Monday, January 31, 2022

This Day in Bovina for January 2022

Here's the monthly compilation of the entries from the Town of Bovina Historian Facebook page:

181 years ago today, on January 1, 1841, the Trustees of Bovina school district number 9, located on Cape Horn Road, provided this document showing the books in the school's library. Books included Olden Times of New York, Parleys School History, Memoir of Harrison,  and Weems Washington. The latter book was noted for introducing several myths about George Washington, including the famous cherry tree incident.  

This Bovina column appeared 139 years ago today in the January 2, 1883 Stamford Mirror. The last item mentions that Jim has a "felon on his right hand." A felon was an infection/abscess on the fingertip. 


168 years ago today, the January 3, 1854 Bloomville Mirror carried this report of an "Anti-Rent Meeting in Bovina" held the previous month. The Anti-Rent 'War' had been a decade before but farmers still were paying rents well after, as this article demonstrates. 


108 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.


120 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 [sic] 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.” This image of William is from 1895. 


123 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.


157 years ago today, January 7, 1865, Joseph Raitt signed this statement attesting that he had received a ten-dollar bill that was later "pronounced by the cashier of the Delaware Bank to be a counterfeit." 


133 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 also 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 Bovina and later in life married Sloan Archibald. She died in 1942.


111 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."


119 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."


139 years ago today, on January 11, 1883, as later reported in the Stamford Mirror, " Miss Nancy Wight, a sister of James Wight, of Lake Delaware, was buried in the cemetery near Brushland … having died at Newark, N.J., where she has resided for some years past."


Ninety-three years ago today, the January 12, 1929 Delaware Republican carried in its Bovina column this item: "Kenneth Kaufman went to New York Saturday to attend the auto show."


The Andes Recorder reported ninety-four 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.”


126 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.


144 years ago today, on January 15, 1878, Edgar Scott took out a chattel mortgage on a pair of black oxen, one new democrat wagon and one buggy wagon for $172.52, to be paid by James Kerr of Kortright. A democrat wagon is a light farm wagon with one or two seats, usually drawn by two horses. 


114 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.


103 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."


125 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.


Ninety-three 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-five 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.


Sixty-eight years ago today, the Bovina column in the January 21, 1954 Stamford Mirror-Recorder reported that "Clifford Hall has had T.V. installed in his home."


Eighty years ago today, the January 22, 1942 issue of the Sidney (NY) Enterprise reported that "Girl Takes Up Duties as First Supervisor of Dairy Herd Group." The article went on: "First girl to become a dairy herd improvement association supervisor in Delaware county, Miss Beatrice Thomson of Bovina Center, is announced by the Delaware County Farm Bureau…Miss Thomson…is a graduate of the New York State Agricultural and technical Institute at Delhi and has been carrying on the bacteriological work at the Bovina Center creamery since her graduation." More about Bea was reported in the Bovina NY History Blog in June 2017:


117 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……"


120 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.


161 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.


139 years ago today on January 26, 1883, as later reported in the Stamford Mirror, a farewell dance was held at Albert Adee's in upper Bovina. Here's the full report (who was going way, if any, was not reported): 


119 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.


154 years ago today, the January 28, 1868 Bloomville Mirror carried this letter to the editor, dated January 16. This is the earliest newspaper reference I found to the infamous slander suit between Revs. Lee and Kennedy, which went to court in 1869. More about this case can be found in the Bovina NY History Blog at and


Thomas Russell McFarland died 107 years ago today on January 29, 1915 at the family farm in uptown Bovina. Here's the obituary posted in the Delaware Republican for February 6, 1915: 


102 years ago today, the January 30, 1920 Oneonta Star, in its Delaware County News column, reported "At a meeting of the stockholders of the Bovina Center Creamery company, held in town yesterday, a proposition to sell the dry milk plant here to the firm which is operating it came up for consideration. After discussion a vote was taken and resulted in the defeat of the proposition." The dry milk plant stood behind the main creamery building.


142 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 20, 2022

Bovina Ex-Pats: Command Sergeant Major Helen Isabelle Johnston

    This month’s entry on Bovina Ex-pats is a little different from past entries, which have involved people long dead. This one involves a woman who has just passed away at the end of 2021. A woman with a remarkable career in the Women’s Army Corps and a pioneer for women in the army.

    Helen Isabelle Johnston was the daughter of T. George Johnston and Marjorie Shapley. She was born in Delhi in February 1931 and grew up on the Johnston family farm in the Mountain Brook area of Bovina, attending high school in Andes, where she graduated in 1949.

    In January 1952, she entered the U.S. Army in Binghamton. She served in the Women’s Army Corps for almost 30 years with distinction. She completed her basic training in Fort Lee, Virginia. After graduation, she was assigned as an assistant platoon sergeant in the Women’s Army Corps Basic Training Company.

This image of Helen was taken in September 1952 by Delhi photographer Bob Wyer, a few months after she enlisted.

    Helen went overseas in September 1954, working in Munich. In 1957, she came back to the states, working in recruiting in Providence, RI. She went to Albany in 1964 and in 1969 she came to Fort McClellan, Alabama. Helen remained there until 1975. She went back to Germany where she became the first female soldier to assume the position of Command Sergeant Major in an overseas assignment. She returned to For McClellan in 1977, assigned to the 548th Supply and Service Battalion. Helen retired from the army in July 1980.

MG Mary E. Clarke and CSM Helen "Johnnie" Johnston casing the colors on the Women's Army Corps on the parade field at Fort McClellan, AL on 21 March 1979. Photo Credit: US Army Women's Museum

    She received several medals during her time in the Army, including the Legion of Merit Army Commendation Medal, the Good Conduct National Defense Medal and the Occupation Medal. She was active in retirement, supporting such organizations as the Army Women's Museum, the Foundation and Friends of the Army Women's Museum, the League for Animal Welfare, Meals on Wheels, and numerous other charitable organizations. In November 2017, she was the grand marshal of the Calhoun County (Alabama) Veterans Day Parade.

    The U.S. Army Women’s Museum posted a quote from Helen on its Facebook page in December 2015 in which she does mention a major milestone in her career: “It's rather hard to pick one highlight as I had several during 28 plus years of service.  I have picked one so bear with me.  In 1974 when I was at the Sergeants Major Academy I was told I had to be reassigned to either Ft MClellan or Ft Jackson as they were the only places with female CSM slots.  I chose Ft McClellan and much to my surprise, in 1975 I was the first female CSM to be selected for duty in a combat service support unit overseas. I realized then that integration was really on the move.  My tour in Nurnberg was to a large maintenance battalion (1389 mostly male personnel) and the life affirming highlight was that gender did not make a difference as long as I did my job.”

    I may have met her when I was a young adult, but if I did, I don’t recall. But in January 2017, I had a long phone conversation with her. My purpose was to get more information about her brother Allan, who escaped from Nazi occupied France in WWII (see my blog at When I asked, she said she couldn’t tell me much, then proceeded to tell me pretty much the entire dramatic story of her brother’s adventures. It also was during this conversation that she modestly told me a little bit about her army career. As I dug further after our phone call, I learned that her career path was impressive. We had some contact via e-mail and through Facebook over the next few years.

    Command Sergeant Major Johnston’s obituary is at Helen Isabelle Johnston Obituary - Visitation & Funeral Information (

    The Facebook page of the Friends of the Army Women’s Museum Association posted this tribute after Helen’s passing: “Command Sgt. Major Helen ‘Johnnie’ Johnston’s esteemed Army career blazed a trail for many of us to follow. Helen stepped up to the challenges of the integrated Army once the WAC ended and established a high bar for both women and men. Throughout her military career and following it, she mentored, guided and supported other Army women. Following her retirement, she became an active and engaged supporter of the organizations important to her and to so many of us—the WAC Museum and then the U.S. Army Women’s Museum and the Women's Army Corps Veterans Association, Chapter 62-Anniston. Her work has made a difference to women in innumerable ways. She will be greatly missed!”

Monday, January 10, 2022

January 1922 - 100 Years Ago in "That Thriving Town"

Here's what was happening in Bovina 100 years ago this month, as reported in the Andes Recorder:

January 6, 1922

The village school opened Tuesday, after the holiday recess.

Mrs. George Baldwin, Miss Caroline Dickson, C.L. Dickson and Miss Jane Hilson left via Delhi, Tuesday morning for New York City, to resume their different labors.

Dorothy Bergman, the ten-year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Bergman, in upper Bovina, was operated upon at the Delhi hospital last Thursday afternoon for appendicitis.

Charles Boggs has finished his job as cheesemaker at the Bovina Center Co-Operative Creamery and returned to Andes.  Walter Wilson is the new cheese maker.  The company now getting the milk is the Delaware Cheese company.

Bovina Boy in Luck

William H. Irvine of Seattle, Wash. is to leave there about the middle of January for a trip to China, Japan, and the Philippine Islands, going as director of ceremonies for the Shriners, to put on initiations.  He will be away nearly two months and anticipates a fine trip of sight seeing in these foreign countries.  Mr. Irvine is the eldest son of the late John A. Irvine of Bovina. [He was the brother of Isabell Russell.]

January 13, 1922

The ice harvesters have been at work this week filling the creamery ice house.

Bovina had a young blizzard Wednesday and a snowfall of about a foot.  It was piled in drifts.

Miss Louise Dennis had a sale of household goods Tuesday.  After a visit with relatives in Walton she will go to Virginia to live with her brother, John P. Dennis.

January 20, 1922

Hilson Brothers are busy taking their annual inventory.

Fletcher Davidson was at Hamden on Tuesday with C.S. Terry’s household goods.

William C. Russell has sold his farm above the village of his son, Alfred Russell.

Frank Myers, of Endicott, is here papering in the new house of Thos C. Strangeway [This is now the home of Jim and Peg Hilson].

In Bovina Center there is no scramble to be postmaster and it looks as if the office would go begging.

C.S. Terry, who recently sold his interest in the garage at this place, moved to Hamden this week. [This later was the garage of Clayton Thomas, then Wayne Gallant and then Heinz Bernecker.]

Mrs. F.W. Hyatt, who has been at her former home in Yonkers for the past four months, returned home Wednesday.

James Ackerley fell down the cellar stairs at his home in the lower part of the village last Thursday and fractured two ribs.

Mrs. James D. Calhoun and her mother, Mrs. Kate Barnhart, have moved from the latter’s farm up Pink street, to the house recently purchased in the upper part of the village [now the Len and Ann Cairns home].  The son, Wilford Barnhart, has taken the farm.

January 27, 1922

Robert Smith has moved into Will Hoy’s small tenant house.

Born to Mr. and Mrs. Lester Hoy on January 19, a son – William.

Fred Thomson has been tearing down the old Methodist parsonage this week preparatory to erecting a new bungalow. [Note: he remodeled the building but did not tear it down. This is now the home of Chuck and Betty McIntosh.]

Mrs. George Stanton died of tuberculosis January 19, at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Arthur Bergman, in upper Bovina, aged 77 years. Her maiden name was Mary Leal.  She is survived by her husband, two sons and three daughters; also one brother, John Leal, of Delhi, and two sisters, Mrs. Robert Fletcher, of Stamford, and Mrs. Matilda Stoutenburg, of Delhi.  Burial was in the Bovina Center cemetery Monday.