Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Stories from Bovina's Cemeteries - the Cathels Family

This will be the first in a series of monthly blog entries about people buried in Bovina cemeteries.  This started from a presentation I did on October 29 called "I See Dead People-Stories from Bovina Cemeteries."  The initial entries will be from that presentation, but there are many stories in Bovina's cemeteries.  There are over 2500 people buried in Bovina.  I can’t tell all the stories, but I’ll keep working on them.

The Cathels Family

Over the span of 13 days in the early fall of 1865, the life of Nancy Bailey Cathels was completely upended.  Her life already had had challenges.  She lost an infant daughter in June 1854 and a 12 year old daughter in 1862.  And from reading the Bovina UP Church session records, it’s obvious that her life with her husband James was not without its bumps.  The events of September and early October 1865, however, had to be the greatest challenge in her life.

Nancy was born in 1825, the daughter of William and Mary Bailey.  Her husband James, the son of James and Isabella Dickson Cathells, was born in Scotland in 1819.  James and Nancy lived on Scutt Mountain Road, about a quarter of a mile or so off Pink Street.

In the early 1860s, James shows up three times in the Bovina UP Church Session minutes.  Each time, he was in some kind of trouble.  In the fall of 1861, he was sued for slander by James Campbell.  The Bovina UP Church session stepped in to arbitrate and after a few months, it was resolved, with Mr. Cathels withdrawing the statement against Mr. Campbell.  Cathels said that he "did not intend to slander or injure him by said statements."  The nature of the slanderous statement was not revealed.

In the fall of October 1862, James again was involved in a case of slander, but this time it also included some fists and liquor, and was related to the Civil War.  James Cathels had claimed service exemption in July 1862 because of the after effects of fracturing his arm two years earlier.  The following month, Alexander Hanford Gill (commonly known as Hanford), son of James Gill, enlisted in the 144th New York Infantry.  On October 6, while at Hamilton’s tavern (where the Jardine’s house is now located), Cathels made some remarks concerning the validity of someone's enlistment papers.  What happened next is not clear, given the differing testimony.  James Gill stated that Cathels specifically claimed that Hanford had forged or back-dated his enlistment papers in order to collect the bounty.  Cathels claimed that he had made a statement that someone had “done a dishonorable act” in enlisting, without saying whether or not he had said who that was.  Whatever was said or how the statement was made, a fight ensued.  Gill claimed that Cathels proceeded to hit him seven or eight times.  He also claimed that Cathels “took up a chair and swore he would split my head.”   Cathels claimed that Gill took him “by the throat” and that he struck back in self defense.  It wasn’t until April 1863 that the case was settled with Mr. Cathels receiving an official rebuke and being restored to membership in the congregation.  [Note:  Alexander Hanford Gill served in the 144th from the time of his enlistment until the end of the war.  There is no evidence that his right to a bounty payment was ever questioned by anyone other than Cathels.]

A year later, Cathels once again found himself before the Bovina UP Church session.  This time, he was in trouble for having signed a license for the sale of liquor.  James fully admitted having done so and in the knowledge of the rules of the church against the sale of liquor.  His membership was suspended.  It is not clear at the time of his death whether or not he had been restored to membership.

In the spring of 1865, James and Nancy Cathels reported to the state census taker that they had eight children, ranging from their eldest son, David, age nineteen, to their youngest son and child, James, age about one and a half.  It was in the early fall of that year that Nancy Bailey Cathels’ world began to unravel.  On September 27, her husband James died.  Within two days of being widowed, Nancy lost her two youngest sons, John Steel, age three and James, who was almost two (though the newspaper indicates that John Steele Cathels died the same day as his father).  Four days later, her youngest daughter Jane died, age five.  Jane was followed in death by her eight year old sister Maggie on October 7.  And three days later, Nancy’s mother, Mary Bailey, died, age 65.  So Nancy’s life was totally changed in just two weeks. These deaths were reported in the local newspapers (except, for some reason, Maggie's).  These are two clips from the Bloomville Mirror, which reported these deaths with no other information.  We cannot determine what took Nancy's husband and children.  Given this unusually large number of deaths in one family, it likely was the same disease.  Any number of illnesses is possible - diphtheria is one strong candidate.

Nancy had little time to mourn.  If a contagious disease is what took her family, some of the other children may have gotten the same illness but managed to survive.  She also may have caught the illness - we just do not know.  Nancy may have started out her widowhood by nursing some or all of her four remaining children, David, Mary, Hanna and William.  It is possible by this time, however, that oldest son David had left Bovina.  When Nancy filed her petition to become administrator of her late  husband’s estate in February 1866, David was living in Patch Grove, Wisconsin.  Whether David left before or after his father's death is not known. 

And during this tragic and challenging time in her life, Nancy had another complication.  She was pregnant.   In May 1866, she gave birth to a son, James John Steele Cathels.  Nancy continued farming at least into the 1880s, raising her surviving children.  In 1880 she was still farming with her son James, now 14 and a hired laborer.

It appears likely that Nancy lost another child before her death.  Her son William disappears from the records after the 1870 census and was not listed when her will was filed (even if not named in a will, estate files usually list all surviving children).  He probably died before 1875, though if buried in Bovina, the grave is not marked.  Nancy survived her husband and the children who died just after him by over 20 years, dying in July of 1888 at the age 63 of Brights disease.

She was survived by her sons David, living in Murray, Iowa, and James J.S., living in Bovina.  Her daughters had married and settled in South Dakota.  Mary B. Hyzer was in Madison, while Hannah Betts was in Franklin.  In her will, written about a month before her death, Nancy bequeathed a number of things to her children, including a "feather bed, pillows, bolster and a full supply of sheets, blankets and quilts to make a good comfortable bed" to her son James.  Her clothing went to her daughters.  Mary also received a yarn carpet that had belonged to Nancy's mother.  David was appointed the executor of the estate.  James, the remaining child in Bovina at his mother's death, left Bovina and by 1900 also was living in Murray, Iowa.

The only reminder in Bovina of the Cathels family is the obelisk in the Bovina Cemetery erected shortly after the tragedy of the fall of 1865 at a cost of $100.  The cemetery monument spells the name as Cathells while all of the records use Cathels, including at least two documents signed by James Cathels.

Monday, November 21, 2011

"Bovina Center, My Home Town" - Parts IX and X.

This is the seventh 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.  [Sections I and II are in the May 21 blog entry, sections III and IV are in the June 21 blog entry, section V is in the July 21 entry, section VI is in the August 21 entry, section VII is in the September 21 entry and section VIII is in the October 21 entry.]  

IX.    Teunis

At the foot of Mt. Pisgah, the highest peak not only in Bovina but also in Delaware County, lies Tunis Lake, [*15 – Projection of Tunis Lake] a muddy little pond of a few acres, the only monument to the memory of a friendly old Indian, who was the last of his kind in this vicinity.  The Indian trail in Bovina crossed the town from the section near Tunis Lake by the way of Robert Forrest over to the river past Jack Damgaard’s and up the valley to the Notch beyond Rema Hobbie’s home and on into Stamford.  This was the trail by which in 1792 Elisha Maynard with his two yoke of oxen and cart reached the section where he made his first settlement in town.  [#15A – Teunis, the Indian]  Teunis, this old Indian, lived in a hut on the shore of Tunis Lake.  Apple trees, which he planted, and a heap of stones marked for many years the spot where his hut had once stood.  On several occasions he warned the early white settlers of the dangers of them from the more malicious of his tribesmen. Once when Teunis, after he had built his hut on the shore of the lake on the Doig farm, was being assaulted and beaten by two drunken white men, a Mr. Bassett of Andes came to his rescue and thus won the friendship of Teunis.  Often Teunis with his hammer and sack would go away and after a short absence would return with pieces of rock from which he obtained lead to make bullets.  On one occasion he blindfolded Mr. Bassett and led him through the woods for a short distance to the mine; and upon removing the blindfold and showing Bassett the mine, rich with lead ore, replaced the blindfold and led Bassett back home, promising that before his death he would reveal to Bassett the location of the mine.  However, his secret was buried with him, for he died soon after this before revealing the whereabouts of the mine.  Many years were spent trying to locate the mine but to no avail.  However, the lake is still called Tunis and recalls to our memory the friendly old Indian who more than once saved our ancestors from death. 

X.    Home Life

“Men’s work is from sun to sun, but women’s work is never done.”  So it was with our early settlers.  The woman of the house was always busy even in the evenings as she sat with the family before the open fire, busy spinning thread from flax her husband had grown or weaving woolen cloth to be used for clothes for her family or sewing new clothes or patching old, making them look like new, or perhaps knitting. [*16 – Family before fire]  As we look at some of the handiwork of our great, great grandmothers, we marvel at their beauty, at the fine stitch at the many small tucks, at the wealth of beautiful, intricate embroidery, and at the interesting handmade lace trimming.  In the daylight there were too few hours for the mother of the home; so she was up early about her many duties: washing the clothes, cleaning the house, making the butter, baking the bread, cooking the meals for their large family of thirteen or more, and making candles, the only source of artificial light in those days.  In every home one would see lined up against the wall barrels of flour, kegs of salted fish, large jars of salted meats, barrels of maple sugar, for white sugar was a luxury in those days, and bags of dried corn, apples, and other fruits – all of which was largely due to the efforts of the wife.
The oldest children often hired out to work at neighbors, the daughter at the low wage of 75 cents a week or the son, at $8 a month.

There was no division of distinction among the settlers on account of wealth, for all were poor.  Neighbors would drop in of an evening for a social chat and a drink of whiskey.  Whiskey then seemed a necessity in almost every home.

The young people would often gather at neighbor’s and spend the night singing and playing games.  But more often there would be a neighbor present who would saw off a tune on a fiddle and call off for a square dance. [*17 – Square Dance]  Thus the evening would pass quickly, old and young dancing till the morning hours.  The smaller children often busied themselves cracking nuts which they had gathered, popping corn, or baking apples over the coals in the fireplace.

For recreation, in the late 1800’s, a cooper by the name of Teller, organized a band for the young men. [*17A – Band member]  There were about 20 in the band; they wore attractive uniforms; and, it is said, they learned to play well.  Some of the members whom many will remember were Will Archibald, Will Black, Bob Foreman, Jim Foreman, John Gordon, Ad Laidlaw, George McNair, Al McPherson, Howard, McPherson, Dave Currie, and Alex Myers.

The neighbor men often were found working together, raising a barn, gathering the crops, or threshing; and at such bees there was always an abundance of whiskey.  The women, too, worked together as they played [*17b – Quilting party and song “Seeing Nellie Home”]; for often they gathered at a neighbor’s to tie a quilt or quilt a pieced quilt, they enjoying the visit with one another as much as the work.  In those days it was also quite customary to visit one’s closest friends or relatives, the family all going on the visit and often remaining for a few days.  On one such occasion, an uncle and aunt went to visit their newly married nephew and his wife, taking as a gift a hen and her twelve chickens.  The young wife was taken by surprise, and there were but three pieces of pie for dessert.  She, however, always capable of handling any situation, said to her husband as she served the pie, “I’m sorry, Bill, that you don’t like blackberry pie.”

When anyone died, the neighbors attending the simple service at the burial of the dead, were served cake and wine.

Each day closed as it had begun with family workshop, the father reading from the Bible, praying as old and young knelt by their chairs, and leading the singing, all praising God, if not harmoniously, at least from their hearts.  It was from Scenes like these that our ancestors were inspired to become the strong, God-fearing men and women we know them to have been, scenes that made our country great.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

From 1939 - Bovina Center Couple Celebrate 60th Anniversary

Alexander R. and Isabella Laing Myers celebrated their 60th anniversary 72 years ago today.  Here's the article about the celebration from the November 24, 1939 Catskill Mountain News. 

Bovina Center Couple Celebrate 60th Anniversary

More than 150 folks of Bovina Center and vicinity packed the United Presbyterian church parlors there Friday night to help Mr. and Mrs. A.R. Myers celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary.

Mr. and Mrs. Myers were born and brought up in Andes.  Their early married life was spent in that village but for the past 45 years they have been residents of Bovina where, until three years ago, when he had trouble with his eyes, Mr. Myers followed the trade of a house painter.

Mrs. Myers has daily contact with scores of Bovina folks through her duties as "central" at the Bovina Center telephone exchange.

When the phone service was started in Bovina Center, there was but one instrument in the community and only one wire to the outside worked, a line to New Kingston.  Several farmers had phones, however.  When a call came in from outside for one of the local residents, Mrs. Myers would dispatch a messenger she kept for the purpose to call the wanted one to the phone.

Mrs. Myers was born in the village of Andes June 8, 1861, a daughter of John and Margaret Laing.  After residing in Andes for 14 years Mr. and Mrs. Myers lived in Margaretville one year and then moved to Bovina Center.

Mr. Myers is a son of Frank and Betty Myers who lived in Canada Hollow, town of Andes.  He received his formal education in a school in the Hollow.  He will be 84 Jan. 22.

The Myers were married in a house next door to the church where Friday's celebration was held.  The ceremony was performed by Rev. James Lee, Nov. 19, 1879.  Attending the wedding was Mrs. Lee, Mr. and Mrs. W.R. Miller and their three-month old son, Frank Miller.  The couple's honeymoon consisted of a trip to Andes.  The journey, by horse and wagon, required three hours.

Mr. and Mrs. Myers had five children, only two of whom are living.  They are Jack Myers and Mrs. Anna Thompson, both of Endicott. 

Mr. Myers was Alexander R. Myers.  His wife was Isabella Laing Myers.  As noted in the article, Mrs. Myers was Bovina's telephone operator for many years.  Here's an article from the July 26, 1940 Walton Reporter about Mrs. Myers (click on the image for a larger version - you may need to right click after the image opens, then click view image in order to be able to zoom in on the text):

Mr. and Mrs. Myers lived to celebrate 67 years together.  A.R. Myers died in 1947 - Isabella died in 1951.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Bovina in the Civil War - Bovina’s Old Soldiers

Seems appropriate on the day after Veteran's Day, a holiday which did not exist until over 50 years after the Civil War ended, to remember those Bovina soldiers who survived the Civil War.  Many of them returned to the life they were living before the war, though not without challenges.  A number of them suffered from life long after-effects of the war.  In a special census of Civil War veterans, conducted in 1890, John P. Dennis reported suffering  from rupture and a disabled left hip.  Henry Hogaboom suffered a ‘general disability’ that ‘is not overcome.’  Albert McPherson stated that he became deaf from his war service.  Berry Shaw Miller reported that he had ‘neurology and rheumatism’ and that he was deaf in one ear.  His brother Gilbert 'Gib' Miller suffered from chronic diarrhea.

A number of Bovina soldiers left New York State after the war.  John Coulter left sometime in the 1860s and by 1870 was living in Cross Creek, Colorado, working as a lawyer.  He married a widow, Anne Gaffney, and adopted her two children.  When Coulter died on January 1, 1919, in Boulder, he was a judge. 

In 1866, John's first cousin, Thomas, headed west, along with Thomas J. Liddle, another Bovina Civil War vet. They traveled by train as far as Omaha and then took a boat on the Missouri river for Fort Benton, Montana.  Coulter settled in Lewis and Clark County in Montana and in 1870 was a gulch miner.  What ultimately happened to him is not known, but he was named in his aunt Mary McGibbon’s will in 1889 and shows up on the 1890 Military census, still in Montana.

Thomas Liddle, after two years of ranching, mining and carrying mail in Montana, set out for Puget Sound, but ended up settling in Walla Walla, Washington. Hiring out to a pack train, he went back to Montana and then returned to Walla Walla, the round trip occupying one month.  In 1872, he settled in Colfax in Whitman County, Washington, where he remained for at least 50 years.

Some veterans stayed in Delaware County, though not necessarily in Bovina.  John D. Ferguson learned the carpenter trade until moving to Delhi in 1881, where he was in the mercantile business.  His firm changed names several times as partners came and left: Ferguson and Groat, Ferguson and Churchill, and Ferguson and Thomson.  He retired in 1916 from the business.  His obituary reported that Mr. Ferguson “was eminently successful, his foundation principles being integrity, courtesy and square dealing with all.”  Ferguson was active in the England Post, GAR and was at the time of his death serving as Commander. 

James S. Adee was promoted several times during his war service, first to the rank of Sergeant, then to Orderly, or First Sergeant, and finally to First Lieutenant, the rank he held at the time of his discharge.   He returned to Bovina after the war.  The year after the end of the war, he bought his fathers farm.  He moved to Kortright in 1880, taking over the farm of his father-in-law and later purchased a farm about four and one-half miles from Delhi.  Adee was noted in the Biographical Review as “a strong Republican and is a member of England Post, No.142, Grand Army of the Republic.”  He died in 1899, having been widowed for 8 years.

The aforementioned Miller Brothers answered the call for soldiers in 1864 and both enlisted in the 144th.  The brothers were honorably discharged on the 18th of July, 1865.  Berry never fully recovered from the ill effects of the exposures and privations of the Civil War, though he did survive the war by over 40 years, dying in1906.  Berry’s brother, Gib, was Bovina’s last surviving old soldier, dying 70 years after the war started.  He was 87 when he died in Oneonta in 1931 from the effects of a fall a few days earlier.  Delaware County's last Civil War soldier died in 1941 and the nation's last surviving soldier from the conflict died in 1956

This picture came from the Cecil Russell family collection.  It dates from May 1910 and is a veterans gathering in Andes.  The names that have been identified:  Left to right: 1. James Elliott, 2. Unknown, 3. Matthew Lambert, 4. Unknown, 5. Unknown, 6. James G. Seath, 7. Thomas Gordon (father of Margaret Gordon, who taught Social Studies in Delhi for many years), 8. Alex White, 9. William Richardson (grandfather of Isabell Irvine Russell), 10. Andrew Anderson, 11. William Reside, 12. Simeon Goodman, 13. Gilbert D. Miller, 14. Joseph Hughes. Thank you to Tim Duerden and Rachel Thrasher for helping to identify more of the names.

The stories of these and other Civil War soldiers with Bovina connections will be a monthly feature of this blog starting in 2012.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Bovina Rowdies Rebuked

In the course of reviewing on-line newspapers from over 100 years ago, I stumbled upon this poem that I will simply present. It comes from the Bloomville Mirror from 1860, likely February or March. Some of the type is hard to read, so I had to guess some of the words.  The newspaper 'disguised' Brushland by removing one letter! I hope further research will at some point explain what this is all about.

Bovina Rowdies Rebuked

Ye men of morals hear my ditty!
One night as I passed Bru-hland City,
I saw the devils let lone to play,
For them I had to clear the way.

They order'd out both old and young,
The air with their swollen voices rung,
Like demons from the ?? below.
To the church gate that all did go.

The last that came, I wondering saw,
Carried old clothes and sheaves of straw;
This leg on then it was their plan,
Of the clothes and straw to make a man.

It was their object during the night,
Upon this man to vent their spite;
The most like human form I saw,
Was this same man composed of straw.

They then commenced their infernal gale,
The image was hoisted on a rail;
Their designs for to complete,
The rode it up and down the street.

At length they heard a groaning sound!
The demons started all around!
Who is it that groans so loud?
Or did that voice come from the clouds?

With trembling knees, o'ercome with fear,
A ghost in them did then appear;
Struck with horror, and confounded,
As if with pestilence surrounded.

The ghost then spoke to them and said,
I am John Armer*, from the dead;
And I am sent to end the strife.
Is this the mob that took my life?

Twas composed of such a hellish crew,
As now appears here in my view.
A pause ensued mute with fright;
Poor Johnny vanished from their sight.

Then with cautious steal by tread.
Shocked by their visit from the dead,
The spirit sad, disheartened them,
The demons staggard to their den.


*Allusion is here made to a man by the name of John Armer, who was milled to death in Brushland some years ago.  [Note-I have yet to figure out who John Armer was.]