Monday, May 27, 2013

Remember the Silent Boys in Blues - Memorial Day in Bovina

A snippet from the Andes Recorder from May 11, 1894 reported on plans for how Bovina would be celebrating Memorial Day:

Memorial Day at Bovina.

At a meeting held in Strangeway’s Hall, April 28, to make arrangements for the proper observance of Memorial Day and to give homage to the fallen heroes of ’61 to ’65, the following officers were chosen, vis: President of the Day, Rev. J.P. Carley; Speaker, Dr. J. N. Wright; Marshall, B.S. Miller; Commander, J.R. Hoy; Officer of the Day, J.P. Dennis; Chaplin, Thomas Gordon; color Bearer, Henry Hogaboom; Placing marking flags, Frank Gownlock; Committee of Arrangements, G.D. Miller, William Richardson; Committee on Flowers, Mrs. J.R. Hoy, Miss Maggie Storie, Miss Maggie Chisholm, Mrs. Thomas Miller, Mrs. Frank Gownlock, Mrs. J.P. Dennis, Mrs. G.D. Miller.  

All the old soldiers and the committee on flowers are to meet at Strangeway’s Hall at 9 o’clock sharp. The procession will form in front of Strangeway’s Hall and march to the cemetery to decorate the graves of the silent heroes.  Returning to Strangeway’s Hall for the Memorial oration by Comrade J.N. Wright, of Grand Gorge, at 2 o’clock.

The Marshall request that all old soldiers, other than the officers having swords, will please to provide themselves with canes.  In past years the people have failed to keep in the ranks during the march to the cemetery, thus making the appearance of the line very poor.  We would suggest that all who go to the cemetery keep in the ranks, and thus make a fine appearance, and we can assure you that it will be fully appreciated by the old veterans. Try it. 

On this, a day which has been set apart in memory of the fallen dead, let all unnecessary labor be laid aside, and let everyone take a holiday, it comes only once a year.  Think of what it commemorates; think of the hardships, dangers and trials of those who now lay in the silent tomb, some of them in the sunny south where they fell bathed in their own blood.  Although Bovina has turned out well to the exercises in the past, it is possible to improve.  Remember the silent “Boys in Blues.”

Friday, May 24, 2013

Bovina Postcards

Work continues on the 2014 Bovina History Calendar for the Bovina Historical Society, the theme of which will be postcards.  Today (May 24), Chuck McIntosh shared a number of cards from his collection with me.  He had a few postcards which are generic ones with 'Greetings from Bovina, N.Y.' or 'Greetings from Bovina Center, N.Y.' stamped on them.  The two color ones below are both from "'NYCE' Quality Colored Landscapes Local."

This card has a postmark from 1929.  It was sent to a Myrtle Gibson in Andes from someone named Lillie. 

This postcard, though likely not from Bovina, made me do a double take.

Compare it with the one below that is from Bovina:

The color card is not a watercolor version of the black and white card, but I had to really look. 

Chuck also had a number of postcards with authentic images of Bovina that had been 'colorized.'  Here's one of the Bovina Center school (now the Bovina Public Library) that has a postmark of 1910:

From everything I can tell, the building was never painted red, so someone took some artistic license.  This postcard, like many of that time period, was printed in Germany. 

The plan is to try and have the 2014 Bovina History Calendar ready for Bovina Day in July.  Stay tuned.  

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

May 1913 - 100 Years Ago in Bovina, "That Thriving Town"

I will be starting a new monthly series on this blog – 100 Years Ago This Month in Bovina.  The source of this information comes from the Andes Recorder, which from about the late 1890s until it folded in the late 1930s, had a weekly Bovina column called "A Week With Bovina People."  Other area papers had such columns also, but not always weekly.  The Andes paper was consistent in publishing this column each week, likely because the publisher, Thomas W. Miller, had Bovina roots.

I’ll be presenting snippets of what the Bovina correspondent for the Andes Recorder was reporting  in the column, along with occasional small articles not included in the column but usually next to or under it.  The dates are the dates of the newspaper, which was published once a week on Fridays.  As much as possible, I have kept the spelling and capitalization as presented in the paper and have only made corrections when otherwise the context would not be understood.  When I know it, I also will provide in brackets [ ] further information on the persons or places mentioned.

One theme during the month of May 1913 seems to have been issues with the then state road that went through Bovina Center, now County Route 6. 

May 2, 1913

Alex Bryden sold his 266 acre farm which is located near Lake Delaware in this town to George N. Neupert, of Hartford, Connecticut, who has taken possession.  [The farm was on the now unused part of Tom Hoag Road near the Delhi Town line.] The sale includes tack and farm machinery.  Mr. Bryden has moved to a small place at East Delhi, or Fitch’s Bridge, which he purchased a year ago. 

The piece of state road from the Scott bridge to the Russell road is completed.  Last week the engineer was here and the contractor, according to instructions, is repairing the part of the road built last fall.  In some places the dirt must be scraped off and the road re-surfaced.  [This is County Route 6 from the McPherson place at the lower end of the hamlet to Russell Hill Road by Denison’s.]

May 9, 1913

At a meeting of the town board last Thursday it was voted to purchase a 45-foot iron bridge to cross the river at Douglas Davidson’s [now Behrer's] on the C.S. Gladstone road [now Bob Hall Road].  The present wooden structure, which is condemned, is 66 feet long.

Daniel McMullin has sold his farm on Pink street, known as the D. Lyle Thomson place, to August Lifgren, of New York city, and will give possession May 20.  The sale includes 29 head of cattle, three horses and farm machinery, and the price is $10,000. [This farm was later the Bill and Mary Inman farm and is now the Mollie Brannen farm.]

Bovina Resident Dead

John G. Russell, aged 83, passed away May 7

John G. Russell died at his home in Bovina Center, early Wednesday morning, May 7, aged 86 years.  Last week he suffered a shock and death resulted.  He was born at the Butt End and the greater part of his life was spent in that part of the town.  A few years ago he retired from farming and removed to the village.  He married Margaret George, who survives him with three daughters, Mrs. Wilson Scott, of Bovina, Mrs. Bert Thomson, and Mrs. Robert Doig, of Walton.  The funeral will be held Friday and burial made in the Covenanter cemetery at the Butt End, within a stone’s throw of where he was born.  [John Russell was the grandson of William Russell, an early settler of Bovina who came from Scotland.  He farmed on what is now the Monroe Farm on Mountain Brook for many years.]

May 16, 1913

Division Engineer Hoadley, County Superintendent Van Tassel, and Supervisors Dickson, Patterson and Johnson were here Tuesday and went over the State road. In numerous places the road has to be plowed up and put in over again.  It is estimated that it will require from one to two months to complete the road.

Post office Will be Discontinued

The post office at Lake Delaware will be discontinued May 31, and after that date patrons of the office will be served by the Andes-Delhi stage.  Mr. Mason who had been postmaster for a number of years resigned some time ago, and no one there could be found to take the job.

May 23, 1913

Emily Elliott has hired to teach the school in the Miller district.  [Emily Elliott later married Bill Burns. A number of her descendants still live in Bovina. The Miller district’s school house was on Miller Avenue on Bramley Mountain].

Thos C. Strangeway, trustee in the E.L. Coulter district has hired Beulah Armstrong as teacher [this district was around Russell Hill Road and Doig Hollow].

Miss Vera Davidson, a graduate of Cornell University, has been hired to teach the Center school next year.  [Vera later married Bill Storie and was the sister of Fletcher Davidson.]

For the month of April the Bovina Center Co-Operative Creamery paid its patrons 42 ¼ cents per pound for butter fat.

Last Thursday evening at the special school meeting in the Oliver district Peter Robson was elected trustee, and his hired Ethel Worden for teacher. [The Oliver district school house was located on East Bramley Mountain Road and is now owned by Joe Salvo.]

May 30, 1913

The state road contractor has moved part of his machinery to Bloomville, and some of his men have gone to the Treadwell-Franklin road.  Engineer Hoadley was here again Wednesday and went over the road, but what the decision was is not known.  Thru the village the top is already worn off the road.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Stories from Bovina's Cemeteries - What Ever Happened to Edward O'Connor?

One-hundred and fifty years ago this month, on May 4, 1863, Edward O'Connor, famous for his prominent role in the Anti-Rent War in the 1840s, died in Forestville (Sanilac County) Michigan.  Born in Bovina in 1819, he was one of the over 100 men arrested for the murder of Undersheriff Osman Steele in August 1845 at the farm of Moses Earle.  O'Connor, along with John Van Steenburg, was sentenced to hang for the murder.  Their sentences were commuted then not long after that O'Connor and Van Steenburg were pardoned.They received a hero's welcome on their return home.

Edward O'Connor with his three children (Mary, Fanny and in his lap, David).  Photo comes from A Free Soil-A Free People: The Anti-Rent War in Delaware County, New York by Dorothy Kubik.  Photo was provided to Dorothy by the VanBenschoten family
At the time of Edward’s arrest for the murder of Steele, he was 26 years old.  His sweetheart, Janet Scott, waited out his arrest, sentencing, imprisonment and release and on April 8, 1847, married him.  Edward and Janet continued to live in Bovina.  Their farm was where the Millard Russell farm is on Russell Hill.  O'Connor held several offices in Bovina during the 1840s and 50s, including Town Clerk, Clerk of Elections, Tax Collector and Highway Commissioner.  

Edward and Janet had three children, Mary, Fanny and Edward David.  Edward’s marriage to Janet was relatively brief, with Janet dying on May 4, 1858, not long after giving birth to her son.    On December 1, 1859, Edward married Fanny Brainard of Colchester, widow of John Brainard.   He moved to Colchester, probably right after his marriage to the home of his new wife.  Sometime around 1861 or 1862, his daughter Fanny died and was buried in Bovina. Around this same time, Edward left Downsville and moved to Michigan.  When he left Delaware County, his new wife and children did not go with him.

Why did Edward go to Michigan and under what circumstances?  There is evidence in the Bovina United Presbyterian Church Minutes that he was in considerable trouble.  He did not move away from Delaware County but ran away.  On December 16, 1861, at a regular meeting of the Session, it was reported that “...Mr. Edward O’Connor, has fled the county having been guilty of a breach of the 7th [adultery] and 8th [theft] Commandments and session agreed unanimously to suspend Mr. O’Connor until said reports can be investigated and further information obtained.”   On July 15, 1862, O’Connor was suspended from the church indefinitely based on the facts that “1. that said O’Connor has fled the county, 2. that he has been found guilty of fraud (by the civil authority), 3. That he is charged with a gross breach of the 7th commandment.” O'Connor was only in Michigan about a year and a half before his death, which happened exactly five years after the death of his first wife.  He appears to have started a family there, fathering at least one child before he passed away.  

We will never really understand all the issues that drove him to take this step. This was a man who was sentenced to death, went to prison, and lost his wife and at least one child within about 10 years.  Something may have just snapped.  Or maybe at some point he decided that his second marriage was a mistake. From 150 years away, we cannot judge O'Connor for the actions he took.  It is a sad ending to a relatively short but eventful life. 

This is the O'Connor family monument.  It has not worn well and is a challenge to decipher. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Russell's General Store Fifty Years Ago and Beyond

Fifty years ago, in its May 2, 1963 issue, the Walton Reporter published the following article about Russell's Store entitled "Cecil Russell Nears 45th Year In Bovina Center General Store:

    Cecil H. Russell can look around and admit that he’s pretty familiar with his surroundings.
    Mr. Russell is now in his 44th year of running one of the few genuine general stores in the area.  It is located in a neat white building in the community of Bovina Center.
    “I bought the business from Andrew Doig recalls Mr. Russell.
    On Jan. 1, 1919, he began operation of Russell’s Store.  The business had previously been operated by Tom Hastings, who operated a feed business as well as the general store, and before Andrew Doig owned it, his brother Milton was the proprietor.

Grocery Business Changed

    Business has changed through the years, says Mr. Russell who notes that he sells everything from groceries to nuts and bolts, hardware items and dry goods.
    “Sugar used to come in nothing but 100 pound and 25 pound bags, and we had to weight it up,” he reminisced.
    “At the time I started in business shredded wheat and corn flakes were about the only cold cereals.  Now I carry about 20 brands and still don’t have them all.  Corn flakes are still the best seller.”
    The only powdered soaps 44 years ago were Fels Naptha and Kirkman’s.  A third brand he still carries is Gold Dust Twins.
    “Coffee came in beans, and we had to grind it by hand,” said Mr. Russell.
    In those early days, lard came in one pound prints, but shortening, called compound then, came in a tub.  There was no Crisco or Spry in those days, he noted.

The Penny Candy

    “I think we’re about the only store where you see many penny candies.  Today they’re about half the size of what they used to be.  So are the nickel candy bars.”
    Candy is dispensed from an old time case that catches the eye of the many city boarders spending vacations on farms in the area.
    In front of the store stand modern gasoline pumps, but Mr. Russell recalls that when he first started selling gasoline, he had a one-gallon hand pump on the curb.
    “We used to sell an awful lot of yardage goods, but very few are sold now compared to those days,” remarked Mr. Russell.
    Time has wrought other changes.  There are no more than three or four families in the community now that were there when he started in business.
    “No salesman that called on me when I started in is on the road now, and quite a few of the firms from whom I did buy are out of business.”

The Salesman Cometh.

    Three of his salesmen would time their visits so they would simultaneously be in the area together.  Hardware, grocery and candy salesmen would come in on the train to Walton where they hired the late cigar munching George Pierson to take them on a tour to Andes, Bovina and Delhi.
    Mule drawn wagons brought gasoline to Bovina Center from Delhi, while groceries were hauled from Delhi by the teamsters who drew feed for the Hastings feed concern.
    “For a time I didn’t handle bread because I was told that it would get stale.  Then I started buying bread from the Hoos bakery in Delhi.  They brought in 50 loaves three times a week, and now I get about 100 a day,” stated Mr. Russell.
    Cookies came in six and seven pound boxes, and there were no cakes or pies brought in for sale by commercial bakeries as there are today.

An Old Custom

    “In the days when I first started in business all the milk was brought to the creamery with horses.  Everybody stopped at the store for groceries afterwards.  Nowadays they can run to the store in the middle of the day because they have cars.”
    The store retains many of the fixtures that were there the day Mr. Russell unlocked the door.  The check-out counter is of alternate strips of birds-eye maple and cherry, pegged and glued together.  The safe is an original fixture and the McCaskey record file is a remnant of the old days. 
    “When I first came in here, there was an old chunk stove that just burned wood.  I bought another one with grates for coal.”
    It sits there majestically, and Mr. Russell admits it is older than he.  City youngsters have taken dads by hand, pointed at the stove and asked, “What’s that?”

Born on Farm

    Born and raised on a farm, Mr. Russell farmed it until he bought the store.
    His wife and daughter, Miss Marjorie Russell help in the store, his daughter joining him 20 years ago when business increased to the point where he needed extra help.
    Like most small community businessmen, Mr. Russell has been active in Bovina Center.  He was an elder in the Reformed Presbyterian church for many years before it closed and is now an elder in the United Presbyterian church.  He has been fire commissioner for several years. 
    Asked if he planned to stay in business 50 years, his answer was, “I don’t know.  A man keeps working as long as he’s able.”

The article included the image below (click on the image to see a larger view):

The bag holder above Cecil still exists in the collections of the Bovina Historical Society