The Bones of David Robinson

The Bones of David Robinson

Somewhere in the lush countryside above Cayuga Lake lie the bones of a Revolutionary New_York_In_The_Revolution_2nd_ed_1898 David Robinson_Page_1Way soldier, David Robinson (1740-1823) my paternal 5x great grandfather and his wife, Polly Raynor (1751-1824). They came to Lansing, Tompkins County from Suffolk County (Long Island) around 1790. With them they brought their children including my 4x great grandmother, Jerusha.

Within a few months, Jerusha had met young widower John Bowker who had migrated from Ulster County with his brothers Noah and Joseph and settled in Lansing.   John and Jerusha married and had twelve children – all who survived to adulthood and provided them with many children and grandchildren. At the time of their deaths they had 140 children, grandchildren and great grandchildren which included their son Jonathan, my 3x great grandfather.

Like Jerusha’s parents, there are no records of her burial nor John’s, but the lots of the Robinson and Bowker land ownership are well documented and as tradition has it, they are most likely buried on their own property.   Subsequent generations are buried in Miller Cemetery on Breed Road and others in Groton Rural Cemetery in Groton

When I was asked *where* my Revolutionary War ancestor David Robinson and his wife Polly may be buried, I could only reply that I had found no recorded burials. That said, their daughters Juliana and Elizabeth are recorded as being buried in the ‘inactive’ Lane or Ostrander Farm Cemetery in North Lansing with their husbands, Henry Carter and Daniel Lane.  The supposed site is located on property previously owned by Orry Ostrander that most likely bordered the West Groton/Locke Roads and Breed Road in North Lansing.

Here are interesting notes that historians made that may explain why no Robinson burials have been recorded.

“From the notes of Dorothy Ostrander, past Town of Groton Historian, the first two headstones in this record “…are the only two stones found in what used to be a large cemetery on the present Orry Ostrander farm. They say the cemetery once covered 7 acres. Many stones were removed and used as the foundation in part of the barn. Also, when Orry Ostrander decided to move his sidewalk one day, he found the stones to be gravestones too. All that remains of the cemetery itself is a brushy area with a couple trees approximately 12′ by 25′ and the two stones above although there may be more stones buried under the rubble that has been dumped there (stones off the plowed field) over the years. Headstones have been recorded as read to include misspelling.”
The next 8 headstone inscriptions in this record are from the stones that were used as the sidewalk at the Orry Ostrander farm.

Four of those eight stones belong to the Robinson’s two daughters, Elizabeth and Juliana and their husbands, Henry Carter and Daniel Lane.

From the notes of Isabelle Parish, past Town of Lansing Historian, “People removed all the stones from this cemetery and they were standing beside a garage by one of the houses on the road. The cemetery itself is in one of the fields; unsure which one.
Written August 18, 1953 by S. Haring and I. Parish: Back of the house now owned by Orrie Ostrander on Locke Road, just east of where the new road to Locke turns north-east. We were told there were no stones left where the cemetery was. Mr. Ostrander found many in the barn wall when he moved there some twenty years ago. There were perhaps 25 gravestones.”
Taken from the local history book, North Lansing’s Remembrance of Things Past, “The Lane Cemetery: Two acres surrounded by a large iron fence about one half mile back from Breed Road constitutes the Lane Cemetery. Many of the headstones from the cemetery were used in the foundation of the barn which is still standing on the Orry Ostrander farm. Most of the rest of them were used in a sidewalk which leads from the front porch to the edge of the driveway, then from the other side on the lawn to an old well. In 1960, there were only two head stones still standing. They are in a field at the top of the hill standing under a large old hickory nut tree. It is said that Mr. Lane was the first person who owned the land. Then John Buckley bought the farm from Lane. The government then bought the land from Mr. Buckley. Mr. Orry Ostrander who still owns the farm, bought it from the government in 1938.”

Chances are that David and Polly Raynor Robinson’s headstones are part of the foundation of a barn or were part of the pile of rubble mentioned in 1953 by Haring and Parish.

Time for a field trip with the assist of the Lansing historian and perhaps an archaeological dig.

Deborah J. Martin-Plugh

Author, Historian and Genealogical Researcher

© Copyright 2018. All Rights Reserved.


Written in Ink. Not Stone.

Confirmation with a bit of mystery…isn’t that always the way?

Analyzing evidence is an art as much as it is a science.  Not every thing is a slam dunk because we are always dealing with information provided by human beings.  Information with bias or best guess affected by faulty memory.  And then there is the challenge of reading unfamiliar handwriting.  Graphologists nod here!

I just received two death certificates from New York State in today’s mail….for my paternal 3rd great grandparents, Jonathan Bowker (1798-1891) and his wife Emeline Powers Bowker (1806-1888) of Lansing, Tompkins County, NY.  Through past research I pretty much proved my Bowker and Powers lineage, but since the Bowkers died after New York State began to require death certificates, I thought it worth spending the $22 each to secure an official document.    Names.  Check.  Dates.  Check.  Places…almost check.    And parents…Check with a mystery.

Jonathan’s father, John Bowker (1771-1855),  was purported to be born in Ulster County, New York, but his son’s death certificate states his father’s birthplace was “Mass”.   Both make sense as John’s father and mother (Silas Bowker and Esther Hobbs) were from Massachusetts and migrated to Ulster County where Silas was a scout in the Revolutionary War.   So…this is one of those toss of the coin at this point.

As for Emeline’s death certificate…everything checks out with my research evidence.  Except I cannot read the handwriting that states her mother’s first name.  My research shows that her mother was Ruth Roberts, second wife of Jacob Powers.  And everything points to it.  Jacob’s first wife, Rhoba Tabor, bore him ten children, but she died in 1804 and is buried in Sharon, Connecticut.  He then married Ruth and fathered at least five children with her…including Emeline. Emeline Powers Bowker DC Crop

But! (isn’t there ALWAYS a ‘but’) Emeline’s death certificate isn’t clear and it even looks like it says “Phebe” which I know isn’t right…could it say Rhoba?  Ruth?…it just doesn’t look like it.  Not even close and I am pretty good at this.  I take into account that my 2nd great grandmother, Sarah D. Bowker Case Johnson, cared for them in their elder years in her home and so I assume she would know these family details.  But then…could Phebe be Ruth’s real name and she chose Ruth as her ‘familiar’ name?  After all, the Powers were Palatine immigrants to the Hudson Valley who were originally Pauer.  Her grandfather was Joest Power with no “s” and he was often called Justus in Dutchess County records.  Or could the good doctor have interviewed Sarah and in the midst of the bureaucratic necessity of paperwork forgotten and guessed a name to get the chore done and over?

As line number 10 reminds us…

I hereby report this Death, and certify that the foregoing statements are true according to the best of my knowledge.  (signed by George Beckwith, M.D.)

Oh my…a genealogist’s challenge….but then we love a challenge, don’t we???

To keep my sense of humor and stay on track, I bow to Mark Twain.

The very ink with which history is written is merely fluid prejudice.

Deborah Martin-Plugh

Author, Historian and Genealogical Researcher

(c) Copyright 2014.  All Rights Reserved


The Powers That Be

A Note to My Readers: It’s January and research for this Northeasterner revolves heavily around reading and analyzing and organizing the work….with some networking via emails thrown in to broaden my knowledge and my ‘helper’ base.  Most of us have a brick wall or two…or seven…and we all have those TBD (to be determined) lines to pursue.  

For the longest time I had the information that my 3rd great grandmother, Emeline Power Bowker (1806-1888), was born in Dutchess County.  The longest time.  It took the availability of some books online to help me trace her parents,  Ruth Roberts and her husband, Jacob Power, from Groton, Tompkins, New York back to Amenia, Dutchess, New York.  “The Powers Family of Dutchess County” compiled by descendant Benjamin Mather Powers and published in 1968 was the first break.  It was based upon the work of Alfred Le Grand Powers (1847-1933) of Preston, Chenango, New York who began the work about 1890 and collaborated with Benjamin to publish the small and obscure monograph on the Joest Power family history.  Along with the pedigree breakdown, background information..small biographies and the etymology of the family name from the southern German root of  Pauer/Bauer to the anglicized Power and to Powers…straightened the research path.

And so I am back in Dutchess County (reading) researching my ancestors…what’s with the Hudson Valley and my roots? I find myself back there so often almost like being pulled by an invisible force.  This time it is to document my 5th great grandfather, Palatinate immigrant John Joest (YOST) Power who came to Rhinebeck in 1752 from Berenbach, Germany where he was a linen weaver.  The 21 year old man overcame hardship along with his indomitable mother who was widowed when Joest was young during the tumult of religious, political and economic upheaval in their region known as the Palatinate.  It was told that his mother, Elizabeth Appolonia  went without in order to educate her children and provide them with the tools to better their lives.  Joest learned resourcefulness from Elizabeth and with her assistance paid for his passage to the New World in full instead of as a “Redemptioner” (one who sold his services for a certain number years in return for free passage).

First settling in Rhinebeck, Dutchess, New York, Joest met and married Elizabeth Maul, daughter of Jacob Maul and Dorothea Trombauer.

The place (Rhinebeck) was on the Hudson River and among its settlers were many German families, including a few from the Palatinate.  In 1757 or 1758 Joest married Elizabeth, a daughter of Jacob Mowl, Sr., a man of considerable property for an emigrant to the new land.  Having paid for his passage, Joest had but little left, and so we find that when he landed in his new home his material capital consisted of a mattock (a digging tool) and a grubbing hoe.

Eventually Joest and Elizabeth moved their family to Amenia where he “bought a small farm about two miles from the present village of Amenia, then merely a crossroads with a few buildings.”   He and Elizabeth were noted for their ‘tireless energy and efficient labors.”

She was a worthy helpmeet (sic) and much of the family fortune was due to her ability as a spinner in the manufacture of cloth for sale.  It is said that she was one of the few who were able to run two flax wheels at the same time, one with the right and the other with the left hand.

A critical bond for the immigrants revolved around their faith.  As I read through the Dutch Reformed Church records during those early days of settlement in New York,  many members were Mauls and Trombauers and Powers.  Marriage and baptismal records further defined the family names, dates and places.

Joest died in 1794 after exhausting himself caring for his son, John’s family and toiling on his little farm.  In the summer of 1794 Yellow Fever had spread along the Hudson River.

The neighbors care for the sick by day while Joest worked in the hay field.  He cared for the sick at night until about the time the two began to convalesce when he found himself coming down with the disease.   He started on foot for Amenia, distance about twenty miles.  He reached there in life but died soon thereafter.  This was September 15, 1794.

Many of his descendants have inherited some measure of his ability unflinchingly to bear pain and to work under the greatest of difficulties.  None of them, however, have possessed it to the degree of this one of their forefathers.

Joest and his wife Elizabeth are buried in the old Amenia Burying

Joest Power stele.  Amenia Burying Grounds

Joest Power stele. Amenia Burying Grounds

Grounds and their monuments still stand.

The Mauls and the Powers were Revolutionary War patriots signing the 1775 Articles of Association and providing goods and services to the Continental Army and records exist that indicate the families’ political leanings and indeed their commitment to the cause.  Jacob was only 16 years old when he signed his name.  Shortly after the young man declared his commitment with his signature, his father, Joest added his name to the document.

Harlem Valley Times 9 Sep 1926

Harlem Valley Times 9 Sep 1926

Joest and his son, Jacob Power (my fifth and fourth great grandfathers respectively) are well documented in Amenia, New York history. Today I found that Jacob’s name was listed as a Revolutionary War soldier on a memorial erected in Amenia in the  mid 1920’s.  Around 1807 Jacob had moved to the eastern shore of Cayuga Lake.  When he could apply for a military pension in 1833, he was 73 years old and his old friends in Amenia were long gone to corroborate his service. His pension was denied.

Ironically, today I find all manner of information on Jacob’s service…including anecdotal stories of him at 16 acting as a teamster…driving through British lines and challenging Tories feigning ‘simpleness’ when challenged. He was a good actor and very youthful in appearance and was never held so supplies made it through to Continental Army stores because of his pluck.

A “must stop” in spring of 2014 is Amenia to see if the monument still stands. I find references to Fountain Square Veteran’s Memorial, but it appears it is a more recent installation…circa 1991. Perhaps some of the original memorial remains. I hope so.

It’s the least a grateful nation could do for Jacob, a sixteen year old young man who took up the cause for independence and alone except for his own team of horses and a wagon full of supplies and at times Continental soldiers, risked it all with great courage and spirit.

Deborah Martin-Plugh

Author, Historian and Genealogical Researcher

(c) Copyright 2014.  All Rights Reserved