Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bovina, the Almost Deathless

The January 23, 1903 issue of the Catskill Mountain News reported that Bovina was "a good place to live but a poor one to die in." This article originated from L.B. Gleason, the journal clerk of the State Senate, who wrote to the New York Sun. He had seen in a local paper, probably the Delaware Republican, the list of deaths in Bovina for 1902. What struck him was the age of the 11 people from Bovina who died. The oldest person was 92 (Marie A. Storie) and the youngest two were Margaret James and Frank R. Coulter (both 62). William D. Thompson was 90 and Margaret Thompson was 84.

Gleason went on to note that the "Town of Bovina is as remarkable in other matters as in the longevity of its inhabitants. Founded, not like Rome, on seven hills, but upon thirteen, it is especially adapted for dairying purposes, and was selected by the State Dairymen's Association as the proper place to take a 'cow census,' by which it appears that the average production of butter for the whole town was 241.8 pounds per cow, while in one herd of twelve cows the average was 365 pounds."

It was noted that 'a license to sell liquor has never been granted in the town.' This is not totally true - Bovina was granting licenses from the 1820s through the 1870s. Bovina did not go dry until around 1880. The article also stated some other facts, such as
  • the town had only one pauper in the county house;
  • Bovina's population in 1900 was 932, of which 248 voted in the 1900 Presidential election (McKinley received 132 of these votes).
Gleason concluded that Bovina was the acknowledged "garden spot of the world, where the average at death in 1902 was a trifle over 65" and that it "is truly an ideal place in which to live, and a difficult place to die in."

It wasn't just in the New York Sun and Catskill Mountain News that this praise of Bovina made its appearance. It later showed up in at least two other papers - the January 25, 1903 Richmond (Virginia) Dispatch and the February 1, 1903 issue of The Ranch from Seattle, Washington. It appeared in both papers under the title "Bovina, the Almost Deathless." Bovina's reputation for longevity had gone nationwide.

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