Monday, April 30, 2012

Stories from Bovina's Cemeteries - the Elliott Brothers

This substantial monument in the Bovina Cemetery was erected by the grieving parents of Thomas and James Elliott.  William and Eleanor (Wight) Elliott of New Kingston lost two of their three sons in the Civil War - and in the same month.  The farm on which they lived and grew up is still in the Elliott family today.  Though mainly in the Town of Middletown it does overlap a bit into the town of Bovina.

William and Elliott had three sons.  James, born in 1841, enlisted first, signing up in the town of Middletown on August 26, 1862.  His war record says he was 6 feet 1 1/2 inches tall, with dark hair and grey eyes.  He was quickly promoted to Corporal and served in the 144th, Company G.  His older brother Thomas
James Elliott - 1841-1864
photo courtesy of
Joan Archibald Towsend
Thomas Elliott - 1840-1864
photo courtesy of
Joan Archibald Towsend
did not enlist until 1864.  This may be partly due to his health.  As recorded in Munsell's History of Delaware County, Thomas was a bright student and had been taking classical courses at Delaware Academy.  In the midst of his studies, his health failed so he took a tour to Scotland to recover.  Thomas enlisted in September 1864 in Company B of the 90th New York Regiment.  At the time of his enlistment, he was recorded as having blue eyes, brown hair and was 5 feet 11 inches tall.  He was paid a bounty of $800 by the Town of Bovina. On October 19th, barely six weeks after enlisting, he was mortally wounded at the Battle of Cedar Creek.  Munsell's history reports that Thomas was robbed of his personal effects, including his boots, by the rebels.  He was rescued from the battle field but never recovered and died from his injuries on November 6.  Did James hear of his brother's injuries and subsequent death?  He might have, but on November 30, 1864, James joined his brother Thomas as a fatality of the Civil War when he was killed in action at Honey Hill, SC.

James's remains were buried on the field, but his brother's body was brought back for burial in the Bovina cemetery. Though from New Kingston, the Elliott family had been involved with the church in Bovina and appear to already have had a plot there.  The photographs below were taken by Ed and Dick Davidson.

This substantial monument commemorates both brothers and sits next to the graves of their parents.  Thomas's inscription is on the east side of the monument, James's on the west.  Information is provided for each brother concerning his regiment, how he died and his age. Verses from the Bible are included and each epitaph concludes with a stanza from a poem by William Cullen Bryant, "The Death of Abraham Lincoln."  Bryant wrote the poem the month of Lincoln's death in April 1865.  Pieces of this poem were used frequently on the tombstones of the dead from the Civil War.

Thomas's inscription includes:

"I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.  John 11:25"

"Pure was thy life; its bloody close
Hath placed thee with the sons of light,
Among the noble host of those
Who perished in the cause of Right." 

The inscription on James's stone notes that his body was not brought back for burial at home.

"Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.  Matt. 10:32-33
Verily I say unto you, in as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.  Matt. 25:40"

"Thy task is done the bond are free
We never saw thy honored grave
Whose proudest moment shall be
The broken fetters of the slave."

The second line is edited from the poem by Bryant, replacing “We bear thee to an honored grave” with “We never saw thy honored grave.”

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A New Old Map of Bovina

During a review of some of the map files at the Delaware County Historical Association, where I work two days a week as the archivist, I stumbled upon a never before seen (at least by yours truly) map of Bovina that appears to date from the 1820s.  The map was "purchased and given to the Town of Bovina by Robert Hamilton, John Hume and John Erkson as assessors.  Price eight dollars."

I've dated the map from the 1820s for two reasons.  First, on the back of the map is an old newspaper from 1826.  The newspaper could have been put on several years after the map was made - or someone may have made the map after the paper was published and put it on to provide stability.  Second, in the town board minutes for Bovina from May 25, 1821, the board, which included the three aforementioned gentlemen whose names appear on the map, passed the following resolution:  "Resolved that the assessors take the said census for the said town if was agreed by the said assessors to take the said census gratis to the town, and the said persons taking the census to have their Accounts audited by the board of supervisors and the money applied for a map of said Town of Bovina and if any over plus money to be paid over by the supervisors of Town as poor fund."

The map, unfortunately, does not provide a lot of detail about roads and who owned what lots, but it's still an interesting curiosity.  The map unusually is oriented south to north.

Here's a version of the map rotated with the town lines more clearly marked.

Note:  The newspaper attached to the back of this map dates from July 1826 and reports the deaths of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, who both died on July 4, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Second Annual Picnic Hike to Indian Rocks

I took a group of 14 intrepid people to visit Indian Rocks in what I hope will become an annual trek to this site.  We managed to beat the rain by about 45 minutes.  Last year's hike, held on April 16, also saw a rain threat that came just as we finished, but it was chillier and a lot less vegetation was out.  Below are some pictures from the hike to enjoy.  Hiking this year:  Amy Burns, Jillienne Craver, Colleen Heavey and her daughters Ally and Karlye, Helena Hilson, Peter and Jay Pockriss and their kids Cole and Robin (our youngest participant this year), Bonnie McIntosh Rockefeller and her kids Chase and Alexis, Rev. Garrett Schindler, and yours truly (our oldest participant on his 57th birthday).

Helen, Karlye and Ally breaking away from the group to return the back way.

The Pockriss family, Ray, Amy, Jill, Bonnie with Chase, Garrett, Alexis, Colleen

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Businesses in Brushland 150 years ago

In poking around a fun website - - I found this business directory of Brushland (the old name for the hamlet of Bovina Center) from the April 15, 1862 issue of the Bloomville Mirror, so I thought I'd pass it along, pretty much as presented. Note that there wasn't a Methodist pastor listed, thus the lines where there would be a name.  Cameronian's were the Reformed Presbyterians.  P.D. Hamilton's hotel was located where Jardines are now. 

Business Directory of Brushland

  • General Variety Stores.—T.E. Hastings, Elliott & Adee.
  • Groceries.—Miller & Brother, A. Kinmouth.
  • Stoves and Tin Ware.—D.L. Thomson.
  • Hotel.—Mrs. P. D. Hamilton.
  • District School Teachers.—Mrs. M. L. Dennis, Misses M. Scott, M. Gill, E. Erkison, McFarlin.
  • Churches.—Presbyterian, Rev. J.B. Lee pastor. Methodist pastor ------; Cameronian, Rev. J. P. Potick.
  • Physicians.—Dr. J.S. Telford, Dr. J. Calhoun.
  • Post Master.—R.H. Sloan.
  • Carriage Maker.—Major A. Boyd.
  • Blacksmiths.—B. McFarlin, A. F. McPherson.
  • Saddle and Harness Maker.—Jas. Gill.
  • Carpenters.—J. R. Scott, W. Coulter, M. Miller, Wm. Miller, R. Dyzart, R. Gounlock.
  • Justices of Peace.—J.R. Douglas, A. Storie, A.F, Manyard (sic - should be Maynard), Wm. Boggs.
  • Town Clerk.—A. H. Gill
  • Shoe Shop.—Wm. Lull.
  • Cabinet Makers.—T. Scott, A. Kinmouth.
  • Woolen factory.—Messrs. A. and C.R. Lee.
  • Livery Stable.—Wm. Lull.
  • Grist Mill.—T. W. Dennis.
  • Cooper.—H.H. Taylor.

All in Main Street.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Bovina in the Civil War - Soldier Biographies IV

Robert Dysart was one of the eleven Bovina boys who died in the war.  Born on May 27, 1837 in Bovina, he was the son of Peter and Jane Dysart.  He enlisted on August 28, 1862 into Company E of the 144th New York Volunteers.  A little over a year later, on October 14, 1863, he died of typhoid fever at Folly Island, SC (three of his fellow Bovina soldiers died in the same week at Folly Island of typhoid - Adam Biggar on the 18th, and John Murray, Jr. and Andrew Chisholm on the 19th).  He was buried at the Beaufort National Cemetery in Beaufort, SC.  There is a memorial stone to Robert Dysart in the Bovina Cemetery. 

Robert and Jane Elliott sent two sons off to war, and one did not return.  David Elliott was born May 2, 1844.  He enlisted in the 3rd NY Cavalry on February 16, 1864.  Within a few months he was taken prisoner at Stony Creek.  David appears to be Bovina's only missing in action soldier (MIA) from the Civil War.  He is believed to have died in Andersonville Prison, but further information is lacking.

David's older brother, John A. Elliott was born in March 1842 in Bovina.  He enlisted on August 26, 1862 in the 144th NY Volunteer Infantry, receiving an bounty of $150.  He was discharged for disability on January 29, 1864 at Folly Island, SC.  John left Delaware County in 1866 for Wisconsin, where he farmed for two years before moving to Poweshiek County, Iowa.  He had a farm of 160 acres in Iowa and while there served as a justice of the peace.  Married to Margaret E. Corey of Patch Grove, Wisc in 1869, he and his wife had three daughters.  Margaret appears to have died before 1890 for in 1891, John was married to a woman named Christina.

There are two more brothers who went off to war, the sons of David and Elizabeth Ferguson.  Neither brother appears to have officially lived in Bovina, but in 1865, their parents were living there.  And both brothers came home from the war.   John D. Ferguson lived in Andes when he enlisted in 1862.  He was a private in the 144th, but he also was a drummer.  He mustered out from the 96th company, second battalion at Hick's hospital in Baltimore on September 26, 1865.  After the war, he settled in Delhi, where he was a noted local merchant.  He married Margaret Brunnell in 1872 and died in February 1920.

Robert P. Ferguson enlisted in the war around the same time as his brother, John.  Robert was born in Andes in 1842.  Robert was discharged for disability on January 23, 1865 in St. Augustine, Florida.  Married to Elizabeth Dysart in Delhi, he and his wife left Delaware County, moving to Meadow Lake in California.  Robert was a carpenter and later a millman.  Robert and Elizabeth had four children before he tragically drowned in the Pacific on March 23, 1881, age 38. 

Two other Elliott brothers were in the war, James and Thomas Elliott, sons of William and Eleanor Elliott of New Kingston - how they are related to the Elliotts mentioned above has not yet been determined, if at all.  James and Thomas are not on Bovina's official list of Civil War soldiers because they came from the Town of Middletown.  Their main Bovina connection is the fact that they are buried in Bovina.  In my April 30 blog entry, I will tell their story in my series on Stories from Bovina Cemeteries. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

1940 Census

Seventy-two years ago this month, census enumerators started visiting households in the Town of Bovina as part of the 16th Decennial Federal Census. Enumerators worked for about a month collecting information on every person in town.  When done, Bovina's population was found to be 806 people, up 35 people from the 1930 census.

This census was released to the public on April 2.  A quick perusal brought up some interesting tidbits:

  • William Springsteen was a hired hand working for Chauncey McFarland at the Butt End.  There is a note from the census taker after this entry:  "Left an individual census form on first visit, but when called for the party had left; address unknown."
  • One of the families enumerated on April 6, 1940 was that of Benson LaFever, with my grandmother, Anna Bell, supplying the information about those in the household, including my then eight year old dad, Charles.  That same day, the census person visited the home of Kate Birdsall, a widow with two children at home.  Kate lived in what is now my house.  
The census included information as to where people were living five years previously.  Twenty-seven people in Bovina reported coming from Nebraska:

  • Two families, the Rabelers and the Mayhews, had come from Madison, Nebraska.  The Rabelers had all been born in Nebraska, except the head of the family, Henry.  Henry, age 62, had been born in Germany.  The Mayhews had all been born in Iowa, except for Elizabeth, wife of Arthur Mayhew, who was born in Kentucky. 
  • The Alec Rabeler family, comprised of Alec, his wife May, and sons, Alex, Raymond and Charles and daughter Ruth, came from Stanton, Nebraska.  
  • The Gouldhammer (Goldhammer) family came from Boone, Nebraska.  Hero and his wife Freida were German born.  Their daughter 14 year old daughter Hilda was born in Nebraska.   
  • The 20 year-old  hired man on the Henry Menke farm, Egar Grotelueschen, came from Platte, Nebraska.
The 1940 census asked a number of questions concerning employment, including the number of hours worked March 24-30, 1940 and the annual salaries. 

  • Farmers had very high hours recorded, from 70 to over 90 hours a week.  They did not record a salary. 
  • Marjorie Ormiston, a school teacher, recorded 80 hours.  
  • Helen Fuhrmann, age 18, was a cook in a hotel, working 74 hours a week while living at home with her parents and siblings.
  • William Sarle listed his occupation as a Welfare Doctor, working 40 hours a week.
  • Town Highway Superintendent Hugh McPherson recorded 100 hours a week, earning $1200 a year.
  • Alex Hilson reported working 60 hours a week as a clerk at a retail grocery store, earning $1000 a year.  The store was his father's store.  He was 25 years old and was enumerated with his wife, Lillian (who  is still going in her 90s!).
  • Art Decker was earning $1400 a year as a truck driver for the county.  
  • There were two active clergymen in Bovina.  Kenneth Arnold was the Episcopal priest at St. James Church in Lake Delaware, earning $3000.  Harvey McClellan, the minister of the Bovina United Presbyterian Church, was earning $1800 a year for 72 hours a week of work (his housekeeper, Anna Cowan, earned $156 annually for also working 72 hours a week). 
  • Lake Delaware generally had higher salaries than other areas of Bovina because of the Gerry Estate. Estate superintendent Thomas Wallace earned $3300.   Herdsmen Roy Mauger and Burnell Lathrop each earned $1200, as did the foreman of the breeding stables, Wessel Pothemus.  The garage foreman, Purl Grundy, earned $1080.  Game protector, Thomas Rae, earned $2400.  Harry Rendall, the Gerry Estate gardener, did not earn nearly as much, earning $675 a year for 45 hours of work a week. 
  • The highest salary recorded on the 1940 census for Bovina is that of Mathew L. Bruce, earning '$5000+' for 60 hours a week as a farm superintendent. 
  • Malcolm Hotchkin, age 42, earned $1200 a year as a shovel operator, working 100 hours a week.  His daughter Margaret, age 17, worked 5 hours a week doing clerical work in a public school.  She earned $19 for 1939.  [Margaret's sister Barbara would marry fellow Bovina resident John Hilson.]
  • There were several people working for the Bovina creamery.  Lindsey Moore earned $1820 a year as the superintendent.  Floyd Aitken worked 70 hours a week at the creamery in the 'dry milk room,' earning $924.  My uncle, Bob Boggs, earned $1090 annually as a worker at the creamery, working 63 hours a week. 
  • Cecil Russell reported working 60 hours a week as proprietor of a retail grocery store, while his competitor, John Hilson, reported 65 hours. 
  • Raymond Lewis was working as a carpenter for the National Youth Administration, though he worked only 37 weeks for them in 1939.  In April of 1940, Raymond was the census enumerator for Bovina. He was 25 years old, living with his parents and two brothers.  His house was the 9th in the enumeration.  
Here's a sample page from the Bovina census.  I was able to download it from, but the 1940 census also is available for free at  I happen to have chosen the page where my dad and his family show up - dad's on line 59. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Another Visit to Indian Rocks

I managed a quick hike up to Indian Rocks this afternoon (April 6, 2012) and managed to match-up an old picture with what things look like today.  The old picture dates from probably the late 1920s and was provided by John and Margaret Hilson.  We think it shows Louise Hilson (1917-1986) and her little sister Jane (1923-2008) and the photographer likely was their aunt Jane Hilson (1891-1967).  [Correction:  Christine Batey, Louise's niece, says that the little girl with Louise is her niece Marg Hilson Olsner and not her sister Jane.] I think these pictures are worth a thousand words, so enough said.