Wednesday, January 31, 2018

This Day in Bovina for January 2018

Seventy-six years ago today, the Bovina column of the January 1, 1942 Delaware Republican reported that two students were home for the holidays: "Miss Rae Storie, student at Muskingum College is spending the holiday season with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. W.J. Storie." Her cousin, Ed Davidson, "a student at Elmira Aviation School" spent Christmas with his parents, Fletcher and Lois Davidson. The same column also reported that two teachers were home. "Miss Marjorie Russell, teacher at Madison, Ohio, is spending the holidays with her parents…" A teacher from East Orange, N.J., Miss Jane A. Hilson, "is at her home here for the holidays."

Bovina lost a Civil War veteran, Frank Gowanlock, 100 years ago on January 2, 1918 at his home on the outskirts of Bovina Center. He was 76 years old.  He had been in poor health for several years and a few days earlier had had a heart attack (or possibly a stroke), or, in the parlance of the time, "suffered a shock."  Born in Bovina, he spent most of his life there and was a stone mason by trade.  In 1862, Frank enlisted in Co E, 144th Regt and served until the end of the war.  He married Jane Liddle in 1875 - she predeceased him in 1916.

One hundred and five years ago today, January 3, 1913, a heavy wind blew over John Irvine’s smoke house at his farm on Coulter Brook.

103 years ago today, on January 4, 1915, Mrs. George Hewitt, of Margaretville, died at the home of Stephen R. Seacord in southern Bovina. She had arrived a few days earlier to attend the January 1 marriage of Stephen Seacord's daughter Rosanna to John Sweet. On December 28 she became ill with paralysis and never recovered. Mrs. Hewitt was born Cornelia Adee in Bovina 64 years earlier. She first married John Hewitt in 1876. He died in 1887. About eight years later, she married her late husband’s brother, George. She was the second of George’s four wives.  Cornelia’s funeral was held in the Methodist church (where Gert Hall’s home now stands) and she was buried in the Bovina cemetery.

116 years ago, on January 5, 1902, William Wilson Hoy and his wife were guests of his mother, Mrs. John R. Hoy, in Bovina.  Three days later, on January 8, William sailed from New York for London, where he had accepted a position as chief engineer of the Burmah Oil Company of London.  As later reported in the Andes Recorder, “From London he will proceed to India, where he will remain until surveys are completed, and has to report again at London in September. He receives $500 a month and expenses.”

119 years ago today on January 6, 1899, as later reported in the Andes Recorder, "Anna, little daughter of Edwin C. Burgin died…. Her death was a particularly sad one, as she die[d] under the influence of ether, which had been given her to perform an operation on her leg." Anna was seven years old. She was a sister of Edwin 'Ted' Burgin (1904-1993), the father of Cliff Burgin. Obviously, Ted never knew this sister, given she died five years before he was born.

121 years ago today, on January 7, 1897, Mrs. Thomas Gordon died.  The Andes Recorder reported that "This community was shocked to learn of the death of Mrs. Thomas Gordon.."  She was 46 years old and had just lost her daughter, Maggie, six weeks earlier.  The Recorder noted that "It is seldom that so sad an event is recorded.  The husband and son have the sincere sympathy of the entire community."   Mrs. Gordon was Mary Jane Oliver.  She married Thomas Gordon in 1871 and had two children.  In June 1899, Thomas Gordon would marry as his second wife Mary Richardson Scott and would have two more children, including daughter Margaret, who taught Social Studies at Delaware Academy for many years from the 1940s to the 1970s.

129 years ago today, the Bovina column in the January 8, 1889 Stamford Mirror reported that "J.N. Laing, Andrew Doig, and Jennet E. Hoy are going to California." James Nevin Laing was 29 when he made his trip, but he came back and settled in the area, dying in Delhi in 1943. The Andrew Doig who went with him probably was Andrew Archibald Doig, who als was 29 when this trip took place. He settled in Kansas. And Jennett probably was Jennette Ellen Hoy, who had just turned 30 when this item appeared. She too came back to the area and later in life married Sloan Archibald. She died in 1942.

117 years ago today, as later reported in the Andes Recorder, " The annual meeting of the Bovina Center Telephone company was held Monday [January 9, 1911] and directors elected are as follows: Thomas Ormiston, O.W. Hill, A.T. Archibald for three years; John W. Blair, M. Every, Fred W. Thomson, for two years. At a meeting of the board of directors Thomas Ormiston was chosen president and general manager, and Walter G. Coulter, secretary and treasurer."

115 years ago, on January 10, 1903, Jacob Cook died at the home of F.C. Armstrong.  Little is known about him. He was single and had come to the United States from Switzerland about 30 years previously.  The report of his death in the Andes Recorder had his first name wrong, calling him "Joseph Cooke."  The paper went on to note that he died "with pneumonia" and that "the doctor was called Friday and saw that death must be the result."  He was about 55 years old and was working, as the Recorder noted "At different times … in Bovina."  He was "buried in the County House burying ground."

Sixty-seven years ago today, on January 11, 1951, Frederica Muller died in Delhi. She was born in Bovina in 1875, the youngest of 15 children. Her parents, Urban and Eloise Muller emigrated from Switzerland in 1870. Frederica was survived by one sister, Mrs. Jennie McCumber. Frederica was buried in the Bovina Cemetery. More on the Muller family can be found on the Bovina NY History blog at

Ninety-six years ago today, on January 12, 1922, James Ackerley fell down the cellar stairs at his home in the lower part of the village fracturing two ribs.

The Andes Recorder reported ninety years ago today, on January 13, 1928, that “Hilson Brothers will remodel their general store building. A cellar will be dug under it in order to install a furnace and changes will be made to modernize the store. Part of the present structure has housed the mercantile business of three generations of Hilsons.”

122 years ago today, on January 14, 1896, as later reported in the Andes Recorder, Robert C. Scott was seriously ill with erysipelas of the head.  The paper reported that on the 14th his condition was unchanged but that “slight hopes are entertained for his recovery.” Scott died the following Sunday, January 19.  He was 84 years old. Erysipelas is a strep infection of the skin and includes a high fever, chills and vomiting. Robert was the son of Robert Scott and Mary (Miller) Scott. He married Janetta Hamilton and would have seven children with her. Janetta died in 1883.

111 years ago today, January 15, 1907, while returning from the funeral of Frank Coulter in their horse and wagon, Mr. and Mrs. John A. Irvine, met Fine Hunt in the area where Coulter Brook Road comes onto present day County Route 6.  Irvine's horse became frightened at some logs that Hunt was dragging behind his wagon. The horse went off the bank and over a stone wall, taking the wagon and occupants with it.  Mrs. Irvine sustained slight injury and Mr. Irvine escaped uninjured.  The harness was broken and the dash-board smashed. The Irvines lived on Coulter Brook Road and were the parents of Isabell Russell.

110 years ago today, on Thursday, January 16, 1908, as later reported by the Andes Recorder, “a pretty wedding took place at the home of Mr. and Mrs. James B. Thomson, when their dauter, Pheba Mae, became the wife of Robert Tweedie.”  The Recorder went on to note that “This was the first marriage in town under the new law.”  This new state law required that all persons wishing to marry had to obtain a marriage license from the clerk in the village, town or city in which the marriage took place and present it to the clergyman or other official carrying out the marriage. Robert and Phoebe May had six children. Unfortunately, Robert and Phoebe had been married only 18 years when Robert died in 1926.  Phoebe died 20 years later.

Ninety-nine years ago today, on January 17, 1919, the Andes Recorder reported that Bovina's "Dr. Whitcomb has increased his charge for calls in the village to $1.50 and other calls accordingly."

121 years ago today, on January 18, 1897, Homer C. Burgin died in Binghamton at the age of 78. He was in Binghamton being treated for cancer, which had plagued him for several years. He was married and widowed twice and left a son and two daughters. Burgin is buried in Bovina.

Eighty-nine years ago today, on January 19, 1929, as later reported in the Delaware Republican, "Mrs. Grace Dickson, wife of Delbert H. Dickson, died at her home in Bovina Center…aged 28 years. Mrs. Dickson underwent a serious operation at the Delhi hospital last year and had since been gradually failing, a recent attack of measles followed by pneumonia proving more than her frail constitution could withstand. Her death occurred on the anniversary of her marriage to Mr. Dickson."

Fifty one years ago today, on January 20, 1967, Mr. and Mrs. James P. Cairns of Bovina Center were honored with an Open House to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. James Cairns was married to Mae Fisher on January 10, 1917 in Deposit, New York. The couple moved to Bovina in 1940. James worked on the Gerry Estate for many years, retiring in 1962. They had five children, including son Leonard. Mrs. Cairns died at the end of the year in December 1967. James passed away in 1972.

120 years ago, in the January 21, 1898 Bovina Column in the Andes Recorder reported the following:  "Politics are quiet in town. We do not have such spiteful people here as do some of our neighboring towns. The only candidate we hear mentioned for supervisor is W.L. White.  Thomas Gordon is mentioned for town clerk; John M. Miller and F.C. Armstrong are up for road commissioner.  The other offices are as yet in the dark."

Seventy-six years ago today, the January 22, 1942 issue of the Delaware Republican had in its Bovina column this item: "Miss Jane Davidson returned from Schenectady where she spent the past week with Miss Kate Birdsall."

113 years ago today, on January 23, 1905, Mrs. Isabella Hoy died at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Douglas Davidson of pneumonia.  She was 73. The Andes Recorder reported that she had just returned a few days earlier from visiting her son at Oil City, Pennsylvania with a severe cold, a cold that "grew rapidly worse."  The Recorder noted that "Her maiden name was Isabella Miller and she was born in Bovina, in September, 1831. About 1855 she was united in marriage with John R. Hoy, and he died September 30, 1901. She is survived by three sons and two daughters……"

116 years ago, on January 24, 1902, an entertainment of the Bovina Centre Lecture Course was scheduled.  The Andes Recorder reported that "Among the promised features will be instrumental and vocal music, recitations and a debate, Resolved, 'that in civil affairs women should be allowed to vote on the same conditions on which men exercise the franchise.'” Unfortunately, the result of the debate was not reported.

157 years ago today, on January 25, 1861, Mary Margaret Archibald was born, the daughter of William Archibald and Margaret McDonald. She married Charles Oscar Boggs in 1881 and would have two children before she was widowed in 1891. Mary Boggs died in Bovina in 1945.

119 years ago today, on January 26, 1899, Norton Forrest was born, the son of William L. and Mary Lunn Forrest. The age of the mother made some impact on the Andes Recorder:  "Born to Mr. and Mrs. William L. Forrest, January 26, a son. Think of Abraham and Sarah." The reference to Abraham and Sarah does not so much relate to the age of the parents (William was 43 and Mary was 42) but the fact that when their son was born, their only other child, a daughter Irene, was 19 years old. Ironically, Norton would predecease his older sister, dying in 1957 (she died in 1970).

115 years ago, on January 27, 1903, as later reported in the Andes Recorder, "Miss Jennie E. Miller started Tuesday for Norfolk, Virginia, where she will be connected with the United Presbyterian college for the education of the Freedmen.  She has charge of the buying for the boarding department." The Jennie referred to here likely is Jennette Elliott Miller (1841-1925), the daughter of David and Isabella Miller.

110 years ago today, on January 28, 1908, farmers in the Pink Street area of Bovina held a meeting concerning telephone service. As later reported in the Andes Recorder, "The Rose line of which they are patrons, does not give satisfactory service and for some time there has been no central office in Bovina. Unless some other arrangements can be made the farmers propose to build a line of their own. Another meeting will be held Wednesday afternoon, February 5."

134 years ago today, January 29, 1884, this order was signed altering the road districts in Brushland (now Bovina Center). Rev. Kennedy's house was the open land next to Walker Pond's home. The Methodist parsonage was where Chuck and Betty McIntosh live. 

187 years ago today, on January 30, 1831, Loruhannah Henderson was born in New Kingston, the daughter of James Henderson and Hannah Sprague. She married Francis Coulter in Bovina in 1857 and would have five children. She was predeceased by at least two children. Her sons Walter and James died 11 days apart in March 1900. Loruhannah died in 1909. Her husband died less than six months later. Both are buried in Bovina.

138 years ago today, the "Bovina Locals" column in the Delaware Republican for January 31, 1880 reported that "The weather is very 'child-like and bland,' and how we are to tell when Spring commences, if this style of winter continues, is a question that perplexes the strongest minds, and all the reliable old weather sages, who in vain have prophesied the commencement of a hard winter at each change of moon for the past three months, have at least agreed that 'we will catch it sometime,' which remarkable conclusion is probably correct."

Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Death of John A. Irvine as Reported in the Walton Reporter

I've previously reported in my 100 years ago in Bovina blog entry about the death of John Irvine on New Year's Day 1918. John was the father of Isabell Russell. The Walton Reporter has kindly given me permission to present the article of John's death that was published in that paper in January 1918. It is the longest report I have seen on his death, with details I had not seen before.


Former Bovina Supervisor Had Been Melancholy - Hanged Himself in Barn.

(Special to the Reporter.)

Residents of Bovina were shocked to learn that John A. Irvine had taken his life by hanging himself on New Year’s Day. He had been melancholy for some days, and on Monday was in Delhi village; while there he complained to friends of having a pain at the base of his brain.

Tuesday afternoon at about four o’clock he went to his safe to get a paper, and while bending over seemed to fall backwards. His relatives thought nothing of the matter, but noticed that he took a paper from the safe and going to the stove threw it into the fire. He then proceeded to the barn; after he had been there about an hour his son-in-law Cecil Russell, thought he would go out and see what Mr. Irvine was doing. Going into the barn he did not find him. Russell surmised something was wrong and went at once to look for a coil of new rope that hung against the wall. He did not find the rope. He then felt that Mr. Irvine had taken it and feared to search, but proceeded to the next floor when a most horrible sight presented itself. There, resting on his knees was the form of the unfortunate man with the rope about his neck partly hanging from a beam above. Russell at once cut the rope and rushed to the house.

Dr. Whitcomb was hastily summoned and arrived in a few minutes. He found that life was extinct. Coroner Woods of Delhi was sent for and after investigating ordered the body removed to the house. It was found that suicide was most strangely arranged. Mr. Irvine had removed about twenty feet of the rope from the coil without cutting the cords that held it together. He then placed a barrel beside the steps that led to the upper lift, and standing about half way up the stairs, threw the rope over the beam. He then placed his arm through the coil of rope and drawing it tightly tied the end around his neck. Then he stepped off the barrel. He had not calculated properly for when the rope became taut his knees rested on the floor. He must have hugged the coil close to his body while he slowly strangled to death. Had he thrown his arm out the coil would have slipped from his arm.

John Irvine was about fifty years of age and highly respected by everyone. He was supervisor for years and was an able representative of his town. Three of his sons, Lloyd, William and Dr. Lester, were home spending the New Year. Another son, Clifton, is in the west. He is also survived by his wife and daughter, Mrs. Russell, who lived with them.

I was particularly interested in the description of his health issue and that it was a pain at the base of his brain. His son William died of a brain tumor in 1929 in Seattle, Washington at the age of 41. His other children all survived into old age. Isabell was the last surviving child of John Irvine, dying in 1985 at the age of 88. 

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Grandma's First Husband - "I am well and my hopes are rising."

The start of 1918 saw my grandmother, Anna Bell Barnhart Calhoun, and her first husband James Calhoun, several states apart – she at home in Bovina and he in North Carolina. He wrote her a long letter on New Year’s Day:

Jan 1, 1918

My dear Anna;
This is the first day of the new year.  It is a holiday all day with us at Camp Greene and I am trying to make it such in the true sense of the word as nearly as I possibly can.  I came into Charlotte early this morning on the trolley with one of the others from squad 13 who is an accomplished organist.  We went directly to the YMCA and took a good refreshing wash up which was free as we furnished our own soap and towel.  I then went out and found a haircut and went from there out about town a little and am now back at the YMCA at 11 o’clock AM writing in a nice cosy room God bless the YMCA.  They are the haven of rest for the soldier boys.  The friend who I am with picks up a good bit of money playing the pipe organs at different churches here Sabbath days and evenings.  He often is able to get $2 a day for playing outside of drill hours.  I felt I must not eat lunch in town today as it would be to[o] expensive but that I should go back to camp and eat Uncle Sam’s fare but my friend is going to stay in all day and urges me to stay and lunch at his expense and I have consented to do so explaining the circumstances of course.  I have plenty of money here.  Have nearly $10.00 left from the $20.00 I left home with and will get $6.00 more probably when pay day comes in about 10 days.  I hope not only to be able to save enough out of my monthly pay here but to lay a little aside. 
I looked at the thermometer as I came from breakfast this morning and it registered 6 degrees above zero.  I am told this is the coldest weather this place has experienced in 28 years.  My cold is much better today but some of the others in my squad have hard colds this morning.  My bed fellow from Shinhopple, NY has a severe cold and I am afraid by the sound of his cough that it is affecting his lungs.  I got some lemons last evening and made some real sour hot lemonade just before going to bed.  It seemed to do wonders in loosening up the phlegm and taking the soreness from my throat.  The sun is shining brightly today and as there is but little wind.  I think the weather shall begin to warm again today.  I know from reports that a cold wave has extended throughout the U.S.  It has been quite cold throughout the southern states even down on the gulf coast. 
The chances for real cold of great length is not great here and as we will probably stay here until nearly spring we will probably escape much of the real cold weather this year.  If we should go to France or abroad it will be in summer which will make it much more pleasant.  It isn’t nearly so hard to drill hard when we are comfortable and not frozen to death. 
My friend has finished his letters and wishes to go so I will not keep him waiting.  This will let you know I am well and my hopes are rising.  I am willing to be more patient in waiting for a better day if I feel it is really coming.  As ever your most loving husband

January saw no major events in James’ life, but he saw a couple of changes of duty. There are no letters that survive from Anna to James in this period, but James commented on several things going on in Bovina, including some deaths and the start of a family squabble in Anna’s family. 

On January 2, he wrote that “I enjoy your letters so much because you write all about what takes place with you and that is where my heart’s interests are.  I am so glad to hear all about what takes place up there.  You said by your last letter that you thought you had better close as you had written enough trash.  Now dear Anna it is not trash to me but every word of it is precious to me.  Write me whenever you can and anything you think would be of interest to me.  I think your letters are the best ever and I wish I could write such interesting letters as you do.”

In a letter written January 4, he explains why we have so few of Anna’s letters available to us today: “I do not know how many letters you have written me as I destroy them after I have read them thoroughly because it is unwise to carry them about because someone would find them and read them but I have gotten a nice big bunch of them.  Yes they are our love letters which we did not need to write when we were courting.  No lover ever enjoyed his sweetheart’s letter more than I have enjoyed yours to me.”

James was rather self-effacing about himself, as evidenced by this passage: “It does not seem possible that so many Bovina boys have gone to the army but their names tell the story.  I knew you would prove patriotic, but I am not worthy of the star for you know Rev. Graham said I was a slacker and you better have my name taken from the honor roll.”

James and Elizabeth Boggs

On January 5, James comments on Anna’s sister Edith helping at the home of James and Elizabeth Boggs. “I am glad Edith likes her place and I always liked Boggs people very much.  James was always especially jolly and good natured.  So, they are expecting something to happen next summer are they?”  The assumption here is that Elizabeth was pregnant. Sadly, it appears that complications set in. On January 12, he comments that “I am sorry for Boggs’ people if Mrs. Boggs has the fever and the trouble of which you spoke. She has almost too much for her physical ability and scarlet fever will make it hard for the entire family.” The scarlet fever led not just to the Boggs family being quarantined but Edith had to join them. A few days later, Anna reported that it wasn’t scarlet fever, which let Edith out of quarantine. But worries about Mrs. Boggs continued. On January 14, he wrote “I am so glad that Mrs. Boggs doesn’t have scarlet fever.  It means so much to you all.  I am extremely sorry for Boggs people and may God grant the sparing of Mrs. Boggs.  Should she be taken away it would almost kill James.  They have had hard luck with their family indeed.” 
Mrs. Boggs’ illness worsened, turning into blood poisoning. Elizabeth died on January 17. James learned of her death on January 21: “I cannot tell you how sorry I feel for James Boggs and all of his and her friends.  It is very hard indeed and all have my sincere sympathy who have to pass through such an experience.  You know it is only those who have suffered who can full sympathy with suffering.  This will prove a terrible blow to all of their people.” James continued to mourn for his friend. On January 24, he wrote “I cannot help but think of poor James Boggs and God only knows how I pity him.  I suppose I should be very thankful that you are spared to me and realize that we are really blessed and spared in comparison to what some of our fellows must endure.” 

In February, he still was struggling over writing a letter of sympathy to James Boggs “but really I feel I can hardly do it.  I think sympathy letters are hard to write.  Give me a few pointers on the subject please.” 

Other deaths

On January 12, James wrote about two deaths in Bovina. His aunt, Jane McNair Doig, died on January 5. “I was sorry but not at all surprised to learn of Aunt Jane’s death.  She is surely better now and she was a good woman and lived a life of supreme Christian character.”

The other death in early January was a shock to all. John Irvine, former Bovina supervisor, committed suicide on New Year’s Day. Irvine was the father of Isabell Russell. It was his son-in-law Cecil who found him. James wrote “Mr. Irving’s death was especially sad.  The way it happened made the entire affair much more sad.  It seemed as though he had very much to want to live for, but he had lost his health and he couldn’t not see life in a way to really enjoy it.  Money is a good thing to have but good health and a true love works for more to make truly happy lives, doesn’t it?” In a later letter, he speculated whether or not the suicide was caused by Irvine’s fear for his sons going off to war. Clifton already had gone off to camp (Clifton did serve in the war in Europe, coming home in 1919). 

Family issues and Life at home

James had been commenting on the relationship his brother-in-law Ralph had with Ruth Ormiston. He learned in early January that they had a falling out and hoped “it proves to be only temporary.” He went on to note that “No we have never had any smashes in our love affairs and I trust and feel that we never shall…. We surely are getting the chance to write our love letters now but I think our letters are more confidential than those of any two unmarried lovers possibly could be and as man and wife our letters should be perfectly confidential. [Ruth would marry Henry Monroe in 1920.]

Later that month, he became concerned about another issue concerning Ralph. This was the draft. On January 14, he wrote that “I am not fully informed with regard to the new draft papers that are served on the young men but I am glad to know that Ralph is attending to his promptly and feel he should get exempted from service on excellent reasons.  It is a grave mistake for the U.S. to call any of the boys from the farms because the worlds people are short of food stuffs now and next years will be much worse than this has been.” 

In his letter of January 24, James makes the first reference to a family squabble that developed with Anna Bell’s mother and her uncle John Miller. His letters do not provide any detail to the squabble, but occasional references show up for some time. John Miller lived next door to Anna Bell’s family farm [this is the farm that later became Suits-Us farm]. James writes “I was not injured in the least by the way Uncle John’s have treated us and I am not afraid that I shall ever be injured by anything they may do or say are you?  I sometimes think it is only jealousy and not us.  We will heap coals of fire on their heads by returning good for evil.  Am I right in so saying?”

James commented on things related to the family farm: “You are having hard luck with the dairy but do not feel discouraged because there are losses in every business.  Feed is terribly high and milk not high enough in proportion.  You have a nice bunch of calves and the cows must be milking well.”

Anna’s letters from home delighted James and occasionally made him homesick. “When I read in your letters of the work you people are doing up there it makes me wish all the more to be there and take part and just for a chance to be with you. The preparations for the future surely sound good to me and I shall try to wait as patiently as possible for that time to come.” 

He also delighted in the food sent from home, as apparently did some others: “Your box of delicious cookies came today and those who have sampled them proclaimed them excellent and they surely were worthy of the credit they received.” One gentleman named Charles told James “Your wife’s cookies are so good I must have another.” 

Life at Camp Greene

Some of James’ time at Camp Greene was spent on kitchen duty. “I do not think kitchen work calls for as steady work as camp orderly job.  This morning we came in and waited on tables at breakfast, then ate our own breakfast.  After breakfast we cleared the tables and washed the dishes, carried up the kitchen slop and cleaned up the floor.  We then peeled 3 or 4 bu[shels] of potatoes and are through work until we serve dinner.  I do not know the hour of the day but I think it is about 10:30 o’clock.  Our cook said after dinner was served and the dishes washed we would not need to work again until time to serve supper…Our regular eats here consists of lots of soup (vegetable and meat) and stews.  We get plenty of potatoes, bread, butter and roast meat.  The waste cuts of meat and the bones are boiled up to make stew and soup.  We also use up lots of onions and beans.  For breakfast we usually have milk (solution of evaporated milk) and cereal, usually boiled rice or wheat and corn flakes.  Occasionally we have hot cakes and syrup or hot soda biscuits.” 

The second week in January sees a sudden job change for James. On January 8, he writes that “We are due to go out to the rifle range early tomorrow morning, so I can write but a note tonight to let you know that I am fairly well.” James didn’t write again for three days, an unusual occurrence during his time in Camp Greene. When he wrote again, he reported his duty change:

Jan 11, 1918
My dear Anna;
After I reached camp today the first thing I did was get some eats and then I sneaked out of sight and got a haircut and washed up.  I had just gotten my toilet completed when I was called to the orderly room and told to move my baggage to the orderly room and prepare to become broken in there as clerk.  I will have to do a little drilling but will work here most of the time and think I shall like the work and will see and learn a good bit that will be useful to me when I come back to civilian. 

James wrote again two days later, noting that he was “back at the orderly room.  When I came back I found the sergeant and his company had gone and the clerk was having a clearing out of papers and etc of his desk.  He immediately gave me a job and I have been busy since except when eating supper.” He went on to note that he was unable to go to church because of all the work he was given. He assured Anna that “I am not turning heathen for all of that and will not if I am in the army for years.  The teaching I received at my mother’s knee has to firm a hold on me for that.  There are many men who did not have religion at all but what they believe and do doesn’t affect me at all.” 

He commented again on the lack of Sabbath observance a week later. He is working in the Orderly Room of the Army.  “All the way I see the day differs from week days is that the officers are not here nearly so much.  I of course do as I am told but it goes against the grain for me to do unnecessary work on Sabbath.  I have worked all day and have not even taken a moment to read.  I shall not let that affect me if I have to work every Sabbath for years.  The men here are very good to me and I get many favors in here I would not get if I was doing straight drill.  I am going to do my best without complaint here and when I am out of the army I shall keep my Sundays as I believe they should be kept.”

In another letter, he notes that he “shall not permit my duties here to keep me away from church entirely.” He also hopes to get some of the men he is with to come with him. These two men “both are careless people in more ways than one but they are good to me and I am not blaming them but rather I do pity them. The clerk had $3 pay day, he lost it all in about as many minutes gambling.  I do not believe in gambling so let it strictly alone besides I have no money to throw.”

James made several comments about the gambling he saw. His preference for playing cards was pinochle (misspelled in his letters): “Do you play pewinkle now.  I have not played a game since I came from home.  They play cards down here and shoot dice in place of playing pewinkle.  I do not though.  I do not believe in gambling and have no money to throw away anyway.” [Pinochle was a game my grandmother continued to play into old age.] 

Working as a clerk gave him access to a typewriter. He used this to write some of his letters to Anna: “I hope you do not mind getting a typewritten letter.  I am going to write my letters to you on the machine, so I can learn to typewrite.… I have never written on one before so excuse all mistakes.  This has been a beautiful day.  The nights are cold[cold] but not bad.” He found the experience too laborious and a day letter went back to his pen. But he continued to try to use the typewriter and a number of the letters he wrote were typed over the next few months.

In mid-January, James reported that “Measles and mumps have broken out in this regiment and many of our men have been placed in the detention camp.  I think there are 60 men there now out of a Co. of 250 men.” James noted that he was lucky that he already had had both diseases. He also was glad he was in the orderly room, where there was only “the clerk and the first sergeant and they are not likely to get sick as they are old army men.” The reason he was glad was that when someone in a squad “is taken with measles or mumps he is sent to the hospital and the others of the squad are sent to the detention camp.”  Word around was that the food at the detention camp was poor.

James did face quarantine around January 20 “because a man of the company who was sent from here to the Detention Camp Jan 11 came down yesterday with spinal meningitis.  There was really no use in quarantining the company as there has no one from here been with him since Jan 11 except those already in Detention Camp with him.  So don’t let that worry you.  Quarantine will probably last but a few days.”

A few days later, the City of Charlotte was quarantined “because spinal meningitis has broken out there.  We cannot go there except on official business and then must get a special pass.  I for one shall not go very often because I go very little when I am not quarantined.  It is a hardship on many of the however because they feel they are very much misused if they cannot get to town nearly every night.”

He related some little human incidents from camp. One morning he report that “Our first sergeant did not hear the bugle call for reveille soon enough to dress and get out this morning so he pulled on his rubber boots, hat and overcoat and went without pants.  No one could tell but he was dressed.”

James generally did not like the army and two months after going into service, comments on some of the men he encountered. “I do not see how some of the fellows can be so thoughtless and careless of home ties.  Some of the boys do not even take the trouble to write home occasionally to let their people know how they are.  As much as I see the necessity for helping win the war for U.S., yet I shall never forget the loved ones at home.  I am willing to do all I can but there are many things in army life that are really distasteful to me and I shall be that happiest boy in the whole bunch when the glad tidings came that peace has been declared.”

James found being in the south a different experience. He noted in a letter that “I picked up a few bolls of cotton yesterday on my way back from the hospital and will mail them so you can see how cotton really is in the raw state.  These are only bolls that were left from last falls picking and are not good ones but will give you an idea and sometime in the future we can look back and remember where they came from.” [The cotton bolls were not in the letters I got from my grandmother’s estate.] 

The irony of Camp Greene was that it was established to give a better chance of good weather for drilling and other training. It turned out to be one of the wettest and coldest winters the area had experienced in years. In one letter, James writes that “This has been a rainy day and the mud grows deeper and deeper but nevertheless we keep on top.  I don’t mind the mud so much for the simple reason that I do not have to get out and wallow in it continually.  I feel some of the boys are in it pretty bad down on the lower part of this street where the mud is so deep.”

James sometimes wrote about the mundane, right down to dealing with his clothes: “I told you I would send my underwear home but have neglected to mail same.  I shall do so before we move from here I think as extra baggage is only a nuisance to a soldier or a man who is trying to get to be a soldier.  I have a good place to hang up clothing here and our supply sergeant issued me a locker tonight, so I can place what I do not wish to hang up within that and keep them neat and clean.”

Keeping clean was certainly a challenge. Working as a clerk gave James a chance for “a dandy bath here.  I put a part of water to heat and took my dip in the tin wash tub we have.  How good it seemed to be able to get a good bath at my own shack.  A tent is a poor place to bathe especially when the tent is crowded with beds and other junk.” 

The Wheatleys

On January 19, James makes the first reference to a couple living in Charlotte who contacted him. “I have a post card here from Prof. C.A. Wheatley of Charlotte, N.C. stating that he and Mrs. Wheatley have a package of socks sent to them by the Andes Red Cross for me and for me to call and get them.  Mrs. Wheatley was formerly Laura Ballantine of Andes, and a daughter of Geo. Ballantyne of the same place and a sister of Mrs. John A. Gladstone of Albany.  Mr. Wheatley used to be principal of Andes High School and it was there he met Mrs. Wheatley.  I did not know they were down here and was much surprised to know there were people I had known living in Charlotte and I shall assuredly make them a call when I can find it convenient to get to town.”

Within a couple of days of this letter, “Mr. and Mrs. Wheatley…came out today and called me to the head of the company street as they were not allowed to come into the company.  They brought me the two pair of home knit woolen socks from the Andes Red Cross and they surely are fine.” 

Mr. and Mrs. Wheatley gave James a taste of home for the rest of his time in camp.

Going Overseas

James writes several times about the possibility of his going overseas: “I know nothing about when we go to France but I surely count on getting home for a few days.  We may not go to France at all.  I do not believe it is known where we shall go.” James notes that he’s not supposed to write anything about “movement or intended movement of troops but I know you will not say a word outside of our family.” There is no evidence that letters he wrote while in the United States were read or censored, unlike those he would late write from France.

Toward the end of January, James also commented on rumors about peace. “I am watching the peace talk of the dailies.  I hear the officers and men commenting daily on the war situation.  They feel that Austria and Germany are tiring of war but that the Allies will not give up until the world is made safe for democracy and I am afraid the only perfect solution of the problem is to fight it out to a finish unless Germany and Austria give way which I trust they soon must do and hope they may.”  In another letter, he noted that “Austria is getting very short of food and there is but little fighting over there.  I have strong hopes that the war will soon be settled.  I hope it closes before we get across because it would take a long time to get home again should it close shortly after we went across.” In another letter, he wrote that “I for one am ready to have peace but I don’t want it unless it can be permanent.  If we must fight again in a few years we may as well fight it out now.  America would be a poor place to live if the Kaiser rules here which he never will do.”

At the end of the month, James notes that if he does go overseas, his lack of drill experience might mean that “they probably will not put me in the trenches until I get some training.” He hoped that if he made “good as clerk” he probably would not see “much fighting on the firing line. I do not wish you to worry any more about this war business. I am sure it will soon close and if not we will get out alright.” 

January 24, 1918

My heart is very full tonight and though you are miles away I can realize the your full true love so good and sweet to me and if I had to go through again what we have gone through I should not want our relation to be otherwise than it is now.  My God I cannot tell you how glad I am that you are my wife.  You do so much to help me be faithful and true and contented in every way.

January 27, 1918

I was over across the street to the company C this morning and found or inquired about the boys I knew from Del or who came from Dix with me who are in that company.  I found Bilby(?) And George Votie of South Kortright.  Mitchell from East Meredith of C. Co. I find has been sent to the hospital.  Leonard from French Woods NY is in the Detention Camp as also is Charles Houck of Grand Gorge.  I think I shall make a visit to the hospital this PM and see if I may see Mitchell.  I am not going if he has a contagious disease but I can find out about that at Co C orderly room. 

James last letter to Anna in January was written on the 30:

…Dear girl it is difficult to tell when the war will finish but if the time is not very far distant.  There is talk, yes lots of peace talk now and there has never been before since the war commenced.  I feel as you do that we had better not buy many of our supplies now but simply wait until we need them.  Everything is very high now and many articles will eventually become lower in price after peace comes.  We are not making rich now but have a good provision from Uncle Sam and am sure we can make ends meet.

….I am glad to see that you are called upon for church work and are not omitted since you have taken such a disreputable name upon yourself.  I know you can make that name reputable or rather make me live such a good life that I shall be able to look my fellows straight in the eye.

There is nothing more tonight I think.  I shall get ready to help Sgt Schneider do some work. 

Your most loving husband James

Monday, January 15, 2018

Those Who Left Us in 2017

A number of people with Bovina connections left us in 2017:

William 'Danny' Daniel Burns died unexpectedly on January 18 at the age of 41. He was the son of Bovina native James E. Burns. Dan attended school in East Hampton, CT and Chenango Forks, NY. He was a talented and inspired carpenter, tradesman, fisherman and all-around fix-it guy. Danny was buried in Bovina in the spring next to his father.

Lou Miele
Lou Miele came to Bovina from New Jersey, where he was a successful businessman with Miele’s Greenhouses. He came to Bovina looking for a property in the 1980s where he could hunt and relax. He bought the old Paul Rabeler farm, where he developed a Belgian Blue Beef Operation. His contact in this business, Ed Weber, introduced Lou to his mother-in-law Pat Parsons. Pat and Lou were together for 30 years and married in 2002. Lou died on January 21, several years after suffering a debilitating stroke. Lou was a U.S. Army veteran.

Marg Hilson Oelsner
On February 11, Margaret L. Hilson Oelsner died in Albuquerque at age of 76. She had lived in Albuquerque for 57 years. Marg was born in Bovina Center, the daughter of Alex and Lil Hilson. She married Ronald M. Oelsner in 1958 (he died in 1999). Marg maintained her sense of humor throughout her illness. She was buried in Bovina in the spring.

Stub Hewitt
Stanley A. “Stub” Hewitt passed away on April 3 at the age of 92. The son of the late John W. and Laura (Alton) Hewitt, he grew up in Bovina and was a graduate of Andes Central School. He proudly served in the U.S. Army during WW II and was in Italy during the occupation of Europe. Stub married Norah Travell Hewitt in Hobart in 1947, a union that lasted 63 years, until her passing in 2010. Mr. Hewitt was employed as a truck driver with Deltown Foods of Delhi, retiring after over 42 years of service.

Mary Victoria Donato Tucker died on May 15 at the age of 89. Mary and her husband Howard Tucker lived for several years in Bovina in the 70s, raising their eight children. At her passing, Mary was survived by six of her children, 16 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.

Carol Sue Lowell passed away on May 18 as a result of a tragic motor vehicle accident. Carol's parents were Harold and Mildred A. (Hitt) Hall. She spent some of her childhood on Coulter Brook Road with her family. Carol was a much beloved caretaker of the residents at Mountainside, and enjoyed reading and spending time with her family and friends.

Edward A. Finkenberg, died peacefully on June 27 at the age of 95. Ed was a World War II veteran and a champion of human rights, an advocate for people with disabilities, an innovator, and entrepreneur. His children remember him as an elegant man and stoic father who encouraged them to follow their dreams with courage, integrity, and compassion for those in need. 

Gordon Rabeler
Gordon E. Rabeler passed away on July 16 at the age of 94. Born in Nebraska, he came to Bovina as a child. He was a World War II veteran, being involved in the European campaign. Gordon worked for over 40 years at International Paper Company in research. Gordon, along with Stub Hewitt, unveiled the restored Bovina Honor Roll of World War II soldiers in 2012.

Margaret C. “Peggy” Finch was born in Bovina, the daughter of Ralph and Mary (Thornington) Tuttle. She passed away on September 13 at the age of 79 and was buried in Bovina. She was a Certified Nursing Assistant at Robinson Terrace Nursing Home for 24 years.

Thomas Camb
Thomas G. Camb, 87, formerly of Bovina Center, passed away on September 5. Tom was born and raised in NJ. Tom enjoyed many hobbies such as motorcycles, guns and ham radios, but loved his family most of all. Tom was liked by all and had a great sense of humor, telling jokes was his favorite past-time.  For those of you who knew Tom well, “the check is in the mail”.

Clif Pause

Clifton L. Pause, Jr. came from Adams, MA, where he grew up. He was in the US Navy in the 1960s and worked for the Delaware County Electric Cooperative for 35 years. He had become REA’s primary underground cable installer and was “difficult to replace” when he retired in 2003. He passed away in his home in Bovina on September 26.

Chris Comfort
Christine A. Comfort spent most of her life in Bovina. The daughter of Lester and Janet (Havens) Stewart, she was married to John L. Comfort in 1982. Christine worked for over 43 years at O’Connor Hospital Center. Christine could often be found behind the camera taking pictures or video and capturing memories at family gatherings.  Her greatest joy was her family, she was a caring wife, loving mother and proud grandmother.  Christine passed away October 24 and was survived by her parents, four sisters, one brother, husband, daughter and two grandsons.
Montie Hobbie

Montie R. Hobbie grew up in Bovina, the son of Glenn J. and Anna (Boggs) Hobbie. Montie lived for many years in Cambridge, NY, and was involved in the Presbyterian church there. It was from that church that a number of settlers came to Bovina and established what is now the United Presbyterian Church. Montie died on December 3 after a challenging fight with scleroderma, survived by his wife, five children, two brothers and a sister.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

January 1918 - 100 Years Ago "In That Thriving Town"

100 years ago this month, the Bovina column of the Andes Recorder was reporting on the lack of fuel reduced street lighting in Bovina Center and loss of one of Bovina’s last remaining Civil War veterans. Bovina also saw a suicide and the death of James Boggs' first wife, Elizabeth.

January 4, 1918
·       Many water pipes have been frozen during the excessive cold of the past week.
·       Owing to the cold weather the Center school will not re-open until next Monday.
·       The funeral of Dr. Scott was held on Saturday and internment was in Center cemetery. [This is Dr. Gilbert Scott, who had died at the end of 1917.]
·        A daughter was born to Mr. and Mrs. Ray Thomson December 24.  The great grandfather of the child is still living. [The parents were Eldred Ray Thomson and Ruth Marie Joslin. Their daughter was named Jeannette. The great grandfather mentioned was William B. Thomson, who lived another decade after the birth of his great granddaughter, not dying until 1929. Ray’s mother was Cora J. Thomson. His 1916 marriage record lists his father as unknown. Ray died in 1975 in Sidney.]
·       George A. Goble, of Michigan, has purchased a half interest in Wm. H. Maynard’s farm in the upper part of Bovina.  His family and household goods have arrived.

Death of Bovina Veteran

Frank Gowanlock died at his home on the outskirts of Bovina Center, at 1 o’clock Wednesday, January 2, at the age of 76 years.  He had been in poor health for several years from hardening of the arteries, and last week suffered a shock.  He was born in Bovina and practically all his life was spent in the town.  He was a stone mason by trade.  He enlisted in Co E, 144th Regt. In 1862 and served until the end of the war.  His wife, who was Jane Liddle, died May 29, 1916.  He has no relatives in this vicinity.  The funeral will be held Friday. 

The Recorder also reported on the suicide of John Irvine, former Bovina town supervisor and a farmer on Coulter Brook Road. He was found hanging in his barn by his son-in-law Cecil Russell. Irvine was 50 years old. He left as survivors his wife, the former Elizabeth Richardson, four sons, William, Lester, Clifton and Lloyd and his daughter, Isabell Russell.

January 11, 1918
·       James L. Coulter of New Wilmington, Penn. was here to attend the funeral of John A. Irvine.
·       The street lamps have not been lighted, thus carrying out the wishes of the state, to save gasoline. 
·       The funeral of Frank Gowanlock was held at 1 p.m. Friday, and that of John A. Irvine on Saturday.
·       Samuel Heller is home from school at Gladstone, N.J.  The school has been closed because of the lack of coal.
·       Mr. Wm. A. Hoy and son, James, went to Walton last week, where the lad will receive treatment for spinal trouble. [James later married Margaret Hoy and passed away in 1956. His spinal trouble persisted throughout his life.]

January 18, 1918
·       William Irvine, of Seattle, Washington, is visiting his mother, Mrs. John A. Irvine.
·       Chauncey McFarland has purchased a Delco Light plant to light his farm buildings. 
·       Gilbert D. Miller of the 144th Regt. And Thomas Gordon of the 79th are the only two civil war veterans now living Bovina.

January 25, 1918
·       Hale Elliott is making boxes for the cheese factory up-town.
·       For the month of December patrons of the Bovina Center Co-Operative Creamery company received 70 ½ cents per pound for butter fat.

Another Bovina Death reported in the Andes Recorder was that of Mrs. James Boggs (Elizabeth Felton), who died January 17 from blood poisoning.  She was 24 years old. She was married to James 4 1/2 years at the time of her death. Elizabeth gave birth to a son in 1915, but he lived only two months. James would marry two more times. He married Edith Barnhart in 1919. She died in 1930. James' third wife was Catherine Cameron Kelsey, who he married in 1947.