Saturday, May 21, 2011

"Bovina Center, My Home Town" - Parts I and II

This is the first of a series of entries from the script used on April 21, 1955, when citizens of Bovina presented a pageant of the town's history - "Bovina Center, My Home Town."  Though I'm not 100% sure, it appears the script was written by Vera Storie and her brother Fletcher Davidson.  The items in brackets refer to the tableau of local citizens acting out parts of the story.

I.  My Home Town - To My Children - Rachel Scott

It is the fall of 1951.  I have spent the greater part of my life in Bovina, in this great farming town with its flowering hillsides and fertile valleys, with its extensive pasture lands and herds of dairy cows ranging over them, and with its small brooks winding merrily along between their low banks, fringed with trees and bushes; and I am anxious that my children and all those that follow in their line may know what manner of people their forefathers were, those early settlers who first chose the countryside in the present town of Bovina as their home, and how from a wilderness they transformed these lands to large productive farms, yielding bumper crops of hay, oats, corns, and other kinds of farm produce.  And so, I have read the pages of history and have studied the old newspapers, and I have interviewed the old timers; and now I shall write, as I find the time, the story of Bovina from the year 1790 to the year 1950.

II.  The First Settlers

In the spring of the year 1790, three or four courageous young men, with their rifles and their knapsacks slung over their shoulders, started out from Westchester County on a surveying and prospecting tour.  Following along Indian trails down to the town of Stamford, at last they invaded the rough, wild, wood countryside, which is today know as Bovina.  [*2 - 3 pioneers with knapsacks during reading]

One of these young men, a liberty-loving patriot who had served his country in the Revolutionary War, looked with favor upon these hills and uplands, a region somewhat similar to the mountainous countryside of Northern England from which his father Isaiah Maynard had emigrated.  He was looking for a home; so he, Elisha B. Maynard, remained and, working industriously for a year, cleared a few acres of land on a part of the farm today known as the Maynard Farm, built a log cabin partly underground, and sowed 1 ½ bushels of rye.  Then he journeyed back to Westchester County for his family; and in the spring of 1792, bringing his household goods on a wood-shod sled, drawn by four oxen, all the way from the Hudson River, he returned and permanently settled on land which was to be known as part of the town of Bovina.

Many were the hardships he and his family had to face in those first years in this wilderness where panthers prowled, where the wily Indians roamed, and where war whoops startled the night.  For many years it was difficult to raise stock here on account of the menace of bears, wolves, and other wild animals, which visited the yards of the log cabins scattered here and there in the clearings in the woods.  However, it was from these animals and from the deer and the fish that the early settlers obtained much of their food.  On rare occasions only did they enjoy the luxury of pork for dinner provided the bears had not captured the pig before butchering time.

In the next year 1793 a son, Elisha H., was born in this family, the first white child to be born in this new settlement.  [*3 - Mother and baby and cradle – with Braham’s Cradle Song]

In the years that followed, this brave couple was blessed with eleven more children, all of whom were given Bibl names, such as Abram, Isaac, Jacob, Ruth, Rachel and Esther.

The first marriage in this primitive settlement, that of James Russell and Nancy Richie, also took place in the year 1793.  [*4-Young bride and husband having picture taken – Song “Melody of Love”]

At the beginning of the 19th century several hardy Scotch, in whose vein flowed some of the gallant blood of the Scotch Highlanders of olden days, crowded into this land on the headwaters of the Little Delaware, they seemed to choose the hilly countryside in preference to the fertile valleys below, partly because of their poverty, the hilly land being cheaper, and partly because of the mountains, which were similar to those they had left in their beloved Scotland.  They were an industrious, intelligent, and religious people, who were devoted to the Presbyterian Church, either United or Reformed.  And so it was that the town of Bovina was settled largely by the Scotch, who brought with them, not only the Scotch Thrift, but also the Scotch love of home, country, and God.

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