Friday, April 26, 2013

Years Bring Little Change in the Town of Bovina

Seventy-five years ago, the Walton Reporter published a series of histories of local towns, written by Fred Doherty.  Here's the one that he wrote for Bovina under the title Years Bring Little Change in Town of Bovina (unfortunately, I do not have the precise date, just the year, 1938):

    Most appropriately named of all townships in this county is Bovina.  The name, derived from the Latin word bovinus, pertaining to cattle, was suggested by General Erastus Root, also credited with the naming of the village of Delhi. 
    As the name implies, Bovina, as during the early history of the town, is mainly dependent upon the production of milk.  In late years, another important industry has been developed, the production of cauliflower, cabbage and sprouts.  In accordance with other townships in the county Bovina rates among the leaders in the raising and marketing of cauliflower.
    However, regardless of the growth of the truck gardening industry, the township is still mainly dependent upon the milk industry for maintenance.  With the exception of the occupations named above, the locality has no other means of support.
    What is now included in the Town of Bovina, was a part of the towns of Delhi, Middletown and Stamford until it was set apart by an act going into effect February 25, 1820.  The first town elections were held the following March.
    One of the interesting features of the township was the early division into three trade centers, all of which are still in existence today.

Bovina Center Once Brushland

    Most important today, as it was a century ago, is Bovina Center where most of the stores and the lone creamery of the township are now located.  Originally the mallet was called Bovina Center, the name later being changed to Brushland in honor of the first settler, Alexander Brush, who migrated from Long Island.  The original settler is said to have owned about 400 acres, including the present site of the village.  On the property he erected the first grist mill ad his son-in-law, Cornelius Davis, is said to have constructed the first distillery. 
    As in the early days of the settlement, the church buildings and the largest school in the town are located in Bovina Center.  Other industries of 100 years ago located there included cooper shops, blacksmith shops and general stores.

First Inn at “The Hook”

    Another center of trade was called the Hook.  Located on the Delhi-Andes road in the extreme end of the township, the Hook at the present time consists of only a few residences.  In earlier years the first inn in the town was operated there by James Wetmore.  In 1803 a distillery was also operated there. 
    Still known by its name of a century ago is the Butt End.  According to history it is described as a “post hamlet in the northeastern part of the town.”  History also has it that the name was given by “group of people who lived farther down the river in the days when town meetings were shifted from one locality to another.”

Story of the “Butt End.”

    On one occasion it is said that Thomas Hamilton, who favored holding the next meeting in that section introduced a striking simile into his argument.  He claimed that the north settlement was the larger and alluded to the big ends of logs, with which all of the people were familiar.  In his argument he referred to the portion of the town as the “Butt End.”  Although his proposition was defeated, the name suggested by Mr. Hamilton still exists. 

Tunis Lake Camp

    According to historical data the lake, called a “muddy pond of a few acres” is the only monument to the memory of Teunis, an old Indian who once lived in that locality.  He is supposed to have been the last of his kind to live in that section and has the reputation of having issued friendly warnings to the settlers when malicious tribes were on the warpath.
    An interesting item is that a hundred years ago, as today, there was no liquor license in the township.  This is unusual in view of the fact that in the early days there were several distilleries located in the various parts of the town.  [Note:  this is not true.  There were liquor licenses issued from the town's founding until about 1870.]

Scotch Ancestry.

    A large part of the early population was of Scotch extraction.  And more in Bovina than in any other town in the county, is the noticeable preponderance of names which exist today in living memory of the early settlers.
    The white man’s knowledge of the territory which is now Bovina extends back over the period when Delaware county was first settled before the Revolutionary warm.  At that time, the residents of the town of Harpersfield, the first town in this county to be settled, knew that section as “over the mountain.”
    All parts of the county are steeped in tradition.  In Bovina the story is that there were lead mines known only to the Indians.  It is said that the old Indian who made his home on the shores of what is now Tunis Lake, would take his hammer and after a short absence return with pieces of mineral from which he made his bullets. 

Once Nine Distilleries

    In a town of settlers, for the most part of Scotch extraction it is not unusual that at one time the most important industry aside from dairying, was the distilling of liquors. It is said that the largest distillery was built by David Ballantine.  At that time there were at least eight others in the township.
    For a quarter century before the township was erected, the ashries were listed among the more important industries.  Wheat was also in(sic) important product during the early days.
    It is said that Scottish thrift and piety transmitted traits that did honor to the “old country.”  One writer has it that 100 years ago there was a Bible in every home and that love of country and love of God went hand in hand in the town of Bovina.
    One phase of the early existence of settlers in Bovina, which is reflected in present day life, is the absence of expansive postal facilities.  During the first 30 years of the settlement, advantages of that kind were definitely limited.  Today, in comparison with other towns in the county, Bovina does not have the most complete mail service desirable.  However, in comparison of the days when one member of the community went over the hills to Stamford once a month for the mail, the service is adequate. 

Education Problems

    Education today in the town of Bovina presents a problem.  Part of the students of high school age are transported to the Andes central school  Others go to Delaware Academy and Delhi central school.  Several of the one-room schoolhouses in the township have been closed and the pupils attend the more modern, two-room schoolhouse, maintained in Bovina Center.
    When first organized, the township contained more than 400 children of school age.  At that time the total expense for maintenance of schools for that number of students was $221.87, according to the report of the school commissioners.

A Gody Township [Note: I suspect they meant to say "Godly."]

    In common with the upbringing of the Scotch settlers of the township, the founding of churches was one of the first steps in conjunction with the settlement of the area.  At the present time, as during the early days, two of the three churches are located at Bovina Center.  The third, built by Miss Angelical Gerry, is located at Lake Delaware, near the Hook. 
    An interesting story which is a part of the growth of the United Presbyterian church in Bovina was told by the present pastor, Rev. Harvey McClellan. After a half century of growth, the Bovina church constructed a new edifice in 1849.  The old building was dismantled and given to the United Presbyterian congregation at Delancey. 
    The growth of the churches throughout the past century has kept pace with other developments in the township.  At the present time the residents are served by churches of three denominations, including the Reformed Presbyterian church, the United Presbyterian church, both at Bovina, and St. James Episcopal church at Lake Delaware. 
    Of the three churches, the one at Lake Delaware, erected by Miss Gerry several years ago in honor of the memory of her parents, is undoubtedly one of the outstanding edifices in this section.  Constructed of native stone, the chapel houses many priceless articles.
    And so we find the Bovina of today little changed from that of a century ago.  Residents of the town lead a similar existence, gaining their livelihood from the same practices employed by their forefathers. 

No comments:

Post a Comment