Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Some Pictures from the Last Public School in Bovina

Thanks to Joan Archibald Townsend, I have some new pictures to share of the Bovina District 4 school in its last years (see the June 15 blog entry about the closing of this school 50 years ago).  Joan graciously shared with me a number of family pictures (which I will be sharing on the Bovina NY History Flickr page in the next couple of weeks) and some pictures from when she attended the Bovina school.  The set below were taken probably in the spring of 1957 and all on the same day.  The pictures were mounted on some card board, probably by Joan's mother, Eleanor Burns Archibald.  There are names on some of the pictures but not all of them.  You are welcome to add names that you recognize. Click on the image to get a larger version.

Bovina District 4, 1957
Note:  Joan has noted that the photographer might have been Carolyn Keefer, wife of the Bovina UP Church minister. 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Two School Pictures I Need Help Identifying

Here are two pictures that I'm pretty sure are from the same school - but I'm not sure which one - nor am I sure it's a Bovina school.

The first shot was found in my late grandmother's pictures.  I recognize one of the children - James Calhoun (1889-1918), grandma's first husband.  The Calhouns lived in Bovina, but not far from Andes.  I thought it might be Biggar Hollow, but the building doesn't match images I have of that particular school. 

Jeanne Flye sent this picture discovered in an album of her grandmother's, Mary Ann Raitt.  It certainly looks to me to be the same building.  But where?  And who are the kids? (Click on the image for a larger version)

So any help with either of these would be greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

"Bovina Center, My Home Town" - Parts III and IV

This is the second of a series of entries from the script used on April 21, 1955, when citizens of Bovina presented a pageant of the town's history - "Bovina Center, My Home Town."  Though I'm not 100% sure, it appears the script was written by Vera Storie and her brother Fletcher Davidson.  The items in brackets refer to the tableau of local citizens acting out parts of the story.  [The first two sections are in the May 21 blog entry.]
III.  The First Settler of the Present Village

In 1794, just four years after Elisha Maynard had chosen for his homeland in what is today the town of Bovina, a second energetic and progressive young man, Alexander Brush, came from Long Island and settled in that part of the same town, which is today known as the village.  He built himself the home which is at present owned and occupied by Lester Hoy [now Tim McIntosh] and purchased himself about 400 acres of land which included the present site of the village, parts of which he later sold to new settlers Alexander Brush, like Elisha Maynard, had a large family of nine children, all of whom were also given Bible names.  In 1796 he erected the first large grist mill in town on the site of the Dennis Grist Mill, more lately known as the site of the Walter Coulter Saw Mill.  His son-in-law is said to have constructed the first distillery in town, where Parmenter’s house now stands.

In the early years when Methodism was in its infancy, Alexander Brush was the mainstay of the Methodist Society in Bovina and preached for the Methodists, either in his own home or in that of a neighbor.  When he later became blind, his wife would read to him from the Bible, and he would then preach from the text to the people.  When he became old and too feeble to stand, he sat in an easy rocking chair as he preached.  [*5-Brush and wife]  A year or two before his death he partially recovered his sight and declared that if he could but live a couple of years longer, he would see a Methodist church erected in town; but he did not live to see one of his greatest desires gratified.  He died in 1840 and was buried in the cemetery located in the central part of the village of Bovina Center.  The next year in 1841 the name of the village was changed from Bovina Center to Brushland in honor of Alexander Brush and was so called until the year 1889.

IV.  Early Education

In importance to these Scotch settlers, learning walked hand in hand with religion.  Therefore, one of their first accomplishments was the making possible of an education for their children.  The first school was established in 1808, and all the children from five to fifteen were legally compelled to attend to study the Bible, arithmetic, writing, spelling and English.  In 1820 when the town was organized, there were in town 400 children of school age; and the total expense for the maintenance of school for one year for that number of students was $221.87.  The wages of the teacher in those days was about $10 or $12 a month and board, since the teachers “boarded around”, spending about a week at each of the families in the district. 
The first schoolhouse in town stood where the United Presbyterian Church now stands and was later moved to the site of the William Elliott home.  It was a frame building with slab benches and writing desks around the sides of the room and heated by an open fire.  [*6-School and pupils and teacher with song]  In 1855 there were twelve schools in town, the last school district to be organized being the Coulter Brook District.  In 1833 a log schoolhouse was built on Coulter Brook with a round chimney, Thomas Liddle, a very fat man, standing on the top of the building while the chimney was built around him, he climbing up on the stones as they built them up higher and higher until they finally took him out at the top.  The present school building in the village was built in 1893. 
Through the years many of the town’s children pursued higher education, some of whom became famous.  To illustrate, I might mention the following few sons of Bovina:  William Murray, a Supreme Court Justice; David Murray, a college professor who was appointed to take charge of the organization of education in Japan; Isaac H. Maynard, an Assistant Secretary in the United States Treasury; John Lee, a noted minister; John Black, a pioneer missionary in Canada; James Black, a minister; Andrew Archibald, a minister; David Hoy, a Registrar of Cornell University; William Clark, an editor of the Delaware Express for many years; William Ormiston, one of the finest physicians in this section for years; Ed. C. Dean, one of Delhi’s most successful business men; and James Foreman, one of Delaware County’s outstanding politicians. 
Perhaps the outstanding teacher of those early days was the Scotchman Thomas Gordon, one of the most successful and best known public school teachers in the county.  All those whom he taught can be identified by their beautiful handwriting, a distinguishing mark of each and every one of them.  He was one of Bovina’s richest citizens, not because of wealth he had hoarded but because of his ability to give – to give of himself and of his homely counsel.  In the hour of his adopted country’s need he volunteered to fight for her freedom, and in after years he freely gave to his townsmen hours of his time with no thought of recompense.  If a deed was to be drawn, a will to be written, a business venture to be undertaken, the man who carried out such a project without the kindly, shrewd advice of this wise Scotchman was indeed a reckless citizen.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

So What if You Don't Have a Computer or do the Internet?

It was pointed out to me recently that my blog postings are not available to those who don't have a computer or simply don't spent time on the Internet.  It was suggested I need to find a way to get these postings out to folks in this position.  Mailing them out would be time consuming and financially prohibitive.  I do put postings into the Bovina UP Church's Community Newsletter, but since it comes out only quarterly, it limits my sharing the blog that way.

I've come up with a solution that wasn't too expensive.  I've put two copies of the Bovina NY History blog postings from 2009 and 2010 in the Bovina Library (one to stay in the library as reference, the other available to be checked out) and a copy in Russell's Store.  In July, I'll print out and make available the blog entries from the first half of 2011.

So if you have friends and family who would like to read the blog but not on a computer screen, please alert them to the availability of the printed copies.  Thanks.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Bovina's Last Public School

Bovina's "little school" held its last class 50 years ago this month.  The trustees of district number four, the last common school district in Bovina to operate a school, had made a decision at their May 2, 1961 meeting, to start sending all of their students to central school districts in Delhi, Andes or South Kortright after the 1960/61 school year.  That district, and a few others in Bovina, continued to contract to send their students to other schools.  In June 1967, all of the remaining Bovina school districts were dissolved by order of the State Education Department (as were all common school districts in the state that no longer operated schools).  Trustees of district number four sold their building to the town of Bovina in June 1967, just before the district was dissolved.  The town, in turn, and sold it to the Bovina Library Association in 1969.  It continues to serve as the town library.

On Saturday, July 9, at 11 am, I will unveil an exhibit about Bovina schools at the Bovina library, where the town's last school room was located.  I'm hoping some of the children from that last class will come and share their memories of the 'little school' and Mrs. Jardine.  [NOTE:  This is a change of date - we had scheduled for June 25, but it's graduation day in area schools and didn't want to conflict with that.]

Here are pictures from the June 2, 1961 issue of the Walton Reporter.  My thanks to Terry Rogers at the Walton Historical Society for making this copy for me.  It is much appreciated.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Bovina in the Civil War – Recruiting

As did most communities in the country, Bovina made its contribution to the War of the Rebellion.  Bovina ultimately furnished 94 men, out of quota that totaled 109.  Eleven men volunteered between June 1861 and July 1862.  Another 33 were furnished in the summer of 1862, under the President’s call for 600,000 men.  Six more enlisted in 1863, 24 in the summer of 1864 and 20 enlisted in December of that year. 

Forty two of Bovina’s men in blue served in the 144th New York Infantry Regiment – and most of these were in Company E, which was predominately made up of men from Bovina and Andes.  The 144th was created in 1862 after President Lincoln issued a call for an additional 300,000 men. New York Governor Edwin D. Morgan issued a proclamation for volunteers on 2 July 1862. Originally, the counties of Delaware, Schoharie and Schenectady were grouped to form one regiment, but a rally held on August 6, 1862 in Delhi was so successful that Delaware County raised enough men for an entire regiment. Robert S. Hughston was appointed Colonel.

As the war progressed and President Lincoln issued more calls for soldiers, more enticements were needed to get young men to enlist.  In the fall of 1863, the President issued a call for 300,000 men, followed a few months later by a call for 200,000 more.  Communities were given a quota which they had to meet through enlistments or the hiring of substitutes.  The men did not have to be from the community in which they lived - towns could meet their quota with any willing and able volunteer.  To entice soldiers to enlist, communities would offer a bounty.  In Bovina, the bounty for 1864, voted on at the end of 1863, was $300, with 112 supporting the bounty and 63 against.  Apparently, this wasn’t sufficient to attract enough volunteers to meet the quota.  In February of 1864, a vote was held to increase the bounty by $100 to $400.  The increase passed but by a tighter margin – 98 for to 85 against.  The amount was raised again in June, but the vote was even tighter, with 68 for and 67 against.  Subsequent votes in August and September to raise the bounty yet again passed by wider margins.  By the last vote in early 1865, the bounty was up to $800.  Bovina raised a total of $42,204 during the war to meet its bounty requirements and other expenses related to the war.  Of that, $39,650 was paid in actual bounties, $807 for recruiting fees and $1747 was paid for interest on town loans.   

When enlistments still lagged, a draft came into being.  Even before the Civil War, all men between 20 and 45 were required to enroll as being eligible for military service.  Bovina had 188 men who were on this list.  It was from this list that the names of draftees were drawn.  Bovina had a quota of 22 men to be furnished under the 1863 draft, with another 6 in March 1864.  Out of these 28, 26 did not have to go because they paid $300.  One draftee, Reverend John E. Taylor, was the pastor of the Cabin Hill Presbyterian Church in Andes (and later the Presbyterian Church in Delancey).  Taylor, a Bovina resident, furnished a substitute.  

Bovina appears to have had at least one draft evader.  The final report on Bovina's participation in the war noted that one of the 1863 draftees absconded.  The name was not provided, but circumstantial evidence points to Elijah Fuller, the son of Richard Fuller and Ann Nichols.  First, there is no information about Fuller's status in the draft documentation (it is provided for all other draftees).  Second, he does not show up in any future New York or Federal census records.  Third, he does not show up in the 1864 or 1866 military roll (he was on the 1862 one).  Fourth, he does not show up in any New York Civil War service (though, of course, he could have served in another state).  Fifth, and the strongest piece of evidence, is that Fuller moved to Canada sometime in the 1860s and stayed there the rest of his life.  He married Eva Metland in Canada in 1867.  All of his children were born in Canada and he died there in 1918.  Going to Canada to avoid the draft did happen in the Civil War.  It is possible that Fuller took this action to avoid the horrors of the war. 

Young men in Bovina took a variety of paths during the Civil War.  Some went to war eagerly, some reluctantly and some, for various reasons and using various approaches, such as Elijah Fuller, opted not to serve.  In July's blog entry about the war, I'll talk about Bovina's 33 men who claimed exemption from service.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Delaware Railroad Company - Follow-up

On June 4, I attended a talk and book signing by Dr. Michael Kudish for his new book, Where Did the Tracks Go in the Catskills?  It's the fourth volume in his series called Mountain Railroads of New York State (available from Purple Mountain Press).  As Mike emphasized in his talk, the focus of his series on railroads is on the geography, not the detailed history of the railroads themselves.  His series covers railroads that were built and those that were only partially built and never completed.  One of those uncompleted railroads was the Delaware Railroad Company - the strongest attempt to bring the trains into Bovina.

I've reported on the Delaware Railroad Company, created in 1898, in several blog entries.  I reported on Mike's work to identify where the rail bed was located in entries on May 12 and November 8, 2009 and April 26, 2010.  This past March, I did a four part series about the railroad.

Just this month, Tom Hilson shared with me a recently unearthed cache of materials in his family papers related to the railroad.  The materials included the prospectus for the Delaware Railroad Company.  He also has lists of subscribers for buying the right of way and lists of stockholders (which I will share these in future blog entries).  Here's the text of the prospectus.  Note that the prospectus calls the railroad the Delaware Valley Railroad, though that is not the name that was in the incorporation papers. 

Delaware Valley Railroad Prospectus

   The proposed DELAWARE VALLEY RAILROAD is to be built from the village of Delhi, the county seat of Delaware County, N.Y., from the terminal for the Delhi branch of the New York, Ontario & Western Railroad, to the villages of Andes and Bovina Centre, a total distance of 15 miles.
   The consent of the property owners along the line has all be secured, permitting the construction of the railway along the highway, or the so called Delhi and Middletown turnpike.
   The villages of Andes and Bovina Centre have no outlet to a railroad, the nearest being 12 miles over a long and steep hill to the Ulster & Delaware Railroad, at Arkville, or 12 miles to the New York, Ontario & Western Railroad, at Delhi, over this proposed route.
   The people for at least 7 miles beyond Andes will haul freight to and from the proposed railroad at Andes.  To reach Bovina Centre, a branch will be run intersecting the main line, reaching people for at least 7 miles beyond Bovina Centre who will haul freight to and from this terminus, making the length of territory covered by this railroad over 30 miles. 
   The territory to be covered by this railroad is as fertile as any in the State of New York, and a noted dairying section.  The milk and freight traffic on this proposed railroad will be a large and profitable one, and the company will at once obtain a large business from this item of freight alone. 
   The proposed railroad follows the Little Delaware, a branch of the Delaware river, and the grades encountered are comparatively easy, costing less than $3,000 per mile in the construction of the road bed.
   We are positive that a personal examination of the route will prove conclusively the correctness of this statement, and the prospective earnings hereto attached, and would invite examination as to the correctness of our statements.
   This statement does not include the villages of New Kingston, Margaretville, Arena, Union Grove, and Shavertown, all of which are within a distance of ten miles from the road. 
The second page of the prospectus provided information on the cost of the railroad.  An image of that page is above. 

I will provide a list of people who bought stock and subscribers to the right of way in future blog entries. Many thanks to Tom for sharing this with me and allowing me to share it with you.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Bovina Honor Roll

During World War II, the Town of Bovina created this Honor Roll of its men and women who were serving in the war.  It stood by the Bovina Public Library (now the Bovina Historical Society museum). The roll was taken down sometime in the 1960s to protect it from the elements.  Below are two pictures that both date from the 1940s. Compare them with each other and with the roll as it looks today and you'll see that names were regularly being added during the war.

Photo from 1940s by James Hoy, courtesy of Jim and Tom Hoy.

Photo courtesy of family of Jack Hilson - click on image to see larger view

Photo by Ray LaFever, May 21, 2011 - click on image to see larger view
Here's an alphabetical list of the names on the Honor Roll, courtesy of Ed Davidson:


I would love to hear from anyone who knows the history of this roll or of the names on it.  As far as I know, there are two people on this roll who are still with us:  Ed Davidson and Stanley (Stub) Hewitt.  If there are others, let me know.  I am pursuing getting funding to stabilize the honor roll and erect it somewhere in town where it can be seen. So stay tuned for further developments. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Bramley Mountain Plane Crash - Quick update

This is a quick note, mostly of excitement, as I continue to research the 1945 plane crash near Bramley Mountain that took the life of a West Point cadet (see my April 29 and May 30 blog postings).  I've established contact with someone in Cadet Clark's hometown of Holdrege, Nebraska and tonight spoke with his sister-in-law - the first person I've had any contact with who actually knew him.  She recalled him being a very nice young man who did well in spite of coming from what was then known as a broken home.  When he came home on leave from West Point, it amused her that he was not very neat during his leave - his clothes were all over the furniture in his room.  It probably was a nice change from what he had to do when at the Academy.  I'm now working to establish contact with some of his high school and West Point classmates. 

So from a simple question in Russell's Store about a plane crash this has grown into quite the enterprise.  More to come.