Saturday, May 31, 2014

This Day in Bovina for May

103 years ago today, on May 1, 1911, yet another horse was a runaway in Bovina. As later reported in the Andes Recorder, "G.D. Miller's horse got frisky Monday….It was attached to a sled and while left standing worked its head under the end of the thill and this caused it to fall and the sled was upset. The horse managed to get to its feet and freeing itself of the sled ran to Scott's bridge, where it was caught. One thill and the harness was broken."

116 years ago today, on May 2, 1898, as later reported in the Andes Recorder,"The boys had a celebration…over the victories achieved by Commodore Dewey’s fleet at the Philippines Islands." The same night, it was noted that the "ringing of bells, booming of the cannon, etc. of the celebration at Andes Monday night over the surrender of Manila, could be plainly heard…" in Bovina.

113 years ago today, as later reported in the Andes Recorder, "Andrew G. Thompson, one of Bovina’s substantial farmers, died at his home near Tunis Lake, Friday, May 3, [1901] with the measles in the 67th year of his age." The report noted that "in the winter of ’67-’68 he married Miss Anna King, who with five sons and a daughter survive him."  Andrew was the son of George Thomson (1798-1873) and Elizabeth Thompson (1806-1892). His widow surived him about seven years.

On May 4, 1894, 120 years ago today, as later reported in the Andes Recorder, "Two persons, who had the appearance of tramps and looked as if they might have deserted from Coxey’s army, passed through town last Friday." Coxey's army was a protest march on Washington, DC, by workers left unemployed by the economic depression that started in 1893. The march took place in the spring of 1894.

Eighty-one years ago, on May 5, 1933, Bovina school children celebrated Arbor Day by "cleaning up of the grounds and planting of shrubs" of the village school.  After their work, the children went on a nature study trip and a picnic lunch.

128 years ago today, in its May 6, 1886 edition, the Andes Recorder reported about the new school house under consideration in Bovina Center: "At Brushland improvements are being made but the great theme is the new school-house project.  At a special school meeting it was voted 25 to 4, to build a new schoolhouse, suitable for a school of two departments, and change the location to a site on the flat of John Hastings, immediately adjoining the cemetery; also to raise by tax $500 for the site and $1,500 for the building.  After this action the proposed site was fenced and a small building moved thereon.  The case is now before the State Superintendent, who is asked to set aside the action taken at said special meeting for numberous reasons prominent among which is that of insufficient notice being given to some of the legal voters.  Numerous affidavits have been made on each side, and the papers forwarded to the Superintendent, were very voluminous.  His decision is awaited with much interest, of course.  Brushland, like Andes, has long needed enlarged school facilities, as all must admit." It was seven years before the building, now the Bovina Public Library, was actually constructed.

114 years ago today, on May 7, 1900, as later reported in the Andes Recorder, "James L. Ormiston and family started Monday morning for their new home near Philadelphia."

Ellen McBurney was born 188 years ago today, May 8, 1826, the daughter of Francis McBurney and Margaret Boyd. She married Andrew Boyd and would have 11 children, most of whom made it to adulthood. She was widowed in 1879 and died in February 1893. She is buried in the Bovina Cemetery.

117 years ago today, in its May 9, 1897 edition, it was noted by the Andes Recorder that five brothers were seen at the same church in Bovina. What made this so remarkable was that the youngest was over fifty years old. The paper did not note what family this was, though it could be the Miller family. At this time, the six sons of William Miller still were alive and all lived locally.

112 years ago, on May 10, 1902, Bovina and Delhi ball teams played in Bovina, with Bovina winning 17 to 12.

101 years ago, on May 11, 1903, James F. Scott died at Delhi. The Bovina correspondent noted that "He was a native of Bovina and the first 20 years of his life was spent here.  His death recalls the death of his three sisters, Mrs. Hastings, Mrs. Laughren and Mrs. Thompson, within as many weeks with pneumonia a few years ago." Scott was the son of John Scott (1797-1873) and Nancy McNaught (1802-1876). The three sisters who died within a few weeks of each other in 1889 were Jeanett Marshall Scott Hastings, who died March 31, Mary Jane Scott Black, who died April 4, and Augusta Scott Lauren, who died April 11. The newspaper mixed up one of the sisters. It was Margaret Scott who married Andrew Thomson. She died in 1891.

103 years ago today, on May 12, 1911, as later reported in the Andes Recorder, "Dr. G.T. Scott moved his family here from Davenport.." Scott would be an active doctor for only about a year. In May 1912 he had a stroke and never fully recovered, though he was the town health officer for some time after that. He died in 1917 at the age of 63.

116 years ago today, the Andes Recorder Bovina correspondent in the paper's May 13, 1898 issue reported that "The Hobart Independent is authority for the statement, that since beginning the practice of dentistry at Stamford, Dr. H.S. Wood has made and inserted 520 sets of artificial teeth for residents of the town of Bovina."

Sixty-five years ago, on May 14, 1949, Harry Lifgren died. As later reported in the Catskill Mountain News, "Bovina was saddened…by the death of Harry W. Lifgren, a resident for more than 17 years. He had not been in good health for about a year, but kept cheerful." He was only 49 years old, the son of Gustav Lifgren, a Danish immigrant. Harry came to Bovina from Nebraska in the 1930s.

On May 15, 1895, as later reported in the Andes Recorder, "Miss Agnes Burns and Mr. Draffen were united in wedlock at the home of the bride's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Burns…" Agnes was the daughter of Alexander Burns and Nancy Miller. She was my father's great aunt and was always referred to as Aunt Aggie. Aggie was widowed in 1942 and lived until 1964, when she was 91.

One hundred and fifteen years ago today, May 16, 1899, Angie Robson, the 18 month old daughter of Robert Robson, was buried in the Bovina Cemetery. She had died the previous Sunday in a tragic accident at home when she fell over backwards into a pail of boiling water and was fatally burned.

110 years ago today, on May 17, 1904, "the new boiler for the Centre creamery arrived…"

114 years ago, on May 18, 1900, dogs killed six sheep and a lamb on the farm of Mr. Kinch.  The Andes Recorder reported that "Dogs have been making havoc with sheep in town." The paper noted that two days later, dogs "killed a lamb for Ed Coulter, and Monday injured some for Thomas Archibald so badly that they will probably die."

The Andes Recorder reported on May 19, 1905, 109 years ago, that "A Union Free School is being agitated for Bovina and has its friends and opponents.  A vote is proposed on the question soon and its supporters expect to have it in operation next fall." What the result of the vote and whether or not a school was opened I have yet to determine.

Sixty one years ago today, on May 20, 1953, as later reported in the Catskill Mountain News, Mrs. James Burns and Mr.s John Bellino and daughters, Rose and Joan, were Albany shoppers on Wednesday."

114 years ago today, on May 21, 1900, as later reported very briefly in the Andes Recorder, "Frost Monday morning."

103 years ago today, May 22, 1911, the temperature hit 95 degrees. The Andes Recorder later noted that this was "the hottest May day ever known here…"

Sixty three years ago today, on May 23, 1951, as later reported in the Catskill Mountain News, "Mr. and Mrs. Louis Woell left … for a visit with their daughter and son-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Wals, at Staten Island, N.Y. They will atend the wedding of their cousin, Miss Jean Robinson." The Woells lived on Coulter Brook Road on what was later known as the Jim Henderson farm.

Sixty one years ago today, on May 24, 1953, as later reported in the Catskill Mountain News, "Mrs. John Edward[s] and son, Casper, of Turnwood were Sunday guests of Mr. and Mrs. Charles LaFever. Their daughter, Susan LaFever, who had spent the past week with her grandmother, returned home at this time." That same day, Mrs. LaFever's brother and sister-in-law, "Mr. and Mrs. William Sanderson and family of Delhi were Sunday guests at the home of her sister, Mrs. Robert Boggs."

Among deaths recorded in the May 30, 1878 Andes Recorder was one 136 years ago today, May 25, 1878, that of James Miller.  The death notice stated that he was 'aged eighty-five years, eight months and twenty-six days." The brief notice went on to say that "Mr. Miller was a citizen much respected - For seventy-three years he had held the office of Elder in the Reformed Presybterian Church."

The Andes Recorder reported 121 years ago today in its May 26, 1893 issue that "Richard Johnson of Bovina this season made 318 gallons of heavy maple syrup from 700 trees. This is equal to 2,544 pounds of sugar."

Sixty four years ago today, on May 27, 1950, Anna Bell LaFever was headed to Ottawa, Illinois for her annual check-up. The Catskill Mountain News had reported in its May 26, 1950 issue that Mrs. LaFever was expecting to leave the next day. It noted that "she goes every year for a checkup by a physician who has helped her much from the affliction of arthritis." My grandmother was afflicted severely from rheumatoid arthritis and tried a number of remedies, including making her only ever jet plane trip in 1979 to Mexico to try a treatment there. Grandma died the following year at the age of 86.

Eighty-five years ago today on May 28, 1929, as later reported in the Delaware Republican, "Fred Bramley had sixteen cows stunned so they fell down by the shock from the lightning which it is supposed following the water pipe in…"

Angelica D. Gerry, the daughter of Elbridge Gerry and Louisa Livingston, was born 143 years ago today on May 29, 1871. She built a summer home at Lake Delaware known as Ancrum. She also was instrumental in the building of St. James Church.

109 years ago, on May 30, 1905, as later reported in the Andes Recorder, baseball teams from "Lake Delaware and the Hook battled for supremacy on diamond Tuesday at the Centre and the score was 12 to 4 in favor of the former."

The May 31, 1895 issue of the Andes Recorder in its Bovina column included the following item: "Sylvester McFarland, who left this town over twenty years ago, and who had not been heard from since, suddenly made his appearance in town a few days ago." McFarland was born in Wisconsin in 1843 and died in Somerville, Massachusetts in 1914. He was a prison officer when in Massachusetts. It is not clear when he lived in Bovina. His father, James McFarland, was a Bovina native.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Stories from Bovina's Cemeteries - Policeman John Gordon

John L. Gordon was born in 1871, the son of Thomas Gordon and his first wife, Mary Oliver.  He grew up in Bovina and at one point was on the town's baseball team.  In August 1895, the Andes Recorder reported on a game in which several players were injured. While Gordon was not one of them, he fainted when the physician was sewing up another player’s wounds.

In December 1896, John went to New York City to take an examination as a city police officer.  He was successful, being one of only 56 out of the 600 who took the exam to be appointed.  Right around the time of his examination, his family suffered a double tragedy in the death of his 18 year old sister, Maggie, in December and the death of his mother only six weeks later.

Gordon assumed his duties in February 1897.  About a year later, he was laid up for several weeks with rheumatism. He married Elizabeth Roger and in April 1902 became the father of a son, William. They had another son, John in February 1908. The family came to Bovina about once a year for his vacation. This was regularly reported in the Andes Recorder.

In August 1905, John became seriously ill in New York City. The Andes Recorder reported that “Thomas Gordon was called to New York last week by the illness of his son, John L. Mr. Gordon, who is on the police force, was overcome with the heat.  Newspapers have misstated the facts and added much to make a good story out of it.”  The Otsego Farmer from Cooperstown appears to have been one of the papers guilty of doing this: “John Gordon of Delhi, a policeman in New York city became mentally unbalanced, having been overcome by the heat and his long and arduous duties among the East Side bread strikers. He attempted suicide twice, first by taking laudanum, and then by stabbing himself with a small pen knife. He is better now, and convalescing in Delhi.”

John continued his duties as a policeman and his vacation visits to Bovina, but three years later, on September 9, 1908, while his wife and children were at her family’s place at Lake Delaware, "the startling intelligence was flashed over the wires to Bovina that Policeman John L. Gordon had died that morning in New York." Reported by the Andes Recorder, the paper noted that "it was learned that he was found dead at his home.”  Gordon was 37 years old and had been on the police force about twelve years. The Recorder noted that soon after assuming his duties he had been struck in the head and that a few years later suffered a severe sunstroke.  He had been off duty several times in the year prior to his death due to health issues.  Two days before he died he had written to his wife stating that he expected to arrive in Lake Delaware on September 20th. John was survived by his wife and two sons as well as his father, stepmother and a half brother and sister. [The half sister was Margaret Gordon, better known as a social studies teacher at Delaware Academy. She was 15 months old when her half brother died.]

The Recorder did not report an important fact about Gordon's death; namely that it was by his own hand. The Delaware Republican, in reporting his death noted that “sensational reports vary with reference to the circumstances of Gordon’s death but agree that the means used was self-administered illuminating gas. The reason assigned is ill health.” The New York City Police Department’s annual report for 1908 verified this, noting that “Patrolman John L. Gordon committed suicide by inhaling illuminating gas, September 9, 1908.”

John’s father Thomas went to New York City to arrange for the body to be brought back to Bovina for burial. The September 18, 1908 Andes Recorder reported on John's funeral, with the headline "Largely attended funeral."

The funeral of John L. Gordon was held at 10 o’clock Saturday [September 12] in Bovina and was largely attended.  Rev. H.B. Speer officiated.  The offerings of flowers was large and probably the most beautiful ever seen here.  The sympathy of the entire community goes out to the young wife who is left with two small children. Besides the immediate families those from out of town in attendance were Miss Gerry, of New York; Jas Foreman, Margaret Archibald, Chas Gordon and wife, W. B. Yeomans and wife, the Misses Forrest, Mrs. Williams, Mrs. Alex Oliver, of Delhi, Leonard Sloan and wife, of Bloomville; Thomas Bouton and wife and T.W. Miller of Andes

John's widow Elizabeth continued to come to Lake Delaware with her two sons each summer to stay with her father, William Rogers. She died of cancer in New York City in October 1920. Her father-in-law Thomas had died a few months later in April 1921.

See the January 6, 2012 entry in this blog for another story about John Gordon's half-brother William.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

May 1914 - 100 Years Ago in "That Thriving Town"

More progress reported on the hamlet's new water system

May 1, 1914
Town Superintendent McPherson has gangs of men working on the town highways.
Charles R. Lee lies in a semi-unconscious condition and when roused does not appear to know anyone.
Stewart Mullinex has moved from Colchester into the John R. Hoy house in the lower part of the village.
The Italian who was to take the Arthur Bergman farm has not showed up and Mr. Bergman has the $250 forfeit. [The Bergman Farm was located in the area of New Road.]
Mr. Mead of Margaretville, has moved into the small Hoy house opposite the Campbell place in the lower part of Bovina Center.
T.A. Archibald is the Bovina member of the Delaware County farm bureau. County Agent Avery plans to visit each member of the bureau once a month.
The Italian workmen on the Bovina Center Water Works have now commenced digging on the ditch at the lower end.  The hydrants 22 in number arrived this week.

May 8, 1914
Thomas H. Elliott, of Andes, moved into the John R. Hoy house. He has secured employment in the Bovina Center Cemetery.
Walter G. Coulter was at Binghamton last Friday and his wife who for some time had been a patient at the state hospital, came home with him. [Walter’s wife was Margaret Strangeway Coulter (1873-1953) and was the mother of Ruth Coulter Parsons and Celia Coulter.]
State Road men were here this week and forbid the Bovina Center Water company digging any more ditch thru the street until a permit was procured from the state.
Charles R. Lee died at his home in Bovina Center, at 3 o’clock Sabbath morning, May 3, at the age of 86 years and 4 months. We believe that he was born in the village where he died and practically all his life and had been passed in the town. He was 4 times married. His first and third wives were sisters named Loughren [Margery Loughran (1829-1854) and Helen Elizabeth Loughran (1842-1876)]; his second a Bouton [Sarah Ann Bouton (1827-1871) from Roxbury, and his fourth, a Washburn [Keziah Washburn (1834-1905)], of Union Grove. Six children survive him, viz: Mrs. Charles Arbuckle, of Newark, N.J., Mrs. Ella Signor, of Scranton, Chas. A., John B. and Alphonso P. in Bovina, and William in Delhi. The funeral was held Tuesday in the U.P. church, with interment in the Center cemetery.

May 15, 1914
Frank T. Miller is having a varanda put on his house.
The first length of the pipe for the Bovina Center Water company was laid Monday.
Ward Baker, the violinist, and wife will spend the summer at their home here. Prof. Baker has just finished a tour of the United States for the Keith circuit in the east and Orpheum circuit in the west.  He now retires from vaudeville and will go in the concert field. [See the Bovina NY History blog entry for March 26, 2014 for more about Ward Baker.]

May 22, 1914
Telford & Archibald have installed a Sharpless Milking machine for James E. Hastings.
Archibald Thompson has purchased a Ford runabout and R.E. Thompson a Ford touring car.
Charles Tuttle has purchased a new automobile – the Franklin.  Arthur Bergman has a Ford touring car.  Will Thomson, the liveryman, also has a car.
The deaths of two Bovina residents, both in their 40s was reported in the Recorder. Mrs. Fred Bramley died May 12 at the age of 44. She was Lucy Elizabeth Jackson, the daughter of Charles M. Jackson and Hannah Worden. She married Fred Bramley in 1900. They had five children, four of whom were living at the time of their mother’s death. Walter McCune died three days later on May 15 at the age of 47.

May 29, 1914
Dr. Scott was taken ill Saturday but is now able to be about again.
Commodore and Mrs. Elbridge T. Gerry with several servants arrived at their summer home at Lake Delaware on Tuesday.
The little child of Mr. and Mrs. John W. Hewitt was brought here this week from Margaretville for burial in the Center cemetery. [This is Wesley Hewitt, son of John and Laura Hewitt, who died March 22, 1914. His death date on the family stone is incorrect, given as 1913.]
Robert G. Thomson will move about June 1, from the Gow house to Jas. B. Thomson’s house on Maple avenue.  Mrs. Ella Telford will move into the rooms that he vacates.
The residents in the lower part of the village, as far as the ditch is dug, are connecting with the main pipe of the new water system.  The workmen of E.J. Turnbull, of Andes, are doing the work.
William M. Armstrong has received the appointment of patrolman on the Andes-Delhi State road, having the section from T.C. Strangeway’s to Delhi. He succeeds John Quinn who had a temporary appointment. [William was the son of Francis and Jennette (Burns) Armstrong. Born in 1870, he died in 1943.]
Miss Louise Muller, who for a number of years had been in charge of the dining room of the Hotel Churchill in New York, has given up the position owing to the condition of her health, and arrived home Tuesday. [Louise died in Bovina three years later in 1917. See this blog for January 31, 1913 for more information on the Muller family.]

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Horses running away appears to be the rage here just at present

[Note: this is an expanded version of the article that appeared in my 'Stories from Old Bovina' column in the Walton Reporter in January.]

Before there were automobiles, the way many folks in Bovina got around, if not on foot, was by horse. Sometimes, when horses got hitched to wagons, there were dire consequences. There are numerous news stories of horses running away in Bovina (and elsewhere – Bovina was not unique in this) while hitched to wagons or farm equipment in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In June 1895, the Andes Recorder noted that “Horses running away appears to be the rage here just at present.” One incident in that report involved Mrs. John Russell when the team ran away after the harness broke. They ran to the U.P. Church where Mrs. Russell was thrown out of the wagon. Fortunately, she was uninjured.

Not everyone was as lucky. In April 1898, the Andes Recorder reported that a horse was spooked by boys at the school on Maple Avenue (now the Bovina Public Library). “Gideon Miller had hitched up his colt and went to take Miss Tina Northrup to Delhi. As they were coming down the new street past the school house the boys made considerable noise and the colt became frightened.” The colt and wagon made a sharp right turn onto the main street, causing a front wheel to disintegrate. This led to the occupants being tossed from the wagon. Miss Northrup was thrown clear and though shook up was otherwise uninjured. Mr. Miller must have held on to the reins a bit, for he was pulled by the horse for short distance, leading to a “badly sprained” leg and “the ligaments torn at the knee joint…”

Sometimes, the person handling the reins was able to stop the incident from becoming that of a true runaway. In July 1898, the Andes Recorder reported that “Miss M. Ella Graham, of Andes, was coming to [Bovina]…” when just about Douglass Davidson’s home (now the Behrer home) “the rear spring broke…” This frightened the horse and caused it to spring. This, in turn, caused the top of the buggy to come down and get tangled in one of the wheels, tearing out a spoke. Before there was much other damage to horse, wagon or driver, Miss Graham was able to hang on to the reins and stop the horse.

Not all accidents were caused by frightened horses. Sometimes it was the fault of the driver. In 1895, “Bessie Dennis was quite badly bruised … by being thrown out of the road cart at Scott’s bridge. The wheel struck the stone at the end of the bridge and she was thrown out among some stones. Johnnie Dennis was driving the horse.” Scott’s bridge was the old stone bridge at the lower end of the Bovina Center hamlet.

In October 1904, James T. McFarland’s hired hand was driving Mr. McFarland when he tried to pass another team being driven by James Hastings by going up on the bank. This upset the wagon and threw the driver and passenger out. The only injury was to the driver’s hand, but the wagon was damaged. We do not know if the hired hand kept his job.

Occasionally, injuries were worse than the usual cuts and bruises and, in at least one incident, led to a fatality. In July 1914, Isabella King Doig, the wife of Robert Doig, was in a two-seated buckboard with her son when her umbrella hit the spokes of the wheel frightening the horse. When she realized the horse was about to bolt, she jumped from the wagon, breaking both legs below the knees in the process. She was taken home and spent two months bedridden. She appeared to be recuperating nicely when on September 2 she died suddenly of a blood clot at the age of only 42.

Horses running away because of outside stimuli have always been a problem, so trains and automobiles just added to the causes of upsets. In July 1905, Claude Erkson and his aunt were returning to Bovina from Hobart when their horse was frightened by a passing train. The horse went up a steep bank and upset the buggy, throwing Claude and his aunt out.

One of the earliest recorded accidents in Bovina involving a horse and automobile happened in September 1914, when Mrs. Robert Kemp and a Mrs. Thomson, were headed towards Delhi. They encountered A.T. Doig’s car at a sharp curve at the bridge at “The Hook”. The horse turned in fright on the bridge and both ladies were thrown out, with Mrs. Kemp breaking her collar bone. The newspaper noted that the “curve at that point is a very dangerous one and more accidents are likely to happen there.”

Some incidents had nothing to do with a frightened horse. In July 1898, people at a farm on Lake Delaware were startled to see a horse drawn wagon with another horse behind it come up the road with no one at the reins. Going back along what is now Route 28 they found John W. Bramley lying on the road in a daze and with a bruise on his head. He had been coming from Delhi when he apparently passed out and fell off the wagon. Bramley was just shy of 80 and likely suffering from the diabetes which killed him just over a year later.

As the century progressed, incidents and accidents involving horses became less and less frequent as people started using automobiles and started retiring the old horse and buggy. That does not mean that Bovina was accident free – it just meant that horses were less likely to be involved.