Wednesday, April 29, 2009

My Resume

It has been suggested that I need to put my resume on my blog. Since it's four pages long, I thought I'd do a summary instead.

I spent my whole childhood in Bovina, graduating from Delaware Academy in Delhi in 1973. I got my B.S. degree in Social Science Education in 1977 from SUNY Oneonta. After spending six years living and working in the Washington, DC area, I returned to New York to get my Masters in Library Science from SUNY Albany in 1985.

The masters program trained me to be an archivist and records manager. I worked for the Albany County Hall of Records until mid-1986 and then moved to Dutchess County to serve four years as the Records Management Officer for the county. In 1990, I started working for my current employer, the New York State Archives. I spent a decade serving as the Regional Advisory Officer for Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester Counties. I advised local governments on the management of their records. In 2000, I transferred to Albany to take my current position of Coordinator of Archival Advisory Services for the State Archives.

My interest in Bovina history dates back to my young adulthood, when I started delving into my family tree. Since much of my ancestry was rooted in Bovina, I began to learn more about the town's history. This was enhanced during my graduate studies, when I did an independent study project that involved sorting out the town's records vault.

The fact that my dad, Charlie LaFever (Bovina Town Supervisor from 1978-2002), was interested in local history further fed my interest. It was something we had in common. At the time of his passing in 2004, he was serving as the Bovina Town Historian. I approached the town board about succeeding him and was appointed in the spring of that year. Not only am I following in my dear old dad's footsteps, but those of two of my predecessors, Hugh Lee and the late Fletcher Davidson, who was very instrumental in starting me down the road in researching my family history. I have some impressive shoes to fill.

So there's my background in a nutshell. In another post, I'll summarize some of the activities I've done since becoming town historian. Stay tuned.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Record Breaking Heat and the 1953 Flood

My first blog posting written while in Bovina!

Bovina and the area came near to or broke the temperature record yesterday. It hit 90 at my house. I am not a fan of hot weather, so I found this to be a bit much for April. My dad loved the heat and would give me grief if I complained. So it goes, but I do like true spring weather. We don't seem to get much of that lately. It is nice, though, to open the windows, turn off the furnace and not to have to worry about pipes bursting when I leave the house.

The heat got me to thinking about Bovina weather - it tends to be a bit cooler than some of the lower surrounding areas because of its elevation. But that also means in the winter, it can get colder than the surrounding areas and impact temperature and snowfall. It can mean getting snow at odd times of the year. I remember a couple of May snowfalls, including one in 2002. And many of you won't soon forget last October's snowstorm that made news on National Public Radio and brought down a number of trees. Two feet in October is pretty freaky - even for Bovina.

One of Bovina's biggest weather events took place August 13, 1953, when a flash flood hit the hamlet of Bovina Center. The storm wiped out five bridges on Bramley Mountain and inaudated Clayton Thomas's garage. Bob Hall had just brought his car into Thomas's garage when the water hit. He spent 45 minutes perched on top of his car before it was safe to get down. The Binghamton Press noted that "a garage sized playhouse used by the children of Mr. and Mrs. Charles McIntosh was torn away from its foundation and carried some 200 yards..." An unoccupied house owned by Lester Hoy suffered a similar fate. The damage from the flood was estimated to cost around $200,000 (equal to about $1.5 million in today's dollars). At the time of the flood, Bovina native Walter (Watt) Coulter noted that the last such flood to hit Bovina happened in 1894.

We may break a temperature record today, but no floods are expected. So I'm out to enjoy the warmth!

Friday, April 24, 2009

How do you Pronounce 'Bovina?'

As a kid, we use to laugh (behind their backs, of course) at how visitors to my hometown pronounced it. I always knew it as ba-vi-na - kind of turning that long 'o' into a short 'a' and using the long 'i'. It also is often pronounced with the long 'o' in the first syllable - bo-vi-na. This latter pronunciation comes closest to the pronunciation of bovine. Both of these pronunciations put the emphasis on the second syllable.

Visitors often would pronounce it as bo-vee-na. I strongly suspect that some of the other Bovinas around the country use this pronunciation. As to the tennis player, Elena Bovina, I have no idea how she pronounces it.

So my two cents for today. I head to Bovina tomorrow for an overnight stay - my first in about 7 weeks. However it's pronounced, it's always nice to come home again......

Monday, April 20, 2009

Summary Description of Bovina NY

Bovina is a small New York town located in Delaware County in the Northern Catskills. The first European settlers came in the early 1790s. The town was created in 1820, taking portions of the towns of Delhi, Middletown and Stamford. The name, Bovina, comes from the Latin word bovinus, meaning cattle. It was suggested by Gen. Erastus Root because it was a pioneer town in the dairy industry. Bovina had over 100 farms in the mid to late 19th century. Today, there are only three dairy farms left.

The population at its creation was 1267. It reached a peak of 1,436 in 1845 then steadily declined, reaching 506 in 1970. Since then, the town’s population has slowly increased. In the 2000 census it was 664. The town had 13 one room school houses at its peak. The last school house stopped operating in 1961 (I missed my chance of going to this school by one year).

Bovina is located on Route 28 between Delhi and Andes, about 150 miles from New York City.

As far as I can tell, Bovina, NY was the first such town with that name in the United States. There are Bovinas in Texas, Mississippi, Colorado, and Wisconsin.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Getting started

Wow. I just set this up in like, 2 minutes, so I'm not really set to write much tonight. I'm the municipally appointed historian for the Town of Bovina in Delaware County, NY. I grew up there and have a house there, though I actually live near Albany, NY, where my full time job is. I'm hoping to use this blog to create regular articles on the history of this small, bucolic and quite lovely town in the Catskills. But that's all for the moment.