Sunday, July 26, 2009

From the Ministry to Osteopathy

I've spent the bulk of my weekend working on a picture history of the Bovina U.P. Church. In the course of research on Bovina's pastors, I wanted to find out what happened to the various ministers after they left Bovina. Most of them took fairly typical paths, continuing as ministers in one form or another, but I stumbled on one pastor who took a different road.

Reverend Mason Pressly, a North Carolina native, accepted the call to Bovina in late 1889 and was pastor until 1892. He went on to equally brief pastorates in Pennsylvania and Ohio before deciding to change careers. Pressly went into medicine, becoming an osteopath. In 1899, he became co-founder of the Philadelphia College and Infirmary of Osteopathy. Pressly had to fight the antipathy of the established medical profession in getting the college off the ground, but he succeeded and the college still exists today as the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. The college still gives out the Mason W. Pressly Memorial Medal each year to a student for outstanding achievement and service to the college, the community and the osteopathic profession.

Pressly did not stay with the college long. He and his co-founder had a disagreement with the college faculty over remuneration and sold their shares, severing their connections with the college in 1905. Pressly remained in Philadelphia after leaving the college. In 1910, the New York Times reported that Dr. Pressly had made a trip to the West Indies and had discovered a new form of hookworm not seen outside the West Indies.

I could find little information about Pressly's later years except that he moved to California sometime in the 1930s. He died in Van Nuys in 1942, aged 83.

In October, during the Bovina U.P. Church's Bicentennial celebrations, I'll be giving a talk on some of Bovina's 19th century ministers. I'll pass along via this blog other tidbits of Bovina church history as things progress with the book and the presentation.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sitting in Russell's Store Musing on Bovina Day

I'm doing something that 30 years ago I wouldn't have imagined. Not only am I writing a Blog entry (I didn't imagine that either), but I'm doing it inside Russell's store in Bovina. I worked for the Russell family from 1968 to 1978, so it seems slightly odd. But change keeps us alive.

Yesterday was Bovina's annual Bovina Day - it was a bigger event than in past years. It actually started with the Brushland Melodrama on Friday night - an event sponsored by the library and one which I unfortunately missed. Everyone who went thoroughly enjoyed it. Chris Ingvordsen filmed it so I do hope to see what I missed.

For Saturday's activities, the weather, though at times threatening, never carried through with anything, keeping the day pretty much rain free. The fire department provided breakfast and demonstrations and the historical society offered a lunch option. The library held its annual used book sale and a number of families around town had their yard sales.

At noon, an event which hasn't been seen in Bovina since the 1920s took place - a vintage baseball game. The Bovina Dairymen took on the Fleischmann Athletic Mountain Club. In a hard fought game the Fleischmann team came out on top 12-11. I'm not a sports fan, but it was very interesting watching these teams playing in the vintage style - that means no gloves! Ouch! The Bovina Dairymen was just formed this year - the brain child of Tim Bray. I will be doing a future blog entry on ball games in Bovina.

At 4 pm, the fire department's parade started out from Coulter Brook. That start allowed me to watch the parade from my front yard - it's where I watched the parade for the town's Sesquicentennial in 1970. This parade wasn't as large as the 1970 event, but a number of area fire departments showed their support by participating. The Bovina UP Church float was the first in the parade, commemorating the congregation's bicentennial. On the float was a model of the UP Church, first seen in the 1956 Old Home Day celebration and beautifully restored. A group of farmers up Crescent Valley had a float to promote Bovina Farm Day on September 6 ( And there were kids on bicycles and people in period costume.

The evening featured a pot luck picnic, then my talk on the history of Bovina's Town Picnics. It was well received, which I appreciated. The evening ended with a series of pie-eating contests and tugs of war - the girls beat the boys and the women beat the men.

I took a ton of pictures which I will post at some point to add to the historical record. And Chris Ingvordsen continued his filming from Friday night throughout Saturday, so we'll have a good video record to add to all the pictures.

Monica Garbriel Liddle, who, with her cousins Colleen Burns Heavey and Lisa Burns Stanton, was in charge of the town picnic portion, was chatting with me as I wrote this and says we'll definitely do this again next year. So history continues...

Friday, July 17, 2009

Bovina Day is Tomorrow

A quick post as I get myself sorted out for Bovina Day tomorrow. I'm heading down from Cohoes early tomorrow morning. I'll be wandering around taking a lot of pictures. And I've got my talk about as ready as I can get it. Let's hope the threatened rain holds off. Maybe it'll get it out of its system tonight.

For my talk, I have been reviewing what 19th Century newspapers I can find on microfilm at the State Library during my lunch hour. I'm finding a number of references to town picnics reported in the Delaware Republican. I found references to two 'farmer picnics' in 1886 and 1889. On August 31, 1882, there was a "basket picnic" at Dickson's grove in what was then called Brushland. The Stamford band was in attendance and there were several speakers. The paper reported that "Those wishing to join the procession will meet at either of the churches at 10 A.M." In August of 1870, there was a "Sabbath School Picnic of the scholars attached to Rev. J.B. Lee's church [the Bovina U.P. Church] at Brushland..."

So history continues. I'll try to report on Sunday or Monday how Bovina's latest picnic goes. Enjoy your weekend.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Getting ready for Bovina Day

I spent a good chunk of this weekend doing Bovina Historian stuff, about evenly split between creating metadata for all the image files I have (which is going to take months to complete, but at least it's started) and preparing my talk on Town Picnics for Bovina Day on July 18. The latter is taking a lot of effort. There's so much I could talk about, but it is a picnic and I think after a long day of visiting all the yard sales, watching the Bovina Fire Department give its demos, visiting the book sale at the Bovina Public Library, watching the Bovina Dairymen play against Fleischmann's, watching the parade and having a picnic supper, everyone's going to be rather pooped! I think ending the day by putting everyone to sleep won't go down well in the annals of the history of Bovina. But there's some fun stuff to report. What could have Miss Foote, the County Nurse, have had to say at a town picnic in 1919? No, I don't have the answer, but we can all speculate. Hope to see you there.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Bovina Loudly Celebrates the 4th - 1919

NOTE: I still have something to learn about blogs. I wrote this to be automatically posted on July 4, since I knew I likely would not be in 'blogging mode' on Saturday. For some reason, it didn't happen. So technically, this is a day late. I'll get this figured out!


In celebration of the 4th, I want to pass along an article from the Delaware Express that reported a rather loud early morning celebration of the 4th of July in Bovina in 1919:

"What's All This About Bovina? Correspondent Claims the Village Has Been Awake. Wild West 4th of July. No Such Excitement There Since Russ Archibald Moved to Delhi - Not the Bolsheviki

"Most Bovina folks have always been aware that perhaps to a little great degree Bovina ought to be wakened but nobody ever dreamed that she deserved such an extreme and rough awakening as occurred on the morning of July 4th from about 12 o'clock midnight until about 3 o'clock in the A.M. It sounded like the 27th division smashing the Hindenburgh line. It reminded one of the tremendous fury of the American artillery at Chateau Thierry

"At 12 o'clock sharp, the zero hour, the dry-milk plant whistle broke loose and never quit until about 2 o'clock. The dark night air at once began to be pierced with the roar of explosions. Fire crackers were they? Not much they were. Sticks of dynamite sir; fifty pounds on hand for the fray, too, so the people say. Bang, bang! Bang, bang for hours! The midnight celebration wakened everybody not only in the village but for several miles in the country. Somebody from among the midnight revelers, bent upon making still more noise got into the U.P. Church and pulled the bell rope and sounded forth the peels of the big bell that we always like to hear calling us to church. But no villager lying in his bed, waiting until the fury of the celebration should pass so that he might get back into his sleep, ever thought of going to church at that uncanny hour. His thoughts were just opposite of church-going thoughts. The school bell too was run. Someone broke into the firemen's building and rang the fire bell. Meanwhile a truck with dynamite drove up through the village, stopping every now and then, and some one would take a stick of dynamite and set it off. Sometimes the celebrators must have set off several sticks at a time.

"They went up Main Street and then up Maple Avenue and then back down over the same route. Not a soul could sleep for a long time. The charges were so heavy that the occupants of the beds could feel the houses shake. A number of panes of glass were broken and a number of trees were put out of business. Several automobiles ran up and down through the village. In these were wildwest fellows shooting off their revolvers into the night air.

"At last the roar and the blasting and the monotonous bell-ringing began to die out and people fell off into sleep again. But while they slept, several pranks were performed. Some one stole Frank Miller's sheet and put it into Dixon Thomson's bedroom where it caused fright and much confusion to the occupants of the bedroom. All in all it was a great awakening. Who the awakeners were is a matter only of conjecture. Surely it was not done by the women. Surely it was not done by the old men. Then it must have been done by the young bloods. But what young bloods? Are there any Bolsheviks in Bovina?"

Delaware Express, July 11, 1919

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Bovina Town Picnics - Past & Present, Part II

On May 31 I posted Part I of my two part history of Bovina Town Picnics - and here is part II.

After a 28 year hiatus, caused in part by the Great Depression and World War II, Bovina held an Old Home Day celebration on August 18, 1956, with Charles McIntosh’s flat as the venue. The day included a parade, picnic dinner and a greased pole. Parade participants included the Bovina Fire Department, a team of chestnut horses driven by Ferris Todd, and the Bovina Fire Department’s Ladies Auxiliary. A number of organizations sponsored floats including the United Presbyterian Church, the Lake Delaware Home Bureau, the Bovina 4-H Happy Hearts, the Bovina Home Bureau, and the Bovina Recreation Club. Other parade participants included a two wheeled decorated cart, propelled by Margaret Hilson and Simone Duphilly, and ridden in by Nancy, John, and Christine Hilson and Shirley Hammond. The prizes were given by Assemblyman Edwyn Mason, who represented the judges. Mrs. Clarence Burns was general chairman of the event.

Eight years later, Bovina held another Old Home Day on September 5, 1964. There were floats sponsored by the 4-H, the Ski Club, and the Ladies’ Auxiliary, among others. Prizes were awarded for the prettiest and most original. The parade was followed by a picnic, then games and stunts, including climbing a greased pole and catching a greased pig. There was the firemen’s chicken barbecue, at which over 400 were served. This was the last town picnic to be called Old Home Day -- this also was the first Bovina town picnic that I clearly remember. I remember being a bit miffed that out of my whole family, I was the only one with no role in the day. Dad was marching with the firemen while Mom and my two sisters were on floats.

On August 29, 1970, Bovina celebrated its 150th birthday – its Sesquicentennial – in style. It was a full day, starting with a parade that had thirty-eight units, including bands, organizations and floats. Awards were given in a number of categories, including Jack and June Burns for the most humorous float (picture at left, with Jack and June, Judy Tator behind them, and Bob Burns and his daughter Amy to their left). Other entries included a pleasure buggy driven by John Hilson wearing his great grandfather, T.C. Strangeway’s wedding clothes. The events of the day attracted Congressman Hamilton Fish Jr, a candidate for Congress of the newly created 28th district. One of my big memories of this day was selling a copy of the Bovina Town History to the congressional candidate. After a picnic lunch, exhibits, demonstrations and sporting events were held on McIntosh flats. Demonstrations included George Johnston running a thrashing machine and Ron Russell demonstrating a number of old gasoline engines. Bovina women worked on two quilts. The day ended with an evening dance.

On July 24, 1976, Bovina, like many other communities in the United States, took its part in the Nation’s Bicentennial celebrations. Events included a parade, baking and costume contest, a chicken barbecue, a women’s tug-of-war and a tractor pull. Awards for floats included for the prettiest to June Burns, for most authentic to Cecil and Isabel Russell (picture at the right) and for most original to the South Kortright Calf club. Costume winners included Isabel Russell, Lauren Monroe, Bonnie Bray and Robin Hardenburg. Tractor pull winners included Scott Parsons, Bobby Hewitt, Doug Gregory, and Charlie LaFever. The day ended with a round and square dance at the newly built fire hall. Bovina continued to have various picnics and events through the 70s and 80s.

In 1995, Bovina celebrated its 175th Birthday with a birthday party on February 25, the actually anniversary. The town had a parade and picnic on August 5, preceded the evening before by a dance to benefit the Bovina Emergency Squad. The parade featured a number of family floats, including Hilsons, Monroes and McIntoshes, as well as trucks from Tony Gabriele and LaFever Excavating. Events also included a picnic and an all day quilt show and old photo display at the community hall. A special anniversary cancellation stamp took place at the Bovina Library. The day’s activities attracted around 1000 people.

The new millennium saw renewed interest in an annual town picnic, tied to the community yard sale. Usually held the third Saturday of July, 2009 will be no exception. The weekend will kick off on Friday night, the 17th, with two shows of "The Brushland Melodrama" at 7 and 9 pm, featuring local talent. Events on Saturday will start at 9, with demonstrations by the Bovina Fire Department at the fire house, a book sale to benefit the Bovina Public Library and the town wide yard sale, sponsored by the Bovina Historical Society. The parade will commence at 4 pm, followed by the town picnic and my talk about past town picnics at 7. It'll be a full day to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of Bovina!