Friday, April 8, 2016

Historian Annual Report for 2015

Overview of Some Goals from Last Year’s Report 
The ever present book on the history of the Town of Bovina remains a goal. Commitments over the winter of 2015, the time of year I can best devote to this project, prevented me attaining this goal, but I continue to hope and push it forward.

I was successful in presenting a Bovina history pageant on April 18. More information further in the report.

In researching Lizzie Coulter, a Bovina resident who was sent to Virginia in 1868 to teach for the Freedman’s Bureau, I encountered the name of George Graham. He grew up in Bovina, fought in the Civil War, and became involved in the Bureau, running their office in Southern Virginia. I’ve discovered that the records of the office he ran for the Freedman’s Bureau are at the National Archives. I’ve also discovered some other interesting items about Graham’s life in the south (he ended up settling in West Virginia). I had hoped to find out more about him in 2015, but I’m going to need to make a trip to the National Archives to review the aforementioned records.

James L. Coulter and George Gladstone built a number of homes in Bovina in the late 19th century – I want to more definitively identify the houses these gentlemen built. This project continues.

Social Media
The Bovina NY History Blog ( celebrated its sixth anniversary in April. I did 51 entries for 2015. I’ve settled to doing on an average four entries a month. A list of the entries is in the appendix to this report.

Started in 2013, I continue to post daily entries on the Bovina NY History Facebook page, finding some event that happened on that particular day. The entries are compiled each month for the blog.

I continue writing articles for the Walton Reporter once a month on the history of Bovina.

-January 14, 2015-Bovina Ladies in 1860
-February 18, 2015-Dangers of Coal Gas
-March 18, 2015-“Jane Stafford is a Poor Person”
-April 15, 2015-Bovina Civil War care for veterans
-May 13, 2015-Russell's Store
-June 17, 2015-When the Trains Almost Came, Part One – Everything Looks Favorable
-July 15, 2015-When the Trains Almost Came, Part Two – The Dirt is Flying
-August 12, 2015-When the Trains Almost Came, Part Three - Our Supposed Railroad is at a Standstill
-September 16, 2015-When the Trains Almost Came, Part Four - Buying a Pig in a Poke
-October 14, 2015-Cathels Family Tragedy
-November 18, 2015-Hands, Fists, Brooms, Broomsticks and Firebrands – The Story of Horace and Clara Warren
-December 16, 2015-“Took a sketch of the premises….” – The Farm of Alexander and Esther Storie

I wrote three articles for the community newsletter produced by the Bovina United Presbyterian Church.

Bovina History Calendar
After considerable thought, I recommended to the Bovina Historical Society that the Bovina History Calendar go on hiatus. The calendar is a lot of work for little or no return on investment. I haven’t ruled out resurrecting it at some point, but for now, the society needs to focus its efforts on larger scale fund raising efforts.

Bovina Historical Society
I serve as an ex-officio member of the historical society’s board. During the late spring, I began an effort to clean up the museum a bit by reducing the clutter. Some items were moved to the old fire house for storage. In the fall, I covered as much of the artifacts as I could and removed some items from the wall to protect them from falling during the winter. I met with Carver Farrell in the fall to discuss the Bovina Busy World display. This is an ‘automaton’ that was created by a number of Bovina wood carvers in the 1980s, including Carver’s dad. He is interesting in getting it working again and creating a better display for it, donating his time. We hope to start on this in the spring of 2016. The museum was open for Bovina Day in July and for the Open Barn and Studio Tour in August.

I did two presentations during the year proceeds of which went to the historical society (more information below).

Bramley Mountain Plane Crash
We made another expedition to the site of the 1945 crash of a Texas AT-6 Trainer on Moon Mountain and found more wires from the airplane. Samantha Misa, Chris Ingvordsen and I met with Ed and Dick Davidson to show them our find. They verified that they likely come from the plane that crashed.

On April 18, I presented the Bovina History Pageant. In 1955, 60 years ago, the Bovina Recreation Club had presented a history pageant. I was interested in trying to present a similar program. Utilizing the original script, I pared it down and added items for a new history pageant. I then drafted Roz Foster, Chris Ingvordsen, Briana Riera and Marni Greenberg to help and advise me and they hit the ground running. Along the way we also drafted Doug Parrett for just about anything we threw at him. And I drafted about 30 or so members of the community to take part in the various tableau representing various chapters in the history of Bovina. There were too many to list here, but a complete wrap-up of the pageant is at the Bovina NY History Blog at I was thrilled with the success of the event, with standing room only. I can’t thank everyone enough for all the help. The proceeds from the event went to the Bovina Historical Society.

In the fall, on October 24, I conducted a Tour of the Bovina Cemetery and had over 50 people show up on a chilly fall day. The tour went well – so well that I expect to repeat it in the spring of 2016. Again, proceeds went to benefit the Bovina Historical Society.

Correspondence and research help
Nancy Frost had several questions about her Bovina ancestors.
Loni Briscoe had general questions about the Briscoe property.
I sent several pictures of Hilson’s Store to Wendy Buerge and John Finn, who have purchased the store.
Sharon Rabeler Fouts and several other Rabeler family members and I have had several e-mail exchanges concerning the story that there were German dances in the area in WWII but some thought they were Nazi related (this story is related in the history of the Lutheran Church in Delhi). I have been doing some research to find more evidence of this but have not had any luck so far.
Jeanne Butler was interested in Teunis the Indian, specifically questions related to the rifle believed to have been given to Teunis. A more general questions about the Indians who passed through this area came from Cameron Dubes, who lives on Teunis Lake.
Roselle Scaduto requested help in locating the house that she and her late husband had in Bovina in the 1980s. After some further e-mails we worked out where the house is located.
Amy Bathen asked questions about her husband Jason’s Boggs ancestors (Jason is the son of the late Art Bathen).
William and Joan Foster requested information on their house in Bovina, formerly owned by Ken and Barbara Brown.
Mary Pelletier asked for information about the Maynard School in preparation for her role as one of the school marms at the Bovina Historical Society's day camp. I was able to direct her to several articles on my blog about Bovina schools. I also sent her to the Bovina NY History Flickr account for photographs of the school. She also requested information on different kinds of farming in Bovina, including sheep farming.
Jane Margolies asked for information about farming in Bovina for an article for the Watershed Post.
Laurie McIntosh, aka Story Laurie, had several questions about Bovina farms for a project called "Harvest of Songs" that she is producing, in collaboration with Farm Catskills. The project features songs written by Delaware County school kids, one of which is called "Milking Time at the Farm."
Kirk Moulton was researching the Seacord family and wanted help with the fact that there were two William Seacords in the 1810 census and wondered how they might be related. Unfortunately, I was equally stumped and could not figure out why there were two Williams.
Daniel Seib is an archaeologist with the Public Archaeology Facility out of Binghamton, working on a project for the Delaware County Soil and Water Conservation District. The project involved a narrow corridor of the Little Delaware River right behind the Town Garage.  He was hoping I might have pictures or other information about the mill that once stood there. Unfortunately, no pictures exist and there is not a lot of information other than what appears in some of the 19th century histories.
Miri Dainson, a research assistant at Hunter College Climate Lab, was looking for information from diaries and newspapers about significant weather events in the Catskills in the early 20th century.
Lynne Resch had questions about the barn on the old Conklin farm on Reinertsen Hill Road, which she now owns. The barn was built from the old timbers of the Bovina Reformed Presbyterian Church.

Association of Public Historians of New York State
I’m the Association’s Region 4 coordinator and also serve on the board as a trustee. As a regional coordinator, I am responsible for organizing a fall regional meeting each year. This year’s meeting took place in Germantown and focused on the issues related to cemeteries. At the association’s annual meeting, held in April in Corning, I gave a presentation on researching your local schools.  

Historic Markers
The William G. Pomeroy Foundation has for a number of years provided funding for historic markers around New York State. I applied for funding this year for two markers. The foundation requires solid documentation of the information to be presented on the markers. I am happy to report that after some effort, and with help from the foundation, both of the applications were successful. One marker is to go at the Maynard School on Bovina Road. The other will be installed at St. James Church at Lake Delaware. The markers will be dedicated likely on June 4, 2016.

Plans for 2015

The book on the history of the Town of Bovina remains a goal.

In April, I will be hosting/presenting another Bovina history program – not as elaborate as the program in 2015. The theme will be Bovina Butter. Proceeds will go to the Bovina Historical Society. I also will be doing another cemetery tour in the fall, this time visiting three Bovina cemeteries.

Another family history trip to Scotland, similar to the one I ran in November 2014, is being planned for October 2016. We will need 15 people for the trip to go. Proceeds again will go to the Bovina United Presbyterian Church.

Respectfully submitted,

C. Raymond LaFever

Town Historian, Town of Bovina

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