Sunday, November 22, 2009

How Did Bovina Get Its Name?

I've been a bit behind on this blog lately. I'll blame a brief trip to Ireland last week and the impending holiday season. This brief entry speculating about how Bovina got its name was written a bit ago but not posted - until now.

I've already explained in a past blog how Bovina got its name, but the story has always struck me as a bit off. The information in some of the old histories says that Bovina, created in 1820, got its name from the fact that it was a pioneering town in dairying. And yes, Bovina did become a noted dairying community in the region. In 1875, Bovina produced more butter per acre than any other town in the Delaware County. But that was later. In 1820, Bovina did not have much dairying other than what was needed for the farmer's immediate needs. At Bovina's founding, it appears that the main money making livestock was not cows but sheep. And it stayed this way into the 1850s.

My speculation is that the term 'bovine,' the root of 'Bovina,' was not meant to refer to dairying but to a more generic term akin to 'pastoral.' One of the earliest references I can find to how Bovina was named comes from the 1860 Historical and Statistical Gazetteer of New York by J. H. French, LL.D. In its entry for Bovina, the gazetteer said that General Erastus Root, who came up with the name, noted the area's fitness for grazing as the reason his suggestion. No reference was made to dairying. Bovina at its founding had many more sheep than cows - and people. Maybe General Root was being rather forward thinking and saw the potential of the area for larger scale dairy farming, but I suspect it was all those grazing sheep that put the idea into his head.

Now one can speculate as to whether or not the naming of the town helped to set its destiny as a dairying community, but keep in mind that the surrounding towns' farmers also saw dairying as their main livelihood. Still, it can't have hurt Bovina's butter industry to have such an appropriate name - maybe it gave Bovina butter makers a bit of an edge in the marketplace.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! And as prepare your holiday meal, whether it's the stuffing, rolls, or that yummy homemade apple pie, think of Bovina butter!

No comments:

Post a Comment