Monday, April 26, 2010

I Walk the Line - Not!

Last November I reported on a hike I took with Mike Kudish in his quest to locate the rail bed for a never completed railroad from Delhi to Andes, with a spur to Bovina (see blog entries for May 12 and November 8, 2009 for more details). During that hike, we walked parallel and above Route 28 and walked to the Burgin Farm. At the time, we planned another hike in the spring to trace the rail bed further along 28, expecting to track it to Lake Delaware.

We scheduled this past Saturday, April 24, for the hike. Unfortunately, a pesky cold prevented me from joining Mike, but Peter Manning was able to go with him. They picked up the rail bed where Mike and I left off last fall. Mike was pleased to note that he found the point where the rail would have gone from the main Delhi-Andes line to a spur heading to Bovina. Mike and Peter were able to follow the bed almost right to St. James Church. Mike suspects that the railroad, had it been built, would have been about level with the church at this point - and may have gone right through the site. Remember that the church was built over two decades after the attempt to build the railroad was abandoned.

I'm hoping I'll get a chance to check this out for myself at some point. Many thanks to Mike for his continuing work to document the railroads in the area. And thanks to Peter for making the arrangements for Mike to hike the area.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Bovina (NY) History Celebrates its First Anniversary

Wow! It's been a year since I somewhat impulsively started this history blog. I've loved the opportunity to share stories on the history of my home town. And thanks to everyone who has commented on this blog. Sharing history is a two way street.

During Bovina (NY) History's first year, I've reported on things like:

-A Murder Most Foul and Unnatural - a possible murder in Bovina, which actually turned out to have happened right next door to Bovina, but still an interesting story;
-The Reluctant Reverend and other stories of the Bovina UP Church, which celebrated its Bicentennial last year;
-Was Bovina butter served at the White House? (answer - I don't have solid evidence that it was, but it seems very possible);
-The 3Rs in Bovina;
-Information from the 1860 and 1910 censuses;
-When the railroads didn't come - the unsuccessful attempt to bring the trains to Bovina.

So what's left to tell about Bovina? I suspect a lot. I still have more stories to tell from the 1910 census and I'm working on entries about Bovina businesses. This weekend I'm going on another walk to find more of the abandoned rail bed from the attempt to bring the railroad to Bovina.

Bovina's population may have peaked at only 1400 in 1845 - but everyone has a story. I hope to find more of these to share in the Bovina (NY) History blog's second year.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Researching Bovina's History On-line - Delaware County NY Genealogy & History site

This blog isn't the only source for information on Bovina's past. There are a number of other on-line sources to consider, starting with one of the first ones I used - the Delaware County NY Genealogy & History site ( In the interest of full disclosure, I have been a fairly regular contributor to the site over the years. Given a lot of very hard work by a lot of other people, however, I'm not tooting my own horn by saying what an incredible site this is. Started in 1996 by Joyce Riedinger, it is consistently well organized and content rich. As you explore the site, you'll see that Joyce has provided a history of the site and a large list of the many people who have contributed content over the years. While not wanting to disparage other county genealogy websites, I have yet to find one as well done as Delaware County's. Kudos to Joyce for managing such a wonderful resource.

When you enter the site, you'll see first a 'Historical Background' section. Under that is a link to sections for the towns in Delaware County. When you click on that, then on Bovina, you'll find a number of contributions:

-a number of photographs of Bovina people and places, many contributed by the late Alan Davidson.

-a color scan of the 1869 Beers Atlas map of Bovina.

-extensive cemetery information, contributed by Ed and Dick Davidson. I've noted this before, but Bovina has the best documented dead people in the state, if not the nation. If you're dead in Bovina, we know where you are!

-the 'Bovina Families' transcription. About 100 years ago, Bovina native David Fletcher Hoy, uncle of Fletcher Davidson, began to collect information on Bovina families and put it down on hundreds of slips of paper. In the 1980s, Fletcher transcribed all of these slips into a 1600 page handwritten document. In 2001 and 2002, I typed this transcript, estimating that there were 12,000 entries. My next step in all of this is to take David Hoy's slips and match them with my transcription to catch any mistakes I made and any information Fletcher may have missed.

-membership lists for the Bovina United Presbyterian and Reformed Presbyterian churches.

-census information, much of which was submitted by Linda Ogborn and the Davidson brothers.

But don't just stay in this section. Other sections of the website include transcriptions of old histories of Delaware County, which, of course, include entries for Bovina. The Biographical Review of Delaware County is a rich source of genealogical and family information. Under 'Index to Data and Photos' then 'Family bios, information' you'll find a number of contributions on the history of specific families. I've submitted histories of the Coulter and Miller families and provided information created by Jack Burns on the Burns family. You'll see other Bovina related families there too.

The site also has an excellent search feature that can help you find specific people or places. You'll also see a section of queries so you can find if other people are researching the same lines you are. Feel free to submit your queries also.

Stay tuned for a future blog entry or two on other places to research Bovina.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Upcoming Summer Events in Bovina

Here's an early heads-up on two summer events in Bovina. The annual Bovina Day will be July 17, including a book sale at the library and the community yard sale. The evening before will feature the third installment of the never ending series of Bovina Melodramas. And on September 5, during Labor Day weekend, the second annual Bovina Farm Day will take place. As these dates get closer, I'll pass along more information.

So mark your calendars and come celebrate Bovina!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

School District Centralization in Bovina

This is another article that ran in 2006 in the Bovina UP Church Newsletter about Bovina Schools.

The disappearance of commons schools in Bovina in the twentieth century was part of a statewide trend. Rural school districts faced decreasing enrollments and a weakening tax base as the century progressed. School district centralization was seen as a more efficient way to educate children, so the state provided financial incentives for centralization. This prompted a steady growth in the creation of central school districts, especially during the economic depression of the 1930s. Bovina lost five common school districts during the depression. The Andes Central School District was created in 1933, taking Bovina districts 7 (Coulter/Russell Hill) and 8 (Biggar Hollow). In 1936, the Delhi Central School District was created, incorporating district 6 (Lake Delaware). District number 2 (Pink Street) became part of the South Kortright Central School District at its creation in 1938.

This left seven districts in Bovina at the end of the 30s, and only four of them, Districts 1 (Maynard), 3 (Butt End), 4 (Bovina Center), and 5 (Miller Avenue/Bramley Mountain) were operating schools. The question now was not when would these districts be merged into a central district, but into what district would they go? This led to a battle between the Delhi and Andes districts for the Bovina districts.

Andes advocates argued that the Andes school was two miles closer to Bovina and that Bovina children would mix better with those in Andes. They also argued that when the anticipated reservoirs for New York City were created that its student body would be reduced. Bovina students would help keep the Andes numbers respectable. The fact that Delhi had larger classes also argued for merging with Andes.

Advocates for merging with Delhi argued that Bovina students in the past had attended school in Delhi. They pointed out that Delhi was Bovina's shopping, trading, banking and railroad center and that the drive did not require going over mountainous roads, which were dangerous in the winter. They also argued that the Delhi Central School would provide a larger curriculum. The Andes advocates in return argued that many from Bovina did their shopping and banking in Andes and that the roads to Andes had been safe enough for transporting Andes students for years.

Petitions supporting the merge with Delhi were submitted to the Commissioner of Education in early 1939, signed by 80% of the eligible Bovina voters. In 1943, it was reported that petitions were submitted showing that 78% of the voters supported joining the Andes district. The State Education Department was justifiability confused by the conflicting petitions.

In 1942, the Rapp Committee was created to develop a Master Plan for school district reorganization. When the plan was issued in 1947, the remaining Bovina school districts were to be joined with Andes. In 1958, the plan was revised, placing the remaining Bovina common school districts in Delhi, not Andes. Why this change happened is not clear. Neither the original nor the revised plan was compulsory, but that same year, districts 5 and 10 (both on Bramley Mountain) were ordered abolished and annexed to Delhi. Time was running out for Bovina's common schools. By this time, only districts 1 and 4 were still operating schoolhouses. The last Bovina schoolhouse closed in June 1961. In 1965, the state ordered all remaining districts that sent all their students to another school be dissolved by July 1, 1969. On June 28, 1967, voters in Bovina voted to dissolve the remaining contract districts in the town and merge them with Delhi. They were officially abolished two days later. Thus ended the common school era in Bovina.