Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Stories from Bovina Cemeteries - Thomas Elliott Hastings

Thomas Elliott Hastings, the son of James Hastings and Elizabeth Elliott, was born in Bovina in 1829.  He opened a store for general merchandise in 1852, in partnership with James Elliott.  The store was located where Russells is now, but whether or not it was the same building is not clear.  After only two years, Mr. Elliott sold out to W. D. Telford.  Six years later, Hastings bought Mr. Telford's share and ran the business alone for five years.  In 1866, Hastings took on a partner, Mr. J. K. Hood.  Two years later, Hastings sold out his share to Mr. Hood and retired from the trade.  His retirement did not last long.  In 1870 he put up new buildings and opened a store on the same site as his earlier store, ie Russells.  In Munsell's History of Delaware County, the lithograph of Hastings store is easily recognizable as Russells (See the June 14, 2009 Blog entry for the lithograph and further history of the store.)

This venture lasted considerably longer.  Thomas sold out to A. T. Doig in 1893, but he never completely retired.  He continued to be a dealer in agricultural implements, cattle feed, and land fertilizers.  In the Biographical Review of Delaware County, published in 1895 (and from which much of this information derives), it was noted that Hastings "never kept a clerk, he and his partners preferring to do the work themselves."  Doig ran the store until 1919, when he in turn sold it to Cecil Russell. 

Hastings was married to Jane Blair, who predeceased him in 1887 when she was only forty-five years old.  They had five children.  The four sons all went to college or some other institution of higher learning.  Their eldest son, James Blair Hastings, graduated from Hamilton College and was a professor in Franklin.  Thomas Hastings was Town Clerk in Bovina for a number of years and was a member of the Bovina United Presbyterian Church.

Hastings generally was successful in life, but he was involved in one major business failure.  He wasn't the only one and likely was not one of the reasons the venture failed.  In 1898, Hastings and Alexander Hilson were two of the people who put their names on the charter for the Delaware Railroad Company which, if it had succeeded, would have brought the railroad into Bovina, as well as connecting Delhi and Andes.  The venture failed that same year (see my series of blog entries from March 2011 for more about this railroad). 

Hastings died in 1917, thirty-two years after losing his wife.  He was 88 and had been suffering from heart disease for a number of years.  His entry in the aforementioned Biographical Review, written when he was still alive, noted that "Thomas E. Hastings is a very self-reliant man, who might adopt as his own the saying of the celebrated author of "Don Quixote," 'He is best served who has no occasion to put the hands of others at the end of his arms.'"

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Last Load at the Bovina Center Coop

Recently, Mrs. William Elliott over in New Kingston contacted me because she had photographs of the last load of milk her husband's farm delivered to the Bovina Creamery on its last day of operation.  I was thrilled to see these wonderful snapshots taken by Mrs. Elliot herself on March 31, 1973.  They pretty much tell the story in the captions she wrote on the photos.

The last load from the Elliott farm arrives at the creamery.
This is Herman Archibald emptying one of the milk cans.

Bea Thompson was the milk tester at the creamery for many years.

Brothers Marvin and Herman Archibald

The empty cans being loaded back on the truck for their last trip home from the creamery.

The Elliott farmstead is in New Kingston, though it borders Bovina (and some of the farmland is in Bovina).  The farm has been in the Elliott family for several generations.  After the closing of the creamery, the Elliotts converted to a bulk tank operation.  It is one of the very few dairy farms still operating in the area to this day, now run by Mrs. Elliott's son.

Many thanks to Mrs. Elliott for sharing these.  And to her daughter Sally Elliott Scrimshaw for letting her mom know of my interest in photos like these.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

"Bovina Center, My Home Town" - Part XII

This is the ninth 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.  [Sections I and II are in the May 21 blog entry, sections III and IV are in the June 21 blog entry, section V is in the July 21 entry, section VI is in the August 21 entry, section VII is in the September 21 entry, section VIII is in the October 21 entry, sections IX and X are in the November 21 entry, and section XI is in the December 21 entry.]   

XII.     Some Accomplishments of Later Years

At one time in town there were twenty cemeteries, many of them being private burial places, some of which are still to be found on the farms in [the town]. Later when the Reformed and the United Presbyterian Churches were built, a cemetery was built next to each of them.  In 1853 our present cemetery, one of the most beautiful in this vicinity, was completed, the first burial being made on October 30, 1853.  Elbridge T. Gerry donated the iron gate at the entrance.  In the year 1910, many improvements were made, including the income of the cemetery; and in 1917 the vault was built, all of these improvements, largely due to the efforts of J.W. Coulter and Alexander Hilson. 

The first library in town was located in the basement of the United Presbyterian Church and served for years the entire community.  The present library occupies a building donated by J.W. Coulter and was opened in 1917.  The Gerry family has donated money for books and still does furnish the library with the daily paper and several magazines. 

The water system, promoted principally by J.W. Coulter, Andrew Doig, and Alexander Hilson, was built on 1913 and now supplies the town with pure spring water, all the water passing through a charcoal filter and chlorinal system.

The fire department was organized in 1915.  [*19-Fire Dept]  No engine was required for pumping or driving water through the hose system to extinguish fires as there was a 60-70 pound pressure to the square inch on each hydrant.  Recently company has purchased a jeep and fire truck in order to serve all parts of the town in case of fire and to pump water from artificial pounds to be found in almost every farm.  The first officers of the company were Alex Myers, chief engineer; John R. Aitken, the foreman of the Hose Company; and David Currie, the foreman of the Hook and Ladder Company.  Today’s fire chief is Floyd Aitkens. 

The Bovina Center Cooperative Creamery was established in 1902, milk that time coming from 67 dairies and totaling 22,000 pounds.  It was rebuilt recently and includes all the modern conveniences. 

Electricity, which did away with the kerosene lamps and lanterns in town, was introduced in the year 1927.

“All work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy.” – therefore, the hard working people of this town in 1928 felt that the time had come for them to make a reality a dream which had long been near to their hearts.  They wanted a recreation hall where all could engage in any activity which they enjoyed.  Therefore, everybody put himself to work.  The ladies pieced quilts which they sold, they held bake sales, they sold subscriptions to the Delaware Express, they produced home talent shows, and they even helped the men to put on a clambake.  And how the feathers flew for a day or so in Bovina!  On the night of the bake the heavens opened and poured down rain, but the spirits of the Bovina folks were not crushed.  On went the bake, and in came the dough.  And finally after several years of hard work the hall was built and dedicated.  Many of our form residents also assisted us in this project, donating large and small sums of money.  Once again the Gerry family generously gave us their help.  Anna Scott, who was born and spent her girlhood here, donated the money to build the dressing rooms, to put a floor in the cellar, and to equip the kitchen.  Mrs. Sloan Archibald donated the velvet window drapes and stage curtain, and Mrs. Alexander Hilson and Mrs. John Irvine donated the track on which the state curtain moves.  These are but a few of those who helped.  The night of the dedication in the summer of 1930 was a gala affair, many of the former residents returning to celebrate with us.  And so Strangeway’s Hall over Thomas’ Garage was left to dream of all the gay times that it so well remembered and to be forgotten just as had the hold town hall years before, the old hall that was once located in Lester Hoy’s house recently dismantled because the flash flood of 1953 had taken it from its foundation. 

For a number of years each summer the town held an Old Home Day which was usually largely attended by her former citizens.  A parade with floats was one of the big events of the forenoon; then a picnic dinner was served after which children’s contests and games were held.  Then came talks from some of the former residents, always an enjoyable part of the day’s program.  The last attraction of the daytime was a baseball game played by neighboring towns – usually Delhi and Andes.  And last of all, the climax of the day came with the evening’s home talent entertainment.  War, automobiles, movies, and the radio finally crowded out Old Home Day, much to the sorrow of many.

As long as any of the present citizens of Bovina can remember, thre has stood at the entrance of the village the picturesque single arch native stone bridge to welcome alike stranger and friend.  [21 – Old Stone Bridge] In 1873 Arch Phyffe and Wm. Seacord built the bridge here during the term of Road Commissioner John R. Hoy, grandfather of Mrs. William Storie and Fletcher Davidson.  After it had been completed for some three years, while they were repairing the foundation, which had weakened, the inhabitants one day were surprised to find their bridge fallen into the waters of the Little Delaware.  Not discouraged by this mishap they set about rebuilding it, this time the work being done by William Cooke and George Currie, uncle and father of David Currie.  And today it is still standing as sound and strong as ever, the arch still being in perfect condition.  However, with the coming of automobiles, busses, and large trucks, the bridge, which was built for oxen and horse-drawn vehicles, has outlived its usefulness.  Being only twelve feet wide and having curved approaches at either end, it has tested the skill of many a driver, some of whom have gouged and knocked off the sides of the bridge.  Soon a large steel structure will carry the traffic in and out of Bovina, but never can it command the admiration for its beauty that the old single arch stone span has commanded for more than 75 years, it being about the only historical mark to be found in the village.  Would that it might be preserved as a foot bridge and be restored to its former beauty to live on respected for the work it has done and loved and admired for its beauty. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Some Briefs from the Newspaper, January 1899

The Delaware Republican for January 28, 1899, had two articles concerning butter and people from Bovina.  For what it's worth:

Sometime since Milton Doig of Bovina Centre purchased of Miss Etta Palmater of New Kingston her butter, representing that he was acting under orders of M.T. Menzie, the Delhi grocer.  Mr. Doig attempted to sell the butter to Mr. Menzie, but the latter refusing to purchase, shipped it to a New York Commission house in his own name.  Later, Doig made an assignment and the consequent result is that Miss Palmatier fails to realize on her sale.  A warrant was issued and Doig was brought before Justice Ives, Monday. He gave bonds to appear before the Grand Jury.  (from the Messenger)
I need to see if there is anything in the court records on this.

The second article, apparently not related to the first:

James Mabon, one of Bovina's prominent farmers, passed through town on Tuesday en route for Scranton for the purpose of selling a portion of his dairy of butter.  He returned on Thursday, having disposed of 3,200 pounds of butter, which he shipped this week.  Mr. Mabone is a gentleman who believes that hte farmer is as capable of transacting business as any one.  The result of his trip would indicate that this is true, and that he has no use fo rthe middleman.  (from the Walton Times)
And totally unrelated to butter, I found this little entry:

S.A. LaFevre will give an exhibition and lecture on the Cuban War, using 52 views of all land and naval battles during the recent conflict, by means of a magic lantern, at Mackey's Hall, Meridale on Thursday evening next, Feb. 2d.  Admission 25c; children 15c.
I am pretty sure that this is Sylvan Ackerman LaFever, my great grandfather.  He was someone who spent years trying to find his niche in the world. He finally found it working for the railroad, after several failed attempts at farming.  At the time of this article, he was trying to farm in Bovina.  About a year later, he was facing foreclosure.  Not long after the birth of his son (and my grandfather) Benson, he left Bovina with his wife and son.

Sylvan was not actually in the Spanish-American War.  It is likely that these images were a standard set from the war designed for such shows as this.  Showing these slides was one of his attempts to stay afloat financially.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Bovina in the Civil War - Soldier Biographies I

With this entry, I am starting a series that will run a bit over a year of mini biographies of Bovina's Civil War soldiers. These will appear once a month on the 12th of each month, five or so biographies each month.

Born in 1836, James S. Adee was the son of  Stephen B. Adee and Elizabeth Luddington.  He enlisted on September 2, 1862 in the 144th New York Volunteers as a 2nd Sergeant.   James was reported 'absent sick in hospital' in August 1863.  He was promoted in May 1864 to 1st Lieutenant.  Mustered out as a first lieutenant in 1865 at Hilton Head, South Carolina, he married Mary E. Witmore the following year.  In 1866, he joined a large group of Civil War Veterans who opposed President Johnson and his policies that they saw as too lienient to the south and harmful to the recently emancipated slaves.  In 1890, he reported suffering from 'disease of the lungs, rheumatism and malaria, measle and other afflictions.'  He died in Delhi in 1899 and is buried in Bloomville.

John G. Atkin was born in 1833, the son of Charles Atkin and Rachael Miller.  He was excused from the draft in 1863 because he was the father of a motherless child, but a year later, he enlisted in Company E of the 144th New York Volunteers.  He was paid $700 for doing so.  By this time, he appears to have remarried to Mrs. Dorcas Hamilton, who ran a hotel and tavern in Bovina.  He mustered out as a private in Hilton Head, SC in June 1865.  By 1870, John, Dorcas and their daughter had moved to Delhi.  Dorcas died sometime before 1885.  That year, John married as his third wife Mary Grantbury.  He died in Delhi in 1914.

Though born in Scotland in 1838, Andrew Anderson came to the United States while still an infant.  His time in Bovina was relatively brief but encompasses his service in the Civil War. In 1860, he was in Bovina as a servant in the household of Thomas Hamilton, his uncle. He enlisted in the 144th NY Volunteers as a private on September 1, 1862 and mustered out in Hilton Head, SC on June 25, 1865.  He married Margaret Liddle in Delhi in 1866 and settled in Andes on Dingle Hill as a farmer.  He and Margaret had nine children.  Widowed in 1917, Andrew died November 6, 1929 from the effects of a fall the day before.  He was almost 92 and had been in good health when the fall happened.  The obituary in the Stamford Mirror noted that "He leaves very few comrades behind as the lines are growing thinner."  He was buried in Andes with members of the American Legion as pall bearers.  Note: Andrew Anderson's last name varies in the records, from Andrewson to Anderse to Anderson

Adam C. Biggar was born in 1840, the son of Walter Biggar and Jeanette Cowan.  He enlisted in August 1862 in Bovina and mustered in as a private in Company E, New York 144th Volunteers.  He died of typhoid fever on October 18, 1863 at Folly Island, S.C. and is buried there.

Samuel O. Blair, the son of Peter Blair and Margaret McCune, was born in Bovina in 1831, but he spent most of his life in Delhi.  He was married to Elizabeth Atkin and had three children when he enlisted in 1864 and was mustered into Company E of the 144th New York Volunteers.  He mustered out a year later at Hilton Head, S.C.  He briefly lived in Bovina during the war, but by 1870 was living in Delhi.  Samuel suffered from malarial poisoning of the bladder, a side effect of his war service.  He died on December 11, 1890 and is buried in Bovina.

Friday, January 6, 2012

W. S. Gordon 1921

During a recent, somewhat impromptu group hike to Indian Rocks on December 27, we found this carving on the top of the rocks:
So who was W. S. Gordon?  William Scott Gordon was born in Bovina on April 22, 1903, the son of Thomas Gordon and his second wife, Mary Scott Gordon.  William was joined a few years later by a sister, Margaret.  Margaret was well know by anyone who went to local schools in the 40s to the 70s as a social studies teacher at Delaware Academy.

The timing of this carving is interesting, for it is the year that William turned 18.  Unfortunately, William's 18th birthday was not a happy one for the Gordon family for on that day, William's father died.  Thomas Gordon had been stricken with a heart attack the day before and died in the early morning of his son's birthday.  Though he was 75, Gordon's death was unexpected.  He was serving as the Town Clerk in Bovina when he died and was active in the Civil War veterans' organization, the Grand Army of the Republic.  William finished high school and attended college at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.  He ultimately settled in Westchester County and was employed by the New York Central Railroad in their research division.

William was only 57 when on June 3, 1960, he suddenly died while on board a New York Central train traveling from Chicago to New York City.  He had been returning from a business trip when he suffered a fatal heart attack.  A porter discovered William on the floor of his bedroom on the train. He was pronounced dead and the body was removed from the train in Cleveland, where it was taken to a funeral home.  Several days later, officials from the railroad accompanied the body to William's home in Croton-on-Hudson.  The funeral was held there on June 7.  He was survived by his wife Laura and his sister Margaret.William was buried in Bovina near his parents. Margaret survived her only brother by over 40 years, passing away in January 2001.

Did this young man take a walk up to Indian Rocks on that sad April day in 1921 to be alone with his thoughts?  And while musing on the twist of fate that took his father on his 18th birthday did he carve his name there?  We probably will never know, but it's a poignant story by which to remember William.  And maybe that's what he hoped to do by carving his name on Indian Rocks.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy 2012

Just a short blog entry to thank everyone for their continued support and interest in Bovina history.  Specific thank yous to:

  • the Bovina town board for their support, financial and otherwise.
  • Chuck McIntosh and Hope Schumejda for allowing me to lead hikes up to Indian Rocks.
  • the Bovina Public Library, for providing me a venue for displays and talks.
  • Ed and Dick Davidson for their continued hard work documenting Bovina cemeteries.
  • Lynne Resch, Jane Mills and Andrew Ebenstein for taking me to two old farm foundations.
  • Chris Ingvordsen and Steve Burnett for sending me on an incredible research odyssey concerning the 1945 crash of a World War II fighter on Bramley Mountain. 
  • Tom Groves for providing me a scanner that will do large sized negatives (I'm sharing it with the Delaware County Historical Association).
  • Jim and Tom Hoy for pictures that their father took around Bovina in the 30s and 40s.
  • And if I've missed anyone, smack me on the side of the head so I can rectify the error.
As Bovina enters its 193rd year as a town, I'll be reporting on that feisty couple, Horace and Clara Warren (she was charged with assaulting a constable when she was in her 70s - and it wasn't her first time!), as well as a slander case between two men of the cloth in Bovina in the 1870s.   I'll be sharing monthly mini-biographies of Bovina's Civil War Soldiers and telling more stories from Bovina cemeteries.  And I'm sure other stories about Bovina will surface as the year progresses. 

And I close with a picture taken forty years ago New Year's Day - it's a shot out of my bedroom window on January 1, 1972.

A Happy New Year to you all!