Friday, November 30, 2012

Stories from Bovina's Cemeteries - The American Revolution

Shirley Houck at the Delaware County Clerk's office is trying to create a list of the Revolutionary War soldiers from Delaware County, looking at Federal pension records, among other sources, and has asked for help from the town historians in the county.  So this got me checking what information I had.

What kind of lead did Bovina take during the American Revolution? Given that there were no Europeans living in Bovina before the 1790s, the answer is 'none.'  But as settlers came to Bovina, among them certainly were veterans of the revolution.  Unfortunately, we do not have a good listing of all of them.  The fact that Bovina was founded almost 40 years after the end of the war may explain why there is so little information.   

One of the few sources of information come from Bovina cemeteries.  Bovina has three Revolutionary War veterans buried (or at least memorialized) in its cemeteries:

  • Samuel  Ludington is buried in the Brush Cemetery next to the library, but he spent only the last 2-3 years of his life in Delaware County.  He does not show up in any Bovina records, primarily because there was no Bovina at the time of his death.  The records in which he does appear relate mostly to Connecticut.  He was born in Branford, Connecticut in 1744 and married Ruth Galpin in 1766 in Woodbury.  He served in the Connecticut Eighth Regiment during the revolution.  When he came to Bovina is not clear, but it was quite late in his life - a Samuel Ludington shows up in the 1810 census in Connecticut.  Samuel and his wife likely came to Bovina to live with their son Henry in their old age.  Samuel died in 1814.  Ruth Ludington survived her husband by over 16 years, dying in 1831.  Henry died in 1842 and is buried near his parents.  
Photo from Find A Grave, submitted by Richard Singleton

  • Jesse Purdy (1748-1840) is believed to be buried in the main Bovina Cemetery. Shirley found two court records from 1826 and 1827 in which Purdy filed a claim for a pension based on his service  He said he enlisted in Dutchess County in 1777 and was discharged in 1780, but had lost the discharge paper.  By 1826, he was 76 years old.  In the application, Purdy noted that he was old and infirm and so was his wife Deborah. He also noted that he had about 40 acres of land but never had a title to it.  In an amended filing from 1827, he said that until just before he filed his claim, that he "had sufficient bodily ability to labor" and that through "the kindness of the widow of General Richard Montgomery" he was allowed to occupy "a small piece of land belonging to her."  For the past three years, however, he claimed that old age and a rupture had made it almost impossible for him to support himself and that he "has now no means of subsistence save the charity of his country."  Purdy was placed on the pension rolls in 1828, receiving $96 a year.  The total sum received was $594.57.  Purdy was in his 90s at his death.  I note that he 'likely' is buried in Bovina, but I'm not 100% sure.  His name is included on a much newer stone of the Hogoboom family.   Elizabeth Hogoboom was Purdy's granddaughter. 
Photo courtesy of Ed and Richard Davidson
  • James Vandenburgh (1758-1840) is also buried in the Brush cemetery, and like his fellow veteran Samuel Ludington, appears to have spent only a brief time in Bovina.  He grew up in Dutchess County and enlisted in the Town of Beekman in Dutchess County in April 1776, joining the company of Captain Durling.  He re-enlisted in 1777 and again in 1779. When he filed his pension claim in 1831, he was living in Austerlitz in Columbia County.  When he came to Bovina is not clear, but it appears he came late in life to live with his son Clarence or Clarion.  
Photography taken by Stephen Pelletier, November 1978
There are likely other American Revolution veterans with Bovina connections.  I'll be working on that to help Shirley and for a future blog entry. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Photos of Bovina Houses in the late 20th Century

I have scanned a lot of pictures over the past couple of years of Bovina in the late 20th Century.  I've decided to share a series of images taken of buildings in Bovina on the Bovina History Flickr page.  As time allows I will add information to more clearly identify the photos, though many of you will easily recognize them.  If you have any comments to make on these, please do so.  There are four sets of images.  Three of the sets are photographs held by the Bovina Historical Society and were all taken at different points during the effort, ultimately successful, to put the Bovina Center hamlet on the National Register of Historic Places:

Bovina Center, 1984:
Bovina Center, 1990:
Bovina Center, 1999:

The dates for these images is somewhat of a guess.  If you think a particular picture dates from a different year, please let me know.

The fourth set is from a series of photos taken in March 1989 for a historic resources reconnaissance survey conducted for the Delaware County Historical Association.  The survey was conducted to document all pre-1940 buildings in the county.  This set covers most of the houses and barns outside of Bovina Center.  The hamlet of Bovina Center was not included because of the aforementioned survey.

Bovina, 1989:

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Russell's Store, Thanksgiving 1978

During the Thanksgiving break in 1978 from his studies at Syracuse University, Bovina native Steve Pelletier carried out a homework assignment for his photojournalism course.  His choice was to photograph a long established Bovina institution, Russell's store. He took about 100 pictures.  Fortunately, he held on to the negatives after completing the assignment.  In May of this year, he sent the negatives along to me so I could scan them.  I was thrilled to see these, both for the history of Bovina and for my personal history.  I worked at Russell's from 1968 to the late summer of 1978, when I moved to Washington, DC.  These photographs show what the store looked like just after I had worked there, so they brought back a flood of memories.  Thanks to the Winston cigaratte calendar that Russells used for years, we can date these photographs to Saturday, November 25, 1978.  Here are 25 of the photographs for you to enjoy. 

Exterior shots

I think this is Jay Renner coming out of the store.

Interior Views
Inside the backroom.
Another view of the interior - this is where they kept the Jello
This is the account register - Russells allowed customer to buy on credit.

The dry cleaning - people brought in cleaning and it was picked up and delivered twice a week from a cleaner in Margaretville.

Canned goods behind the main counter.

This was a coal burning stove.

Cecil's radio.

The front window display.

General view of the interior, looking toward the back.

The candy case.

The center aisle.

Another view of the candy case.

Behind the desk.
Isabell and Marjorie

Marjorie at her desk.
Marjorie taking an order.
Marjorie behind the counter.  You can just see the calendar that was behind the counter and can see the number '25.'  That's how I determined the date the photos were taken. 

Isabell removing her boots.  This was how I always remembered her doing this.  This picture really struck a chord with me.

Isabell waiting on a customer.
Another shot of Isabell behind the counter.

Marjorie and her mother Isabell packing a box for a customer.
I cannot thank Steve enough for sharing these wonderful 'snapshots' of Bovina's history. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Bovina History Calendar for 2013

After an absence of several years, I'm thrilled to announce that there is a Bovina History Calendar for 2013.  The calendar is a joint project of the Bovina Historical Society and the Bovina Town Historian.  The calendar will sell for $10, proceeds to benefit the historical society.  It'll be available at Russell's Store and other venues to be announced.  If you wish to order one by mail, the postage will be $5 for up to two calendars.  You can send an e-mail to me at, but you will need to mail a check made out to the Bovina Historical Society to Jan Bray, PO Box 42, Bovina Center, NY  13740.  The mail orders will be processed around December 14.

I put this calendar together a couple of years ago, but a number of factors prevented me from getting it ready in time for distribution. I'm grateful that the BHS was able to work out an arrangement to get it printed and sold this year.  2013's calendar is an eclectic mix of people and scenery, including a striking photo by Jane Hilson of the old Scotts bridge in the winter, the Bovina Cornet Band from the 1890s, Russell's Store in the 1970s, and the Bovina Fire Department in 1963.  One month features the Bovina Center Ladies softball team from the 1920s and the Bovina Dairymen from the 2010s.  August features Clayt Thomas pointing out flood damage in his garage from August 1953. And the month of November will feature a couple of photographs from the 1970 celebration of Bovina's Sesquicentennial.  Here's a sneak preview:
Mary Pelletier and her mother Jan in the August 1970 Bovina Sesquicentennial parade.  Photo by Charlie Winter.  Thanks to the Pelletier family for sharing this great shot.
So don't miss out on this chance to add to your Bovina History Calendar collection!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Modern School Building, Excellent Teachers and Many Bright Scholars - Bovina's New School

Thanks to Tom Hoy, a former Bovina resident, here's an article about the new Bovina School building - the building that is now the Bovina Public Library.  This was an exciting find, helping me to pinpoint more precisely when the school was built - namely, the summer of 1893.  The article comes from the December 16, 1893 issue of the Stamford Recorder and includes a photo of the new school.



Recently a representative of the Recorder visited the above mentioned school and found it worthy of mention.  The new school building is a model and modern one, erected last summer.  For many years a suitable school building has been very much needed, and now that it has come all are pleased, we doubt not. 

Bovina has always given attention to education and has been for many years a large and constant patron of the schools at Andes, Delhi, Franklin and Walton.  Many of her young people have passed through college and a considerable number have entered the ministery (sic) and the professions.  Distinction and prominence because of inherent ability have come to Bovina’s sons and daughters, on the battlefield of life.  Now that better educational advantages have been provided a new impetus will be given to educational matters.  The Recorder has before suggested the apparently feasible plan of make the Centre school an advanced one and the others in town feeders or primary schools, and would call attention to the idea again.  The town is small and so located that it might be made practically one district.

The people of that town will be pleased to see herewith a good picture of the novel building.  Its size is 27x52 feet and the porch and coat rooms in front are 8x27 feet.  The rooms are 12 feet in height and neatly finished.  The building is covered with slate and nicely painted. It was constructed by Jas L. Coulter on contract, and the work well done at a very low price.  The entire cost of building and furnishings was about $2,800.  The interior is divided into two school rooms which are connecting.  The one to the north or right of the picture is used for the higher department and the other for the primary grade.  The entrance is thro’ the vestibule on either side, and the arrangement is very satisfactory.

The school is undoubtedly prospering at present and the work being done comports with the good style of the building.  There are thirty six enrolled in the higher department over which Miss Lula E. Burns presides.  She has just cause for being proud of her scholars, one of whom is a academy graduate and seven are former academy students.  Miss Burns is a graduate of the Albany Normal School, class of ’87.  After graduating she taught five consecutive years in a school on Long Island and last year at Portchester, N.Y.  A brief visit led to the conclusion that she is an interested, painstaking and accomplished instructor.  She wisely devotes attention to singing and the scholars are advancing in this direction.  Miss Burns is a native of Delhi. 

Miss Emma Campbell, who is in charge of the younger portion of the school, is a daughter of Duncan Campbell of that town.  She, too, possesses the qualities of a successful teacher, and although she has taught only four terms she has a correct appreciate of the important work in hand, and her teaching is giving much satisfaction. 

We have devoted attention to this school because it is an advance movement and so far as we have learned is the first “model” rural school house in the county. 

Teachers and scholars are now making an effort to purchase a piano for use in the school, which will doubtless meet with hearty encouragement.  An oyster supper and fair is being held this Friday night, and the Recorder will do something to assist in the enterprise.  It expects that extra copies will be delivered at the hall within two hours after leaving the press and be sold for the benefit of the fund.  That’s our style of enterprise. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Bovina in the Civil War - Soldier Biographies XI

Roman Palmer's time in Bovina was relatively brief, though he had planned to settle there in the early 1860s.  Unfortunately, the war upended those plans permanently.  Roman was born in Hamden in 1840, the son of Saunders and Cornelia Palmer.  In 1860, he was living in Andes and working as a Cooper.  Around 1862, he started working in Bovina and in March 1864 he took out a $700 mortgage to buy a house in town, the house now owned by Chuck and Betty McIntosh.  In July of that year, he married  Margaret K. Gladstone.  Just over a month later, he enlisted, joining Company E of the 144th NY Volunteers.  On December 9, 1864, he was killed in action at Deveaux Neck, SC and was buried near where he fell.  In September 1866, his property was sold at public auction to settle debts.   Margaret Palmer never remarried, dying in Walton in 1923.  She is buried in Andes in the Gladstone plot.

Charles W. Redding was born in Delaware County in 1839.  Where he was living at the start of the war is not totally clear, but his family was living in Bovina at the war's end.  He enlisted in August 1862, joining the 144th New York Volunteers as a private.  He was six feet tall with blue eyes, dark hair and a dark complexion.  His main occupation was as a clothier.  He mustered out with his company in June 1865.  He did not long survive the war, dying at the age of 29 around 1868.

John Reynolds was another Civil War fatality from Bovina.  He was born in 1842 in Bovina, the son of William S. Reynolds.  He enlisted in September 1862 in the 144th New York volunteers and died barely six months later at Fairfax Seminary Hospital in Virginia.  Though he is listed in the town clerk's record of Bovina Civil War soldiers, his parents were living in Andes at the end of the war.  He is buried in Alexandria, Virginia in the Alexandria National Cemetery.

Martin Reynolds
was born in 1822, making him one of the older soldiers in the war.  His connection with Bovina is unclear, other than the fact that he is buried there.  Reynolds enlisted in 1864, joining the 185th New York Volunteers, Company D.  He mustered out in May 1865 near Washington, DC.  He filed for an invalid pension in July 1881 and died 11 years later in 1892.

William Richardson was born in Scotland in 1831, coming to America with his parents when he was a teenager. Enlisting in the 144th New York Volunteers in September 1862, he was paid a bounty of $150 for doing so.  He was mustered out in June 1865 with his company in Hilton Head, SC.  William was a stone mason and did stonework on the Gerry Estate at Lake Delaware.  Married twice, he was living at the Bovina home of his daughter, Mrs. John Irvine, at the time of his death in March 1917.  One of his grandchildren was Isabell Irvine, who married Cecil Russell a few months before her grandfather's death.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Bovina Honor Roll Unveiling - More photos

Carrie Hewitt Choquette has shared pictures she took at the unveiling of Bovina's re-installed World War II Honor Roll  on Saturday (November 3) and has let me share some of them with you.  And I got another phone call today with information about another veteran on the roll, Wilbur VerNooy (misspelled as VanNooy on the honor roll).  His sister Erma Martin from South Kortright was somewhat surprised that he was on the Bovina roll, but I did find that in 1940 he was living on Mountain Brook, working as a hired hand for John and Bernice Stewart.  Wilbur passed away in 1975 and is buried in New Jersey.

In the center, Gordon Rabeler is introduced to Bovina Supervisor Tina Mole by Ray LaFever.  To the left are more members of the Rabeler family.
Visiting the display of photos of the veterans on the honor roll.

Members of the Rabeler family at the unveiling.  There are several Rabelers on the roll, including Paul, Henry, Ruth and Gordon.  Gordon is at the far left in this photograph.
 Below are three photos of the actual unveiling, done by veterans Gordon Rabeler and Stanley 'Stub' Hewitt.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Bovina Honor Roll unveiling

Today's unveiling of the refurbished Bovina Honor Roll (see the blog entry for October 9, 2012) went very nicely, with over 50 people attending.  Two of the surviving veterans from the roll, Gordon Rabeler and Stanley 'Stub' Hewitt, were able to attend and unveil the new installed roll. 

Thanks go to:
  • The Bovina Historical Society, who has had custody of the roll since the 1970s and allowed it to be reinstalled at the Community Hall.
  • The Bovina Town Board, who supported putting it in the Community Hall.
  • Dick Brannen, who did the carpentry work needed to stabilize the roll and allow it to be on display after almost 50 years.
  • Cathie Hewitt, Carrie Hewitt Choquette, Evelyn Stewart, Shannon Shoemaker, Shirley Shoemaker and Donna Bray for help with the refreshments.
  • Jim and Tom Hoy, who very generously donated the funds for the cost of refurbishing the roll.  They are doing it in memory of two of their cousins who appear on the roll, 1st Lt. Robert J. Hoy, USAAF and S/Sergeant William A. Hoy.
Tom Hoy was able to attend today's event, with the daughters of Robert Hoy.  Family members of William Hoy's family also attended, as did a number of other family members of the veterans on the roll. I've posted some of my shots.

In case you haven't seen it, there was an article in the November 2 Daily Star (Oneonta) about the honor roll at  Since the posting of the article in the Daily Star and in the Walton Reporter, I've had some phone calls about veterans on the roll.  Today, I found out that there are two more people from the roll who are still with us, bringing that number up to five.  Robert Lewis's daughter called me to let me know that her father and her uncle Roy Lewis are still around.  Robert lives in Florida and Roy in Virginia.

Attendees await the unveiling

Gordon Rabeler on the left and Stub Hewitt on the right after the unveiling.  To the left of Gordon are World War II vets Ed Rossley and Charlie Eustis

Tom Hoy with Bill Hoy's daughter on the left and Robert's daughters on the right.

The Bovina Honor Roll in its new location.  On the left are pictures of the roll in its original location.
I am expecting to have some better quality pictures in the next few days which I will share when I get them.  My thanks to everyone for their support of this project.