Thursday, November 30, 2017

This Day in Bovina for November

Here are the entries for the Town of Bovina Historian Page for November:

128 years ago today, on November 1, 1889, Globe Furniture Company from Norville, Michigan, issued this bill for $921.25 to James Coulter for the Bovina United Presbyterian Church's new pews. The pews still are in use today.

102 years ago today, on November 2, 1915, one of the items appearing on the ballot in Bovina and statewide was a constitutional amendment to confer equal suffrage upon women. In Bovina, there were 77 votes in favor but 103 against, with 32 blank or void votes. The amendment failed statewide. Here is the sheet that recorded the results of this vote. Two years later another women suffrage amendment succeeded in New York State. Bovina voters this time supported the amendment - by 13 votes. At that election, 97 voters supported women suffrage and 84 voted against it.

159 years ago today, November 3, 1858, Edward O’Connor signed this document submitting his claim for expenses as commissioner of highways.  O’Connor is noted in history as one of the two men sentenced to hang for the killing of Undersheriff Osman Steele during the Anti-Rent War in 1845.  O’Connor’s sentence was commuted to life in prison and he was released from prison within about a year.  He had been a town official before going to prison and resumed participating in town government after his release. 

The widow of the late John W. Bramley was found dead in bed 114 years ago this morning, November 4, 1899.  As later reported in the Andes Recorder: “[Mrs. Bramley] had not been feeling well for a few days and had complained of her stomach. The doctor was there Wednesday but it was thought she would be better in a few days. Thursday morning her son Fred, went to her room about 4 o’clock and spoke to her and receiving no answer, thought she was asleep. About an hour later he went back and found her dead. She was cold and must have been dead when he was in the first time. She was 72 years old.” Her husband John had just died  two weeks previously on October 19.

About 100 of the 212 women voters in Bovina voted 99 years ago today, November 5, 1918. As reported later by the Andes Recorder, “Their votes did not change results in the town except to swell the Prohibition vote by about 40.” Women in New York gained the right to vote in the November 1917. This was the first time in New York that women could vote. Women suffrage became nationwide in 1920.

117 years ago on Election Day, November 6, 1900, the ladies of the Methodist church served meals in A.T. Strangeway’s rooms and the receipts were about $15.  Also reported on Election day in the Andes Recorder was the number of votes cast in Bovina – 262.  This was a gain of 11 over four years previous.  There were two void ballots and 11 Prohibition votes.  Of the total vote McKinley received 190, a gain of 11, and Bryan 58…

135 years ago today, on November 7, 1882, as later reported in the Bovina column of the Stamford Mirror, "Will Boggs threw a stone and killed a cow…" The paper went on to report that "the cow had been bought by Archibald & Hastings from Margaret and Lydia Thomas, and while being driven away from the farm, became infuriated and attempted to get back, when Boggs threw the stone and killed her almost instantly."

134 years ago today, on November 8, 1883, James R. Shackelton was paid $1 for taking a quarantine notice to E.L. Dean.

Seventy-three years ago today, the Bovina column of the November 9, 1944 Delaware Republican Express included this item: "Miss Jane A. Hilson, who teaches English in the schools of East Orange, N.J., spent the week-end at her home here. She was accompanied by her friend, Miss Elsie Penton."

153 years ago today, on November 10, 1864, tavern keeper Dorcas Aitkin presented this bill for various services to the town, including lodging four recruits likely receiving town bounty to help Bovina meet its quota (who these men were we do not know).  Her hotel/tavern was located where the Jardine house is now located. 

Gordon Coulter entered the blacksmith shop of Gideon Miller to learn the trade 110 years ago today, November 11, 1907.  Gordon probably is Elton Gordon Coulter (1891-1945), the son of David and Lucy Coulter and an uncle to Grace Coulter Roberts.

117 years ago today, as later reported in the Andes Recorder, “Supervisor John A. Irvine went to Delhi [on November 12, 1900] … to attend the meeting of the supervisors.  John looks well to the interests of the town.”  John was the father of Isabell Russell.

Ninety-two years ago this evening, as later reported in the Stamford Mirror, “A masquerade and box social was held in the Hillis hall on Friday night, November 13,[1925] for the benefit of the lecture course. The proceeds amounted to $23.15. Season tickets were on sale at the social and there will be an opportunity given on Tuesday morning, November 24th, at nine o’clock at the post office for those having secured season tickets and choose their seats for the course. The first number will be given November 28th in the Hillis Hall by the ‘Fernandez Russell Duo.’” Hillis Hall was once known as Strangeway’s Hall and later was Clayt Thomas’s garage.

120 years ago today, November 14, 1897, as later reported in the Delaware Republican: "Lester Hoy, son of Thomas Hoy of Bovina, died of consumption Sunday, aged 22. Mr. Hoy was a very exemplary young man, and had a wide circle of friends who will mourn his early death." Two years later, his brother William’s wife Robena gave birth to a son who was named for his uncle Lester. This later Lester Hoy is the one who lived in the Hoy family home, now the home of Tim and Tamara McIntosh.
Photo of Lester Hoy from the Hoy family collection.
Eighty-nine years ago today, the Bovina column in the November 15, 1928 Stamford Mirror Recorder had this item: "We were glad to see and hear the Bovina band on election day. It totals thirty members. Come out again!" The same column also reported that "There was a large vote out in Bovina on Tuesday, the total being 392."

Seventy-eight years ago today, the Bovina column of the November 16, 1939 Delaware Republican reported that "Mrs. Elizabeth McNair has returned to Binghamton to spend the winter with her son, Raymond, and family after spending the summer with her daughter Mrs. J.W. McCune." She would die at her son's home a few months later in April 1940. Mrs. McNair was born in 1852, the daughter of James and Jane Crosier. She married Peter McNair in 1869 and would have four children. Peter died in 1908. She is buried in the Bovina Cemetery.

Ninety-six years ago today, on November 17, 1921, Mina Wilson signed this oath of office as the Tax Collector for the town of Bovina. She was the town's first female office holder. More about Mina can be found on the Bovina NY History blog at

Sixty-nine years ago today, November 18, 1948, burial services were held for Mary Dickson Baldwin. She had died three days earlier at George Washington University Hospital in Washington, DC. She was born in Bovina, the daughter of Gilbert and Jane Dickson. She married George F. Baldwin and was an English teacher for many years in Ossining, NY. She had moved to Arlington, Virginia two years before her death.

138 years ago today, November 19, 1879, Alexander Meyers was married to Isabelle Laing.  The couple would be married for almost 68 years.  In 1939, the couple celebrated their 60th anniversary with a party given for them in the Bovina UP Church parlors.  Bob Wyer photographed the event. Alex died in 1947 at the age of 91.  His wife Isabelle died 4 years later in 1951, when she was 90 years old. 
Photo by Bob Wyer, courtesy of the Delaware County Historical Association
138 years ago today, on November 20, 1879, Isabella Coulter Armstrong died in Bovina, aged 81 years. She was the daughter of Francis Coulter and Nancy Glendenning and was the only one of their children to be born in Scotland. She was married to John Armstrong and was widowed in 1864. She was survived by six of her eleven children at her death. (Isabella is my 4 greats grandmother.)

Ninety four years ago today, on November 21, 1923, as later reported in the Andes Recorder, "Fletcher Davidson moved from the Cable house [later known as the Currie house, located next to the old firehouse, and now the home of Sohail Zandi and Sara Elbert] to the house of his mother situated at the foot of Russell Hill [where the Denisons now live]."

Fifty four years ago today, November 22, 1963, Isabell Russell recorded in her diary: "Another grand day.  I put tulips in.  M[arjorie] went & got eggs this A.M.  President Kennedy was shot in Texas where he was in a parade.  Was shot by a communist."  Isabell also recorded the shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald on the 24th and the funeral on the 25th: “Everybody that had television was glued to them all day [to] see the funeral of Pres. Kennedy.  We closed store from 11 o’clock until 2 o’clock.”

Ninety-one years ago this evening, November 23, 1926, as later reported in the Andes Recorder, the " Pines Brook Walton Basket ball team defeated the Bovina Center team … in a hard fought game."

One hundred and six years ago today, the Bovina column of the Andes Recorder for November 24, 1911 reported that "Misses Louisa Dennis and Helen Dennis have closed their house here and have gone to spend the winter with their brother, John P. Dennis, in Virginia.

Earl Harold Miller, son of John M. Miller of Bovina, and Miss Rachel Mary Sullivan, of St. Paul, Minnesota, were married 103 years ago today, November 25, 1914, in Minnesota. Miller was living in Minnesota by then, but had grown up on Pink Street, the son of John and Bertha Miller, at the farm that later became Suits Us Farm. He was a lawyer in St. Paul and ran for congress there (unsuccessfully) in 1920. Earl died in 1955 in Walton and is buried in Bovina.

Ninety-four years ago today, on November 26, 1923, the Bovina Town Board "met with a Mr. Rose, a representative of the New York State Gas and Electric Company to consider the giving to the said company a Franchise to build, maintain and operate a light and power line in the town.” The franchise was granted.

134 years ago today, the Bovina column in the November 27, 1883 issue of the Stamford Mirror reported that "D.L. Thomson has finished his job of tinning the roof of the R.P. Church."

Charles F. Smith was married to Christina Lamont 161 years ago today, November 28, 1856.  This was his second marriage.  Born in Scotland in 1824, he first married Annie Williamson, by whom he had two children before her death in November 1855.  There were no children from the second marriage.  Charles was widowed again in 1898 and he died 10 years later in 1908.  He ran the hotel at what is now Jardine's for many years.

Ninety-nine years ago today, on November 29, 1918, John Elliot moved from his house on Maple Avenue "to the Thomas Miller house."  The following Monday, Mrs. John Irvine, the mother of Isabell Russell, moved into the Elliott house (now the home of Tony and Norma Gabriele).  Note:  I'm still trying to figure out which house was the "Thomas Miller house."

137 years ago today, on November 30, 1880, Fred Henderson was born in Walton, the son of James Henderson and Mary Arbuckle. He married Nellie Hilson on 30 December 1903. They took over her father's farm in Bovina and were there until 1928 when they moved into the old Phyfe farm just outside of the Bovina Center hamlet. He and Nell were married for almost 68 years at the time of his death in 1971.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Grandma’s First Husband – The Story of Anna Bell Barnhart and James D. Calhoun

I remember when I first learned that my paternal grandmother had been married before. I think it was in July 1969, so I would have been 14. We were visiting my grandparents at their home near Massena, NY, going through family pictures. I came across this school souvenir, which included on the cover a photograph of the teacher, James D. Calhoun. I asked Grandma who this guy was and she said, ‘that’s my first husband.’ The news startled me. I didn’t known about grandma’s previous marriage. While she was alive, I didn’t pursue this, though when I first asked her about him she said he was a wonderful man. She still missed him more than 50 years after his death.

Biggar Hollow school souvenir, 1910
I learned much more about grandma’s first husband after her death in March 1980. We found a tin box that held letters Anna and James exchanged during their brief marriage. The letters were turned over to me (and will eventually go to the Delaware County Historical Association).

Grandma's First Marriage

One hundred years ago today, on November 14, 1917, Anna Bell Barnhart married James Calhoun. The marriage would last eleven months, ending with the death of James on a battlefield in France on October 13, 1918 (see the entry in this blog for November 11, 2010 for more about his death). Out of the 11 months of their marriage. James and Anna Bell would spend about 11 days together. Anna Bell was widowed over four years when in May 1923, she married my grandfather Benson LaFever in Bovina. My grandparents lived in Bovina until the 1950s, then moved to Northern New York, where they lived until her passing in 1980 and his in 1982.

Over the course of the next year, I will be sharing selected transcripts of the letters my grandmother and her first husband exchanged while he was in the army. The bulk of the letters are ones written by James during his service, but some of grandma’s responses survive, three from December 1917 and a group from March 1918. The reason more of her letters did not survive was because, as James frankly admitted in a letter to her, he destroyed most of her letters to protect their privacy. The letters have their personal elements but also give an idea of what was happening in Bovina during the war.


James Calhoun was born in Andes, New York, on December 3, 1889, the son of Daniel Calhoun and Cornelia McNair.  He was one of seven children born to Daniel and Cornelia. He taught for a year in the Biggar Hollow school (1909-1910) before moving to Iowa. About a year later, he went to Colorado and then came back to Iowa around 1913 before coming back to Andes for good in 1914. He became the area’s milk tester. It likely was through this job that he met Anna Bell Barnhart. Anna Bell was born November 7, 1893, the daughter of Jeremy Barnhart and Kate Miller.  She had an older brother, Ralph and was joined in 1897 by a sister Edith and in 1901 by a brother, Wilford.  She grew up on the family farm on Pink Street, going to the local school through the 8th grade. 

Early Letters

There were only three letters from James and none from Anna in her papers dated before their November 14 wedding.  The earliest letter from James is dated September 1, 1917, Bovina Center.  It probably was addressed to Anna, but it’s addressed ‘Dear friend.”  The letter continues:

     I received your invitation to the picnic when I came over from home yesterday (Friday).  I was disappointed when I did not get word in time so I could attend.  It was very kind of you to invite me and I would certainly enjoyed going. 
     I have received notice from the local army board at Delhi to be prepared to report for duty on 24 hours notice.
     Very sincerely, James

The fact that James was facing the draft would be a factor during their courtship.  The next letter from James, dated September 29, 1917 from Delhi discusses this further:

     The Drafted men chosen to go to camp Dix at this time are all present except one. Another young man, who is very anxious to go at this time, has been chosen to go in my place so I shall not go until the remainder of the boys leave. 

The last letter from James to Anna before their marriage in my grandmother’s files is brief, written in Bovina on November 7, 1917:

Dear Anna;
      Father died this morning. I am on my way home. Lay your plans as you previously intended. I cannot tell when I shall see you but will sometime the last of the week.

Lovingly, James

James’ father, Daniel, died unexpectedly.  The local newspaper reported that Daniel had not been sleeping well, so “he got up to sit in his chair and a little while later his wife found he had fallen from the chair and lay dead.”  The same newspaper in the Bovina Center column reported that a “large number of Bovina folks motored to Andes for the funeral of Daniel Calhoun.” The funeral was held on Saturday, November 10. Anna and James’ wedding took place the following Wednesday. [Anna Bell's father, Jeremy, had died on November 6, 1916, a year and a day before the death of Daniel Calhoun.]

The Wedding

One of the earliest letter of congratulations concerning Anna’s and James’ impending wedding in my grandmother’s files was written by her Aunt Maria Barnhart Albee from Unadilla, her late father’s sister. The letter is one of my favorites. She references the fact that at age 24, grandma was considered to be a bit ‘old.' The letter also notes the recent passage of women’s suffrage in New York State.

Dear Annabell:
Well you sly thing you - well - well and so you have decided not to be an “old maid” after all, and you can vote too.
I am not going to write very much because just to be real mean I am or we are going to come if the roads stay good.  We have never gotten any chains yet…We are going to hope for a dandy day - we have thought of coming up there ever since we got the car but the rain and fall work have just spoiled things for us.  I wanted to come to return that loaf of bread, but I shall not bring it this time.
I am enclosing a little something for you from Uncle Charlie and I and Grandma.  Charlie didn’t spell your name like you spell it but I don’t believe you will have any trouble getting it if you endorse it the same. 
I thought I would send it so if the weather was bad you would have it any way.  We probably won’t come unless the day is good also the roads.
Wishing you both a long happy life, I am with love,
Aunt Maria

A note on the spelling of my grandmother’s first name. It was misspelled constantly during her life - it was Anna Bell (no second 'e'). It was wrong in the news reports of her wedding and even on her own wedding invitation and, later, on the tombstone erected for her and her first husband in the 1920s. You may notice as these entries are presented that James always called her Anna, but everyone else called her Anna Bell. That’s how I always heard her called, including by my grandfather. In letters to his family, James usually refers to his wife as Anna, though in one instance, he did say Anna Bell. She signed her letters to him as Anna and to his family as Anna B. Calhoun. (James had a sister named Anna, adding somewhat to the confusion in reviewing these letters.) 

Anna Bell Barnhart was married to James Daniel Calhoun on Wednesday, November 14 at noon at the home of Anna Bell’s mother, Kate Barnhart, on Pink Street (the farm now owned by the Glavins).  As reported in the local newspaper, the “ceremony was performed handsomely by the Rev. Forbes of Andes, assisted by the Rev. Thos. E. Graham of Bovina.” Anna’s sister Edith was her bridesmaid and George Storie was the best man for his friend James. “The bridal couple left about 3:30 in the handsome Cadillac of Andrew Doig, to spend a few days visiting some of our larger cities.” 

James Calhoun and Anna Bell Barnhart on their wedding day.

Here's the barn that was behind James and Anna Bell's wedding pictures 100 years later (thanks to Michael and Lori Glavin for taking such good care of it). 
Getting ready for the group photo (which unfortunately did not turn out well)

To James right is his best man, George Storie. On Anna Bell's left is her sister Edith
The Honeymoon

The newspaper noted that James and Anna Bell were to visit some cities, but from my grandmother's photo album, I can see that they also went to that Mecca for honeymooners in that era, Niagara Falls. Here are three photos from that trip.

James is Drafted

Nine days after his wedding, on Friday, November 23, 1917, James left Delhi with a group of thirty-two men.  The local paper reported that “all these men will be presented with a box lunch by Delhi people and with a comfort set by the Red Cross, which includes sweater, wristlets, etc."

James’s first letter to Anna after heading into service was written the evening of his departure on a 3 x 5 card:

Allentown, PA
Nov 23, 1917

Dear Anna,
We have just passed through Allentown.  It is 7:00 oclock and suppertime.  Most of the fellows seem happy.  Some of them seem like good fellows and some of them swear like real troopers.  The train people served dinner to all the boys and are now serving supper. 
Frank Munson and Leslie Cameron are the only fellows I have ever met before.
I felt very sorry for Frank but he is making the most of it.  Hazel will feel badly.  I am thinking very tenderly of you.
With love James

Frank Munson's name will show up frequently in James' early letters. 

The story of my grandma's first husband will continue next month in this blog. 

Friday, November 10, 2017

November 1917 - 100 Years Ago "In That Thriving Town"

November 1917 saw the wedding of Anna Bell Barnhart to James Calhoun. The wedding was over shadowed by the death of the groom’s father, Daniel Calhoun, the week before.

November 2, 1917
·       Rev H.K. Galloway will occupy the pulpit of the United Presbyterian church on Sabbath.
·       From a chicken Pie Supper at the town hall last Friday evening the V.I.S. realized $43.75
·       Mrs. Charles Heller went to New York on Monday to enter a hospital for treatment.  Miss Louisa Dennis accompanied her.
·       Hale G. Elliott has moved to the Robert Hoy house, which he recently purchased.  Frank Miller has moved to the rooms vacated by Mr. Elliott in H.C. Burgin’s house.
·       Mrs. John A. Russell started Wednesday for Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, where she will be matron of an Old Ladies Home, which is under the charge of the R.P. church.
·       Harry Martin, who went from Bovina two years ago to become manager of the dry milk plant at West Harpersfield, left Monday for Mexico, N.Y., to assist in establishing another plant.  He expects to be away six weeks.

High Water in Bovina
The rain on Monday night caused the Pink Street brook to rise so much that the foot bridge on Main street was swept down against the arch bridge and about totally wrecked.  Harry Robinson’s family were taken out of their house at 4 o’clock in the morning in a lumber wagon.  Wood was carried away and several hens were washed out of Gideon Miller’s hen house.

November 9, 1917
·       Ellsworth Tuttle motored to Dunraven on Monday.
·       The total number of votes cast in Bovina on Tuesday was 204.
·       The Dairyman’s Testing Association held a meeting at Fireman’s Hall on Tuesday.
·       The seventh of the series of live stock demonstrations will be held at William J. Storie’s below Bovina Center on Thursday, November 15, beginning at 10 a.m.

Thought he was Smart
            Last Friday night Leland Tuttle went to a social at the home of William T. Russell in Bovina, going in their Franklin car.  When he went to go home the car would not move.  Investigation showed that some miscreant had been into it.  The wiring was all torn out and all the damage possible had been done to the interior.  The car had to be hauled to a garage and it required over a day to put it back in running order.

The same column reported the unexpected death of Daniel Calhoun on November 7. It noted that Daniel had not been sleeping well, so “he got up to sit in his chair and a little while later his wife found he had fallen from the chair and lay dead.”  The paper further reported that a “large number of Bovina folks motored to Andes for the funeral ...”  

November 16, 1917
·       William T. Russell has purchased a Reo five passenger car.
·       Everett DeSilva was on the Beaverkill last week on a hunting trip.
·       Harold Smith and wife have moved into the house on the (Stone House) Thomson farm located in upper Bovina.
·       About 50 farmers attended the stock demonstration at Wm J. Storie’s on Thursday.  A speaker from Cornell was present.
·       The directors of the co-operative creamery held a meeting Tuesday evening to fix the price to be paid the patrons for October.
·       Frank Kinch has rented a half interest in his farm (the Soper place) to his son-in-law, Aaron Harrington, and they will work it on shares.
·       David Worden, a native of this town and who for the past six years has been living at Pipestone, Minnesota, has returned to Delaware county and taken possession of the C.L. Roberts farm near Bloomville, having purchased it last spring.
·       Miss Annabelle (sic) Barnhart of Bovina, and James D. Calhoun, of Andes, were united in marriage at the home of the bride’s mother.  Mrs. J.T. Barnhart on Pink street, at noon on Wednesday, November 14.  The ceremony was performed by Rev. G.A. Forbes of Andes, assisted by the Rev. Thos E. Graham, of Bovina.

In Andes column
            Wednesday, while James Graham and family of Gladstone Hollow, were returning from the Calhoun-Barnhart wedding in Bovina, a blade of the fan became loosened and before the engine could be stopped had torn a hole in the radiator.  He managed to run [the] car to Andes.

November 23, 1917
·       John A. Irvine transacted business at the County Seat on Tuesday.
·       John R. Aitken has moved from the Arch Phyfe house in the upper part of the village to W.S. Thomson house on the Dennis corner.
·       Henry Rockefeller, who has been driving the Gerry truck at Lake Delaware, left Thursday for a New York city, where he has a job in a garage during the winter.
·       The Village Improvement Society will hold a “Country Fair” and bazaar November 30, at the town hall.  There will be a merry-go-round and various amusements – all the latest fair ground games and side shows. Come all and help light the lights.

Did Not Like Farming
            Albert Esch and family who about a year ago purchased the Arbuckle or Robert Jardine farm just over the town line in Glenburnie, will give up the farm and return to New York City.  Ed Fuller, of Pepacton, will move onto the farm.

Bovina Will Call Pastor
            A meeting of the United Presbyterian congregation will held at the church on November 30, to moderate a call for Rev. H.K. Gallaway.

November 30, 1917
·       A number of Bovina people went to Delhi last Friday to see the soldier boys off.
·       Hale Elliott will move up-town and work at the Bovina Co-Operative creamery in the near future.
·       Come to the County Fair on Friday evening.  Admission 5 and 10 cents.  The band will furnish music.
·       Robert G. Thomson returned home Monday and reports that Mrs. Thomson shows some improvement.
·       Mrs. Charles Heller has returned from New York city, where she has been in a hospital for treatment.
·       Mr. Watson has been here transacting business in relation to the new library that is to be built under the provisions of the will of James W. Coulter.
·       The Village Improvement society will hold a “Country Fair” and bazaar November 30, at the town hall.  There will be a merry-go-round and various amusements-all the latest fair ground games and side shows.  Come all and help light the lights.

Bovina Farm Sold
            Eugene Storie has sold his farm on the hill toward Kortright to a foreigner and will move to Hobart, where he will work in a creamery. [The ‘foreigner’ was Frank Schablowski.]

Cut Hand on Buzz Saw

            Russell Boggs had his hand cut on a buzz saw while sawing wood at Alex Burns’ Wednesday.  He was tightening a burr when the wrench slipped and his hand went onto the saw cutting it to the bone.  It required two hours for Dr. Whitcomb to dress the wound.