Sunday, January 20, 2019

Epidemic Influenza in Bovina

The 1918 influenza pandemic is believed to have infected 500 million people around the world, with 50 to 100 million dying, estimated to be about five percent of the world’s population. In the United States, it was estimated that about 28% of the population died. There were two ‘waves’ of the illness, though it seems Bovina saw mostly infections from the second, deadlier wave. Though deadlier, Bovina saw only two fatalities, while over forty people became ill.           

Local newspapers started reporting on cases of influenza in Bovina in October 1918, when “several mild cases” were reported. By the end of October, there was enough concern that the schools and local churches closed. Two of the people contracting the illness were Dr. and Mrs. N.B Whitcomb. He was the first Bovina resident to get the disease (his wife was the second). The full list is at the end of this entry.

They recovered, but October saw the first of the two Bovina fatalities when Mrs. Loron Maxim passed away on what was then the Hewitt farm in the Mountain Brook region. Mrs. Maxim was born Jennie Graham, the daughter of William and Eunice Graham. She was 30 years old at her death. Her illness lasted about five days. She was buried in Hardenburgh in Ulster County. Jennie and her husband had been in Bovina only a brief time. Loren remarried in 1920 and left Bovina.

The Bovina Board of Health reported thirty-eight new cases of influenza in December, but for January only eight new cases. One of the cases reported in January 1919 was Louise Hilson, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Hilson. She recovered, as did all the children who got the illness in Bovina. But in March 1919, the Andes Recorder reported that a “Bovina Boy Dies in West.” The article went on to state that “Floyd Ruff, son of the late William L. Ruff, of Bovina, died in Kansas City this week and the remains arrived here Thursday evening.  He had been ill for several weeks and it is reported had been afflicted with influenza and measles and typhoid fever.  He had lived with his sister, Mrs. Chauncey McFarland, and only went west last fall.”

As the epidemic faded, Bovina did see one more fatality. On April 21, 1919, Lucy Alta Lee died from the flu, after being sick for six days. Lucy was married to John B. Lee and was his second wife. She had five children, including a son Donald, who was in World War One and was still in France when his mother died. Her stepson Clarence also was a World War One veteran who was gassed in the war and died from its effects in 1922. At the time of her death, her husband and three of her children also were ill, but they all recovered.

Edward Schneider, brother of Lil Hilson, was the last survivor of the epidemic in Bovina, dying ninety-seven years after being ill in 2016 at the age of 102.

From the Bovina Board of Health records, the following were reported suffering from epidemic influenza (usually abbreviated as E.I.). They are listed in order of illness:

N.B. Whitcomb
Mrs. N.B. Whitcomb
Chas Russell (brother of Cecil Russell)
Mrs. Chas Russell
Mrs. Loren Maxim (the first fatality)
Edwin Scott
Mrs. Marshall Scott
Margaret Gordon (later social studies teacher at Delaware Academy)

The following people were all believed to have caught the illness attending a Thanksgiving Day church service and became ill the end of November/early December:
Mrs. Marshall Thomson
Miss Mable Fiero
Mrs. Geo Cobb
John Galloway
Mrs. Thos Graham
Mrs. Geo Russell

Other victims reported for December:
Arthur Russell
Hazel Aitken
Ernest Russell
Robert Hunt
Jannette Laidlaw
Jas. Hilson (brother to John Hilson and uncle to Alex and Jack Hilson)
Geo Russell
Mrs. D. Davidson (mother of Fletcher Davidson)
Fred Henderson
Burton Henderson
Robert Fiero
Ruth Coulter (later married Bill Parsons)
Helen Galloway
Mrs. John Blair
Mrs. John McCune
Miss Ruth Ormiston (later married Henry Monroe)
Marshall Thomson
Mildred Smith
Fred Whithead
Frank Miller
Marion Ormiston
Harry Robinson
Louise Hilson (child age 2)
Muriel Ruscoe
Jean Hume
Geo. Johnson
Mrs. Geo Johnson – Mrs. Johnson was reported as catching the illness on a train from Alberta, Canada, thus infecting her husband and a couple of her neighbors.
Annie McFarland
Mrs. Thos Archibald
Edith Erkson
Bessie Erkson (child, age 3)
Robert Erkson
Mrs. C. Erkson
Frank Pershall
Claud Erkson
Walter Wilson
Mrs. Ruscoe

January 1919
Fred Whithead
Mrs. Whitehead
Edward Schneider (child age 5)
Carl Doonan
Lew B. Locelyn
Helen McDivitt
John Quinn
Mrs. John Scutt

For some reason, any illnesses after January were not recorded, including the death of Lucy Lee (that information was noted in the newspaper).

Thursday, January 10, 2019

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

The Andes Recorder's Bovina column reported at the start of the year the Bovina Fire Insurance Company's pay out of claims for several people, including John Miller's burned barn and several livestock deaths. The local doctor upped his charges for house calls and a Dairymen's league was created.

January 3, 1919

·         A New Years dance was held here on Wednesday night.
·         Cecil Russell, who recently purchased the general merchandise business of Andrew T. Doig at the old Thos E. Hasting store, took over the business January 1.  The inventory was taken the past week.
·         The team of Mrs. Rockafeller, driven by her son Floyd, ran away Saturday.  The lad had them hitched to a bob when they started and he was dragged some distance behind the bob before he could disengage his hands from the lines.  The team then ran to James Bramley’s and after circling around among Bramley’s cows, which were being watered, ran on a knoll and were caught.  No damage was done.

January 10 1919

·         George H. Russell has moved from Russell hill to part of H.C. Burgin’s house in the Center.
·         Mrs. Frank VanDusen received a German helmet from her son, Leon, who sent it from the front.
·         William R. Aitken of the U.S.S. Wanderer has been here on a five day furlough, to visit his parents, Mr. and Mrs. John R. Aitken.
·         Louise, the youngest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Hilson, is now improving rapidly from an attack of influenza under the care of Miss Muir as nurse.

January 17, 1919

·         Dr. Whitcomb has increased his charge for calls in the village to $1.50 and other calls accordingly.
·         Harry Barlow age 10 years, died on his birthday, January 14, at the home of his aunt, Mrs. Wm. B. Smith, from Bright’s disease an heart trouble, which dated from an operation for appendicitis last February. He was born in Colorado and after the death of his mother came to live with his aunt.

Bovina Fire Insurance Co

List of amounts paid:

John M. Miller, barn burned - $2,000
Mrs. JohnIrvine, cow killed - $50
Emler Close damage to house - $11.17
R.E. Thomson, cows killed - $350
A.B. Phyfe, cows killed - $150
M.W. Thomson, cow killed - $20
N.B. Whitcomb, horse killed - $25
Ellsworth Tuttle, sheep killed - $5
Salary of officers - $102
State organization - $3
T.W. Miller printer - $9

January 24, 1919

·         Sloan Archibald lost a valuable cow Saturday. It bled to death after being dehorned.
·         Calvin Russell has gone to New York City, where he has employment for the winter.
·         Mrs. John A. Irvine is having an electric lighting system installed in her residence on Maple avenue.
·         The Bovina Center Co-Op Creamery patrons received a dividend of their surplus amounting to $3,632.16. The stockholders dividend this year was 5 percent.
·         Harold Robinson is home, discharged from the army.  Homer Burgin, who is in the marines, is home from France on a 30 day furlough.  He was “over the top” four times. J.L. Myers of the Aviation Corps, is still enjoying a furlough.

League Formed in Bovina

At a farmer’s meeting held Tuesday about 44 names were enrolled as members of the Dairymen’s League, W.J. Storie was chosen president; A.T. Archibald, secretary, and Frank T. Miller, treasurer.  A good start for the League in Bovina.

January 31, 1919

·         Letters from the boys ‘over there” are beginning to sift in, to the great relief of anxious mothers and other relatives.
·         The officers of the R.P. church for the ensuing year are: Fred Henderson, superintendent; Kenneth Kaufman, assistant; Millard Russell, secretary and treasurer.
·         A party Tuesday evening at Mrs. Ida Burgin’s, in honor of her son, Homer, whose furlough will soon expire, was largely attended, a number from Andes being present.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Russell's Store Centennial

It was 100 years ago today that Cecil Russell began his long ownership and operation of Russell's Store. He had purchased the store from his cousin, Andrew T. Doig, in November 1918. Over the almost ten years of this blog, I have written about the store and the Russell family several times.

Here's are three entries specific to the store and family:

SUNDAY, JUNE 14, 2009, Russell's Store - one of my earliest entries about the store -

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 2012, Russell's Store, Thanksgiving 1978 - this entry was mainly photographs taken forty years ago by Steve Pelletier -

THURSDAY, MAY 2, 2013, Russell's General Store Fifty Years Ago and Beyond- this entry shared an article from the Walton Reporter from May 1963 about Russell's -

Monday, December 31, 2018

This Day in Bovina for December

Here is the monthly compilation of entries on the Town of Bovina Historian Facebook page for December:

145 years ago today, December 1, 1873, Alexander Home Gillie passed away. Born in Berwickshire, Scotland in 1805, he married Martha Lewis in 1838 in Bovina. They had four children, one of whom, son William, would die in the Civil War in August 1863.

John William Storie, son of Alexander Storie and Esther Cowan was born 158 years ago today, December 2, 1863.  He was the last child of Alexander and Esther Storie.  Alex and Esther had five children in total, but the two eldest died within a few days of each other in October 1862.  John would marry Jennie Laidlaw in 1890 and have two sons, William and George.  He died in 1944 when he was 80.

106 years ago today, on December 3, 1912, John Raitt was born in Southern Bovina, the son of Thomas Raitt and Mary Ann King. He was married to Helen Winter in 1941. John worked for the US Post Office and served in military postal services in the European theatre during the Second World War. John retired from the post office in 1972. John was the Delaware County Historian from 1981 to 1995. His wife Helen died in 1997. John died in 2004 and is buried in Bovina.

Ninety-three years ago today, the Bovina column of the Andes Recorder for December 4, 1925 reported that "Mrs. Walter G. Coulter had her toe severely injured when a soap stone fell on it." Mrs. Coulter was Margaret Strangeway and was the mother of Ruth Coulter Parsons and Celia Coulter. She passed away in 1953.

182 years ago today, December 5, 1836, John Reed, Tailor, submitted this advertisement to the Delaware Gazette: "RESPECTFULLY returns thanks to the inhabitants of Bovina and its vicinity, for the liberal support tendered him since he commenced business and begs leave to inform them that he has opened a Shop on his new premises with a complete assortment of Trimmings, adopted to the texture and form of the garments of his customers. He has brought up from New York, Draughts, Plates and Reports of Fashions for the season and no expense will be spared to render his establishment commensurate with the growing taste and respectability of the community."

James A. Hoy was born in Bovina on July 22, 1909, the son of William A. and Robena (Gow) Hoy. He suffered a back injury as a child which affected him the rest of his life. In 1935, he married Margaret Laidlaw. They were the parents of three children. Jim died in August 1956. This chauffeur license photo was taken by Bob Wyer in May 1949. Courtesy of the Delaware County Historical Association. 

On December 7, 1914, 104 years ago today, there was a fire at the Howard McPherson residence. Here's how the Andes Recorder reported it: "A small fire about midnight Monday night did about $15 damage in the residence of Howard McPherson, adjoining Elliott Thomson's blacksmith shop. During the evening the chimney had burned out but at 11:30 everything was apparently all right. Half an hour later Mrs. McPherson heard something fall and ongoing upstairs found the rooms filled with smoke. Mr. McPherson was not at home and she aroused the neighbors. The fire was in the partition and was put out by the use of several pails of water." This is now the Kim and Marcelo Riera residence.

Ninety-six years ago today, the December 8, 1922 Andes Recorder had the following item in its Bovina column: "Mrs. Glen Taylor, of Beach, South Dakota, who will be remembered here as Minnie Ruff, has gone to Los Angeles, California, for the benefit of her health." She stayed in California and died in Los Angeles in 1945 at the age of 62.

Ninety-one years ago today, December 9, 1927, Mrs. Mary Phinney was buried in Bovina. As reported in the Andes Recorder, "Her death occurred at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Albert Sarles at Sand Point, Idaho." Born Mary Archibald in 1853, she married Dr. Lehman Phinney in 1881. Phinney was a doctor in Bovina for a number of years. He died in 1901.

128 years ago today, on December 10, 1890, Gilbert Jardine posted this notice advertising the sale of his farm in the Delaware Republican. Born in Scotland in 1822, he married Nancy E. Tuttle in 1856. Gilbert died in November 1893 and his wife a bit over a year later. The farm was on Townsend Road in the Bramley Mountain area. 

Sylvan LaFever (my great uncle) was born in 1912, the son of Sylvan A. LaFever and his second wife, Alice Smith. He spent some of his life in Bovina in the 1940s, working on the Gerry estate. He was a veteran of World War II and spent some time on occupation duty in Germany. He married a native of Germany in 1946. Sylvan died in Maryland in 2004 at the age of 91. This Bob Wyer chauffeur license picture was taken in April 1942. Image courtesy of the Delaware County Historical Association.

Ninety-eight years ago today, the Bovina column of the December 12, 1920 Andes Recorder reported that "The dairies and barns of the 73 patrons of the Bovina Center Co-Operative Creamery were examined and inspected the past week by Dr. Irvine and H.C. Burgin. The Dry Milk Co. claim they cannot find the last inspection reports."

103 years ago today, December 13, 1915, as later reported in the Andes Recorder, "More than a foot of snow fell during Monday afternoon and night.  Tuesday morning the teamsters started out for their Delhi trip but soon turned back.  Traffic was much delayed and mails did not arrive."

Eighty-one years ago today, December 14, 1937, as later reported in the Andes Recorder, "Mrs. James Ackerly died at her home in Bovina Center … after a long illness at the age of 82 years.  Her maiden name was Velma Barnhart and she was born at Shavertown.  She was twice married, her first husband being Eugene DuMond.  She is survived by her husband, James Ackerly, and a daughter, Mrs. Delbert Dickson, by her first marriage.  The funeral will be held Friday with burial in Andes."

107 years ago this morning, December 15, 1914, thermometers registered 2 above zero.  The following morning, the temperature was zero.

157 years ago today, on December 16, 1861, this receipt was issued for payment made for "work done on the Bridge by Robert C. Scotts." This likely is the bridge at the lower end of the hamlet. While it was a stone bridge, it probably was not the one that was well known and was demolished in the 1950s. That bridge had at least one predecessor that proved to be poorly built and had to be rebuilt in 1873.  

Ninety-eight years ago today, the illness of a child put off a golden wedding anniversary celebration.  The Andes Recorder reported that "Ralph, the 10-year-old son of James Mabon was operated upon Friday, December 17, 1920, at Delhi for appendicitis.  Because of his illness, the celebration of his grandparents 50th anniversary (James and Ellen Mabon), scheduled for December 21, was postponed."

120 years ago this afternoon, December 18, 1898, Mrs. Charles F. Smith died at the age of 90.  The Andes Recorder, when reporting her death, noted that "Her maiden name was Christina Lamont and she came to this town [Bovina] over 40 years ago.  She was an excellent woman, a good neighbor; always cheerful and she will be missed in this community as well as in her home.  On Tuesday the funeral was held, the sermon being preached by Rev. Samson, and the interment was in the Bovina cemetery."

141 years ago today, on December 19, 1877, the Bovina Methodist Episcopal Church reopened after having been closed for repairs.  There was a sermon at 11, a reunion service held at 2:30 and another sermon at 7 pm.  When the church issued a notice for this service, the Andes Recorder included the following:  "We would earnestly commend to the attention of those in this vicinity the services above announced.  They will be very interesting, and profitable to all who may attend. Revs. A.K. Sanford and J.E. Gorse are earnest warm-hearted Christian men, and the service conducted by them, and stamped with Divine approval will be blessed for good. The church societies of the towns surrounding will, we hope, take a warm interest in this meeting, and encourage the Brushland M.E. Society by their presence and means.  'The liberal soul shall be made fat; and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself.'" The church was located across from where the Bovina Community Hall now stands.

John Walter Blair was born 152 years ago today on December 20, 1866, the son of James and Hannah Blair. He married Lib Miller in 1889. They farmed in Bovina for many years. John was killed in August 1945 when his team of horses ran away with him. He was dragged by the horses and fatally injured when his head struck a rock. He is buried in Bovina.

205 years ago today, on December 21, 1813, Joel Brush, son of early Bovina pioneer Alexander Brush and Nancy Griffith Brush, died. He is buried in the Brush cemetery next to the library. Born in 1786, he was married to Elizabeth Maynard, daughter of another early Bovina pioneer. They had two children before his untimely death at the age of 27.

Ninety-six years ago today, the December 22, 1922 Bovina column of the Andes Recorder reported that "There will be no more Sabbath evening meetings at the United Presbyterian church until coal is more plenty."

Eighty-three years ago today, December 23, 1935, as later reported in the Catskill Mountain news, "The community Christmas tree was held in the hall…with the different schools furnishing the entertainment."

This Bob Wyer picture of Marjorie Russell in the basement of the United Presbyterian Church was taken in March 1956 at the wedding of Norma Burns and Fred Phillips. Image courtesy of the Delaware County Historical Association. 

129 years ago today, on December 25, 1889, Alexander Storie, a farmer on Pink Street (now the Tom Burns farm) wrote the following in his diary: "Calm warm and pleasant in the morning. Clear calm and sunshine all day. We all went to Mary Ann's for our Christmas dinner. Mrs. Mary Coulter and children, Mrs. Jane Liddle and Samuel Storie and family were there also to dinner. There was fifteen in all."

Ninety-nine years ago today, the Bovina column of the December 26, 1919 Andes Recorder reported that "The tax collector is on the war path."

106 years ago, the December 27, 1912 issue of the Andes Recorder reported in its Bovina column that "Collector Geo H. Miller has commenced taking taxes. The first taxes paid were James B. Thomson’s"

132 years ago today, the Bovina column of the December 28, 1886 Stamford Mirror reported that "D.L. Thomson, Member of Assembly, has been at Albany this week looking the ground over preparatory to the commencement of his official duties." David Low Thompson was born in Bovina in 1831. David's career in the Assembly would be fairly brief. More about David’s political career will show up in the Bovina NY History Blog in March 2019.

Walter A. Doig died 116 years ago today, on December 29, 1902. Born in Bovina in 1827, he was the son of Andrew and Margaret (Sanderson) Doig. He married Margaret Armstrong in 1851. They had 10 children. This photo of Walter came from the collection of Celia Coulter. 

199 years ago today, December 30, 1819, Nancy Jane Hamilton was born, the daughter of Thomas Hamilton and Elizabeth Arneil. She married Archibald Erkson in 1839. They would have five children. Nancy died in 1899 when she was 79 years old. Her husband survived her by five years, dying in 1904.

182 years ago today, on December 31, 1836, Adam Scott was killed in a riding accident. For more information on this accident, go to the Bovina NY History blog at

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Grandma's First Husband - Life After James

In November 1918, after only 11 months of marriage, my grandmother, Anna Bell Barnhart Calhoun found herself a widow. She struggled to cope with the news. In a December 12, 1918 letter to her sister-in-law Anna Mabon, she said "I cannot get over James death. I feel at times that we may hear good news yet, and again at times it is almost unbearable. It does seem strange that James should be the one who had to be taken."

For a few months, James' widow wrote to a number of people trying to get confirmation about what happened to James. She received what had to be perplexing stories that a local person from Andes was with James when he was killed. In a letter to her sister-in-law, Mrs. Archibald Calhoun, written in January, she said "someone told Wilford that one of your brothers saw James when he was killed...."

On February 3, 1919, Anna wrote to her mother-in-law, reporting that she had heard from someone in France who knew James. He reported that James was killed while he and a lieutenant were sleeping in a fox hole. They were hit by a shell, killing both James and the lieutenant. The correspondent said "he had already recommended James to attend the officers school and was sure he would have succeeded..." She went on to write "What a shame that James couldn't have been spared a little longer then he would have been safe."

Anna continued to live on the family farm with her mother and brothers. Her sister Edith was married in 1919. Both of her brothers were married in 1921. Wilford took over the family farm, hiring two brothers to work on the farm, Benson and Clarence LaFever. This likely is how my grandmother met her second husband. Benson and Clarence are mentioned with some frequency in her 1921 diary. Also mentioned in 1921 was the return of James' body to the United States. 

She received a telegram on August 28 saying "James' body at Hoboken." In the same entry she mentioned going to church with Ben. On September 10, she got another telegram that his body was on its way to Delhi. On September 14, James was buried in Bovina with full military honors. My grandfather late in life told me that he was at that service.
Ben and Anna Bell LaFever shortly after their marriage in May 1923

By the end of 1921, Anna Bell had bought a house just outside the Bovina Center hamlet and moved into it with her mother. On May 31, 1923, Anna Bell was married in her home to Benson LaFever. My grandparents lived in her house until 1928, when the moved about a mile up the road. They had four sons, Howard (ironically born on what would have been grandma's seventh wedding anniversary to her first husband), David (who died in 1930), Charles (my dad) and George, born on his mother's 42nd birthday. 

One of the few pictures I have found of my grandparents with their three surviving sons - Howard, Charles, Benson, George, Anna Bell.

Ben and Anna Bell with their three sons on the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary in May 1973.
Grandma's life continued to have its challenges. In late 1929 and early 1930, she lost her niece, her mother, her sister and her son. She and my grandfather saw major challenges in their marriage in the 1950s, but they reconciled and settled in Northern New York, where they were very successful strawberry farmers. Through the 50s until her death in 1980, grandma suffered from rheumatoid arthritis, ending up having to use a wheel chair much of the time. But she continued to keep house, bake, knit, and help manage their farm. I even saw her turn a mattress once. My grandmother was sweet but didn't put up with misbehavior from her grandchildren. Just because she was in a wheelchair didn't mean she couldn't give us a swat if we acted up!
This is the only picture of just me with my grandparents, taken in November 1974 by my sister Diane.
Grandma died in March 1980 at the age of 87. She was buried next to James in the Bovina Cemetery. When my grandfather died two years later, he was buried next to his wife Anna Bell.