“One day last week James B. Robinson who occupies the late James J. Gross farm in the southwestern part of the town, went to Fox Ridge, where he bought a pair of steers, driving them to Auburn, a distance of fourteen miles in one day, and the next day driving them home, where he is now using them in plowing and doing other farm work. His journey through Auburn attracted much attention, a yoke of cattle being a rare sight these days in city streets, or farm roads, either. Mr. Robinson is nearly 84 years old, but is a vigorous and active man.”
Auburnians F. D. Burleigh and his wife Clara L. Stockwell wrote a letter home to her father recounting their ordeal in San Francisco having survived the great earthquake.
“We escaped San Francisco yesterday with what little baggage we could carry by hand. Last night we were taken in temporarily by acquaintances here and are trying to find a way to reach Los Angeles. Dean and Mr. Pyre represent a company with $35, 000, 000 in capital but cannot get in communication with them and we are almost penniless. Oakland banks are all closed, fearing a run, and no one here seems to be able to give us any help financially. If we can reach Los Angeles, money and telegraphic communications will be easier to obtain we hope. And, too, smallpox has broken out in San Francisco, it will soon be quarantined and in that case this place will be infected, too. The fire is out and our flat was saved.”
Mrs. Burleigh tells that the fire did not damage their household goods but she lost a valuable watch at a jeweler’s. Continuing she says: “The weather has turned cold and the suffering and sickness will no doubt be doubled. We have cause to be grateful that our lives were spared and our household goods saved. But no one who was not there can ever get even the faintest idea of the horror of the hours since 5:15 last Wednesday morning. I have to stop and study before I can name a day that anything happened, for every hour seemed a day and ever day was nameless.”
Her letter told of fear and death and desolation during those first dreadful hours. “The house rocked back and forth and rose and sank all at once, together with an awful roaring and rambling and the noise of falling bricks and breaking crockery. I got to the door just as soon as the floor was quiet enough to let me walk and by even that time the first column of smoke was rising in the south. Little did we think that it was signal of a horror worse than the earthquake.”
“Thousands camped as thick as grass blades with no shelter except some kind devised from their small store of baggage; women fainting in the road and carried by the loads to the United States hospital.”
Amidst the charming tale of cattle being driven down Genesee Street and the harrowing recount of Mrs. Burleigh’s earthquake experience in the May 15th Auburn Semi-Weekly Journal, sits the brief death notice of my 87 year old, great great grandfather, Daniel J. Jennings.
“JENNINGS – At the residence of his daughter Mrs. John J. Trowbridge, East Orange, N.J., Thursday, May 10, 1906. Daniel Jennings (formerly of Auburn) in the 87th year of his age. Remains will arrive in Auburn via N.Y.C & H. R. R. Sunday morning, May 14 at 6:46 o’clock. Funeral services at the residence of his son, W. H. Jennings, No 9 Easterly avenue, in the afternoon at 3:00 o’clock. Burial at North Street Cemetery.”
A Note to My Readers: Life is a constantly moving stream of events. Large and small. Comical and quaint. Devastating and Tragic. Reading old newspapers -front to back- illustrates that fact like no other experience. In Daniel’s hometown of Auburn, the excitement of old Jim Robinson’s cattle drive through town…kicking up dust and causing a ruckus…made as newsworthy an event as did the complete destruction of one of the nation’s largest cities. Within all of that drama an old man’s body made its way home to be lifted from the train and carried by horse and wagon to North Street Cemetery where the Jennings laid him to rest with only a hymn disturbing the air to mark the occasion.
Deborah J. Martin-Plugh
Author, Contributing Writer and Genealogical Researcher
After finishing up a couple of large research projects, I needed a break so I took a ‘road less traveled’. My research on my Purdy family only solidly goes back to my 3x great grandfather, Lewis Purdy (1790-1875) of Tompkins County, New York. His parentage is currently a mystery and other than New York stated in each Federal Census – exact place of birth is unknown. To complicate things…or maybe to simplify them….there are many Purdys in Enfield and surrounds and they all seem to have come from Westchester County, New York. Are they all related? Very likely. When I have researched in Enfield, the locals perk up when I inquire about the Purdys. They invariably have stories about all of them and their kin. Except Lewis. Untangling the familial knots to find Lewis’ parents are going to be a chore. Perhaps instead of the Gordian knot…I will call it the Purdy (Purdian?) knot.
When Lewis’ first wife Rachel died in 1839 in Enfield, New York, they had three living children (and maybe five)…including my 2x great grandfather, Samuel D. Purdy (21), his brother Andrew Brown Purdy (16) and sister Malinda Purdy Drake (22). I began with Samuel and my family records. The 1867 family bible. What my family knew. That seems to be where we all begin the research. Then on to the public records, historical publications and newspapers. Lewis died in 1875 before New York State required death certificates, but his death was recorded in the Ithaca Daily Journal. It was pretty sparse…no biography and only the mention of my 2x great grandfather.
” Mr. LewisPurdy, father of S. D. Purdy of Enfield Centre, aged upwards of 85 years, was found dead in his bed yesterday morning. He had been ailing slightly with a cold for a few days, but retired as well as usual.”
Malinda Purdy Drake died in 1874 and like her father, there would be no New York State death certificate. If there is any clue to Lewis in her descendants’ lore, they would have been passed down through her son, Francis Edgar Drake. Her other son, Andrew Oscar Drake has no descendants. Malinda, like her half brother, Lewis, is buried in Trumbulls Corner Cemetery in Newfield. As of now, no news from this line that migrated to Kansas after his mother’s passing. Their online research shows no parents listed for her. Perhaps they have no records to prove her parents. Patience.
Samuel D. Purdy seemed to be in charge of his aging father and if there had been any knowledge of Lewis’ information, he took it with him when he died in 1898. His death certificate confirms his parents as Lewis and Rachel Purdy. His son, Elbert Purdy (my great grandfather) had died in 1888 and my great grandmother had remarried and moved to Ithaca. The Purdy-Williams 1867 marriage bible contains a clipping of Samuel’s obituary from the Ithaca Journal neatly attached next to his son’s 1888 obituary.
SAMUEL D. PURDY On July 23, 1898, as the sun was setting in the west, there passed from among us, the life of one of our most useful, and esteemed citizens, Samuel D. Purdy, of Enfield Center, aged 79 years. He leaves to mourn his loss a widow (second wife Mary McCoy Ink), one daughter, Mrs. Horace Russell (Mary), of Ithaca, and one brother, A.B. (Andrew B.) Purdy, of Brooklyn, N.Y. Mr. S.D. Purdy died nearly upon the spot where he was born; he spent nearly every day of his life in Tompkins Co., where his character as an upright, hones business man is well known, in his various pursuits as a builder, merchant and farmer. No one ever suffered any loss in dealing with him. He has reached the end of his journey, and we how most deeply feel his loss, believe he has passed through the gates and is at rest in the eternal city. Therefore we are willing to leave him in the hands of one who doeth all things well. The funeral was largely attended at his late home in Enfield, July 26, 1898.
ANDREW BROWN PURDY (1823-1907) married Malissa Ann Drake of Newfield and had one child – a daughter, Olive. They left Enfield, Tompkins county, New York and made their home in Brooklyn, Kings county, New York where Andrew plied his trade as a carpenter. After Malissa’s death in 1854, Andrew remarried and he and his second wife Mary carried on life in Brooklyn with Olive. When Andrew was once again widowed, he brought his half sister Lois Purdy into his household to help care for Olive while he pursued his new occupation as Superintendent in Providence, Rhode Island Water Works. Andrew married one more time in Providence, but his wife Priscilla Renouf and daughter died as a result of a difficult birth. Olive and Andrew stayed in Providence where Olive met and married Henry Blatchford in 1874. The Blatchfords and Andrew returned to the Purdy home on Lafayette in Bedford-Stuyvesant (Brooklyn) where daughter and only child Stella was born. Eventually the extended family moved to a lovely brick four story home at 178 Columbia Heights. When his brother, Samuel died in 1898, Andrew made the journey to Enfield to attend his brother’s services as reported in the Ithaca Daily News.
In 1907 Andrew died in his daughter’s home at the age of 83. His death certificate states he was born in Hector, New York and his father was Lewis Purdy born in New York State. Mother unknown. The “B” was declared to be “Brown”…perhaps his mother’s maiden name? Stella grew up in Brooklyn ‘high society’ and the Blatchford home was constantly filled with music and the arts. When Stella died in 1948 in her Columbia Heights home, she had never married and had no children.
The Half Siblings
Within months of Rachel’s passing, Lewis had married a young woman 26 years his junior, Sarah Jane Kellogg. Their first born, a son, Lewis Purdy, Jr., was born in 1840. Lewis fathered eight children with Sarah Jane while he was in his fifties and while the couple were living in Newfield. One son and seven daughters.
In 1863 Lewis was widowed once again and left with several young daughters to raise. Lewis, Jr. (1840-1923), was fighting in the Civil War and when he returned home, he married another Newfield resident, Olive Sholes. Lewis and Olive had three children…none who survived childhood. Eventually Lewis and Olive moved to Van Etten where he owned a farm. Lewis, Olive and their little ones are all buried in Trumbulls Corners Cemetery in Newfield. With no descendants of Lewis and Olive to pursue, the chase was left to his sisters.
The Purdy sisters were dispersed among local residents as domestic servants.
Harriet Purdy (1842-1911) first married William Lyman Leonard and lived in Newfield where she gave birth to her only child, Estella Josephine Leonard in 1864. By 1880 Harriet was alone and Estella was working as a domestic for the Harding family in Ithaca. In 1890 Harriet remarried to Washington Newberry who was 27 years her senior and relocated to Liberty, Tioga county, Pennsylvania. Harriet died in Manhattan and is buried in Fairview Cemetery in Bergen county, New Jersey. Estella had married Dr. August Hassloch in 1893 and settled in Brooklyn. The couple had no children. Estella died in 1934 and is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Brooklyn. Harriet’s obituary in the Elmira, N.Y Star Gazette reads
She Was Widow Liberty Resident
Ithaca – Jan. 6. – (Special) – Mrs. Harriet Newbury, widow of the late Washington Newbury of Liberty, Tioga county, Pennsylvania, died at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Estella Hassloch, on December 27. Funeral services were held at her late residence on Friday, December 29. Interment at Fairview cemetery, Fairview, Bergen county, N.J.
Mrs. Newbury was born at Trumbull’s Corners, September 26, 1842; was a daughter of Louis Purdy and had many relatives and friends in Trumbull’s Corners and Ithaca.
Lois Purdy‘s (1846-1935) movements gave me the first clue in my search for the fate of the young girls. Lois first went to live in Enfield with her elder half sister, Malinda, wife of William Drake and then later she was sent to Brooklyn with her elder half brother, Andrew Brown Purdy, where in 1869, at age 23, she met and married her husband Truman Frear Wicker and moved to Wisconsin. Lois and Truman had one child, Olive Wicker, probably named after her niece – the daughter of Andrew B. Purdy. Olive married Louis E. Nigh in Wisconsin and had one child, Stephen Wicker Nigh. Stephen married Mary E. Gustin and the couple had one son, Stephen Wicker Nigh, Jr. and one daughter, Barbara Mae Nigh (Greenway). Since Lois was cared for by her elder half siblings, did SHE know Lewis’ parents. Or his first wife’s maiden name? Lois and Truman Wicker are buried in Union Cemetery in Campbellsport, Wisconsin.
Former Residents Answer Call
Mrs. Lois Wicker, widow of the late T. F. Wicker, died at the home of her son-in-law, L. E. Nigh, at North Lake, Sunday, Nov. 17, after an illness of several weeks duration.
Lois Purdy was born in Tompkins county, New York, in 1846, and was married to Truman F. Wicker Oct. 19, 1869, and came directly to Wisconsin, settling in Barton. They came to Campbellsprt in 1870 and resided in this vicinity until 1914 when they left to make their home with their daughter, Mrs. L. E. Nigh, who passed away March 4, 1932. Mr. Wicker, died July 22, 1922.
She is survived by her son-in-law, L. E. Nigh of North Lake, a grandson, Wicker S. Nigh, Jr. of Wautoma, two sisters, Mrs. Ida Matteson of Fairmont, Nebr., and Mrs. Elizabeth Krege (sp) of Ithaca, N.Y.
Campbellsport News. Thursday, November 21, 1935
Margaret Purdy (1849-1932)…”Maggie” worked for Lyman Hughley in Hector for several years before moving to Wisconsin near her sister Lois and in 1878 marrying Oliver Hendricks. They had two children: Grace Effie Hendricks (A. Fred Schmidt) and Ray Andrew Hendricks. Grace had no children that I can find and her brother married and had one son, Oliver. Oliver has living children. Do THEY know their Purdy roots? Margaret and Oliver Hendricks are buried in Union Cemetery in Campbellsport, Wisconsin. Her obituary in the Campbellsport News reads
Mrs. Margaret Hendricks, widow of O. G. Hendricks, 83, died at the home of her daughter, Mr. A. F. Schmidt, at 1:35 Friday morning, December 23, after a lingering illness.
Margaret Purdy was born in Tompkins County, New York, February 28, 1849, and came to Wisconsin in 1876. She was married to Oliver G. Hendricks on January 31, 1878. Mr. Hendricks passed away July 9, 1929.
Besides her daughter, Mrs. Henricks leaves on son, Ray A. Hendricks, a grandson, Oliver G. Hendricks, and three sisters, Mrs. Lois Wicker of North Lake, Wis., Mrs. Elizabeth Kresge of Ithaca, N. Y., and Mrs. Ida Matteson of Fairmont, Nebr.
Ida May Purdy (1856- 1938) worked for Levi Potts in Newfield for several years before she went to live with Lois and Truman in Wisconsin and in 1875 married Wisconsin native Clark H. Matteson. She and Clark moved to Nebraska and had four children: Dee, Glenn, Edna and Aurilla. Only Glenn and Aurilla lived to adulthood. Glenn Matteson was married twice. The first Mrs. Matteson was Myrtle Walters. Glen and Myrtle had two children – Floyd Rolland and Francis Wilburn Matteson. Myrtle died in 1918. The following year Glenn married Mabel Benson and the couple had no children. Aurilla Matteson married Clifford W. Geyer in Nebraska and the couple had five children – Alma Mae Geyer (Carl R. Ryan), Doris Ruth Geyer (1.Edgar A. Allen;2.Henry L. Aumiller), Iva June Geyer (Walter E. Scheel), Ruby Lee Geyer (George Alfred Brinton), Norman D. Geyer. Ida May and Clark Matteson are buried in Fairmont Cemetery in Fairmont, Nebraska.
Zilla Purdy (1851-?) went to work for the Reverend Rumsey in Enfield and after 1870 is unaccounted for. Her sister, Lucy Purdy (1854-?) who was just nine at her mother’s death remains unaccounted for.
The youngest, Sarah Elizabeth (Libbie)Purdy (1859-1944), was adopted by Enfield residents Benjamin and Betsey Hungerford. She remained in the Ithaca area and married Jonas Kresga and had three children, Vosco, Guida and Reo. Vosco and Guida both died as young children and her son, Reo De Forest Kresge died in 1938 after a life plagued with illness (probably tuberculosis). He and his wife, Alice Loveless never had children. In 1944 when Elizabeth died, she was the last of the surviving Purdy children. She and her family are buried in Trumbulls Corners Cemetery in Newfield. Her funeral notice in the Ithaca Journal reads
Mrs. Elizabeth Kresge of 110 Hyers St., died early today, Mar. 31, 1944. Her only survivor is a daughter-in-law, Mrs. Reo Kresge of Ithaca.
Funeral Services will be conductd at 3 p.m. Sunday, Apr. 2, in the Baldwin -Davis Funeral Home, 421 N. Aurora St., by the Rev. Henry G. Budd, pastor of the First Methodist Church, of which she was a member.
Interment will be in Trumbulls Corners.
What is interesting is that despite the far flung destinies of the Purdy sisters, they kept in touch as their obituaries reported the surviving sisters- Lois, Ida May, Margaret and Elizabeth…three to the midwest and one left behind amidst other Purdys of Tompkins County. Did my mother know Elizabeth Purdy Kresga? Libbie as she was called by friends and family had been called Libbie Hungerford most of her life, but she KNEW her true name. And her sisters. Did she seek other Purdys in Ithaca and surrounds. Like me. To ask about Lewis?
So…now that we have run the gamut of Lewis’ second family and examining their records, no mention except for their enumeration as a family in Newfield in the 1860 Federal Census, is made of their father or mother…except for Maggie. Her Wisconsin records indicated she was born in Tompkins County and her father was…ta dah….Lewis and mother Sarah Jane…and Maggie’s maiden name was Purdy. Once I found that little tidbit, I was able to track down Ida, Lois and Elizabeth. Thank goodness, the sisters remained in touch. A social note in the November 26, 1896 Ithaca Daily News reports
Mrs. T. F. Wicker of Campbellsport, Wis. who has been visiting Mrs. H. Russell left this morning for New York.
Mrs. T. F. Wicker…Lois Purdy is visiting Mrs. H. Russell – Mary Purdy (Horace Russell), the sister of my great grandfather Elbert Purdy and Lois’ cousin. She left for New York so most likely she is going to Brooklyn to visit Andrew Brown Purdy, her half brother.
Where does this leave me with their father Lewis Purdy? Back to the drawing board in Enfield and Newfield. Lois was also a key relational component because she lived with her half sister Malinda Purdy Drake and then her half brother Andrew before she married and went off to Wisconsin. How much did the young women know about their father and their Purdy family? Their Aunt Malinda Purdy Drake died in 1874 and like Lewis, Jr. and his family…are buried in Trumbulls Corners Cemetery. As is Elizabeth “Libbie” Purdy Kresga and her children. Their Uncle Andrew died in Brooklyn in 1907 and I have his death certificate naming Lewis and Rachel Purdy as his parents. My 2x great grandfather Samuel D. Purdy died in Enfield in 1898 and I have his death certificate. Same data. Through the research journey, the family circle kept bringing me back to the shores of Cayuga Lake and Lewis Purdy. His name. His age. His birth place -New York State. His land ownership. His wives. His children. His death. So much information and yet, still I am missing THE piece of the puzzle. My analysis worksheet is nicely tied together and the evidence well documented and I suppose I should feel quite happy with finding the Purdy girls, but as any genealogical researcher can attest….THE quest continues!
Special Note: If you feel dizzy after all of this, take some comfort in the fact that as the hapless researcher in this project, I had to create an analysis report to keep track of all of the clues and where they lead me. Many times it resembled circles upon circles! And I still have NO idea who Lewis’ parents are. Be brave!
My family has long had a love affair with dogs. In fact, my great grandfather’s brother, Henry Eugene Curtis, Jr. was ferocious about his pup.
In September of 1879 it got him into a lot of hot water when a fellow Cayugan (NY) threatened the dog. Henry punched him so hard, the man went down like a ton of bricks. In fact, it was a prominent new story in the local paper.
“John Heifer, of Cayuga, a middle-aged man and one of the witnesses in the late church trial at that place, received a severe drubbing at the hands of Henry Curtis, Friday. The fracas occurred near the home of the latter and resulted from a chain of circumstances of which the seemingly harmless questions, ‘will your dog bite?’ was one of the links. It is alleged that Curtis, whose name was extensively used in connection with the unproved scandal of this trial, was deeply incensed against those who sought to defame his character, and that Heifer was one of the more prominent witnesses pressed forward to bring about this result. Like all similar questions, this one has two sides and the action is both eulogized and severely condemned by members of the community who are thoroughly conversant with the details of the scandal and the resulting fracas. The story told by Curtis is to the effect that Heifer while passing the Curtis property asked him if his dog, which was near, would bite. To this he replied his insistence that he hoped not, such a creature as he was. That thereupon Hiefer called Curtis insulting names and struck him, or at least struck at him. This so has libeled the latter that he dealt Heifer a blow. In the melee which resulted Heifer was badly pumelled (sic). The other version is that when Heifer asked the question in regard to the dog Curtis responded by calling the latter an opprobrious name and immediately followed it up with an attack on Heifer’s person. It is reported that a warrant has been issued for the arrest of Curtis. The matter is the leading topic of conversation in Cayuga. No matter what the provocations, such occurrences ceased fail to produce a demoralizing effect on the community which tolerated them and they are sincerely to be regretted. In addition to this, the peace and order loving position of the community have a right to be protected and they should trust upon entire measures being taken to insure against a reoccurence of such demonstrations – no matter who may be the offender.”
BTW… Henry was not held at fault and remained one of the Village of Cayuga’s most popular citizens.
And the dog? Well, if the portrait is any indication…he appears to be that good creature Henry held him to be.
7uA Note to My Readers: Researching my Quaker roots has been a beautiful and enriching experience. The last practicing Quaker in my family is Phoebe Howe Titus Crissey Durkee (1813-1898), the sister of my maternal 3x great grandmother, Lydia H. Titus Downing Coapman (1810-1874). Both sisters were members of the Scipio Meeting having transferred from the Bulls Head Meeting in La Grange, Dutchess County, New York. Lydia’s life as Quaker was defined by the recordings in the meeting minutes. When she remarried out of the membership after being widowed, she was declared MOU…as was her sister when she, too, remarried out the Quaker faith. Both sisters were reinstated and that lead me to believe how devoted to their faith they each were. Beyond assumption was the testimony of Phoebe’s life in her obituary and her will.
Phoebe Howes Titus (1813-1898) is the sister of my 3x great grandmother Lydia H. Titus (1810-1874). Phoebe was the youngest of nine children of Dutchess County Quakers Gilbert Titus (1765-1847) and Jane Hoag (1772-1849) – Anna, Naomi, Daniel D., David Sands, John H., Sarah, Lydia H. and Jane.
Like Daniel, David, Sarah and Lydia and their parents, Phoebe migrated to the northeastern shore of Cayuga Lake, married and settled down to raise a family.
In 1839 Phoebe married Alexander Crissey in the Village of Cayuga and in 1841 their son Isaac Orlando Crissey was born. Phoebe was widowed that same year when Alexander died. He was buried in the old Quaker Cemetery in Union Springs. Alexander and Phoebe Crissey were members of the Scipio Meeting.
When Phoebe remarried a few years later, she was noted in the Scipio Meeting Minutes as MOU. Married out of Unity.
Durkee Phebe ack Scipio mou (married out of unity) formerly Crissey.
However, in 1850 the Scipio Meeting Minutes report her as “mbr” member.
Durkee Phebe mbr Scipio Friend
LIFE ON THE CRISSEY FARM
Norman and Phoebe worked the Crissey farm until 1858 when she put the Springport Farm up for sale.
A SPRINGPORT FARM FOR SALE
THE SUBSCRIBERS OFFER FOR SALE
the well known CRISSEY FARM situated on the east shore of Cayuga Lake, two miles south of the village of Union Springs. Better buildings, more beautiful location or a better Farm in not in Cayuga County – A never-failing Spring of Pure Cold Water jets from a passtock? [illegible] in the Kitchen. The Spring also waters the Farm, and supplies an Artificial Fish Pond. It is also first Fruit Farm. The House is of brick, and its commanding location cannot fail to interest the attention of travelers by Steam Boat. The Farm contains 160 acres. Payments made to suit the purchaser. – Dated Springport, Oct. 18, 1858.
PHEBE DURKEE, Executrix
BENJ. F. COMSTOCK, Executor
As yet, I found no records of a completed sale, but the pair remained in Springport and in the 1855 census, Phoebe states she has lived there for 16 years. It appears there was no sale after all. In 1860 Norman is head of household and listed as the owner of the farm and its impressive value is $7000. It is also likely that the Crissey farm was held in trust for her son, Isaac and Norman’s enumeration was just traditional male assumption. Phoebe’s sister Lydia had been widowed in 1839 when Obadiah J. Downing died and her brother David Sands Titus became the executor and trustee of his estate. When Lydia remarried, Obadiah’s estate remained in trust for their children. This is probably the case for Phoebe.
Isaac Crissey was a bright young man and in 1859 launched his own newspaper “The Casket of Gems” which he wrote on the farm and had printed in Auburn, New York. He had an impressive education studying at the Cayuga Lake Seminary in Aurora and continued his newspaper career publishing “The Cayuga Lake Recorder”. His editorials were increasingly political as the period before the Civil War became more heated. A staunch supporter of William Seward, he was disappointed when Lincoln won the candidacy for president. He enthusiastically took up support for Lincoln and attended the inauguration in Washington, D. C on March 4, 1861 and considering that war was inevitable, wrote a passionate editorial
“Let the people of this great nation take courage – we have a great president.”
No doubt he was influenced by his uncle David Sands Titus who was a personal friend of Mr. Seward and a staunch Lincoln supporter.
Norman and Phoebe had three daughters, all who died in their youth. By 1865 Norman was dead and her son Isaac was a married young man living in Buffalo, New York. Phoebe and her daughter, Isabella were left to the lovely farm on the eastern shore of Cayuga Lake. Tragedy struck in 1868 and Isabella “Belle” died at the age of 20. Alone at the age of 55, Phoebe packed up her belongings, left Union Springs and went to live with Isaac and his wife Harriet Simmons and their three daughters – Netta, Louise and Laura in Buffalo, New York.
A LIFE IN BUFFALO
Phoebe continued to live a devoted Quaker life and was well known for her piety by her Buffalo neighbors. Her home in Buffalo in 1869 was her own and located at 275 Ninth Street and her property was valued at $2000. By 1873 Phoebe is listed as living at 275 Prospect Street in the directory and it is designated as “h” for home…not “b” for boarding so perhaps the street was renamed during that period of time.
The last of the Titus siblings, Phoebe provided a unique glimpse into her life on the eastern shore of Cayuga Lake and her devotion to her faith as practicing Quaker. Her obituary reports that she was found dead in her home kneeling at prayer.
DIED IN PRAYER
PEACEFUL END CAME TO MRS. PHOEBE H. DURKEE OF PROSPECT AVENUE.
Mrs. Phoebe H. Durkee, 86 years old, of No. 275 Prospect Avenue, was found dead yesterday morning, kneeling at the side of her bed. She was the mother of Isaac O. Crissey, former Police Commissioner, and now an examiner under the State Board of Regents.
Mrs. Durkee lived alone. Her son had lived with her up to the time of his appointment under the State Board of Regents, when he found it necessary to move to Albany. he wanted his aged mother to accompany him to that city, but her home in this city had become so dear to her that she refused to leave. Mr. Crissy went to Albany and since that time Mrs. Durkee had been living alone.
She was a bright energetic, kind-hearted and excessively pious woman. She was brought up a Quaker and during her entire life she adhered strictly to the doctrines of that sect. It followed, therefore, that during the latter years of her life she spent a great deal of her time in prayer.
Some of the neighbors saw her about the house last Saturday night. In the morning they missed her. Most of the curtains remained drawn and the house was as quiet as if no one lived there. About 10 o’clock yesterday morning some of the neighbors, fearing that all was not right, went to the door and rang the bell. There was no response. The shade at a side window of Mrs. Durkee’s bedroom was partly drawn. One of the neighbors peeked into the room and saw its aged occupant kneeling at the bed. She wore her night robe and it was thought at first that perhaps she had just arisen, and, in accordance with her custom, was opening her day with prayer. After a time her neighbors rapped on the window, but no response came from the kneeling figure.
Patrolman Gorman of Police Station No. 10 was summoned and he forced the side door. Mrs. Durkee was dead. The bed had not been occupied during the night. She evidently was offering her evening prayer when death came.
A dispatch was sent to Albany immediately, notifying Mr. Crissy of his mother’s death. Last night a patrolman watched the body. So far as could be learned, Mrs. Durkee had no relatives in Buffalo.
Coroner Tucker was called, but decided that an inquest was not necessary.
Buffalo Evening Express. 17 October 1898.
While no formal cemetery records exist of her burial site, her will stated that she would be buried in the Old Quaker Cemetery in Union Springs where her brother Daniel and his family and her brother-in-law Obadiah J. Downing are interred.
A funeral notice in a Cayuga County newspaper reported
DURKEE – At Buffalo, Sunday, October 17, 1898, Mrs. Phoebe Durkee, aged 85 years, 20 days.
Interment at Friends’ cemetery, Union Springs, Wednesday, Oct. 20.
As her sister Lydia was also a member of the Scipio Meeting, it leads me to believe, she, too, is buried there as well.
Deborah J. Martin-Plugh
Genealogical Researcher, Historian, Contributing Writer and Author
A few years ago I was contacted by a descendant of Phoebe and her son Isaac and we enjoyed sharing information and she provided photos of Phoebe’s spirited granddaughters taken in the early 20th century in bathing costumes of the day. Of course, we are cousins and beyond the genealogical research, it was such fun to reflect upon the lives of Nettie, Louise “Lulu” and Laura and wonder what their grandmother would think of them and the very changed world.
A Note to My Readers: Our ancestors are more than names, dates places…and shared DNA. Some we take a shine to and thus we begin to explore the history in which they played a role. Genealogy is history, after all. One of my favorite ancestors is Samuel Weyburn (1746-1825), my maternal 4x great grandfather. I have a substantial bit of data on Samuel and some special antiquarian publications in my personal library. Somewhere in the flurry of researching…reading and note taking, I forgot about “A History of Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, Volume 1”. It is chock full of some of most interesting details of the colonization of Pennsylvania AND the conflict of the settlers from Connecticut who came to the Wyoming Valley under the Susquehanna Purchase.
Fit For Mischief
The clash between the “Connecticut Yankees” and the William Penn colonists was the result of two conflicting charters issued by King Charles II and complicated by the fact that in 1754 the English had secretly purchased the land from the Mohawks (the easternmost Iroquois Nation) not from the main inhabitants -the Delawares. 
In 1762 the Connecticut Yankees began to arrive and settle in the Wyoming Valley under the Susquehanna Purchase and establishing their first permanent settlement by 1769. By this time, Pennamites (settlers loyal to Pennsylvania colony) also claimed ownership to the area thanks to a purchase they made with the Iroquois. The two groups of settlers, as well as the various Indian groups, repeatedly clashed over rights to these lands—with sometimes deadly consequences. This period of time was called “The Pennamite-Yankee Wars”.
Among those “Yankee” settlers was Samuel Weyburn.
On the morning of Friday, May 12, 1769 twenty-four-year-old Samuel joined 24 of his fellow Yankees who, in a show of force and determination, rode up the Susquehanna to establish a fort under Major John Durkee. The group would pick up additional men along the way and eventually arriving in Wyoming Valley, numbered 146 individuals. Word went out to the Pennsylvania colonists and their authorities that this advance group would soon be a full complement of 500 men. It caused one of the Pennamite officials, Charles Stewart, to write in alarm to Governor William Penn describing the men and pleading for armed assistance.
“This afternoon about three o’ clock 146 New England men and others, chiefly on horseback, passed by our houses and are now encamped on the east side of the river.”
“From the view I had of those gentry, in their procession by our houses, they appear to be – at least an equal number of them – of the very lowest class, but are almost all armed and fit for mischief.”
In this letter, Stewart recognized a number of the men and listed them by name. Samuel Weyburn was among those ‘gentry’ listed.
As I am building the timeline of my ancestor in these turbulent pre-Revolutionary War days in Pennsylvania including his miraculous survival of the massacre on July 3, 1778 at Fort Wyoming as a member of the Continental Army Pennsylvania Rangers, I am compelled to consider what kind of individual could manage the continuing threat to his very existence. Perhaps Mr. Stewart’s description of ‘fit for mischief’ would prove to be more accurate than he would ever know.
As conditions continued to be dangerous and uncertain and after his survival at Fort Wyoming, Samuel’s response in 1779 was to join forces with his neighbors and enlist in Washington’s Continental Army leaving his wife, Jane Bratton and their four children to manage the homestead in Derry, Cumberland county, PA. Serving under Colonels Dearborn and Zebulon Butler, the Pennsylvania Rangers became part of Sullivan’s Campaign, the cruel response ordered by Washington to force the indigenous peoples from their homes and to punish them for their support of their English allies.
Sullivan’s Army followed the old Indian trails up the Susquehanna, through the Chemung Basin near Owego and on to the heart of the Finger Lakes. There was little to no resistance and in many instances, the native Americans had fled in anticipation of the superior numbers of Sullivan’s Army. Furthering my research on this experience, I have read several military journals and came across historian General John S. Clark (1823-1912) and his prolific knowledge regarding the Sullivan Campaign. In one of his writings, “Aboriginal Footprints”, Clark describes Dearborn’s exploration of the west side of Cayuga Lake and Samuel Weyburn and his settlement at “Taghanic” and his interviews with the Carmans – direct descendants of Samuel’s through his daughter, Jane.
I have taken some pains to learn what traditions exist in that locality in regard to this matter and my interviews with many of the old residents have only resulted in strengthening the conclusions arrived at from the statements contained in Dearborn’s journal. Samuel Weyburn was one of the first settlers at this point and his descendants state in the most positive terms that he never knew of an Indian town there.
When Samuel returned from his participation in Sullivan’s Campaign, he continued to serve in the Continental Army under Captain Robert Samuels. At the conclusion of the Revolutionary War, there was still the issue of just who owned the land in the Susquehanna area. Once again tensions flared and the Yankee-Pennamite War resumed. Eventually the newly formed nation found common ground and the Connecticut Yankees were granted ownership of their land. By that time, Samuel had already returned to Taughannock with the intention of settling in New York State.
This was the route followed from Taughannock Point southward by Co. Dearborn with 200 men, on their raid along the west side of the Cayuga Lake in September, 1779. At the intersection of two county roads just south of Willow Creek crossing, along the Indian Trail, is a little-known boulder monument commemorating this brave expedition.
Over this trail, in the year 1790, came Samuel Weyburn, who traveled from Tioga Point (now Athens, PA) with his wife and four children. He built the first log cabin at Taughannock Point.
Samuel and his wife Jane Bratton traversed the same Indian Trail to Taughannock with not four, but seven children: Samuel, Jane, Rachel, Sally, George, William and Elizabeth. Elizabeth Weyburn (1785-1865) is my maternal 3x great grandmother. Three more children were born to the Weyburns in their new home along the western shores of Cayuga Lake: Oliver, Clarissa and Isabella.
Samuel and his wife Jane are buried in the “Old Farm” section of Lake View Cemetery at Sheldrake’s Point along with son Oliver and daughter Clarissa – eleven miles north of Taughannock Falls.
Deborah Jane Martin-Plugh
Genealogical Researcher, Historian, Contributing Writer and Author
Note to my Readers: As a young child, I was always told that my “Ithaca roots ran deep”. Of course, a kid thinks their grandparents are old and that any relationship to history likely involves them living in caves. Truthfully, I didn’t think much beyond them or our family history until I was in my teens. Samuel Weyburn was one of the first ancestors that intrigued me and I have spent a number of years, reconstructing his path from the colony in Norwich, Connecticut to his new home in Pennsylvania as a participant in the Susquehanna Purchase and finally his Revolutionary War service and eventual settlement along the shores of Cayuga Lake in New York State. I was born just a short distance where he built his cabin in 1790 and it has been my heart home all of my life.
From the Journal of Lieutenant Colonel Henry Dearborn which was kept during the Sullivan Campaign.
“23d March’d at Sunrise proceeded without any path or track or any parson who was ever in this part of the country before to guide us and the land so horred rough and brushey that it was hardly possible for us to advance however with great difficulty & fatigue we proceeded about 8 or 9 miles to the end of a long cape† which I expected was the end of the lake but found was not From here We marched off 2 or 3 miles from the Lake and then proceeded by a point of compass about 8 miles & come to the end of the lake and incamp’d This lake is about 40 miles in length & from 2 to 5 miles in wedth and runs nearly N and S parralel with the Seneca Lake & they are from 8 to 10 miles apart.”
“† TAGHANIC POINT, formerly known as Goodwin’s Point. The bank of the lake both north and south of this, is very much cut up with ravines, and the lake shore is too rocky and precipitous for an Indian path. For several miles the trail was back two miles from the lake, along the heads of the ravines, probably passing through Hayt’s corners and Ovid Centre. From this high ground the lake appears to end at Taghanic Point.—J. S. C.” (General John S. Clark)
General John S. Clark
Noted historian, General John S. Clark of Auburn, New York spent many years parsing the journals and military records and, in a treatise published on July 3, 1879 entitled “Aboriginal Footprints” wrote
“Samuel Weyburn was one of the first settlers at this point and his descendants state in the most positive terms that he never knew of an Indian town there. The Carmans were among the first settlers in the vicinity and their descendants state that they never heard of there having been any traces of a village found here upon the settlement of the country by the whites, after Sullivan’s campaign. That the Indians frequented this point for fishing and hunting is well known, but there is not the slightest evidence in support of a permanent village at the time Colonel Dearborn’s detachment passed up this side of the lake in September, 1779.”
Samuel Weyburn (1746 – 1825)
My maternal 4x great grandfather, Samuel Weyburn, served under Colonel John Dearborn and Zebulon Butler as part of the Pennsylvania Rangers and participated in the Sullivan Campaign. After the Revolutionary War, Samuel moved his family from northern Pennsylvania and erected a log cabin at Taughannock Creek where a NYS historical marker connotes the site. Samuel and his wife, Ann Bratton Weyburn, are buried in Lake View Cemetery in Interlaken.
One of Samuel’s granddaughters, Malvina Amelia Weyburn, married Richard Carman and it seems likely that General Clark would have interviewed Malvina and her husband in their Enfield, Tompkins county home in his research. Malvina’s father, George, was interviewed in 1844 about his boyhood experience with his father Samuel when they settled at Taughannock. The well-known tale “Fight With a Bear At Taughannock” has been passed down the generations as a result of George’s graphic account in “New York State Historical Collections” by John M. Barber and Henry Howe.
Deborah Jane Martin-Plugh
Genealogical Researcher, Historian, Contributing Writer and Author
A Note To My Readers: Researching my Freece/Freese family (my paternal lineage) along Cayuga Lake, I found a Mr. John Freese that lived in the village of Cayuga. As I have often discovered when I return to the peaceful little village in the 1800’s, my paternal and maternal lines have multiple familial and social connections. My cousin Charlie Baker and I are both family historians and share the same ancestral grandmother, Lydia H. Titus Downing Coapman who lived in Cayuga. Over the years Charlie and I have marveled at how many of our family members have shared life altering events in that tiny community.
Henry Clay Hutchinson (1830-1878)
As I was trying to establish more information on John Freese, I discovered that he was at the death bed of the mortally wounded Henry Clay Hutchinson, my cousin Charlie’s grand uncle. An intelligent and ambitious young man, Henry was an engineer and submitted designs for the Cayuga Lake bridge, but his design was rejected. It was around that time, Henry fell in love with a young beauty from Ohio and anxious not to lose her, promptly proposed marriage. Henry was content in his marital bliss. It wouldn’t last. Henry’s lovely bride gave birth to a full term infant five months after their nuptials and embittered, he had the marriage annulled. Thereafter, Henry was a surly, contentious man and never remarried.
Henry’s prickly nature led him to suing people so with his sharp intellect and litigious nature, he achieved his attorney’s shingle in his thirties. When his mother, Elizabeth Boardman Hall Hutchinson died in 1877, she had quite a bit of land and just below the grand Hutchinson house, a Cayuga lakeside lot which she had leased to Mr. James B. Robinson, a boat builder.
James B. Robinson (1823 – 1911)
Hutchinson House. Lake Street, Village of Cayuga
Henry wanted Robinson off the property, but Robinson had built a boat-making shed and ‘apartment for living’ and was running his business and was not about to go. Henry took him to the Supreme Court, but it appears that Elizabeth’s lease was in good faith. Henry’s half brother, Cyrus Davis, managed their mother’s estate and agreed that Mr. Robinson could continue to live on the property.
Thwarted once again and true to his disagreeable disposition, Henry was livid.
He harassed Robinson…breaking out his windows…shooting at the building and chopping at it with an axe. He even tried to sabotage a little potato patch Robinson had planted. Hutchinson would often rail at the situation and in one instance at the local store owned by John R. Van Sickle and Ransom Olds (two more kin of mine), Henry threatened
“If he did not leave he should put a hole through him, and if one hole was not enough, he should make another.”
The tension was very high, constant and escalating so Robinson spoke with several members of the village and went to the law for advice. He had Hutchinson arrested on July 9th, but Hutchinson was from a respected family. So free he went and the law told Robinson to just do his best to ignore him. Robinson tried, but Hutchinson became more and more threatening and even told Robinson’s adult son that he would burn him out. Robinson borrowed a shotgun and kept it by the living room door he was so afraid. Men from the village would walk Robinson to his door to try to help keep the peace. It wasn’t to be.
On July 19, 1878 Henry shot at the house and a confrontation ensued. Finally afraid for his life, Robinson took up the borrowed shotgun and seeing Hutchinson with the gun, he shot in Hutchinson’s direction. Robinson was not familiar with guns and thought he aimed at Henry’s legs, but Henry was injured fatally…in his abdomen and wrist and leg.
David Coapman (1844-1911)
When the shots were heard, men came running and Henry, lying in a pool of blood, told them Robinson had shot him. Doc A. J. Cummings, whose wife was a cousin of Henry’s, was summoned and Henry said he knew he was dying so John Freese was summoned to record his testimony and his last will in front of witnesses including Henry’s half brother, Cyrus H. Davis. James Robinson was arrested by Constable David Coapman (my cousin’s great great grandfather and my maternal 2x great grandmother’s brother). Circles.
David Coapman knew Robinson to be a peaceable fellow and testified to his docile disposition at the trial.
When John Freese, a Justice of the Peace was summoned to the dying man’s bedside, Henry used his last breaths to declare himself harmless and to indict Robinson as a cold blooded murderer and that “this was all the work of Cyrus Davis”. Then Henry’s focus was on directing his sister, Mary Rebecca Ferree (my cousin’s great great grandmother) to evict James Robinson from his late mother’s property…immediately. Even to the end, Henry was intractable.
A coroner’s inquest was held on July 22 and after a long list of testimonies, the jury’s verdict was manslaughter in the first degree and the case was set for the grand jury. The pronouncement of manslaughter was roundly criticized as outside of the province of a coroner’s inquest and only fitting for a trial jury. On October 12, the grand jury convened and indicted Robinson with 21 indictments, one of which was murder. He pled not guilty.
Thus James Robinson went to trial in Auburn, New York on October 19th attended by a jury of his peers – twelve good men from Cayuga County. From the beginning the testimonies given by several individuals who knew both men were clear about Henry’s threatening and relentless behavior. A long time acquaintance of Henry’s, James Cox, testified at the trail.
Hutchinson was passionate, unforgiving and vindictive.
Despite District Attorney Sereno Elisha Payne’s summation attempting to downplay the provocations against Robinson and his often declared fear of Hutchinson, the testimonies were irrefutable and Defense Attorney Milo Goodrich’s case was airtight. Six months after Henry’s death, Robinson’s fate was in the jury’s hands. After deliberating for a little over two hours, they returned with their verdict. James B. Robinson was acquitted. The audience which had been held rapt by the proceedings, rose and applauded the verdict. Robinson’s wife, son and daughter-in-law, moved to tears, embraced James amid the hand shaking and congratulations.
During all of the trial, a close friend had removed Robinson’s boat shop and personal belongings and took it to his place on Owasco Lake. James Robinson never set foot on the Cayuga Lake property again.
Henry Clay Hutchinson is buried in Lakeview Cemetery in the Hutchinson family plot- a few hundred feet from the Hutchinson house and the site of his death.
The news coverage was statewide and the village was described as ‘quiet’ and ‘idyllic’ and the shooting an ‘interruption of the peace’ and one headline declared “Dark and Bloody Cayuga”. The drama of Henry’s life and death gave me a ton of reading material for the afternoon and provided insight into a good amount of characters from Cayuga. Unfortunately, it left me with no clue as to my relationship to John Freese other than a familial name.
And another topic of conversation for my cousin Charlie and me.
Somewhere in the lush countryside above Cayuga Lake lie the bones of a Revolutionary Way 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.
John B. Swain of Throop (1799-1891) was the husband of my maternal 4x great aunt Almira J. Tyler (1804-1873). Almira is the sister of my 3x great grandfather, Lonson W. Tyler (1794-1872). In 1890 John Swain’s recollections were published by the Auburn, NY Daily Bulletin on January 18th. His reference to his father-in-law in his recollection is to my 4x great grandfather, William Tyler (1773-1860).
L to R: John B Swain, his son-in-law Martin Van Aken and his daughter Martha Swain Van Aken.
OLD TIMES AUBURN.
J. B. SWAIN OF THROOPSVILLE HAS INTERESTING REMINISCENCES.
How He Came to Auburn and the Many Things He Remembers About the Early Days.
To the Editor:
Seeing in the BULLETIN your request to old inhabitants of the city to write of the early recollections of Auburn, and observing the meagre details thus far, I was prompted to submit a few facts which I hope you will consider of sufficient interest to publish. I am not a resident of the city, but have lived within three miles of the prison gate for sixty-nine years.
I was born in New Jersey June 15th, 1799, and consequently nearly 90 years. When eighteen years of age I left home with my brother for the State of Ohio, then considered the far west. We traveled in a one-horse wagon, there being no railroads, and landed in Smithfield county, Ohio at the end of thirty days. I visited Pennsylvania, Virginia and Maryland until 1820, when I started for this county the called the lake region. I made the journey afoot, the distance about 500 miles, in just twelve days. I came by way of Pittsburg, Finch creek and up the Allegany river to Olean, then across to Pike Ferry, Moscow and Geneseo, and thence through Lima, Bloomfield to Canandaigua, and east to Auburn. There was about a foot of snow on the ground when I arrived but the weather was quite pleasant. The place was known as Hardenburg Corners in those days.
The walls of the first few acres enclosed for the prison were built by Lawrence White and Ralph Decamp of New York. At the conclusion of the work White built a house at the corner of Van Anden and North Streets, and lived there, rearing a large family. Decamp settled on a farm near Fosterville and remained there until his death. West Van Anden and Seymour streets were a wild swamp. The land from the site of the State asylum to Hackney was covered by heavy timber. It was in the woods at a point about where the asylum gate is now that the eccentric Lorenzo Dow used to preach. From that point south, to Clark Street, was a wilderness almost impenetrable.
Jack Harris was the first man received at the prison. He was sentenced to life imprisonment for burning the Rome, Oneida county jail. At the expiration of twenty years he was pardoned. He learned the coopers trade during his confinement, and upon his release he worked for John Hepburn, counting staves at the corner of Wall and Cross streets, until he was nearly blind. He was finally removed to the county house, where he died about ten years ago, aged 100 years. My father-in-law’s brother, Gideon Tyler, a small boy, was the first person buried in the North Street cemetery. The prison chaplain was Mr. Bowser, a Methodist preacher who conducted a chair factory on Market street.
On the corner of Mechanic and Genesee street in 1821 there was a general merchandise store owned and conducted by two brothers named Patty. Mrs. Arnett, of whom Mr. Bostwick speaks, was a relative of the Patty’s. Mrs. Arnett’s husband had the Cooper contract in the prison and I worked for him nearly five years. Richard Steele’s drug store stands to-day in the same place it did then. Walter Weed had a hardware store just below. When boats began running on the Erie Canal, Mr. Weed built a basin for the craft to load and unload cargoes. The point was then called Weed’s Basin, but it has since been changed to Weedsport. In a two story building where the Auburn Savings bank now stands, U. F. Doubleday, published a weekly newspaper, the Cayuga Patriot. A Mr. Lounsbury was employed in the office, also a Mr. Allen who finally became a partner. Finally Mr. Doubleday got out of the business and the paper was published by Allen & Lounsbury. There was also a two story building where Seward’s bank now stands. The ground floor was occupied by Abijah Fitch, who conducted a dry goods store. The second story was occupied by the Auburn Free Press office, a newspaper published by a Mr. Oliphant. In a room in the upper story of a building which stood about where Hunt’ drug store is now located, Judge Miller had a law office and William H. Seward studied law with him, and Enos T. and Geo. B. Throop were then residents of Auburn. The former was afterwards Governor of the State.
The only hat store was owned by Nathaniel Garrow, afterwards Garrow & Linds, and finally the firm name became Carpenter & Linds. The latter was soon after appointed principal keeper at the prison, and then the firm name became Carpenter & Bodley for a short time when A. T. Carpenter bought out the business. When Charles Carpenter became of age the firm name was changed to Carpenter & Son. The store is now run by A. T. Carpenter’s grandson, Charles.
In 1820, Milton Sherwood, a son of old Colonel Sherwood who was then keeping the Stage house at the foot of Skaneateles lake, came to Auburn and built a stage house called the American hotel. He conducted the house until the railroad was finished and there being no further use for stages he retired from the business, settled on a farm, near where the fair ground is now, and engaged in breeding fancy cattle. There were two whiskey distilleries and one beer brewery in Auburn in 1820.
There were four churches – one Episcopal, a little wooden building on West Genesee street which was burned in 1826; the First Presbyterian, a wooden building, corner of North and Franklin streets; the Baptist meeting house on Exchange street; and a Methodist place of worship on Chapel street. The place where Richardson’s furniture house now is was formerly a Universalist church.
In 1824 a company of light infantry was organized in Brutus, Sennett and Mentz. It was named the “Brutus Blues.” One night a man rode up to my house and notified me to be at Auburn early in the morning, well equipped, to escort the Marquis De La Fayette into the village. The company mustered early and marched out some distance and met the distinguished visitor. He was in an open two seated carriage with three or four of the prominent men of the village. I do not remember the names. We escorted him to the hotel, fired a salute and then broke ranks.
The first building of the Theological Seminary was began in 1825. I could write a volume of early recollections but I will forbear for this time.
Family Bible of Elbert Purdy and Elizabeth A. Williams of Enfield, NY
A Note to My Readers: Going back to the heirloom that is the root of my genealogical interest and ultimate passionate life long study, I began to parse the details from the clippings that my maternal great grandmother, Elizabeth A. “Libbie” Williams Purdy Smith (1848-1940), carefully secured to her family bible. Details matter and more often than not, offer us a greater picture of our ancestors’ lives. In the case of Samuel D. Purdy (1818-1898), it gave me a pivotal clue as to where his farm was located and the knowledge that Semantha, his wife, co-owned the property.
ENFIELD, TOMPKINS COUNTY, NY
When Libbie’s father-in-law died in 1898, she had been a widow for ten years and pasted not one, but two newspaper clippings of Samuel D. Purdy’s death into her bible. By then she had remarried to a widower, Charles R. Smith, and relocated from Enfield to Ithaca, but she clearly maintained her Purdy and Enfield relationships. Perhaps she felt her matrimonial bible was not just her anchor of faith, but it also would serve as a treasured family time capsule. A remembrance of her and our entangled family history. The tiny, distinguished and iron-willed woman who her descendants recall as Mrs. E. A. Smith of 309 Eddy Street, Ithaca, New York.
MERCHANT. CARPENTER. FARMER.
So…what is Libbie telling me with her inclusions? In my many trips to Enfield, I carried with me the 1866 map which indicated where Samuel D. Purdy’s mercantile – cum – U.S. Post Office and carpentry shop stood in Enfield Center. It was easy to identify the site of his business operation, but his obituary said he had a farm. On East Hill. Samuel bought and sold multiple parcels over his lifetime as an Enfield resident and I realized that I didn’t clearly understand exactly where his ‘farm’ on East Hill stood.
Without finding an official designation of what East Hill was/is, I assumed it is informally named by locals and not necessarily a bona fide geo-political name. I started to read references to East Hill of places in the area of Enfield Center (Harvey Hill and Bostwick Road intersection) and considering the steep inclination of Enfield Main Road to Enfield Center, I deduced that East Hill refers to Enfield Main Road. Surely there was a stronger and more precise case to be made. On to more official clues.
MAPS. LAND RECORDS.
A record of a 1867 transaction selling 2/3 of an acre of land gave me another important benchmark location when a piece of property was sold by Samuel and his wife, Semantha.
“in the Town of Enfield in the County of Tompkins and State of New York being part of lot no. 60 in said town of Enfield as follows: to wit; Beginning at the south east corner of a lot of land on said great lot no. sixty & at the centre of highway running north and south through the village of Enfield centre & which lot is owned by Eliza Barber running from thence westerley as the fence runs on the south line of said Barber to lands owned by Gertrude Bailey hence southerly as fence now stands to the northwest corner of a certain piece of land owned by Sylvester Wright on said lot no. sixty….Being the same premises conveyed by deed by S.D. Purdy & Semanthia (sic) his wife on the twenty seventh day of March 1867 to Elizabeth Kellogg.”
In a 1918 classified notice in the Ithaca Daily News I found a more precise description of Samuel and Semantha’s farm.
“All That Tract or Parcel of Land situate in the Town of Enfield, Tompkins County, N.Y., known and described as being subdivisions No. (blurred, but appears be ‘2’) and No. 5 on the north side of Lot No. 61 in the said Town of Enfield, and bounded as follows: Subdivision No. one thence running south thirty-nine chains and sixty-nine links: thence east twenty-five chains and twenty links; thence north thirty-nine chains and sixty-nine links; thence west along the north line of said lot No. 61 twenty-five chains and twenty links to the place of beginning, containing one hundred acre of land, more or less, and being the farm at one time owned by Samuel D. Purdy. Being the premises described in a deed recorded in the Tompkins County Clerk’s Office in Book 147 of Deeds at page 560, and also in Book 150 of Deeds at page 593 in said Tompkins County Clerk’s Office. Being the farm owned by Frank Cummings at the time of his death.
Dated, April 4, 1918”
With all of these elements…references in transactions dating back to the 1850’s to Military Lot 53, Lots No. 52, 60 and 61 owned by the Purdys and consulting a 1920 plot map of the Enfield area, I will take Grandma Smith’s ‘hint’ and begin to diagram the mentioned lots, neighboring landowners, dates to develop the history and timeline of the Purdy properties.
Next spring upon returning to my ancestral roots in Enfield…diagram in hand… instead of having the general sense of heritage presence, I hope to stand with surety upon the farmlands belonging to my 2x great grandparents.
My 2nd great aunt Ida C. Curry Bedell (1866-1943) was a teacher for most of her life in New York state schools in Cayuga, Tompkins and Broome counties. Born in Aurelius, Cayuga County, New York, Ida is the sister of my maternal 2x great grandmother Katherine “Kate” C. Curry Curtis.
Deborah Jane Tyler Curry, Jennie B. Curry Sinsabaugh, Ida C. Curry Bedell in Ithaca, NY
My mother used to talk about Ida…”Aunt Ida” and would invariably pull out the image of a photograph (circa 1900) of Ida sitting on the porch of her sister Jennie B. Curry Sinsabaugh’s home in Ithaca with Jennie and their mother, Deborah Jane Tyler Curry and Jennie’s daughters Cora and Elsie. At the time, Ida was teaching in Ithaca and living with Jennie and her family and their elderly mother. Three generations and one of my treasured possessions.
Ida was single for a good portion of her adulthood until at the age of 39, she married in 1905 to widower Charles Henry Bedell of Aurelius, Cayuga County, NY.
A few years ago, after I posted a story about Ida, I was sent an image of Ida by a descendant of Charles Bedell and his first wife Frances. The photo was taken when Ida was a young woman. Among the keepsakes that belonged to Ida were some folksy postcards that she had sentimentally kept.
With no telephone (or social media) a plea for eggs on a postcard. How fast did this get resolved?
Eggs gone and I would like more before Sat if possible. Have been repairing the hen house and it disturbed the hens so they are not laying so well and i have not enough of my own for Saturday morning. So if you can not come please send card so I will now.
Ida’s stepdaughter, Flora Viola Bedell Lasher sent a request for eggs…TWO DOZEN in a 1909 postcard. Evidently Ida had some prolific hens!
Will you please bring me a couple dozen of eggs next time you come out. Come so you can stay a while. We are all well. Alvin cried for an hour that day. He is all right now. Good by yours Flora
And another plea postmarked September 11, 1907 from Rochester, N.Y. Was K. C. Katherine Deborah Curtis, my grandmother’s sister?
Will you please send me that dress you said I could have. Will pay charges on stage.
Ida C. Curry Bedell
It was lovely to hear how beloved Ida was by her step children as evidenced by the fact that they kept her photo and memorabilia. The photograph is lovely to see, of course, but the postcards are what I treasure most.
Ida is buried in Lakeview Cemetery in the Village of Cayuga with her husband Charles and his first wife, Frances Harnden Bedell and just steps away from Ida’s mother and father, Deborah Jane Tyler and Frances J. Curry.
A Note to My Readers: Genealogists understand that researching entire families, siblings, in-laws, aunts and uncles and cousins more often than not reveal the human history of our ancestors and indeed are likely to break down brick walls. In my nascent days of genealogical research, I called this kind of research “sideways”. I believe the scholarly term is “indirect evidence”. I still say “sideways” out of habit, but I am finally channeling my instinctive and self-taught methods into developing a more academic approach to accepted standards set by the Board for Certification of Genealogists®
I may need more than a modicum of patience for myself and the discipline of BCG reportage. Still I have learned a great deal from historians, archivists and fellow genealogists and the satisfaction of continuing to improve on my knowledge and skills keeps it all so very interesting.
And, pardon the pun. Relative.
The Long Lost Son. Walter George Lounsbury (aka Downing).
For several years I was trying to find out what happened to Medorah Rogers, daughter of the prominent veterinary surgeon from the village of Cayuga and Rochester, NY and his wife Mary J. Downing. Medorah had a son, Walter George, but due to a misspelling of her his last name (Longsby) an error in transcription in the 1875 New York State Census, I could not find her or her family. Today I discovered that the name was Lounsbury not Longby and with that I was able to create the life and circumstances of Walter George Lounsbury Rogers Downing.
As is my practice, I often go back to enigmas and check to see if I might find a new source of information that has come to light. This time it was to once again see if I could find out what happened to Medorah Rogers Longsby and her son Walter George. Medorah is an unusual given name and using it and the advantage of Soundex, there might be hope for discovery. I have been back to these individuals countless times with no luck, but if I have one trait, it is tenacity. Or maybe I am just a cock-eyed optimist. It paid off when I found Walter’s death claim and the complicated research data came together.
U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007
Walter George Lounsbury
28 Oct 1874
Tonawanda, New York
Type of Claim
Signature on SSN Card
Relationship of Signature
Signature name differs from NH’s name.
May 1937: Name listed as WALTER GEORGE LOUNSBURY
Walter George Lounsbury
It was time to work backward and sideways. Create a timeline and analyze my research. Still using my own wonky vocabulary as you see.
How and why did Walter George Lounsbury become Walter Downing?
According to his Social Security record, Walter was born in 1874 in Tonawanda, Erie county, New York. His professional biographies state that he was born in Rochester, New York. The confusion is understandable since Walter’s father, George, was from Tonawanda and his mother from Rochester. Sometime shortly after his birth, his mother died. His father moved back to his hometown of Tonawanda, working as an Express agent or ‘cartman’ and traveled constantly. He left Walter with his late wife’s parents, Dr. George G. Rogers and Mary J. Downing in Rochester, New York. Walter’s father continued on with his occupation and subsequently remarried and adopted a young German orphan girl, naming her Carrie after his sister. Walter was raised by his mother’s parents in Rochester, New York.
In the New York State Census of 1875 the infant boy was enumerated in his grandparents’ Rochester, New York household as their grandson, Walter G. (transcribed incorrectly as Longby which I have since reported to Ancestry.com).
Walter continued to live with his grandparents and was enumerated in the 1880 Federal Census in Rochester, New York as their 6 year old son “Walter G. Rogers”. In the New York State 1892 Census, Walter was living with his now widowed grandmother in Rochester and still enumerated as her son, “Walter G. Rogers”.
When Walter G. Rogers married Katherine Ellsworth on October 15, 1897 in Rochester, New York, the marriage license listed his parents as George and Mary Downing Rogers and he was an insurance agent. By 1900 Walter had relocated to Auburn, Cayuga, New York living on 87 East Genesee Street with his mother, Mary J. and a second wife enumerated as Mary, an actress. George continued selling insurance.
After his mother Mary died in 1902, Walter G. Rogers left Auburn and I chased him by all three surnames all over country. Born circa 1874 in New York State. Parents born in New York State. Occupation: Insurance. Wife: Mary who was an actress. I found some promising information here and there, but nothing with that ‘slam dunk’ factor.
Since Walter’s social security records confirmed that he also used the surname of DOWNING, his maternal grandmother’s last name as his ‘stage name’, I went searching and found one Walter Downing. Actor. In Hollywood. With a wife named Augusta. An actor that was in bit parts…mostly in ‘oaters’.
Working backward, in the 1930 Federal Census I found a stage actor named Walter Downing born in New York circa 1874 with parents who were born in New York , but with a wife, Augusta. Just possibilities, so I went into industry sources to find more on Walter Downing.
The bio also indicates that he began his film career in 1915 though I found him in Broadway productions in the 1920’s. So Walter was bi-coastal.
His brief biography in “The Stars of Hollywood Forever” by Tony L.Scott fills in more information which indicated that Walter was in New York City performing.
DOWNING, Walter (b. October 28,1874 Rochester, NY d. December 21, 1937 Hollywood, CA- Veteran western actor, Downing appeared in two Broadway productions: “Taboo“ in 1922 starring Paul Robeson and Ruth Taylor and “The 19th Hole“ starring Marion Abbott, Kitty Kelly and Howard Sidney.
Subsequent research into film titles in “The American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures;
Walter Downing as ‘Newspaper Editor Bill’ in “Kentucky Blue Streak”
Feature Films (1931 -1940)” include Walter’s listing in such films as “Helldorado“(1934), “Kentucky Blue Streak” (1935), “Code of the Range“(1936), “Two Fisted Sheriff” (1937) and ironically, “The Case of the Missing Man“(1935). “Kentucky Blue Streak” is available to view online at no cost. Walter is cast as ‘newspaper editor Bill’.
In a 1920 Broadway show cast list, Walter Downing was cast as ‘Chief of Police’ in the comedy production of “Outside Looking In” starring James Cagney.
And what about “The Lost Son”?
Walter was never lost. He never ran away from home. He always lived with his mother’s parents and without much doubt spent time with his uncle, Edgar O. Rogers, the great showman and actor from Rochester, New York. His father couldn’t have failed to know exactly where his son was. Dr. Rogers was prominent in his field of veterinary surgery specializing in horses and was listed in Rochester directories for all to see. After the death of Walter’s grandmother, it seems logical that the reason I lost track of him after 1902 was that he was offered a position with his uncle’s traveling emporium of actors and circus entertainment. Edgar’s wife who was a celebrated actress and his business partner died suddenly in 1903 and uncle and nephew found comfort together as a newly minted family and show business entity. Goodbye, insurance and hello to the hurly burly of limelight and the romance of stage plays and life on the road.
All The Life’s A Stage
My favorite area to research is old newspapers. When I had nailed down the primary sources of censuses and death records and directories and noted secondary sources for further research, I settled down to the tried and true method of boolean searching for Walter George Lounsbury Rogers (on occasion Rodgers) Downing. Two newspaper articles popped up concerning one George A. Lounsbury of Tonawanda who ‘found his long lost son’ in 1905. Walter would have been on the road with E. O. Rogers at most only three years at that time.
North Tonawanda NY Evening News 6 Oct 1905
According to the article, George thought Walter had died until one day in 1905 he read the posted bills of E. O. Rogers Repertoire Company that was posted in a public place with the words ‘under the management of Walter G. Lounsbury’ and in a flash of recognition, found his long lost son. What no doubt caught his attention was the fact that his son was listed as managing his uncle’s traveling acting troupe. George Lounsbury would have known his brother-in-law and putting two and two together and approaching his 60th year, he wanted to see his ‘long lost’ son.
Walter died in 1937 and is buried in Hollywood Forever Cemetery (formerly Hollywood Memorial Cemetery). Walter’s wife Augusta died in 1944. There is no evidence that Walter had any children from any of his marriages. Author’s Note: Mary J. Downing Rogers is the sister of my maternal 3rd great grandmother. She and her husband, Dr. George G. Rogers are buried in Lakeview Cemetery in the Village of Cayuga. The research is the ‘easy’ part. The ‘fun’ part for me. I travel the individual’s history with them in kind of a time machine and always with a sense of visiting family. My imagination and my practical fact finder detective brain work that way together. Note taking and citing are on autopilot. It is when I have to abandon my time machine and report the work academically that I chafe. All those citations.