Sunday, June 30, 2013

Dairying in Bovina by Thomas Ormiston

This report was published in Documents of the Assembly of the State of New York, Volume 14, 1897, page 385-389, as part of the Fifty-sixth Annual Report of the New York State Agricultural Society for 1896.  It is presented in its entirety.  I found this on Google Books.  Thomas Ormiston is the grandfather of Ed, Dick and Alan Davidson and of Lauren Monroe and Frances Burns, among others. 

Dairying in Bovina
Especially Prepared for the Annual Report, by Mr. Thomas Ormiston, Bovina Centre, Delaware County, N.Y.

As many dairymen throughout the State are interested in this town, on account of the “Cow Census,” taken a few years ago, by Messrs. Powell and Jennings, for the State Dairymen’s Association, perhaps a brief account of the work will be of interest.  We do not presume that we have the best individual herds in the State, but we do believe that there is no township in the State – or perhaps in the U.S. – where the average is so high, or where it would be so hard to find a scrub cow. 

The town is situated on the headwaters of the Little Delaware, which enters the West Branch of the Delaware, at Delhi, and is made up of thirteen little valleys or hollows, divided by small creeks, beside the Moon Valley, which is not large. Being so situated,— at the headwaters,— there is an abundance of good spring water, and, in favorable seasons, there is plenty of sweet, native grasses, on the pastures. For the above reasons, making it a natural home for cows,— the town was named by Gen. Root "Bovina."

The foundation of the present high standard of the Bovina dairy cow was laid by the sturdy characters of the first Scotch and Scotch-Irish settlers, who redeemed the town from the “squatter sovereignty" that prevailed at the beginning of the century. Many of these men and women were born under the same roof with the cow; thus they were early associated with dairying, generally on a small scale. Nevertheless, they knew how to feed and care for a cow so as to get good results, for, in many cases they obtained a good part of their food from her. According to Burns, their bill of fare was:

"The halesome porritch, chief of Scotia's food;
The sowpe their only hawkie does afford,
That 'yont the hallan snugly chaws her cood."

This town was settled almost entirely by that class of people. They began on a small scale, with one cow, generally. If she proved to be a good one, all her offspring were saved, and, before an Ayrshire or a Jersey was brought in, there were some herds that might well have been called Thoroughbreds, as great care had been used in selecting and breeding. When Thoroughbred bulls were brought in and bred on their animals, excellent results were obtained

There has been a tendency on the part of our breeders, recently, since they began breeding registered stock, to give too much attention to color and pedigree, and, in some cases, they have kept animals not up to the standard as producers. But, the past two years of drouth and pestilence have done the town good, in ridding us of nearly all such live-stock, and I'm afraid that some of our western friends who bought animals that went from here during that time, will find some very poor cows among them, but no man who knows his business will buy breeding animals in that way, although there were some first-class cows sold last fall, as most herds had been thoroughly weeded out a year ago.

The breeding of stock, according to the general acceptation of that term, began about 1860. David Coulter and J. G. Ormiston went to Unadilla and bought a Thoroughbred Ayrshire bull from C. I. Hayes. Some years later, Thomas Miller imported two cows and a bull of the same breed, from Scotland. The Ayrshires were beauties and took the eye of a Scotchman, but they could not compete with Alderneys and Jerseys when it came to making butter, and there is none of that blood in town now, except what has been graded up on the Jerseys. A few years later, Robert Livingston, wishing to encourage the farmers, gave a Thoroughbred Holstein bull to David Coulter, to be used by the people of the town; but the farmers did not take to the Hollander.

I am not aware of the causes that led to the enterprise of introducing blooded stock into the town, but there seems to have been a general awaking in the years from 1858 to 1860. About this time, John Hortings* went to Red Falls, Greene County, and bought an Alderney bull of B. G. Morse, paying $100 for him. He was a pedigreed animal, but not registered. His color was yellow and
white — about equally divided — not a beauty, at least in the eyes of the Ayrshire men, as he was very pointed, with thin quarters and very large digestive organs. It is conceded by all, now, that he was the best stock getter that was ever brought into town, and no other bull was used to such an extent, as farmers for miles around drove their best cows to him, and as many as one hundred were served in one year, beside Mr. Hortings' own herd. Every heifer calf was raised, and many of the bulls, for breeding. Mr. Hortings kept him four years, and, during that time, he stamped his individuality on much of the live-stock of the town. He became very cross and was killed one year after Mr. H. let him go.

James E. Horting — a brother of John's — and A. Archibald, bought the next three bulls from Morse; all were kept on the old Hortings Homestead. These were all Alderneys of the same type as the first one; and breeding from these, extended over a period of ten years. Distance may lend enchantment to the view, but most of our dairymen insist that those first crosses have never been equaled as butter producers.

The first Jerseys were introduced in 1879, by a farmer, Duncan Campbell, and J. G. Ormiston. Two bulls and one heifer were bought of Thomas Fitch of New London, Conn. The year following, W. L. Rutherford and Mr. Campbell bought ten heifers and a bull from the same person; and again, the next year, Mr. Rutherford made another purchase of eight or ten heifers of Mr. Fitch. In 1870, James E. Hortings bought a three-year-old heifer, with calf by her side, from W. B. Densinore, of Dutchess County, N. Y. None of the " Fitch stock " or Mr. Hortings' heifer were registered; but all had pedigrees tracing to importations. A few years later, Mr. Rutherford and Mr. Hortings both went to Mr. Densmore's and bought heifers that were registered, and each a registered bull, and began breeding registered stock. Mr. Rutherford, being old, and having no children, sold his entire stock and his farm to Wm. L. Ruff who has, since 1880, carried on the business, introducing new strains of blood from time to time.

J. D. Mitchell was the last to enter the field as a breeder, but he did more than any other man in the county to raise the standard of registered animals. He sold a fine herd of grades and invested $3,000 in cows and heifers at sales in New York city and New Jersey, The venture was not a financial success, but he introduced the best Jerseys ever brought into the town. The herd of 12 cows — while used especially for breeding — when the calves were fed some new milk — made 365 lb. of butter per cow, that was sold. That yield has never been equalled by any registered herd in the town. He sold his entire herd, two years ago, to Mr. Rychmire of Richmondville, N. Y.

There are several other farmers in town who are breeding registered stock, but, as I said before, Bovina's notoriety was not gained through its registered herds, but through careful breeding by nearly all our farmers; and, it is a notable fact, that the largest yields have not been from the registered herds. I do not mention this fact to deprecate the value of breeding, but I think that it does show that there is danger of attaching too much value to pedigree and color. One of the breeders of registered stock admitted, a few days since, that he had kept poor cows for years, because they had good pedigrees and were nice looking, and he felt that he could not sell them to the butcher, where they should go. I doubt not this has been done by other breeders as well.

With the improvement in breeding, began the improvement in feeding and care of live-stock. Formerly, all live-stock was driven out to a stack and there fed, every day during the winter, and, when hay was scarce, they were fed on " browse." No grain was fed, except, perhaps,a little rye bran to a cow that was a little "off." They generally dropped their calves about the time they were turned to grass. One hundred pounds of butter to sell, was considered, a large yield in those days. Now the average yield per cow in town is over 200 lb. in a good year, but not such as the last two have been.

I have no means of knowing just how much feed is brought into the town and fed now, but I know some men who buy a ton per cow. Not all the improvement is due to buying feed, for I know one man having a small herd who made and sold 215 lb. per cow, without buying one pound of feed, and nearly all the grain raised on the farm was fed to the team; but the cows had all the rough feed they wanted. I recall one other case where an old Scotchman kept a few cows in fine condition without feeding any grain.

The butter is all made in private dairies, except six farmers, who sell their milk. Until 1870, the small pans were used, and a few are still in use. The large, shallow pans with water around and below, were just introduced, though some were superseded by the deep-setting process, and, in a few instances, these have been exchanged for the separator. There is another thing in which the town stands ahead, the average high quality of its dairy butter. Rev. W. L. C. Samson has been living here over one year. He made the statement the other day, that he had always used the best “Elgin Creamery" until he came here, but had never eaten such good butter as he found in Bovina.

It is a very difficult task to give any adequate idea of how dairying is carried on in Bovina, in such an article as this. Not all of our farmers have been successful, but those who have, were very careful about the little things, in all the details in every department; in the selection of the cows; their care and feed; and in the care of the milk, cream and butter.

*The reference to John and James Hortings is some kind of typo that got into the publication.  The last name should be Hastings. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Eva McIntosh - A Personal Memory

I was saddened this morning to hear of the passing of Eva McIntosh.  While it has been awhile since I've seen her, I'll always have fond memories of her during my time delivering the Binghamton Sunday Press.  From 1968 to 1973, I delivered this Sunday morning paper to folks in Bovina Center (and also left a stack at the creamery for the outlying farmers).  Very much a morning person back then, I delivered the paper around 6 am.  Most folks were still in bed or just getting up and about, but not Eva.  Eva would already have been up at least an hour and was often using that time to bake.  So on a route where I rarely saw anyone to talk to, I always looked forward to stopping at McIntoshes to have my weekly chat with her (and maybe a cookie or two).  Eva will be missed.

Below is a picture that includes Eva (third from the right in the photo).  It is of a "Style Show" put on by the Bovina Recreation Club sometime in the 1950s.
Left to right:  Marie Renner, Carolyn Keefer, Helen Thomson, Emily Archibald, unknown, Jen Thomson, Ina Thomson, Ruth Monroe, Eva McIntosh, Mrs. Arno Olsener, Betty Hall.  This show took place on the stage at the Community Hall.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Bovina's 1894 Flood

When the Bovina Center hamlet experience a flood in August 1953 (go to April 26, 2009 and August 14, 2011 entries in this blog for more information), Walter 'Watt' Coulter recalled that it was the worst flooding since that of 1894.  So what was 1894 like?

The flood of 1894 happened 119 years ago today on Sunday, June 24, causing about $7,000 in damage (about $190,000 in today's money) - $3,000 in damage to bridges and roadways and $3,000 to $4,000 in damages inflicted on local farmers and businesses.

It started in the afternoon when two clouds seemed to meet over Mt. Pisgah.  The brief but intense downpour overfilled the streams in the upper part of the town, causing them to rapidly overflow their banks and send a large load of debris down the Little Delaware.  Included in the debris were sections of a number of bridges going down Bovina road to the Butt End and beyond.  A new arch bridge at the Butt End, which had only been built about two years before, was partially damaged.  The Johnson Brother's Woolen Mill saw extensive damage to the dam containing their mill pond.  The shingle mill at the rear of the building was carried away completely.  The loss at the Johnson Brother's alone was around $1000.

The torrent of water continued into Bovina Center, damaging the bridge at Thomas Hilson's and taking away the milk house of William Liddle on its way (these appear to be a couple of farms on County Route 6 about a mile from the hamlet).  Another Hilson, Alexander, lost the bridge at his property.  It was feared that Dennis's mill, located across from about where Hugh Lee's house is located, would fall victim to the flood but by then there was enough driftwood to form a breastwork and thus the mill was saved.  Scott's bridge at the lower end of the hamlet withstood the torrent but the water was running very high.  The flats beyond the bridge did see considerable damage.  As the Andes Recorder reported, "the flood as seen by those who could see it coming appeared like a huge wall of water eight or ten feet high."  The flood continued to the Hook and took out the bridge there (located at present Route 28).  It was determined afterwards to replace that bridge with an iron one.

Along with the property damage, a number of farmers lost some of their livestock.  The Andes Recorder noted that "a number of hogs and a cow were found on the flats down the Little Delaware that had come down with the flood."

Saturday, June 15, 2013

June 1913 - 100 Years Ago in "That Thriving Town"

In June 1913, the correspondent for the Andes Recorder continued to report in the weekly Bovina column issues related the state road that went through Bovina.  The Scott Bridge, the old stone bridge near the present day McPherson farm had improvements made to it and several people were moving or improving their homes.  And several of Bovina's Civil War veterans - 'Old Soldiers' - were making plans to travel to Gettysburg for the 50th anniversary of the famous Civil War battle.

The spelling you will see of 'daughter' as 'dauter' was not a random typo but a way that the paper for sometime consistently spelled it.

June 6, 1913

Charles Tuttle found one of his best yearlings dead in the pasture Tuesday morning, with blackleg (the Tuttle farm appears to have been in the Tunis Lake area).

The state road contractor was compelled to bring back the steam roller and tar wagon from Bloomville to do some more work.

William J. Archibald, on the Robert C. Scott farm, is enlarging the cellar under his residence by putting it under the wing of the house. [This is the present day McPherson farm at the lower end of the hamlet.]

Daniel McMullen has moved from what is known as the D.Lyle Thomson farm on Pink street to William A. Hoy’s house in the Center (Hoy's is the Tim McIntosh house).

Thomas Fuller died at his home in Bovina Center on Friday, May 30, after a long illness from acute myocarditis.  Mr. Fuller was born and always resided in the town of Bovina.  He is survived by his wife who was Miss Abdigal Seacord, of southern Bovina, and one son, Charles Fuller.  The funeral was held Sabbath afternoon with interment in the Center Cemetery.

Moving to Delhi

Russell Archibald, formerly of Bovina, who has been in charge of the New York office of the F.S. Royster Guano company, as district sales manager while the company was organizing its Northern territory, will come to Delhi to reside, and will travel for the firm part of the year.  [F.S. Royster Guano was a fertilizer company, based in North Carolina.]

June 13, 1913

Concrete sides are being put on the stone arch bridge at the R.C. Scott place on the State road.

A.E.T. Coulter, on the Turnpike, has installed a telephone on Downsville company’s system. [Andrew Coulter lived on what is now Route 28.]

The Bovina State road was accepted Tuesday by the authorities and has been taken off the hands of the contractor.

Among those who expect to attend the re-union at Gettysburg on the 50th anniversary are Frank Gowanlock, G.D. Miller, Thomas Gordon, William Richardson and Jas. G. Seath.

The town traction engine was broken last week while working in Biggar Hollow and it was necessary to send to Harrisburg for a new part, and in the meantime the engine is standing in the road.

June 20, 1913

J.T. Barnhart and dauter were at Andes on Monday. [This would be Jeremy Barnhart and the daughter was either my grandmother, Anna Bell, or her sister, Edith, who later married James Boggs.]

James E. Hastings is about to purchase an automobile for his dauter, Miss Dora. [Dora later married James Barnhart and was the mother of Eleanor Damgaard.]

Congressman and Mrs. Peter Gerry arrived at their summer home at Lake Delaware, Tuesday evening.

Master William Gordon, son of Thos Gordon, has been critically ill the past week with typhoid fever, but is now reported to be recovering.  A son of Dan McMullin also has the disease in a light form.  [See this blog for January 12, 2012 for more information on William Gordon.]

Professor Ayers, wife and child, of Ithaca, spent a few days last week with his brother, who is butter maker at the Center creamery.  Professor Ayers is an instructor in the dairy school at Cornell University.

If arrangements can be made to have second year academic subjects taught as well as first year subjects it is expected that private school in the Center will be continued the coming year in charge of Miss Jane Hastings. [There is little information about this private school - I will be checking into this further.]

June 27, 1913

Alex Hilson attended the meeting of feed dealers at Delhi on Thursday.

For the month of May patrons of the Bovina Center Co-Operative Creamery company received 37 cents a pound for butter fat.

Mr. and Mrs. Thomas C. Strangeway have issued invitations for the marriage of their youngest daughter, Helena, to John Hilson on Wednesday July 2. [These are the parents of Alex and Jack Hilson and Louise Hilson Mole and Jane Hilson Hoy.]

Miss Marjorie Bailey dauter of the late Jacob Bailey of this town, who for the past year has been teaching in Salt Lake City, Utah, arrived home Friday evening to spend the summer with her mother in Bloomville. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Bear Shooting in Bovina 111 Years Ago

The June 13, 1902 issue of the Andes Recorder reported the shooting of a bear in Bovina, which happened on June 6:

     Last Friday a black bear was killed in Bovina.  The bear had been seen in different parts of the town for several days and on that day came through below Arthur Hoy’s house. Mr. Hoy, his hired man George Todd, Peter Robson and his hired man, resolved to go on a bear hunt and according set out, and on reaching a piece of woods on W.R. Miller’s hill the party separated, Todd taking the small dog and going one way and the others going around the woods.
      In a few minutes the dog found the bear and tackled it.  Todd who was armed with a shot gun let bruin have both barrels and then the animal turned from the dog and made for the man, but the dog kept up its fight and detracted the attention of the animal until Todd could reload and again he let go both barrels with no apparent effect only to make bruin more angry and it reared up on its hind legs, and with outstretched arms made for Todd, the dog meantime keeping up its hectoring from behind.  Todd slipped his fifth and last cartridge into the gun and placed the muzzle close to the bear’s head and fired.  The charge entered the head tearing a hole like a bullet and the bear dropped dead. 
      The bear, which was a yearling was taken to the village and weighed 137 pounds. G.D. Miller dressed it in fine shape and Bovina has had plenty of bear meat.
      The skin weighed 16 ½ pounds and Arthur Hoy gave Mr. Todd $10 for it

The Arthur Hoy farm was located on Jim Lane road.  The W.R. Miller farm I think was the old Reinertsen farm at the end of Reinertsen Hill Road - that road used to connect with Jim Lane road. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Faces of Bovina - Bill Storie - "A Highly Respected Citizen"

Fifty years ago this week, former Bovina Supervisor and former Clerk of the Board of Supervisors, William J. Storie passed away.  Having lived in Bovina his whole life, he was the Bovina Town Supervisor for 14 years - the longest tenure of any Bovina Supervisor to that date (later to be exceeded by Frank McPherson, 20 years, and Charlie LaFever, 24 years).  Below is his obituary as reported in the Delaware Republican Express in its June 6, 1963 issue:

Long-Time Supervisor Passes Away

    With the passing of William J. Storie on Sunday morning, June 2, Bovina Center lost a highly respected citizen and many lost a kind friend.  Mr. Storie passed away at his home following an extended illness. 
    He was born February 29, 1892, in Bovina, and was the son of John W. and Jennie Laidlaw Storie.  On September 8, 1915, Vera Davidson became his wife at the Bovina Center United Presbyterian Church.
    Mr. Storie served as Town of Bovina Supervisor for 14 years and was Clerk of the Delaware County Board of Suprvisors for 25 years, 1937-1962.  He had also operated a large dairy farm.
    A lifelong member of the Bovina Center United Presbyterian Church, Mr. Storie was ever active int he work of the church of which he served as an elder for 41 years.  He was past treasurer of the Metropolitan Milk Producers Cooperative Bargaining Agency. 
    "Bill" always wore a broad smile and he will be greatly missed by all who knew him.
    His survivors are Mrs. Storie; one daughter, Mrs. Eugene Vandenbord of Delhi; one brother, George Storie of Bovina center; three grandchildren.
    Funeral rites were held Wednesday at the United Presbyterian Church in Bovnia Center and were conducted by the pastor, Rev. Maynard Grunstra.  Interment ws in Bovina Center Cemetery.  Serving as pallbearers were Clifford Burgin, Jack Hilson, David Roberts, Jack Damgaard, Craig Banuat and Lester McPherson.
    Arrangements were by the R.J. McCall Funeral Home of Delhi.

The obituary did not mention that Bill was predeceased by his twelve year old son John in 1938, the result of injuries sustained in a sledding accident. 

The obituary that appeared in the Catskill Mountain news was similar, but noted that Storie was "for a greater part of his life prominent in Delaware county affairs."

Bill's tenures as town supervisor and clerk of the board overlapped for two years.  He became clerk in 1937 but was supervisor of Bovina until the end of 1938.  Storie noted this overlap to the reporter for the Binghamton Press when he retired as clerk in 1962, stating “That’s irregular as hell, but no one ever criticized it...”

The two Bob Wyer photos below show Bill in his role as Clerk of the Board of Supervisor.
This Wyer photo was taken in January 1940.  With Bill is his secretary Helen Penfield.  Photo courtesy of the Delaware County Historical Association.

This photo of Bill was also taken at the County Courthouse by Bob Wyer, dating from December 1951.  Photo courtesy of the Delaware County Historical Association