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. Lewis Purdy, 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.

Campbellsport News.


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!

Deborah J. Martin-Plugh

Genealogist, Author and Contributing Writer

(c) Copyright 2021




The Connecticut Yankee.  Fit For Mischief.

The Connecticut Yankee. Fit For Mischief.

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. [1]

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.

Migration Trail of Samuel WeyburnSullivan’s Campaign

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.[2]

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 Jane and Oliver Weyburn monuments Interlaken NYSamuel 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

© Copyright 2018

[1] Iroquois Land Deed, 1754, DAR.1925.13, Darlington Collection, Archives & Special Collections, University of Pittsburgh Library System

[2] Old Indian Trails in Tompkins County. W. Glenn Norris.  DeWitt Historical Society of Tompkins County.  Ithaca, NY.  1944.  Chapter IV. P. 22.

Ithaca Roots

DJMP Taughannock Falls 1992 cropNote 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.

September, 1779

“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

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)

S Weyburn NYS Marker outside Taughannock Trail Entrance

Taughannock Falls.

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.

George WeyburnOne 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

© Copyright 2018

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.

East Hill Where Heritage Lives. 100 Acres.

East Hill Where Heritage Lives. 100 Acres.

Purdy Family Bible

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.


When Libbie’s father-in-law died in Elizabeth A. Williams Purdy with son, Burt Samuel1898, 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.


Samuel D Purdy obit 1898So…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.


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”

1920 Enfield MapWith 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.


Deborah J. Martin-Plugh

Author, Historian and Genealogical Researcher

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