Saturday, February 28, 2015

This Day in Bovina for February 2015

The tax collector for the Town of Bovina, John Aitkens, settled with the county treasurer ninety four years ago today, February 1, 1921. As later reported in the Andes Recorder, "He had only $66 uncollected taxes."

The Bovina correspondent for the Andes Recorder reported the following 121 years ago today, February 2, 1893: "We hear that George Russell has been offered $28 per month to work on a farm the coming summer, but refused the offer.  About the best industry in this place would be to raise boys who would not be too 'high toned' to work on a farm.  The above offer shows that it pays to be sober and industrious."

127 years ago today, on February 3, 1888, Ethel Thomson was born, the daughter of Alexander Thomson and Addie Kaufman. She would only live about 3 1/2 years, dying in July 1891. When she died, she was survived by her parents and one sister. A year later, a brother, John, was born.

Eighty-seven years ago today, on February 4, 1928, as later reported in the Andes Recorder, "the bids for the Bovina Community Hall were opened...but were far above the appropriation.  Only two bids were submitted and one was for $10,000 and the other was $14,000." Nothing further happened until the end of 1929 when the project was revived and in March 1930, a bid of $7,500 was accepted. The building was dedicated in the fall of 1930.

Seventy seven years ago today, on February 5, 1938, a fire on the Gerry Estate killed Col. V.L. Bennett, the foreman of the Gerry Breeding Stables. The Andes Recorder reported that the fire was "supposedly started by a patented lamp left burning in the living room…" His family, including his wife, six year old daughter and mother escaped.

109 years ago today, on February 6, 1906, as later reported in the Catskill Mountain News, the temperature in Bovina was "twenty-four degrees below zero … the backbone of winter seems to be strengthened instead of weakened."

Eighty nine years ago today, on February 7, 1926, as later reported in the Andes Recorder, "Mr. and Mrs. John P. Dennis, celebrated the 55th anniversary of their wedding ... at their home, Glenwood, on the Richmond road Williamsburg, Virginia.  Miss Louise Dennis, a sister and the only guest at the wedding now living, was present, and also all of their children. Mr. Dennis is a native of Bovina, and for many years conducted the Dennis grist mill.  Around a quarter of a century ago he went to Virginia." John died at the end of December 1929, his wife in 1937.

114 years ago today, on February 8, 1901, the Bovina correspondent for the Andes Recorder reported: "The government rejected the bid of William H. Maynard of $373, which was the lowest for carrying the mail from Bovina to Bloomville.  The round trip is 18 miles and this has to be covered six days in the week and takes the best part of each day, and but little is received from either express or passengers."

Ninety two years ago today, on February 9, 1923, as reported by the Andes Recorder, "Mrs. Fred Johnson committed suicide at her home in Bovina Center by cutting her throat with a razor…"  Born of Lydia Thomson, the Recorder noted that the cause of her suicide "was probably over wrought nerves." The newspaper noted that her husband had been ill and she was having her own health problems. A niece had come to help with the care of Mr. Johnson, so Mrs. Johnson and her sister went up to bed. Her sister, Mrs. James Russell, heard her sister get up in the night but didn't think much about it and went back to sleep. When she couldn't find her the next morning, a search was instigated in the house. Mrs. Johnson was found  at the top of the stairs into the attic, still holding the razor with which she did the deed. "The funeral was held Monday from the Church of the Covenanters [Reformed Presbyterian], Rev. F.N. Crawford officiating." Mr. Johnson passed away in January of 1925.

Sixty-four years ago today, on February 10, 1951, as later reported in the Bovina column of the Catskill Mountain News, "A large number of people from Bovina attended John Deere day…at the South Kortright central school. A dinner was served to nearly seven hundred people. They were honored to hear Radio Farm Advisor Ed Mitchell with a fine speech." Ed Mitchell was a broadcaster on station WGY, starting in 1927.

Ninety four years ago, the February 11, 1921 Bovina column of the Andes Recorder reported that "Ice nearly two feet thick is being harvested from the Johnson pond uptown."

Seventy-five years ago today, on February 12, 1940, as later reported in the Delaware Republican, "Mr. and Mrs. Fred Thomson and Mrs. Jennie Archibald were at Delhi on Monday evening to attend the Virginia baked ham supper put on by the senior class of Delhi Central School."

112 years ago today, on the evening of February 13, 1903, in celebration of Valentine's Day, a Basket Social or Sociable was held at Strangeway's Hall. The Andes Recorder announced the event - "Come and get your Valentine at the Basket Social in Strangeway’s Hall, on Friday evening, February 13. Every lady will please bring a basket with lunch in it for two."  A few days later, on February 17, another "Basket Sociable"  was held at Elmer E. Hastings, with the "Money to be used to purchase new Bible Songs."

115 years ago today, on February 14, 1900, "Archibald F. Maynard died at his home in the upper part of this town Wednesday night, aged 70 years." The Andes Recorder noted that "He had been in failing health for about six months.  Mr. Maynard lived on the old Maynard homestead and was born and spent all his life on the farm on which he died.  In 1875 he married Jennie L, daughter of Hector Cowan, of Stamford, who with one son survives him.  The funeral will be held on Friday."

151 years ago today, on February 15, 1864, John Murray signed this oath of officer as overseer of the poor:

Ninety three years ago today, on February 16, 1922, Calvin Russell's team of horses got away from him. The Andes Recorder reported that "The team of Calvin Russell took fright at the creamery Thursday morning and had a lively run.  Coming onto Main street the team ran in at the Hastings feed store and onto the flat above the new street.  Continuing up the flat they went over the wall into a rocky pasture lot of Fred Bramley and were not caught until they reached Bramley’s.  No damage was done and not even the milk cans were thrown out. How they avoided all the rocks is a miracle."

Seventy two years ago today, on February 17, 1943, Kathryn Louise McPherson was born, the daughter of Lester McPherson and Margaret L. Russell. Better known as Louise, she married Wilford Barnhart in 1971 and, sadly, died in 1980 when she was only 37.

175 years ago today, on February 18, 1840, the Town of Bovina held its annual meeting and elected officers, including the Supervisor, Town Clerk, Assessors, Commissioners of Highway, Commissioners and Inspectors of Common Schools, Tax Collector, Constables, Overseers of the Poor and Justices of the Peace. The names of those elected are in the document below:

Thirty four years ago today, on February 19, 1981, Margaret Hoy passed away. Born in Bovina in 1911, she was the daughter of Adam Laidlaw and Emma Campbell. She married James Hoy in 1935 and had three children before she was widowed in 1956. Margaret was the Bovina Town Clerk for a number of years, retiring in 1976.

Seventy seven years ago today, on February 20, 1938, as later reported in the Andes Recorder, "Miss Jennie Biggar died at the home of Mrs. Kate Birdsell (sic) in the upper part of Bovina Center...She was the only child of Walter Biggar and Esther McEachron and was born in Bovina 59 years ago on the McEachron home stead, now occupied by Benson LaFevre (sic).  The funeral was held Wednesday."  The house that Jennie died in happens to be my house.  She died in the back bedroom, according to Mrs. Birdsall's daughter, Kate.  She was living with the Birdsalls after she lost her house (which was the house I grew up in) at a sheriff's sale.

162 years ago today, on February 21, 1853, Mary McCune Douglas gave birth to a son, John McCune Douglas. His father was James R. Douglas. John would die at the age of 7 years and 26 days in 1860. Mary Douglas was James' second wife. His first wife, Nancy, gave birth to one daughter and died a few months later. Her daughter would die two months before her half brother John. James and Mary would have one more child a year after the death of their son. The daughter would die at the age of 15.

Eighty seven years ago today, on February 22, 1928, "The Woman’s Missionary society had a good turnout at a ten cent tea at the home of Mrs. Elizabeth Irvine…." This is now the Tony and Norma Gabriel house.

123 years ago today, February 23, 1892, Ralph Miller Barnhart was born, the son of Jeremy Barnhart and Kate Miller.  Ralph was married and widowed three times and would live to be 96, dying on Christmas Day, 1988.  He is buried in Bovina.

129 years ago today, on February 24, 1886, the Bovina Town Board appointed Gilbert D. Miller as overseer of the poor after John Hastings, who was elected to the office on February 9, refused to serve. Here is the document of appointment:

Ninety-four years ago, the Andes Recorder for February 25, 1921 reported the following: "Mrs. Ann Bouton, of Lake Delaware, has in her possession a violin of interest to many.  Her father, Sandy Gillie (for many years court crier) bought the violin from Alva Belcher, the well remembered fiddler of his day, for his son, William Gillie, who died while serving his country in the civil war." For more on William Gillie, go to the Bovina NY History blog at

Seventy-five years ago today, on February 26, 1940, as later reported by the Delaware Republican, "Mrs. H.F. Davidson and Eddie were ill…"

Ninety years ago, the February 27, 1925 issue of the Andes Recorder's Bovina column reported the following: "A few weeks ago in a scuffle Master James Crawford, son of Rev. and Mrs. F.N. Crawford, had his arm injured.  It was thought to be only a bad strain, but it did not improve and an X-ray showed that the bone was fractured at the shoulder." Reverend Crawford was the pastor of the Bovina United Presbyterian Church until 1931.

Sixty-six years ago today, on February 28, 1949, as later reported in the Catskill Mountain News, "Frank Ackerly, who is employed on the town highway, slipped and fell Monday while walking to work. He was taken to a Delhi hospital where x-rays revealed he had broken his leg."

Saturday, February 21, 2015

"Fifty Joyous Years of Team Life"

In February 1921, two couples in Bovina celebrated their 50th wedding anniversaries one day apart. On February 15, 1871, Alexander Burns was married to Nancy Miller. They would have three children, daughters Ella and Aggie and son John (they also had a son who only lived two days). At the time of their anniversary, Alex and Nancy had two grandsons, Ben and Clarence LaFever, and two granddaughters, Mary and Agnes Burns. The next day, on February 16, 1871,William Boggs was married to Alice Russell. They would have two sons, Harry and J. Russell. They had three grandchildren at the time of their anniversary, Don, Bob and Norrie.

William and Alice Boggs; Alex and Nancy Burns
The article I believe came from a Presbyterian Church magazine (click on the image of the article to blow it up).

Thank you to my cousin Barbara Boggs Ide for sharing the article. And thanks to Jack Burns for sharing the photo. Alex and Nancy Burns are Jack's great grandparents (and my great great grandparents). W.J. and Alice Boggs are Barbara's great grandparents.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

February 1915 - 100 Years Ago in "That Thriving Town"

From the Andes Recorder
The Andes Recorder reported on the continuing effort to create a Bovina Center Fire District and on items related to the hamlet's new water system. Also reported were two operations, some weddings and a runaway team of horses down South Kortright Mountain.

February 5, 1915
William C. Burns spent Monday with Andes relatives.
Charles Hafele, Wallace Hyatt and Fine Hunt were at Andes on Wednesday.
Mrs. Robert McCandlish, of West Delhi, was a guest of her brother, Gideon Miller, the past week.
W.J. Howland has been surveying for a map of the reservoir of the Bovina Center Water Co., to file with the Conservation Commission.
John Kilham gave a lecture at the Town Hall on Wednesday evening on “My Life Among the Indians.”  This was the fourth number of the lecture course.
The Fire Commissioners of Bovina Center have organized by electing J. Russell Boggs, president and John W. McCune, secretary. William A. Hoy has declined to accept the office of treasurer to which he was elected last week.
Saturday afternoon there was a small fire in the Dickson Drug Store building, doing damage to the amount of about $10.  During the morning the chimney had burned out and several hours later the woodwork on the second floor was discovered on fire and alarm given.  The flames, however, were subdued by the use of several pails of water without turning on the village water. [This is now the Brushland Eating House.]

[The death of Russell McFarland was reported in this issue. Go to the November 7, 2013 blog entry for more about Mr. McFarland:]

February 12, 1915
William Tuttle, of Livingston Manor, visited his dauter, Mrs. Fred Whitehead, over Sabbath.
Mr. and Mrs. E. George Gladstone, who have spent the past five years in Colorado, are visiting relatives here.
Mrs. Elizabeth Bryden has moved from Delhi village to the home of her son, Ellsworth Tuttle, where she will make her home in the future.
Mr. and Mrs. Jas W. Thomson have returned from visiting his son, Charles Thomson on Staten Island, and his dauter, Mrs. Dayton, at Peekskill.
About 75 friends of Mr. and Mrs. William S. Thomson, Coulter Brook, made them a surprise visit on the occasion of their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary last week.  The guests served dinner and presented the bride and groom with a purse of money. [William Thomson was the son of Andrew Thomson and Margaret Scott. He married Jennie Archibald, the daughter of Sloan Archibald and Elizabeth Esther, on January 29, 1890. Their marriage would not last much longer. Jennie died two years later in 1917 at the age of 46. William died in November 1921.]

February 19, 1915
Mr. and Mrs. Fred Johnson spent Thursday at Andes.
Mrs. George Decker has gone to visit her daughter on Long Island.
James L. Coulter, of New Wilmington, Pennsylvania, was a recent visitor here.
Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Davidson visited her brother David F. Hoy, at Ithaca last week.
William H. Maynard has purchased a Hinman milking machine and will have it installed on his farm uptown.
Miss Jennie Hastings was home for a few days the past week to see her father, Thomas E. Hastings, who is in feeble health.
Mr. and Mrs. William S. Thomson, were at Walton on Wednesday to attend the marriage of their son, Archibald Thomson to Wanda Mae Lathan of Walton. Sloan Archibald and Mr. and Mrs. William F. Boggs were also wedding guests.

February 26, 1915
Two Bovina Operations
William J. Archibald and Mrs. Robert Foreman Under Surgeon’s Knife
Tuesday morning Dr. Latcher, of Oneonta, assisted by Dr. Ormiston, of Delhi and Dr. Whitcomb, the family physician, operated upon William J. Archibald at his home at the Scott arch bridge below Bovina Center. Mr. Archibald had been ill about a week, his case puzzling the physicians, but it was finally diagnosed as appendicitis. [William Archibald was born in 1870 and would live until 1941.]
Friday, Mrs. Robert Foreman was operated upon at the Neal hospital at Delhi. [This likely is Dora Boggs Foreman. Born in 1874, she would die in 1962 at the age of 88.]

Stage Team Ran Away
Team of Will Thomson Had Lively Run Down Hobbie Mountain
Last Thursday the team of Will Thomson, proprietor of the Bovina-Bloomville stage route, took a lively run down Hobbie mountain. Thomson was enroute to Bloomville and when below George Foreman’s the team started to run and the one passenger, Miss Jennie Hastings, jumped and escaped injury, and the driver was thrown out a short distance further.  The horses went down the hill at break-neck speed, meeting two teams and passing a third before they reached the Craft place, but swerved to the right enough to avoid collision.  Reaching the foot of the mountain they turned up the river road and were caught near the Rose school house by Fred Dayton.  The wagon was badly wrecked, three of the wheels being smashed.  A mustang he was driving caused the trouble.  The next day the team tried the same caper at the same place, but Thomson was prepared for it and held them. [This likely, based on information provided by Ed Davidson, is Scutt Mountain Road. This is a correction of my earlier speculation that this was South Kortright Mountain. Ed has convinced me that my speculation is incorrect.]

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Centennial of Two Weddings

100 years ago this month, two well known Bovina couples were married. On February 5, 1915, Bill Burns and Emily Elliott were married in Kingston. They settled in Bovina, farming for many years on the farm that his grandson Gary now owns, just outside the Bovina Center hamlet. They would have five children, Robert, James, Eleanor, Clarence and Kathryn in an 11 year period. Emily died in 1966, Bill in 1975. They were survived by four of their children, their eldest son, Bob, having died in 1956.
This picture of Bill and Emily likely dates from the 1960s. It may be in celebration of their Golden Wedding Anniversary in 1965. The picture was taken in the Bovina UP Church. Thanks to their grandchildren, Barbara Moore and Joan Townsend for getting this picture to me for this blog.
On February 17, John F. Thomson married Ina Nichols in Bovina. John was the son of Alexander Dixon Thomson and Addie Kaufman; Ina the daughter of John Nichols and Ida Wilbur. John spent his entire life in Bovina. He was born and died in the house on the family farm on Pink Street. Ina was born in North Harpersfield. John and Ina had two children, Bea and Doris. Ina was widowed in 1964 when John passed away, eight months shy of their 50th wedding anniversary. She survived him just over 20 years, dying in 1985. The family farm went to their daughter and son-in-law Doris and Henry Rabeler and, like the Bill Burns farm, still is in the family.
Wedding picture of John and Ina, provided by their granddaughter Dianne Rabeler Abele.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

"Business in Brushland has been at a standstill..." - Bovina's Diphtheria Epidemic

130 years ago today, on February 4, 1885, nine-year old Harvey McNair, the son of Peter and Elizabeth McNair, died of diphtheria. His death would be the last in a string of children’s deaths from the disease in Bovina that started the previous August.  On August 2, 1884, Jesse Palmer, the five year old son of Charles and Mary Ann Palmer, died four days after contracting diphtheria. Between the deaths of these two children would be the deaths of nine others. The epidemic would practically shut down the Brushland hamlet (now Bovina Center) and be reported in a number of papers around New York State. There likely were other diphtheria epidemics in Bovina, but the one in 1884/85 is the best documented. As well as the newspaper reports, records for the newly created Bovina Board of Health exist, giving us more information as to how Bovina handled this serious illness.

Diphtheria is a now rare upper respiratory illness that was much more common in the age before antibiotics and vaccinations. It was particularly hard on children and was a common cause of infant mortality.

The death of Jesse Palmer in August was followed in the next five weeks by those of brothers Frederick and Ralph McPherson, sons of A.F. and Julia McPherson, and Harvey Strangeway, son of Andrew and Maggie Strangeway. The death of Frederick McPherson and the illness of other children in Brushland caused the Board of Health to step in. The McPherson and Strangeway families, along with that of T.E. Hastings, were quarantined as soon as the illness was reported. The board required that all persons visiting in these homes, including the physician, to “change their clothing [and] wash and disinfect themselves before coming in contact with other persons.” Hastings store (now Russell’s Store) also was quarantined until August 11. The quarantine was lifted when no other children in the family became ill. The board also resolved that “all children under 10 years of age are hereby forbidden to appear and play upon the streets of the village of Brushland during the continuance of this epidemic.”

At the August 13 board meeting, the board passed fourteen resolutions identifying specific homes that had been designated as “nuisances,” all in Brushland. Many of the resolutions related to cleaning out privies or outhouses. They also issued this notice for the local newspapers to try and allay fears:
Delaware Republican, August 1884
The quarantine on the McPherson and Strangeway families was lifted at the board’s September 15 meeting. Ironically, the day the quarantine was lifted Harvey Strangeway became ill with the disease and died within 24 hours.

Harvey’s death was the last from the disease in 1884, but the illness continued to show up during the fall. The McPherson family was quarantined two more times before the end of the year when family members become ill. After having lost two children to the illness, the family must have felt some relief when the other members with it recovered and the quarantine was lifted after only a few days.

The Board of Health continued to monitor the epidemic and take steps to stop its spread. Follow-up visits were made to several homeowners who were cited for having unclean privies or outhouses to ensure that these were resolved. Within a month of these citations, all the homeowners were reported as being in compliance. In December, the board posted notices “requesting parents, as far as possible, to prevent their children from meeting and playing with other children for the present, to prevent the spreading of the disease.”  The board also requested that the school in Brushland be closed for the present.

The epidemic was reported in local papers and made it into papers outside the region too.
Stamford Mirror, August 19, 1884 (likely a report from the Andes Recorder)
Evening Republic (Buffalo), September 15, 1884
Sidney (NY) Record, October 2, 1884
In early January 1885, the epidemic strengthened again. John Telford, the four year old son of the late Dr. William and his widow, Agnes Telford, became ill in early January and died in a few days. In the following two weeks, five more Bovina children would die of diphtheria. Jacob and Margaret Dietrich lost two children three days apart, daughters Mary, age one and Emma, age eleven.  James and Maggie Liddle also lost two children. Their four year old daughter Ida died on January 11, while their almost two year old son William died on January 17. Thomas and Mary McNee lost their three year old daughter on January 14. Two weeks later saw the death of the aforementioned Harvey McNair on February 4 - the last death in the epidemic that took the lives of eleven Bovina children.

The Bovina Town Board on February 14 met in special session to organize as a new board of health. An extensive set of resolutions concerning sanitation and disease control were passed, printed and distributed. By the end of March 1885, life started to return to normal in Bovina. The March 24, 1885 Stamford Mirror reported that the “writing school has commenced in [the Mountain Brook school house], after a lapse of several weeks, on account of the prevalence of Diphtheria.”  And though children continued to get sick and occasionally die of the disease into the 20th century, this appears to be the last such epidemic in the town’s history.