valley Road and was owned by Mitchell until the early 1900s.

Fifty-eight years ago today, September 30, 1961, as later reported in the Bovina column of the Delaware Republican Express, "Mr. and Mrs. John Hinkley near Bloomville were … guests of his sister, Mrs. Milton Liddle." That same day, "about 20 Bovina people attended the sale on the Elsie Davison farm at Bloomville…"