Friday, February 24, 2012

Bovina Historian Annual Report for 2011

Each year, as town historian I am supposed to submit to the town board and the New York State Historian an annual report.  So here it is:


This year saw me off on several research paths.  The Civil War and a 1945 airplane crash were two predominant themes during the year.  The blog continues to be a good tool for sharing the information I find, though I’ve also started a printed version for those who do not have access to the Internet.  I made four appearances on WIOX in Roxbury and gave two presentations during the year. 

Research Themes/Topics

Delaware Valley Railroad – I did several blog entries about the attempt in 1898 to build a railroad that would have connected Andes and Delhi and a spur to Bovina.  The attempt failed, apparently due to lack of money, though whether that lack of funds was caused by economic factors or by someone ‘cooking the books’ is not clear.

Kennedy vs. Lee – early in the year I found a slander case from 1870 that involved the two Presbyterian ministers in Bovina.  I still need to write this one up for the blog.

Old foundations – during the year, I hiked to two old farm foundations.  In February, I hiked with Lynne Resch and Jane Mills to a foundation off Coulter Brook/Seedorf Road that was the McDivitt farm.  In October, again with Lynne Resch, we hiked up to Mount Warren and on the way found a house and barn foundation that I believe was once the Horace and Clara Warren farm.  In the 1990s, Pat Grimes took a group up there and they thought it was the original Maynard farm.  I have determined it was not, though after the Warren’s lost the farm in a foreclosure sale in 1884, a Maynard did become the owner

United States Civil War – 2011 was the 150th anniversary of the start of the U.S. Civil War.  I did monthly blog entries on different aspects of the war, including enlistments, those who died in the war, those who sought exemptions from service, and what happened to the surviving soldiers after the war.  Blog entries will continue into 2012 with biographies of all the soldiers from Bovina that served.

Airplane Crash on Bramley Mountain – A question from Steve Burnett and Chris Ingvordsen led to a fascinating and productive research odyssey concerning a plane crash in Bovina at the end of World War II.  The crash actually happened on Moon Mountain, which is off Regan Road and across from Bramley Mountain.  The plane was a military trainer and the pilot a West Point cadet.  The pilot was killed instantly in the crash.  Over the course of several months, I managed to get the federal accident report and the cadet’s student file from the Military Academy at West Point.  I made contact with the pilot’s sister-in-law and several of his classmates.  I have a 44 pound piece of the airplane that my dad recovered from the crash site when he was a teenager.  It was displayed at the Bovina Museum this summer.

Bovina resorts – I received several questions during 2011 about several Bovina resorts, including Red Pine Farms, Suits-Us Farm, Elms Farm and Crescent Valley Farm.  The questions came mostly from people who remember spending their childhood summers in one of these resorts.

Correspondence and research help

•    Layton W. Vick, researching the Brush family, asked me to review some of his on-line genealogical information concerning Alexander Brush, one of the first settlers in Bovina.
•    Bea Sohni, the proprietor of Russells Store, found a picture of a turn of the century (or before) baseball player in a uniform that says Bovina Center.  There was no information as to who the player was.  I circulated it on the internet and around town to see if anyone recognized the man – no luck yet.
•    Jerry Palmer sent two lines of inquiry in 2011:
   -an inquiry concerning a gentleman named William Yeoman, who lived in Bovina in the early to about mid 19th century.
   -he was pursuing information on a Martin Tuttle and his service in the Civil War.  I determined that Martin was not from Bovina.
•    Alan Downie was interested in a house in Bovina owned by John Downie, a shoemaker.  He had seen a blog entry about businesses in Bovina and noted that Downie was his ancestor.  He wanted to know where Downie’s house was located – it is the house now owned by Ken and Barbara Brown.
•    Liz Bennett asked about the Lounsbury farm on Crescent Valley.  She was one of many people who stayed there in the summer.
•    John Burrows sent in an inquiry about William S. Reynolds from Bovina.  Unfortunately, there was little additional information on him.
•    Through the Bovina history Flickr page, I had an inquiry from Rebecca (no last name given) who was hoping to find photographs of the Hobbie family.  I was able to provide some genealogical information, but unfortunately no photographs.
•    Robert M. Shackelton had an inquiry about James R. Shackelton, who was at some point chair of the Delaware County Democratic party.  He died young from TB. 
•    Randy Metz inquired about a James Elliott.  Unfortunately, it turned out that his James was not from Bovina, or even Delaware County.
•    I had several inquiries related to the Gerry estate:
   -Peggy Lozier Arps asked whether or not the Gerry Estate ever had a Lozier Automobile.  Peggy’s grandfather was the CEO and founder of the Lozier Auto Company.
   -Kathy Hamblet asked about her ancestor, Vivian Lionel Bennett, who was a horse trainer at Akunsti and died in a house fire there in 1938.  There was not much I could add beyond the information she had already found in the newspapers.
   -Todd Walker inquired about Edith Dresser Vanderbilt Gerry and particularly where she was buried.
•    Melissa Bonney is researching her Great grandfather, George Lewis, who had a house around Mountain Brook.  The foundation of the house no longer exists, but it does show up in the 1888 painting of the area. 
•    Mike Kudish has been researching the old railroads in Delaware County and published a book this year with maps of the old railroads, including those rail beds that were never completed.  This includes the attempt in 1898 to bring the railroad into Bovina.  Later in the year, he had an inquiry about tanneries in Bovina – and we did find one. 
•    I had several e-mail exchanges with Sue Devine, who is researching the Ashby family.  They mostly lived in Roxbury, but a Zebulon Ashby was living at “The Hook” and ran the hotel there, located where Fisk Antiques now stands.
•    Mark Kennaugh was pursuing whether or not the Hilson family had a feed store in Delhi.  What we determined is that they did have a warehouse on Depot Street in Delhi when the trains were still running there.  It was where they could off load and store feed delivered by train. 
•    Tom Russell had questions about his ancestory, James Russell.
•    Tara Dooley send an inquiry concerning the Liddle family in Bovina, specifically descendants of Thomas Liddle, who was born in Scotland in 1785.
•    Andrew Ebenstein, grandson of Mr. Schumann, asked about an emergency landing strip off Cape Horn Road.  This led to two hikes up to Mount Warren, which is where we believe the landing strip was located.
•    Mike and Karen Mills asked about a woman named Mary Ann Mills, who had property in Stamford and Bovina.  I found some information for her.  She was widowed young.  It appears that her son sold the Bovina land in the 1840s to Malcolm McNaught.
•    Lisa Stanton and Colleen Heavey are working on a grant for the church.  I provided some background information about the church for the grant application. 

Collecting images and records

•    Joan Archibald Townsend and her cousin Steve Archibald allowed me to scan her extensive collection of old family photographs. 
•    During Bovina Farm Day in September, several people came forward with pictures for me to scan. 
•    Sue Roberts Riebling, granddaughter of Grace and Dave Roberts, brought to Bovina while visiting her brother Steve pictures from her grandmother’s collection.  She allowed me to scan a number of them and will be bringing more next year.
•    Chuck McIntosh provided a much sought postcard view of Indian Rocks c. 1905 for me to scan.

Speaking engagements

Radio appearances on WIOX – the Future of Our Past, Peg Ellsworth
•    January 8 – to discuss Bovina’s history
•    January 22 – with Doug Kadow to discuss the Delaware Railroad Company
•    February 5 – with Roxbury Historian Anthony Libertore and President of Historical Society of Middletown, Diane Galusha – discussion of Civil War

Radio appearance on WIOX – the Farm Hour
•    On August 22, I appeared with Evelyn Stewart to discuss Farming Bovina

June 8 – Presentation on Bovina maps at the Andes Roundtable

October 29 – “I See Dead People – Stories from Bovina’s Cemeteries” – held at the Bovina library, with proceeds going to the Bovina Historical Society and the Bovina Public Library

Displays, slide shows

In the spring, I put together a display about Bovina schools which is at the Bovina Library.  This was tied to a program in early July to commemorate the closing 50 years ago in June of the last public school in Bovina.  

Bovina History Blog

The blog continues to be one of easiest ways for me to share the history of our town.  As it was pointed out to me this year, however, people without computers or access to the Internet do not get to see these.  Some entries are recycled as articles for the Bovina Community Newsletter, that that is only a fraction of entries.  I have created a printed version of the blog covering 2009 and 2010.  There are two sets in the Bovina Public Library (one for reference and one that can be loaned out) and another set at Russell’s Store.  The printed version for 2011 will be ready in the next month or so.  I also will be giving a set to the Delaware County Historical Association.

I did 88 blog entries this year, up from 66 the year before. 


I did four articles for the community newsletter, put out by the Bovina United Presbyterian Church.

I provided a history of farming in Bovina for the Farming Bovina website at

Bovina History Flickr page -

Flickr is a photo sharing service that has allowed me to share Bovina images and records.  These are the current sets of photos/records that are on-line.  I am working on completing two more sets to cover the images I received from Joan Archibald Townsend.  I hope to have these done in early 2012.

•    Bob Wyer Aerial Photos of Bovina, 1946,
•    Bovina (NY) Postcards
•    Bovina Churches
•    Bovina in Winter
•    Bovina NY Businesses
•    Bovina records 19th century
•    Bovina Schools
•    Bovina United Presbyterian Church Bicentennial
•    Burns Family Portraits
•    David Hoy Collection
•    Miller Family Portraits
•    Strangeway Family Album (thanks to the family of Jack Hilson)

Since starting the Bovina History page on Flickr in 2009, there have been 35,507 views of the 431 images there.

Other activities

Bovina Museum – I staffed the Bovina Museum on selected Saturdays starting in May and went through October, opening about once a month.  Though the traffic through the museum wasn’t heavy, we did get some people who had never visited before and I made some useful contacts. 

Bovina Roll of Honor – During World War II, Bovina created a roll of honor of any Bovina related soldier in service.  The roll stood for a number of years by the old library, now the Bovina Museum.  It was moved into the basement of the museum many years ago to protect it from the elements.  Chris Ingvordsen, who is a BHS Board member, and I moved it to the old fire house to get it out of a dampish basement.  I started exploring where and how the roll could be re-established in a public display.  Former Bovina residents and brothers Jim and Tom Hoy are very interested in the project and would like to contribute to the cost of doing this.  I started exploring this but surgery over the summer delayed this.  I will be moving to get this done in 2012.  Right now, we are considering the Community Hall as a place to display it. 

Hikes – I led three ‘official’ hikes to Indian Rocks – April 16, May 22 and December 27. 

Plans for 2012

Much of 2012 will be spent continuing projects started in 2011, including establishing a permanent home for the Bovina Roll of Honor, pursuing leads concerning the 1945 plane crash in Bovina and continued research and writing on Bovina and the Civil War.  Though Bovina did not yet exist when the War of 1812 started, I will be doing some research on Bovina soldiers who fought in that conflict to commemorate the Bicentennial of that conflict.  I’m also interested in identifying other old farm foundations to ensure they are documented. 

Respectfully submitted,

C. Raymond LaFever
Town Historian, Town of Bovina
February 12, 2012


  1. Great report, Ray, and kudos for all you do for Bovina!!

  2. Could Mr. Ebenstein be thinking of Tony Carrino's airstrip? He often flew his plane to his farm on Cape Horm, Bovina in the 60's and early 70's, until the Power Authority's line was built.

  3. No he was not. This was a different location - the top of Mount Warren. It wasn't much more than a flat spot kept clear for emergency landings. It never really was built as a landing strip.