Friday, July 30, 2010

Who Was Buying What 178 years ago Today

As I noted in an earlier blog entry, it is likely that my blogging is going to suffer while I transition full time to Bovina. But I want to celebrate the fact that tonight I have Internet in my house in Bovina (as well as a new washing machine). So I looked through pages from a Bovina store ledger that the county historian allowed me to photograph earlier this month to see who bought what on July 30 in 1832 (the volume, unfortunately, has many missing pages while others were pasted over by news paper, so I was lucky to find July 30). The source of this ledger is not clear - we do not know who the store owner was or where in Bovina the store was located.

Here's what some folks bought 178 years ago today:

We'll start with my ancestor, Francis Coulter, who bought 5 quarts of Whiskey and a pound of tobacco for what looks like $1.72. He wasn't the only person buying liquor. Included on the list for July 30 as having bought whiskey were John Thomson (1/2 gallon), Walter Scott (2 gallons), John Winters (1 quart) and Alexander Brush (1 gallon). Another ancestor of mine, William Miller, was more abstentious, buying a pound each of tea and coffee, along with an item that I can't read, for $1.31. July 30 seemed to be a thirsty day. Most of the purchases were for coffee, tea and whiskey, though Isaac Atkins did buy a gallon of molasses for $1.50. On July 31, the purchases were very similar, including repeat purchases of whiskey from Francis Coulter (another 5 quarts) and Alexander Brush (another gallon). David Thomson bought 2 gallons, along with 2 darning needles for $1.77. John Secord bought a teapot and blue thread while Thomas Sloan bought 4 pounds of sugar and a pitchfork for a $1.81. Frederick Purdy spent $1.36 for 4 pounds of nails.

When I get more settled in Bovina in the fall, I want to do a more thorough review of this incomplete ledger book to look at the buying patterns. Going by just these last two days of July in 1832, one definitely gets the impression that there was a lot of drinking going on (over half the purchases were for whiskey). But did Francis Coulter really down 5 quarts in a day, necessitating the purchase of another five the next? He did get in trouble with the Bovina Associate Presbyterian Church session twice in the 1830s for intoxication, but it is possible that he had some help in consuming the whiskey. It was haying season, so there were hired hands to think about. In the 1830s, whiskey and other such beverages were the preferred choice to water.

So I'll make further reports as I analyze and hopefully transcribe this ledger and post it on the web.

So good night from Bovina!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Special Announcement

Hello eager readers! A somewhat personal announcement that will impact this blog - mainly positively. I am going to be taking the early retirement incentive and retiring from my current job at the New York State Archives in September. I will be moving to Bovina full time, probably in October. It will be exciting being able to spend more time on local history and working on my house.

It is possible that blog entries over the next few months may be a bit more sporadic as I go through wrapping up my current job, selling my house and getting settled full time in Bovina. I'll keep you posted. Once I'm settled in Bovina, I'll be able to do more frequent entries - at least that's the plan!

Stay tuned.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Bovina Melodramas: Virtue's Reward!

I'm writing this at the Bovina Community Hall awaiting the premiere of the third in a seemingly never ending series of stories about Bovina written by an Anonymous Lady of Bovina. This one is set in 1890 and includes Paris Hilson, a woman of dubious character, Brawney LaFever, our hero, Sneezy Jeepers, our villian. The Jeepers family have appeared in all three melodramas - he has brothers Snidely and Sneaky. I've been told the family was quite large and lived in a hollow (or holler). So the stores may continue. These events are a fund raiser for the Bovina Public Library.

So it starts: Pansy Flowers and her daughter Aster mother and daughter are upset about Sneezy Jeepers wanting their rent to be paid. Pansy paints watercolors of Bovina heifers. Sneezy has just showed up. He was going to reveal his real name but he sneezed too much. So he's demanding the rent and if not rent, Pansy will have to marry Jeepers. Sneezy has revealed his adopted deaf mute child. Pansy has refused to marry Sneezy so she and her daughter are praying. In steps Rev. Doright Huggable of the Bovina UP Church - Pansy and Aster are thrilled to see him. Unfortunately, he has not succeeded in collecting enough money for the rent, but they will always make sure that they have the finest Bovina Milk, Butter and Ground Chuck. Paris Hilson has arrived, looking for the Reverend. She's hot to trot for the Reverend. But she's a singer, dancer, actor and entertainer. Gasps galore! She's revealed horrible news about Sneezy Jeepers' plans for his deaf mute child. She knows this because Jeepers did the same thing to her. And now arrive Brawney LaFever and the Handsome Stranger with a Beard. Well, Paris has a LaFever for Brawney LaFever! After trying to get the Handsome Stranger to speak, unsuccessfully, back comes Jeepers demanding the rent or marriage. Jeepers reveals Paris Hilson as disreputable, but Brawney has only eyes for Paris. And the Handsome Stranger turns out to be Pansy's husband! Paris gives Jeepers the rent and tells him to scram. But when he tried to take the deaf mute to 'boarding school' (gasps) everyone steps in to stop this travesty. The great Bovina Creamery flood of 1888? Everyone thought Pansy's son Crocus died in this flood. Well, gasp, the deaf mute is the missing son, dressed as a girl by Jeepers. Handsome Stranger clobbers Jeepers. Brawney clobbers him. The reverend condemns him. And the audience throws stuff at him. And Sneezy's name turns out to be 'Snodgrass' ('Snodgrass?'). But he can be saved by the goodness in Bovina. 'One of the most glorious spots on God's green earth.' Rock my soul in the bosom of Abraham. And Sneezy is cured of all his evilness! Applause. The End.

Ok, this will look all very confusing - and Bovina history took a few steps back tonight ('I've got a LaFever for Brawney LaFever?' Geesh!). But what fun! So I post it as written.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Week in Bovina, Part II

A short update concerning my week in Bovina. I spent two days in Delhi doing research on various Bovina topics. I have found which farm was the farm of Reverend John Graham (it's about a half-mile from my house). The Delaware County Historical Association let me photograph the Cora Livingston Barton rent book that is in their collection. Today, I met the new Delaware County Historian, Gabrielle Pierce, where she allowed me to photograph a Bovina store ledger from the early 1830s and the 1911 Bovina UP Church Cookbook. I found some interesting recipes that are going to form the basis of a few blog postings.

One that really puzzled me was 'Railroad Yeast.' Here it is in full:

"Seven medium sized potatoes, boiled; 3 tablespoons flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon salt. Mash potatoes very fine; stir all together, then pour 1 qt. boiling water on, stir until all is smooth, then add one pt. cold water; when cool, put in one yeast cake."

I need to figure out what you do next, since this was the whole recipe. I assume you put it right into a bread recipe, but who knows?

One other thing about the cookbook - no temperatures are given. There are two recipes for maple mousse and a recipe for Snickerdoodles that is a bit difference from the one I use (it includes raisins).

I hope to try some of these recipes, but not while the weather is so hot. Cold food will be best for now!

Don't forget Bovina Day on Saturday, the 17th, with the 2nd annual Brushland Melodrama the evening before.

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Week in Bovina

For the first time since 2005, I'm spending a full week in Bovina. I've got some stuff to deal with concerning my house and also hope to simply relax and get out on my bike a bit. I'm also taking time to do some research on Bovina history. This week, I'm going to verify where Bovina Pastor John Graham's farm was located and look for deeds related to stores in Bovina.

My week in Bovina will end with Bovina Day, sponsored by the Bovina Historical Society. Bovina Day will include a town wide yard sale from 9 to 3 and a vintage baseball game, with the Bovina Dairymen taking on Roxbury. The Bovina UP Church will be open where I will be showing a small slide show of pictures and videos from the Bicentennial Celebration last October. Russell's Store will be open and the Bovina Library will have its annual book sale. And the evening before will be two presentations of yet another Bovina Melodrama, in aid of the library.

So come and celebrate Bovina - and be sure to stop by the church and say hello.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

More Bovina History Pictures on Flickr

I've uploaded another 25 pictures to my Bovina History page on Flickr. Go to to see this set, which I've called the David Hoy Collection.

David Fletcher Hoy, a Bovina native, spent many years in the early 20th century collecting information on Bovina families. That included some images, which are now held by his grandson, David F. Hoy, III. Dave scanned these images and graciously allowed me to post these on the Bovina Families Flickr page. Families represented include Hoy, Miller, Archibald, Storie, Gladstone, Davidson and Gow, among others. There are a couple of pictures for which the identity is tentative. If you recognize any, please put your two cents in the comments field. And I would welcome any other information you may have on the images posted so far. There are now 174 images and 31 scanned records on the site. Check them out!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Latest updates to Bovina Families on Flickr - Miller and Burns

I've added two more sets of photographs to the Bovina families sets on Flickr. These sets include people related to me. Some come out of my photos and some come from others. Particular thanks to Jack Burns and David F. Hoy for providing me scans of their photographs.

The first set is the Miller Family, portraits of descendants of Thomas Miller and Nancy Laidlaw from Roberton, Scotland. The Millers saw four of their children emigrate to the United States. David Miller came first in 1815. His brothers William and Berry Shaw and his sister Christina came over in 1831. Only one brother remained in Scotland. See pictures of some of these descendants at More pictures will be added to this set.

The other set now on Flickr are pictures from the Burns family, with whom I am also related. My grandfather LaFever's mother was a Burns. Most of the pictures are descendants of John Burns (1808-1896) and his wife Nancy Ormiston (1813-1877). This set is at