Sunday, November 30, 2014

This Day in Bovina for November

Eighty seven years ago today, November 1, 1927, as later reported in the Andes Recorder, "Dr. and Mrs. W.C. Sarle were visiting in Bovina in preparation for moving there from Burlington Flats."  The November 4, 1927 Otsego Farmer reported that their friends in Burlington Flats and the area "will regret losing Dr. and Mrs. Sarle, who will move to [Bovina] probably some time this month."

137 years ago on November 2, 1877, Nancy Ormiston Burns died. She was the daughter of William Ormiston and Jennett Graham, natives of Scotland. She married John Burns in 1832 and had seven children. Her husband survived her by 19 years, dying in 1896.

111 years ago today, on November 3, 1903, as later reported in the Andes Recorder, a "meeting against secret societies" took place in the Covenanter church in Bovina (the church was located where the fire hall now sits). One of the speakers spoke against the Grand Army of the Republic (the GAR), the Civil War veterans group. The speaker, who claimed to be a Civil War veteran, said "he would not belong to such an order." The Recorder went on to say "we don't want such a man in our order, so he need not bother himself about it. The order is better without such as he."

116 years ago today, the November 4, 1898 Bovina column of the Andes Recorder noted that "out of seventeen cows which John M. Miller has had come in this fall, eight have had milk fever, and four have died." Miller's farm was on Pink Street, the farm later known as Suits Us Farm.

112 years ago today, on November 5, 1902, the family of E.T. Gerry, after spending several weeks at their summer home at Lake Delaware, returned to their home in New York City.

115 years ago today, on November 6, 1899, as later reported in the Bovina column of the Andes Recorder, "Merritt Reynolds was in town….selling patent neck yokes."

164 years ago today, on November 7, 1850, William D. Thompson, son of David Thompson and Jennette Hume, married Agnes Murray, the daughter of John Murray and Jennet Scott. They would have 4 children, but only one would survive to adulthood, William Henry Thompson. William and Agnes would be married over 51 years. William died in 1902, Agnes three years later.

119 years ago today, the Andes Recorder in its November 8, 1895 edition reported that "There is every prospect of a telephone to the upper part of the town, with an instrument at J.E. Hastings, Johnson Brothers, Post office, Mrs. Hewitt's, McFarland Brothers, A.F. Maynard's and at W.B. Thomson's."

120 years ago today, the November 9, 1894 Bovina column of the Andes Recorder reported that "Gossips say there is to be a case of matrimony on Pink street soon." No further information appears in subsequent papers to identify this couple. There were two couples married in Bovina not long after this notice. Hope Chamberlain married Jennie Mabon on November 28, 1894, but the Mabons lived in Lake Delaware (and I'm not sure from where Chamberlain came). On December 5, 1894, Andrew C. Seacord married Elizabeth Loughran. This may be the couple mentioned in the gossip, but we can't be sure. The gossip could have been totally wrong.

114 years ago today, on November 10, 1900, as later reported in the Andes Recorder, "W.J. Doig was heading for Bloomville and when going up the pitch above R.A. Thompson's one of his horses dropped down dead in the road."

Sixty two years ago today, on November 11, 1952, the Bovina Home Bureau held the second meeting on "Self-Help in Case of Accidents." A third meeting was scheduled at the community hall for November 25.

153 years ago today, November 12, 1861, Rachel Atkin died. We don't know much about her ancestry other than that her maiden name was Miller. She married Charles Atkin and they had seven children. She was 58 at her death.

111 years ago today, on November 13, 1903, as later reported in the Andes Recorder Bovina column, "….some miscreant broke into William Crosier’s barn and stole some furs, oats, etc.  Some others think they had a visit from them."

114 years ago today, November 14, 1900, the funeral for George Thomson was held, with burial in the Bovina Cemetery. He was only 15 years old at his death. He had been operated on for appendicitis on November 1 by three doctors, Gates, Phinney and McNaught. The Andes Recorder at the time reported that "the operation was a difficult one, but the patient is doing as well as could be expected." He died 10 days later on November 11. He was the son of James Thomson and Maryette Reynolds Thomson.

116 years ago today, on November 15, 1898, James Coulter died at the home of his son Edward. The son of Scottish immigrant Francis Coulter, he was born in Bovina on the family farm on Coulter Brook Road. He married Nancy Thompson and was the father of 13 children, of whom five survived him at his death. The Andes Recorder noted that James "had been in bed most of the day" the day before. His daughter in law checked on him a little after midnight. She "came out and told her husband she believed his father was dead and this proved to be the case." For more about James, go to the Bovina NY History Blog for May 2011 at

Ninety three years ago today, on November 16, 1921, Thomas C. Strangeway submitted this statement of expenses as a candidate for town supervisor (he won and served one term).

115 years ago, on November 17, 1899, James L. Coulter returned from Monmouth, Illinois. He had gone there about 10 days before. This likely is James Leiper Coulter. Born in 1832, he eventually settled in Pennsylvania.

Seventy eight years ago today, on November 18, 1936, Lester Foreman was selected to become superintendent of schools in Rochester.  Forman was hired to fill the unexpired term of the previous superintendent, who had passed away.  Foreman was 32 years old and a native of Bovina.  Born in Bovina in 1904, he was the son of Robert Foreman and Dora Alice Boggs.  He graduated Cornell in 1926 and taught in the Rochester area until 1931 when he became an agriculture teacher in the Williamson High School.  Foreman died in Pittsford, NY, outside of Rochester, in 1969.

117 years ago this evening, on November 19, 1897, as later reported in the Bovina Column of the Andes Recorder, Bovina saw two weddings barely a half hour apart. Both ceremonies were performed by the same clergyman, W.L.C. Samson. The paper noted that "it made him hustle and he had to miss one wedding feast." The first wedding was that of Sylvan LaFever and Ella Burns, who were married at the bride's home. Ella was the daughter of Alexander and Nancy Burns. Sylvan and Ella would have three children: Benson, born 1900; Clarence, born 1902 and Ruth, born 1904. Ruth died in 1906 and Ella died in 1908 near Oneida Lake. The same evening of the LaFever/Burns wedding, William T. Miller was married to Mary Boggs. William was the son of Michael Miller and Sally McCune Miller; Mary was the daughter of Thomas Boggs and Jane Archibald Boggs. They would be married until Mary's death in 1926 and would have no children. Ironically, both grooms died in June 1940.

156 years ago today, on November 20, 1858, Maggie Thomson was born, the last of the eight children of John Thomson and Helen Armstrong. She was slated to have a short life, dying in February of 1867 at the age of 8.

William David Thomson (or Thompson, the records vary) was born 146 years ago today on November 21, 1868. He was the son of David Low Thompson and Eliza Murray.  He died in 1958 when he was 89 years old and is buried in Bovina.

114 years ago today, as later reported in the Andes Recorder, "the old soldiers were invited to John P. Dennis' [on November 22, 1900], and spent an enjoyable evening together.  The inner man was well cared for and an excellent repast served."

118 years ago today, November 23, 1896, as later reported in the Bovina column of the Andes Recorder, noted orator Colonel H.W.J. Ham gave the first lecture in the fall lecture course in Bovina. "The speaker took for his subject, 'The Snollygoster in Politics' and his lecture far exceeded the expectations of the audience.  It contained enough humor to keep his hearers in the best of spirits, but the undercurrent of solid argument for the uplifting of the plane of American citizenship and fostering a patriotic sentiment that will drive out of politics the self seeking, unprincipled place hugger – the snollygosters – who are feeding on the public and degrading the institutions of the land, made the thoughtful ponder on his words.  He closed with a touching picture of the need now so great in the country of the proper training of the young, and dwelt on the importance of surrounding the young man’s life with pictures of honor and faith."

Eighty five years ago today, November 24, 1928, an accident took place in Bovina, later reported in the Andes Recorder:  "Hugh McPherson and Ledger Myers had a narrow escape Saturday night in an auto accident.  The young men had been at Henry Monroe's during the day cutting wood and coming home the lights on the car were poor.  When just below the intersection of the uptown and Coulter Brook roads a car left standing in the road without lights by the mechanic at Kaufman's garage in front of the LaFever house, where he lives, loomed up out of the darkness and there was a crash. McPherson who was driving escaped injury.  Myers was hurled against the windshield and it was shattered. Fortunately he was not thrown against the jagged edges of the glass and escaped with only a few minor cuts.  Their car was quite badly damaged." The LaFever house mentioned likely is the home of Leonard and Ann Cairns, owned at that time by my grandmother, Anna Bell LaFever. It was a couple of doors away from mine. Similar such accidents would happen at least twice during my childhood.

Maggie A. Gordon died 118 years ago today on November 25, 1896. The daughter of Thomas Gordon and Mary J. Oiver, she was just 18. Her mother would die just over a month later in January 1897.

Ninety three years ago today, on November 26, 1921, the Methodist Church and parsonage in Bovina Center were sold.  The parsonage, now the Chuck McIntosh home, was sold to Gay Hafele for $1,025.  The church was bought by William Archibald for $775.  The church was demolished in 1926 and Archibald built a house in its place, now owned by Gert hall.

Fifteen years ago today, on November 27, 1999, Edwin Milton Doig passed away. Born in 1905, Ed was the son of Milton and Jennie Thomson Doig. He married Gladys Biggar and had 3 children. Ed was in the army from 1926-29 and farmed much of his life on Pink Street.

112 years ago today, November 28, 1902, the Bovina column of the Andes Recorder reported that "Through the kindness of E.T. Gerry the five year old child of Fred Minister, who lives in the John R. Hoy tenement house, will soon be taken to New York for treatment.  The child is afflicted with knock knees."

137 years ago today, in the Bovina News from the November 29, 1877 Andes Recorder appeared the following plea: "What has befallen the once agitated project of connecting us with the Andes and Delhi Telegraph Line? If only the proper effort were made this would easily be accomplished. The work should be done at once."

Ninety five years ago today, November 30, 1919, as later reported in the Bovina column of the Andes Recorder, "Dr. Norris B. Whitcomb with his wife and little daughter, who left here to become a medical missionary in Egypt, arrived safely at Naples, Italy." Whitcomb would stay in Egypt until his death there in 1935 from septicemia. He is buried in Egypt.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Some Personal Thanksgiving Photos from the Past

I was rather surprised, when going through family photos, to not find many of Thanksgiving, but I thought I'd share these few. Hoping everyone has a great Thanksgiving Day and that you are building future memories!
Thanksgiving in Bovina 1972. For some reason, I made everyone leave so I could photograph the food. Would have been nice to have the people in the shot too!
Thanksgiving in Bovina 2010. Note I'm using the same table cloth my mom used 38 years previously. That's Susan, Gary and Diane over the remains of dessert.
I know this doesn't look very Thanksgivingish, but it does date from Thanksgiving Day 1978. My dear ole Pa.
My dear ole Dad's last Thanksgiving in 2003 at my sister and brother-in-law's in Schenectady. Dad is making the classic pose that his dad always did when he sat down at Thanksgiving, ready to eat! That's mom on the left and Diane on the right, trying to hide from the camera.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

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

From the Andes Recorder

November 1914 saw the formation of a fire district in Bovina Center, made possible by the creation of the water district. And William Strangeway learned that you shouldn't hit a horse in the leg.

November 6, 1914
The Center school is closed on account of the epidemic of measles.
Frank Kinch, on the Soper farm, had a sheep killed by dogs Thursday night.
Two drinking fountains have been installed in the Center school house, one for each room.
There was a “bee” last Thursday to lay a sidewalk along the front of the Methodist church lot. [This is the lot across from the Community Hall]
A fire district will be formed at Bovina Centre. The water pressure is strong and will throw a stream onto any building.
Election – 180 votes cast.  Governor – Whitman, rep, 101; Glynn, dem, 20; Sulzer, prohibition and American, 50; Davenport, prog, 2.

November 13, 1914
Alex Hilson is in New York City this week.
Thermometers went as low as three above zero here Tuesday morning.
James W. Thomson has moved from Tunis Lake to the Charles R. Lee house which he recently purchased.
Ralph Burns died in Meredith last week from tuberculosis.  He was son of James Burns, formerly of Bovina.
Dogs have killed six sheep for Frank Kinch, on the Soper farm.  One of the dogs has been shot but the other is yet at large.
Bovina town audits, as allowed by town board, for year 1914, amounted to $1,391.78.  The amount paid for sheep killed was $60.

November 20, 1914
Sloan Archibald has taken out a license and started a milk route.
A representative of the State Tax Commissioners was here Thursday.
H.A. Ayers, butter-maker at the Center creamery, has moved from Jas A. Gow’s house to the Phinney house, now owned by Dixon Thomson. [This is the Virga house to the left of Brushland Eating House. 42.2623°N 74.7842°W]
The Ladies Aid of the M.E. church will hold a Bazaar in the town hall on Tuesday afternoon and evening, November 24.  An oyster supper will be served.
About 40 of the friends of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Kinch made them a visit Wednesday to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their marriage.  The company left a substantial purse as a reminder of the occasion.

November 27, 1914
Bovina schools are closed this week, owing to a teacher’s conference and Thanksgiving.
From a bazaar and supper held on Tuesday the Methodist congregation realized $63.80.
Earl Harold Miller, son of John M. Miller of Bovina, and Miss Rachel Mary Sullivan, of St. Paul, Minnesota, were married November 25.
Sloan Archibald bought an old horse formerly owned by Jas W. Thomson, and was unable to get it home and had to shoot it while enroute.
William Strangeway, who lives with his brother-in-law, Charles A. McPherson, on the S.G. Bramley farm, had the misfortune to have his leg broken below the knee.  Both bones were broken. Mr. Strangeway hit a horse on the leg and it retaliated by kicking him. [William was the son of Rev. William Strangeway and his wife Margaret Dunn. His sister Rosa was married to Charles McPherson.]

Friday, November 7, 2014

Letter from Alice Russell

One hundred and forty six years ago today, on November 2, 1868, Alice Russell penned this letter to her mother in New Kingston. Alice was working for the Black family in Brushland.

This letter was addressed to Mrs. John G. Russell, New Kingston, Delaware County, written by her daughter Alice Jane Russell. Alice was born in 1847, the daughter of John Grant Russell (1822-1902) and Jane Chisholm (1815-1886). When Alice wrote this letter, she was living with the Black family. This likely was Mr. and Mrs. David Black. David Black was born in Scotland in 1824 and died in 1883. Mrs. Black was Mary Jane Scott (1833-1889). The Black farm was located on Coulter Brook Road. It was where Isabell Irvine Russell lived and was married. The farm later became the Elms Farm, owned and run by Cliff and Gert Hall. Many thanks to my cousin Barbara Boggs Ide for sharing this letter from her great grandmother. (An image of the letter is at the end of this blog entry.)

Brushland Nov 2nd, 1868

Dear Mother,

As I happened to be thinking about home to day I thought I would write you a few lines to let you know that I am well and hope this will find you well and able to eat a good fat piece of pork, along with some potatoes. I am still at work. I have got to stay until the (13th) of the present month before my time is out. Mrs. Black says she does not know whether she can get along without me then or not. The cows give very little this cold weather they sold their hogs alive. They only kept one for their own use, so the butchering will not be very much. I am cleaning house this week, done an old staving(?) washing to day. I have got me a new pair of shoes they were two dollars pretty good ones for store shoes.

I have got me a new Jockey which cost me the immense sum of (ninety cents) I am nearly broke. If you have any claims against the firm you had better collect them at once. 

I hope you have got your spinning done. You must recollect I want some stocking tumber this winter. I have had none for two winters past. I want one pair white single cross banded and two pair of every day ones. I am pretty near out. It may look like a good bunch to call on at once but I have not had an in so long I have to do something.

I supose you have made lots of butter (that is for yourself) don’t pinch us all winter because you can call it your own we need about one tub to last us through desently [decently].

Blacks sold their dairy for (43 cts per pound). It is getting towards bedtime and I must think of stopping. My love to Father, you with a share for the rest.

Yours truly
Alice Russell

Did you hear Jim Coulter had bought a farm the one old Marrie Scott used to own. The[y] say he is to be married to a girl by the name of Libbie Mable.

Alice would marry William Boggs in February 1871 and settle in Bovina where she would have two sons, Harry Grant Boggs, who died at the age of 18 in 1891 and J. Russell Boggs, who would die in 1955 at the age of 76. Alice died in June 1923, predeceasing her husband by 10 years.

As to the possible marriage of James Coulter to Libbie Mable, I have been unable to find that it actually took place. There is a James Coulter who married Mary Rotermund in December 1868 in Andes. Whether or not this is the same James is hard to determine, but he is the closest fit in terms of age. Ironically, James and Mary's daughter Margaret would marry Alice's son J.R. Boggs.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Visiting the Scottish Borders

I am making my second visit to the Scottish Borders in a little over a year (this is my sixth visit to the region). This time I am not alone. I am escorting a group on a trip that is a fund raiser for the Bovina United Presbyterian Church, arranged through Celtic Tours in Albany. Eleven hardy souls have joined me, with four having Bovina roots. Jim Hilson, Jean Parsons Merenberg and I have a common ancestor in Francis Coulter, born Francis Coltherd. The Hilson family also hails from the borders, specifically Hawick. Also traveling in the group are two people with Scottish Borders ancestry by marriage - Pat Thomas Parsons Miele and Jim's wife, Peg Hilson.

On November 1, 2014, we visited the Hawick Heritage Hub in Hawick. This is the regional archives for the borders area. They really rolled out the red carpet - or in this case cool documents that all contained recognizable Bovina surnames. The Archive Manager, Paul Brough, had found several documents listing Hilsons who very likely are related to the Bovina Hilsons. He also found a reference to a Glendenning getting in trouble for being in a brawl! Glendennings are ancestors of the Bovina Coulters. I also saw a map with accompanying documentation that included a reference to one of my Ormiston relations. The full title of the document was
State of the Process of Division of the Commonalty of Wilton, Robert Langlands of that Ilk v Henry, Duke of Buccleuch and others, with plan, with a date of 1764. It included a map and a large index, both of which have been cataloged, with a transcript and keyword searching on all proper names in the index. Below is the page from the index (which I saw only by luck when Paul turned the page) which references James Ormston from Boonraw. Below that is the map. I need to review more thoroughly the catalog entry to fully understand this record, but wanted to share it sooner rather than later.

Below is a session minute book from a Borders church, or, in Scotland, Kirk. I was struck by how similar the content and phrasing was to the session minutes of the Bovina Associate Presbyterian Church (the predecessor to the Bovina UP Church), though given the Scottish origins of the Bovina church, it should not be a big surprise.

The final document here was in the display case as we came in. We were struck by all the Bovina surnames. If you recognize anyone as an ancestor, let me know. It is a list of members of the Hawick Farmers Club.

To see the on-line catalog, go to and play around with the 'Advanced Search' feature. Be prepared to try different spellings of your ancestor's name, but it should be worth trying it out. I'm planning to work at it more when I get home.

For more information on the Hawick Heritage Hub, go to:

We continue our adventures in the Borders today by visiting three of the Borders Abbeys - Jedburgh, Kelso and Dryburgh (we saw the fourth one on Saturday). Then it is on to Edinburgh.