Wednesday, December 31, 2014

This Day in Bovina for December 2014

141 years ago today, December 1, 1873, Alexander Home Gillie passed away. Born in Berwickshire, Scotland in 1805, he married Martha Lewis in 1838 in Bovina. They had four children, one of whom, son William, would die in the Civil War in August 1863.

Ninety six years ago today, on December 2, 1918, Mrs. John Irvine moved to Maple Avenue into the house now owned by Norma and Tony Gabriele. Elizabeth's husband had died New Year's Day, having committed suicide.  Mrs. Irvine lived in this house until her death in 1940.  Living with her for much of that time was her son-in-law and daughter, Cecil and Isabell Russell, and their daughter Marjorie.

Ninety-six years ago, on December 3, 1918, as later reported in the Andes Recorder, "Mr. and Mrs. H.A. Ayres, accompanied by Cora Hennings as nurse, went to Ithaca … where Mrs. Ayres will undergo an operation.  Mr. Ayres has given up his position with the government.” H.A. Ayres was Henry A. Ayres. He worked for several years at the Bovina Center Coop Creamery as the buttermaker. He was set to go to Washington, DC in 1918 for a position there but as the paper noted, gave it up when his wife became ill. She was operated on two days later on December 5. The nature of the operation was not revealed. Subsequent issues of the Recorder noted that she "continues to improve." Whatever happened to her, it appears she recovered. The family moved away from Bovina around 1920 and in 1930 she and Henry were still alive and living in Erie County, New York.

Eighty-nine years ago today, the Bovina column of the Andes Recorder for December 4, 1925 reported that "Mrs. Walter G. Coulter had her toe severely injured when a soap stone fell on it." Mrs. Coulter was Margaret Strangeway and was the mother of Ruth Coulter Parsons and Celia Coulter. She passed away in 1953.

Robert L. Gerry, Jr was born 103 years ago today, December 5, 1911, the son of Robert Gerry and Cornelia Harriman. A veteran of World War II, he died in December 1979 and is buried at the Gerry cemetery in Lake Delaware.

Ninety-six years ago today, on December 6, 1918, as later reported in the Andes Recorder, "A party was held at A.P. Lee's." The paper noted that "dancing was indulged in."

Sixty years ago today, in its December 7, 1954 issue, the Catskill Mountain News reported the following: "Gus Manes, who has been employed by the Spagnoletti Construction Co., has finished his work for the winter and will leave for Mt. Vernon this week. We hope Gus will return here in the spring when they reopen the bridge construction work here. One bridge is to be built and the large bridge is to be completed and opened to traffic in the spring. The bridge at the Thomas garage will be opened to traffic this week." The large bridge referenced likely is the one at the lower end of the Bovina Center hamlet, built to replace the stone bridge. The bridge was indeed finished and opened to traffic the following spring.

Ninety-two years ago today, the December 8, 1922 Andes Recorder had the following item in its Bovina column: "Mrs. Glen Taylor, of Beach, South Dakota, who will be remembered here as Minnie Ruff, has gone to Los Angeles, California, for the benefit of her health." She stayed in California and died in Los Angeles in 1945 at the age of 62.

Eighty-seven years ago today, December 9, 1927, Mrs. Mary Phinney was buried in Bovina. As reported in the Andes Recorder, "Her death occurred at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Albert Sarles at Sand Point, Idaho." Born Mary Archibald in 1853, she married Dr. Lehman Phinney in 1881. Phinney was a doctor in Bovina for a number of years. He died in 1901.

124 years ago today, on December 10, 1890, Gilbert Jardine posted this notice advertising the sale of his farm in the Delaware Republican. Born in Scotland in 1822, he married Nancy E. Tuttle in 1856. Gilbert died in November 1893 and his wife a bit over a year later. The farm appears to have been somewhere in the Bramley Mountain area.

Dr. Gilbert Scott, ninety seven years ago today on December 11, 1917, caught a chill which subsequently turned into pneumonia. He died on December 27. For more about Dr. Scott, go to the Bovina NY History blog at

Ninety-four years ago today, the Bovina column of the December 12, 1920 Andes Recorder reported that "The dairies and barns of the 73 patrons of the Bovina Center Co-Operative Creamery were examined and inspected the past week by Dr. Irvine and H.C. Burgin.  The Dry Milk Co. claim they cannot find the last inspection reports."

Ninety-nine years ago today, December 13, 1915, as later reported in the Andes Recorder, "More than a foot of snow fell during Monday afternoon and night.  Tuesday morning the teamsters started out for their Delhi trip but soon turned back.  Traffic was much delayed and mails did not arrive."

Seventy seven years ago today, December 14, 1937, as later reported in the Andes Recorder, "Mrs. James Ackerly died at her home in Bovina Center … after a long illness at the age of 82 years.  Her maiden name was Velma Barnhart and she was born at Shavertown.  She was twice married, her first husband being Eugene DuMond.  She is survived by her husband, James Ackerly, and a daughter, Mrs. Delbert Dickson, by her first marriage.  The funeral will be held Friday with burial in Andes."

Ninety-seven years ago today, on December 15, 1917, Mrs. Robert G. Thomson arrived home with her husband, her mother, Mrs. Georgia More, and a nurse. Nelle Thomson had been in New York City for cancer treatments, treatments which were unsuccessful. The Andes Recorder noted that "she was brought home on a cot." She passed away a few days later on December 19.

153 years ago today, on December 16, 1861, this receipt was issued for payment made for "work done on the Bridge by Robert C. Scotts." This likely is the bridge at the lower end of the hamlet. While it was a stone bridge, it probably was not the one that was well known and was demolished in the 1950s. That bridge had at least one predecessor that proved to be poorly built and had to be rebuilt  in 1873.

102 years ago, on December 17, 1912, as later reported in the Andes Recorder, "Mrs. Elmer Close Succumbs to Cancer…" Born Priscilla Lidde, she was the daughter of John O. Liddle and grew up in Bovina. The paper noted that "She was twice married, her first husband, Robert Bryden, being killed in a runaway accident in which the horses went over an embankment in the night and he was caught beneath the wagon." She married Elmer Close, a widower, in 1886. She was 65 at her death. Elmer survived her by over 20 years, dying in 1935.

149 years ago today, on December 18, 1865, James K. White, the 18 year old son of Robert White and Anna Graham White died. He is buried in the Associate Presbyterian Church cemetery.

137 years ago today, on December 19, 1877, the Bovina Methodist Episcopal Church reopened after having been closed for repairs. There was a sermon at 11, a reunion service held at 2:30 and another sermon at 7 pm. When the church issued a notice for this service, the Andes Recorder included the following:  "We would earnestly commend to the attention of those in this vicinity the services above announced. They will be very interesting, and profitable to all who may attend. Revs. A.K. Sanford and J.E. Gorse are earnest warm-hearted Christian men, and the service conducted by them, and stamped with Divine approval will be blessed for good. The church societies of the towns surrounding will, we hope, take a warm interest in this meeting, and encourage the Brushland M.E. Society by their presence and means.  'The liberal soul shall be made fat; and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself.'" The church was located across from where the Bovina Community Hall now stands.

Ninety-six years ago today, the December 20, 1918 Andes Recorder reported in its Bovina column that "Miss Jane Hilson is home from Long Island, her school being closed for four weeks on account of influenza."

201 years ago today, on December 21, 1813, Joel Brush, son of early Bovina pioneer Alexander Brush and Nancy Griffith Brush, died. He is buried in the Brush cemetery next to the library. Born in 1786, he was married to Elizabeth Maynard, daughter of another early Bovina pioneer. They had two children before his untimely death at the age of 27.

The December 22, 1922, Bovina column of the Andes Recorder reported ninety-two years ago today that "There will be no more Sabbath evening meetings at the United Presbyterian church until coal is more plenty.”

Seventy-nine years ago today, December 23, 1935, as later reported in the Catskill Mountain news, "The community Christmas tree was held in the hall…with the different schools furnishing the entertainment."

Ninety four years ago today, the December 24, 1920 Bovina column of the Andes Recorder reported that "William J. Archibald will install a Western Electric plant to light his farm residence and barn."

125 years ago today, on December 25, 1889, Alexander Storie wrote the following in his diary: "Calm warm and pleasant in the morning. Clear calm and sunshine all day. We all went to Mary Ann's for our Christmas dinner. Mrs. Mary Coulter and children, Mrs. Jane Liddle and Samuel Storie and family were there also to dinner. There was fifteen in all.

Ninety-five years ago today, the Bovina column of the December 26, 1919 Andes Recorder reported that "The tax collector is on the war path."

102 years ago, the December 27, 1912 issue of the Andes Recorder reported in its Bovina column that "Collector Geo H. Miller has commenced taking taxes. The first taxes paid were James B. Thomson’s"

Ninety-nine years ago today at the December 28, 1915 town board meeting: “A motion was made and carried to authorize the Town Clerk and Justice Doig to purchase six chairs, a stove, a table and a cord of stove wood and some necessary shelving for the new Town Clerk’s office the whole expense not to exceed $16.”

Ten years ago today, on December 29, 2004, Clark Lay passed away while his daughter Marlene was singing "In the Garden" to him. Born in 1919, he married Gladys Reinertsen in 1946. They lived in Bovina most of their lives, raising their four daughters. Clark was the Bovina Highway Superintendent for many years.

195 years ago today, December 30, 1819, Nancy Jane Hamilton was born, the daughter of Thomas Hamilton and Elizabeth Arneil. She married Archibald Erkson in 1839. They would have five children. Nancy died in 1899 when she was 79 years old. Her husband survived her by five years, dying in 1904.

178 years ago today, on December 31, 1836, Adam Scott was killed in a riding accident. For more information on this accident, go to the Bovina NY History blog at

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Alexander Storie's Christmases

Thanks to the generosity of Judy Bauer, I have had the pleasure to read some of her great and great-great grandfathers' diaries, that of Alexander Storie (1814-1896) and of his son John (1863-1944). The diaries passed down to her grandfather, Bill Storie and then to her mother, Rae Storie Vandenbord before passing on to her. I thought I'd share a few Christmas day entries from Alexander Storie (unfortunately, John's diaries are more challenging due to his handwriting, so it might be awhile before I decipher those).

Alexander Storie's farm was up Pink Street, now the Tom and Joan Burns farm.

Here's what was going on in Alex's life 140 years ago, covering Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Note that he doesn't actually mention that it's Christmas:

December 24
Stil moderate with weather. Boys at School. A little snow wind Southerly in AM, N.W. in PM.

December 25
A moderate winter day. Boys storing up ice under the new barn. They went to the fistival (sic) at Brushland in the evening. Wind N.W.

Alexander's Christmas five years later in 1879 was unique - one of the few times he spent it outside of Bovina. He and his sister Mary Ann Storie went to visit family and friends in the Fond Du Lac area of Wisconsin:

December 25
Stil cold wind NW. Alex and family and M. Ann and I went in Sleigh to His Fathers. William and family, Alexander Coulter and wife and Mrs. Jane Roberts were there also, making 12 in all and 3 of themselves making 15 to dinner. Had a fine turkey dinner. Went home with William.

There are a number of Alexanders in Alex's life and in these diaries. It took a bit of detective work to sort them all out. In this entry, the Alex he mentions first is Alexander Brush, grandson of one of Bovina's earliest settlers, also named Alexander Brush. And this Brush's father was named Alexander, too (it was at this Alexander's house that they had their Christmas dinner). The Alexander Brush (1834-1900) with whom they went in a sleigh for dinner was a nephew of Alexander Storie, Alex Storie's sister Jane (1808-1842) being the first wife of Alexander Brush, Jr. The William mentioned I think is Alexander Brush's brother. He died in Fond Du Lac in 1900.

That's not the end of the Alexanders. The Alexander Coulter mentioned is not a descendant of the early Bovina settler, Francis Coulter, but was the son of James Coulter, another Coulter family that was in Bovina in its early days, and his wife Esther Brush. Esther was the daughter of the early Bovina settler and sister to the Alexander Brush who hosted the Christmas dinner. Alexander Coulter died in Fond Du Lac in 1893. (So it seems likely that the family spent most of this Christmas dinner trying to sort out how they were related to each other!)

One hundred and twenty five years ago, in December 1889, Alex makes a bit more mention of Christmas:

December 24
Ground froze quite hard in the morning but calm and thawed during the day and come on rain after night. John and Bell went to Brushland in the evening to see a Christmas Tree. James C. came home did not get here till some time after night about 8 o'clock. The night was very dark with heavy showers.

December 25
Calm warm and pleasent in the morning. Clear calm and sunshine all day. We all went to Mary Ann's for our Christmas dinner. Mrs. Mary Coulter and children, Mrs. Jane Liddle and Samuel Storie and family were there also to dinner. There was fifteen in all. 

The John mentioned probably is Alexander's son. Bell may be Belle Miller, who sometimes helped on the farm. Belle was the daughter of Michael Miller, who lived just down the road from the Stories. James C likely is his son, James Cowan Storie.

The Mary Coulter mentioned probably was the widow of James Coulter, born a Rotermund. Jane Liddle was the widow of Thomas Liddle and was a Coulter, a sister-in-law to Mary Coulter. Jane was related to Alex, her mother being Margaret Storie (her father was Walter Coulter). The Samuel Storie (1847-1922) mentioned is Alex Storie's nephew, son of his brother, also named Samuel.

One hundred and twenty years ago saw a smaller Christmas dinner at home:

December 24
Cold last night. Sunshine in the morning. John doing the chores. He went down to Mr. Millers towards night and bought a turkey for Christmas. He went to Brushland in the evening. James C came up in the evening. Harvey came with him.

December 25
Clear and quite cold in the morning. The ground white with snow but moderate. We had our Christmas dinner by our selves with Harvey and Jas. C. John and James C. went over to Sams in the evening.

The names in this entry showed up in the 1889 entry, except for Harvey. I have yet to figure out who that might be.

The 1894 diary is the last one to which I have access. This was Alexander's next to last Christmas. He passed away in February 1896 at the age of 81 (though his obituary below from the Delaware Republican for February 15, 1896 says he was 83).

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Stories from Bovina's Cemeteries - Bovina's Earliest Burial

The oldest documented burial in the Town of Bovina is that of Bathsheba Brush, widow of Nehemiah Brush and mother of Bovina pioneer Alexander Brush. I have to say documented because there likely are older burials of the first European settlers in Bovina that are lost to time and nature (the earliest referenced death in the town took place in the 1790s).

We do not know that much about Bathsheba, including her maiden name. She probably was born in Huntington, Long Island in about 1723. We also do not know when she was widowed or when she came to Bovina, though it had to be 1794 or later, when her son settled in what is now Bovina Center. When she died in 1803 there was no Town of Bovina. At that time, Brush's land was in the Town of Delhi. Bovina Center did not become Brushland until several years after the death of her son in 1840. 

Bathsheba is buried in the Brush Cemetery in the Bovina Center hamlet at the corner of Maple Avenue and County Highway 6. It is one of the few headstones in Bovina made of red sandstone. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

December 1914 - 100 Years Ago in "That Thriving Town"

From the Andes Recorder

December 4, 1914
Mrs. Margaret K. Palmer, of Andes, visited her brother, George Gladstone here this week. [Margaret was the widow of Roman Palmer, who was killed in the Civil War in December 1864.]
Wm. H. Maynard has hired Charles Thomson to help on his farm in upper Bovina. He will occupy part of the big house.
James A. Gow moved his household goods this week back from Springfield Center to his house in Bovina Center. He will only take a part of them to Halcott Center where he will manage a creamery.
Mrs. G.D. Miller was severly injured Thursday by a fall at her home in the Center. She had started down the walk at the end of the house and slipped on some ice and fell striking her head and cutting a gash which it required four stitches to close.  She lost considerably blood.

Had Exciting Experience
   C.J. Russell, son of R.H. Russell, of upper Bovina, a clerk in a drug store at Deerfield, Illinois, had an exciting experience recently.  Two men entered the store and drawing revolvers proceeded to help themselves.  Young Russell was so closely covered by one of the ruffians that he felt the revolver pressed against his head.  The thieves took $30 and got away, but were later captured.  Mr. Russell is now visiting his brother Herman Russell, in South Dakota. [C.J. Russell likely is Charles Russell, brother of Cecil Russell.]

December 11, 1914
The David Oliver farm on the Bloomville road has been sold to Anthony Banuat, of Andes, and the writings were drawn Tuesday.  The price including some hay is said to be about $3,300.
Mr. and Mrs. George Gladstone who for the past four months have been on the farm with their son C.S. Gladstone, returned Monday to their home in the Center. Mr. Gladstone has been in poor health, but is much improved.
A horse owned by John Hilson and driven by James Hilson ran away Wednesday morning. The horse which was hitched to a cutter took fright and ran from the street onto the flat below the creamery.  Some damage was done to the cutter.
A small fire about midnight Monday night did about $15 damage in the residence of Howard McPherson, adjoining Elliott Thomson’s blacksmith shop. During the evening the chimney had burned out but at 11:30 everything was apparently all right.  Half an hour later Mrs. McPherson heard something fall and on going upstairs found the rooms filled with smoke. Mr. McPherson was not at home and she aroused the neighbors. The fire was in the partition and was put out by the use of several pails of water.

December 18, 1914
The town tax collector is after your sheckels.
Invitations have been issued for a masquerade ball in the town hall on New Year’s night.
Thermometers registered 2 above zero Tuesday morning, and Wednesday morning it was zero.
The Bovina Center Water company has sent out its first bills to patrons.  The rate per family is $12 per year.
Mrs. Estella Oliver has moved her household goods from the house on the Oliver farm to the Michael Dickson house on Pink Street.
Dr. Goodrich, of Delhi, was called here Wednesday in consultation with Dr. Whitcomb, in the case of Herman Coulter, who has pneumonia.
The Bovina Center fire district has been authorized by the board of supervisors. The sum of $500 has been appropriated for purchased of cart, hose and rent of hydrants, etc.

Finger Amputated - Geo Decker, of Lake Delaware, Has Serious Results From Felon
George Decker, who lives on what is known as the Purdy place near Lake Delaware, has been having a serious time with a felon on the middle finger of left hand, having been laid up for over nine weeks.  Ten days ago he was taken with chills and blood poisoning developed. Saturday Dr. Whitcomb amputated the finger at the first joint and the bone was found to be dead. [A felon is an infection inside the tip of the finger that can lead to an abscess.]

Burglars At Gerry Summer Home - Residences of Robert Gerry and E.T. Gerry Entered Monday Night.
Sometime during Monday night the summer home of Robert L. Gerry in southern Bovina and also that of Hon. E.T. Gerry at Lake Delaware, were entered by burglars and ransacked.
At the Robert Gerry place entrance was gained by breaking out a glass in one of the French windows.  Only the main part of the house was visited and it is not known what booty was secured.  The silver is kept in a vault and was not disturbed.  From the tracks only one man had been there and he had gone from there to the E.T. Gerry house.  Mr. Carpenter who sleeps in the house and heard nothing and did not discover the burglary until the next morning.  It is not known how many men may have been in the homestead.  The sheriff was notified.
The burglars were evidently familiar with conditions in both houses. Bureaus, desks and closets were broken open and contents strewn on the floor.

December 25, 1914
Monday, according to the almanac, was the shortest day of the year.
A Christmas tree and exercises will be held at the Methodist church on Thursday evening.
William Rogers, of Lake Delaware, has gone to New York to spend the holidays with his family.
Miss Louise Dennis will have a special sale of millinery on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons of next week.
The center school closed Wednesday for the Christmas vacation.  A Christmas tree for the school was held Wednesday evening.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Bovina's Methodist Church Pews

In the Town of Bovina's early days, there were two Presbyterian Churches and a Methodist church (see my blog for October 7, 2010 to see more about these churches:

On November 30, Jim Andrews from the Andes Society for History and Culture invited me to visit the Pleasant Valley Church on the Tremperskill. It was a Methodist Church until it closed in the 1990s and is now owned by the Society. My interest in visiting it was to specifically see the church pews, which are believed to have come from the Bovina Methodist Church, which stood across from where the Bovina Community Hall now stands. When the church building was sold in 1921, the local newspapers reported that the "seats were purchased by the Pleasant Valley Methodist Church." Jim and I agreed that the seats in the building now likely are the ones from the Bovina Methodist Church. These pews probably were made around 1877, when Bovina Methodist Church underwent a major renovation.

Below are two pictures I took during my visit there.
Note to the left that it appears the pews have been cut to fit against the wall
An intriguing bit from the local papers reporting the sale of the building is that "The memorial windows were reserved." I would love to track these down.