Monday, September 30, 2019

This Day in Bovina for September 2019

134 years ago today, on September 1, 1885, as later reported in the Stamford Mirror, "…a large crowd assembled on the farm of Robert Thompson to witness the trial of Andrew Johnson's new engine and thresher.  It worked to perfection and bid defiance to the wet sheaves of oats and rushed wildly on."

Ninety-two years ago today, the Andes Recorder for September 2, 1927 reported that Agnes Burns, the daughter of John Burns, recently had her tonsils removed.

130 years ago today, the Bovina column in the September 3, 1889 Stamford Mirror reported "The lecture by Mrs. S.E. Johnson, late of India, in Strangeway's Hall, on Monday evening, was not very largely attended."

123 years ago today, the September 4, 1896 Andes Recorder reported in its Bovina column that "Miss Emma Campbell has purchased a ladies bicycle and will ride to and from her school in Pink street."

Eighty-nine years ago today, the September 5, 1930 Delaware Express reported on the dedication of Bovina's Community Hall. 

138 years ago today, the September 6, 1881 Stamford Mirror reported the following in its Bovina column: "A young man known here as John Howard, who has been employed in the cooper shops here for the last two seasons, was arrested today in Charles Palmer's shop by Under-Sheriff Crawford. He is said to have escaped from the Schoharie County jail about four years ago, where he was confined on the charge of burglary."

173 years ago today, September 7, 1846, the will of Francis Coulter (1771-1846) was probated at Surrogates Court in Delhi. Coulter emigrated from Scotland in the late 18th century and settled on Coulter Brook Road.

133 years ago today, the September 8, 1886 Delaware Gazette reported that the name Brushland for the post office in the present-day hamlet of Bovina Center had been changed back to Bovina Centre. Here's the article about the change and why it happened: 

107 years ago, on September 9, 1912, the trustees of the "D.J. Miller district" elected a new trustee, James Mabon. The report in the Bovina column of the Andes Recorder noted that "the only scholar in the district is being sent to the Center school. From 60 to 70 scholars went to school in the same district half a century ago, and even 30 years ago 25 attended." This is the school that was located at the intersection of Lee Hollow and Miller Avenue. The school managed to keep operating until 1944.

102 years ago today, on September 10, 1917, as later reported in the Andes Recorder Bovina column, "the South Kortright Band gave a concert with a dance afterwards at the town hall…" This would be Strangeway's Hall, now owned by Tom Hetterich.

136 years ago today, September 11, 1883 Bovina column of the Stamford mirror reported that "The funeral of Malcolm McNaught passed through Brushland today on the way to the place of burial in Andes."

101 years ago today, on September 12, 1918, as later reported in the Bovina column of the Andes Recorder, "There were 91 registered for selective draft last Thursday, and of these 35 will be in the first call."

110 years ago today, the New Kingston column of the September 13, 1909 issue of the Catskill Mountain News reported that "Gilfred Scott began his school duties in the Pink Street District, Bovina…"

109 years ago today, the September 14, 1910 issue of the Delaware Gazette reported that "from the artificial lake made last year on the Mabon farm in Bovina, 30 fine trout were taken the last day of the season by D.L. Bruce and T. Hyzer of Andes." This lake is now known as Coles Lake or Silver Lake. Here's a postcard view of the Lake, known as Lake Mahikan or Mahican when first built.

Robert Biggar died 118 years ago today, on September 15, 1901. Born in Bovina in 1833, he was the son of Walter Biggar and Janet Cowan. He married Isabella J. Miller in 1865. They had no children. Isabella survived her husband by less than two years, dying in May 1903. His death was reported in the local papers: "Robert Biggar, an old resident of Coulter Brook, in the town of Bovina, died suddenly of heart disease Monday morning, aged about 70. He was apparently as well as usual on Sunday, and on Saturday was in Delhi. He was a man very highly respected. He leaves a wife."

The Bovina ball team hosted a game 108 years ago today, September 16, 1911, playing against Andes.  The Bovina team won 13 to 4.

John T. Clement died 106 years ago today, September 17, 1913.  Born in 1836, he was the son of William Clement and his wife Margaret Thomson.  He was married to Margaret E. Liddle.

107 years ago today, the September 18, 1912 issue of the Delaware Gazette had an article under the title "Car load and a Half of Beer." The article read as follows: "A strange condition has existed in the town of Bovina for the past two weeks and many people wonder why such condition is permitted, as Bovina is a dry town, and the people have voted down license for a good many years. A man who was in that town several days ago, relates that at a point between the villages of Andes and Bovina liquor and beer were sold openly at an Italian shanty, that the proprietors had two barns in the same and that a few Sundays ago the building was packed with people most of the day. A carload and a half of beer was shipped to Andes on the D&N a few days ago for the 'joint' in the town of Bovina and that it doesn't by any means represent the total amount of wet goods shipped there. It is extremely hard for the temperance people to understand just why such a place is permitted to exist in the no-license town of Bovina." The article concluded "the above seems so nearly impossible that many will be inclined to doubt that such a condition as stated is true." A week later, the paper reported that the sheriff and D.A. made a thorough investigation but that they failed to locate it.

119 years ago today, the September 19, 1900 Delaware Gazette reported in a brief article entitled "Good Price for Butter" that "Bovina farmers have been selling firkin butter at 20 cents a pound. Delhi dealers took all they could get at that price." A firkin is a small barrel often used for butter.

108 years ago today, as later reported in the Andes Recorder, "Miss Belle Strangeway, daughter of Thos C. Strangeway of this town, and Frank J. Dickson, of Delhi, were married Wednesday evening, September 20, [1911] by Rev. A.M. Forrester at the First Presbyterian parsonage in Delhi." Margaret Bell Strangeway was born in Bovina in 1880. She and Frank would have four children, including Howard Dickson. Frank died in 1953. Belle would live past 90, dying in 1972.

102 years ago, the September 21, 1917 issue of the Andes Recorder reported in its Bovina column the following: "Ed Seacord left a five gallon can of gasoline on the sidewalk in front of the hotel and when he returned a little later the can had disappeared.  When he came around to go home, he found his can, but the gasoline had been taken out and the can re-filled with water." The hotel mentioned was located across the street from the present-day playground in the Bovina Center hamlet.

183 years ago today, on September 22, 1836, James and Nancy Coulter suffered the loss of two of their three children, their daughters Elizabeth, age 3 and Nancy, age 2. The next day saw the death of their only surviving child, a son named Andrew. They went on to have 10 more children after this tragedy. More about this family can be found on the Bovina NY History Blog at

165 years ago today, on September 23, 1854, the "National Democrats of the Town of Bovina" met at the home of Walter Hamilton (now the Jardine residence) "for the purpose of choosing two delegates to attend the County Convention….and for the transaction of such other business…"

Sixty-six years ago today, on September 24, 1953, the Bovina Recreation club held its first luncheon of the year at the Bovina Presbyterian Church. "Mrs. Harry Eckert, an accredited judge of floral arrangement" was the guest speaker and taught how to do flower arranging.

Seventy-seven years ago today, on September 25, 1942, a round and square dance was held in Bovina Center, with music by Melody Boys. This was one in a series of dances that took place about once a month in Bovina in 1942 and 43. The Melody Boys included fiddler Hilt Kelley, who passed away in March 2015 at the age of 89.

111 years ago today, on September 26, 1908, as later reported in the Delaware Gazette, "Louise, the 15-month-old daughter of Superintendent and Mrs. J.F. Forman of the County farm, died of Cholera Infantum." She was buried in Bovina. Photo of grave by Ed and Dick Davidson.

101 years ago today, the September 27, 1918 Bovina column of the Andes Recorder reported that "Cameron McNee of Iowa is visiting his nephew, John Aitkens. Mr. McNee was former resident of Bovina but had lived in Iowa for 42 years. He was a cooper when in this town." Cameron appears to be John Cameron McNee. He settled in Hamilton County, Iowa and died sometime in the 1940s.

145 years ago today, September 28, 1874, as later reported in the Delaware Gazette, "Mr. William Bramley of Bovina dropped dead…while plowing." Bramley was born in 1816 and was in Bovina his whole life. He was the son of Henry Bramley and Elizabeth Wright. He was survived by his wife Angeline, daughter Elizabeth and his mother. He was predeceased by his father and his son William Augustus.

134 years ago today, the Stamford Mirror for September 29, 1885 reported that "J.D. Mitchell of Bovina, exhibited a portion of his fine Jersey stock at the Delhi Fair and captured numerous prizes, as follows: second best 2-year-old bull, best and second best calf, best and second best heifer, 2 years, best and second best 1-year old heifer, and best and second best heifer calf - $31 dollars in all. At Hobart he took first prize for farm team." The Mitchell farm was on Crescent Valley Road and was owned by Mitchell until the early 1900s.

Fifty-eight years ago today, September 30, 1961, as later reported in the Bovina column of the Delaware Republican Express, "Mr. and Mrs. John Hinkley near Bloomville were … guests of his sister, Mrs. Milton Liddle." That same day, "about 20 Bovina people attended the sale on the Elsie Davison farm at Bloomville…"

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Bovina Bicentennial Celebration, Update 9

The Bovina Bicentennial committee met on September 14 to discuss plans for the upcoming celebration. Here's the tentative schedule for the celebration weekend:

Saturday, August 1

Parade – 10 am - floats will be on display throughout the afternoon

Food/vendors under the tent – noon to 4 pm
Children's games - throughout the afternoon

Vintage baseball game – 2 pm
Evening music program – 7 pm

Sunday, August 2

Community picnic - noon - bring a dish to pass, if able. If you cannot, come anyway, there should be plenty

Other events during the year

February 25 - 200th Anniversary of the creation of Bovina - event TBA
March 7 - we will hold a 're-creation' of the first town meeting on the 200th anniversary of that meeting, with Bovina's younger citizens carrying out the program
July (tentative) - program at the Maynard School celebrating all of Bovina's one-room schools
July 18 - Bovina Day - community yard sale

Fund raising

We currently have $4900 in the Bicentennial fund. I am requesting another $1000 from the town of Bovina and will be seeking grant funds from several sources. 

The Bovina Historical Society will be hosting a book signing party for the recently released History of the Town of Bovina, Delaware County, New York on Thursday, October 17 starting at 6 pm. Copies of the book will be for sale, as will the Bovina Bicentennial Posters. All proceeds from the evening will benefit the Town of Bovina Bicentennial fund.

Stay tuned. More projects are in the works, including a knitting project to create a Bovina afghan.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

“Political Corruption in Bovina” 1889, Part One

On September 25, 1889, Bovina readers of the Delaware Standard, a prohibitionist newspaper published in Walton, likely read with great interest the following letter:

Political Corruption in Bovina, The people of this town have just had a wonderful exhibition of the G.O.P. machine matters of conducting a political caucus. A fellow townsman of good moral character and a member of the M.E. Church, presented himself as candidate for member of Assembly. Opposed to him was a candidate from a neighboring town, who by good Republican Authority is represented as drunken and licentious. Our town’s man urged the fact of his being a resident of the town, and his good moral character as strong reason why he should receive the support of the fellow partisans. Christianity, morality and good government, by supporting the popular candidate, and gave him their hearty support.

The last of the Favorites canvass in this town is variously estimated at from $300 to $700, and the result of the faithful work that had been done was seen in the very large caucus that assembled in the 14th inst when Boodle received 114 votes, and morality, 72.

In the evening following the caucus a small party of young voters flushed with the success of the afternoon, and somewhat under the influence of electioneering whisky (of which it is said there has been an ample supply during the campaign) decorated the place of business of one of our citizens with old boxes, barrels and agricultural implements, and made “night hideous” with terrible blasphemy. 

Remember these things occurred, not in the benighted Democratic cities of the Empire State, but in Moral, Republican Bovina, and under the auspices of the great party of temperance and morality.

To the honor of some of our Republican friends in our town be it said, they do not approve of the above described methods. The need of a new and clean political party becomes daily more apparent. 

Forewarned the Prohibition party.


This unsigned letter was followed on October 4 by this one:

Mr. Editor: The last ‘Standard’ informs us that our former article, ‘Political Corruption in Bovina,’ although partly omitted by an oversight of the compositor perhaps, still contains enough unpleasantness to the Republican candidate for assembly to cause him to serve a Writ on the Editor of the Standard…Every statement in the article is based on stories circulated by members of the would be assemblyman’s own party. If they are not true we are very sorry that he should be slandered in his own political household. But that they believed to be true by Republicans seems quite evident from the fact that many of the best men of the party in this town, men who have always voted the Republican ticket, have openly declared that they will not support this candidate, and the reason they give in nearly every instance is his immoral character. Many of the stories in circulation affecting his personal character are scarcely fit to be whispered in a dark corner, much less to appear in public print….”

The writer of these letters remained a mystery for about two years, but the target of the letters was clear – James Ballantine of Andes. Ballantine had served several terms as the Town of Andes Supervisor and decided in 1889 to make a run for the assembly. At the Delaware County Republican caucus on September 14, 1889, Ballantine was chosen to be the county’s candidate for the Assembly. As noted in the second letter, Ballantine almost immediately sued the editor of the Delaware Standard, Rev. W.H. Howie, for libel and slander.

These letters led to some newspapers, including the strongly Republican Walton Reporter, to suggest that Ballantine should withdraw. On October 9, the Delaware Gazette published a letter dated September 30 and addressed to W.T. Black and David Liddle, the two Bovina men chosen as delegates to the Republican county convention, highly critical of their vote, not so much for Ballantine but for how they voted for County Judge. The authors of the letter said that these delegates were to vote for John A. Kemp for judge, but they instead voted for A.H. Sewell. 

The authors accuse the two men of being in the pocket of “Little Jim,” aka James Ballentine: “If little Jim carries the people of Bovina in his vest pocket, we want to know it. If his despotism has reached a point where the Republicans of what was once called the banner Republican town of Delaware county can no longer elect two delegates and have them vote as they are instructed… then the sooner they realize [they] are no longer free to express their choice on any political question, the better.   If he really owns them, body and soul….then we respectfully move that Bovina be stricken from the list of towns, and hereafter this place shall be known as North Andes! Respectfully, Many Republicans.”

Some of the area newspapers turned on the Walton Reporter, accusing it of hypocrisy, claiming that the reason the paper would not support Ballantine was because he refused to give them $500 they requested to give him their support. 

In the meantime, W.T. Black and David Liddle responded to the letters in the Delaware Express (unfortunately, copies of this issue cannot be located so we don’t have the text of the letters). The Delaware Gazette (a Democratic newspaper, by the way) was critical of their “feeble effort to convince the people of Bovina that they did not sell them out on County Judge…” They noted that “’Uncle Jock,’ little Jim’s high priest, swore before they left Bovina they should not carry out the instructions of the caucus.” ‘Uncle Jock’ followed them to Delhi to ensure that they voted for Sewell, not Kemp for County Judge.

‘Uncle Jock’ may have been old John Hilson, who emigrated to Bovina from Scotland in the 1850s. Unfortunately, because critical issues of the Delaware Express and Delaware Republican are not available, we really can’t get the full story of the issues related to this caucus, including confirming the identity of 'Uncle Jock.'

In the end, James Ballantine was elected to the State Assembly by a slim margin, defeating Bovina native Isaac H. Maynard. As reported in the Hancock Herald, “James Got There, But Oh, It was a Lively Tussell!”  There was an issue over ballots in Sidney that were printed on the wrong paper. If these had been disqualified, the election would have gone to Maynard, but in the end it didn’t change the result. Maynard in the end announced he would not contest this, given that from all appearances, thought the ballots may have been printed wrong, the intention of the voters using those ballots was clear. “I can only say that under no circumstances would I accept a certificate of election at your hands unless it clearly appeared that I had a plurality of the votes cast for the office…An honorable defeat is always to be preferred to victory with dishonor.”

So Ballantine was elected. He did not drop his lawsuit against the editor of the Delaware Standard, however. In the next installment, more will be revealed about the lawsuit, including the author of the original letter.