Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Bovina Place Names - The Butt End

The 'upper end' of Bovina has been known as the Butt End for over 100 years. The name leads to jokes and general smirking, but the name actually was meant as a compliment - or at least to signify the larger part of Bovina. In Munsell's History of Delaware County (1880), the name is explained:

The Butt End is a post hamlet in the northeastern part of the town. This outlandish name was given it by the people who lived farther down the river, in the days when a part of the business of each town meeting was to fix upon the place of holding the next one. On one of these occasions a speech was made by Thomas Hamilton, who favored the holding of the next meeting in this northern part of the town, and a striking simile was introduced into his argument. He claimed that the north settlement was the larger, and, in allusion to the big end of the logs they were all familiar with, he said that the northern end of the town was the butt end. This homely simile was ridiculed by the faction which the argument had defeated, and the name has outlived the joker who was responsible for it.

This area of the Town of Bovina around the Mountain Brook area was in the 19th century almost as busy an area as current day Bovina Center, with a number of businesses, a church, a school and a post office.  As the town’s population dropped, the area called Bovina saw fewer houses and businesses, however.

The "Butt End" term never came into official parlance.  The post office in this area was always known as Bovina and existed early in the town's history.  It operated for many years where Mountain Brook Road and County Highway 6 meet.  The post office closed in January 1947.

Over the years, there were efforts to relegate the name Butt End to the past.  There seems to have been an attempt in the 1880s to give the name Waterville.  Several entries appeared in the 1885 Stamford Mirror's Bovina column, including a listing of 'Waterville' businesses. It references the postmaster as William Cook.  Cook was the postmaster for the Bovina post office. The list also included the Johnson Woolen Mill and T.R. McFarland, who lived up on Bovina road. This attempt to change the name, if that is what is was, did not succeed. [Note: Waterville was an earlier name for the Village of Hobart in the Town of Stamford.]

A souvenir from the District 3 school in 1910 called it the 'Sunny Slope School.'  That name didn't stick either, and though it is often referred to as the Mountain Brook school, the term Butt End continues to be used when referring to the 'uptown' area of Bovina.

Thanks to Ed Davidson for this image.


  1. Ann and I had the honor of being caretakers of what remained of the Johnson Woolen mill for almost 40 years. I hope we did OK. Bob

  2. Looks good to me. Do you know when the actual mill building was demolished/destroyed? I've been trying to find that out.