Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The United States Constitution

“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” 

These words, written 227 years ago, are the Preamble to our Constitution. This is Constitution Week, September 17 – 23, celebrating the signing of this important document. Celebrating its 227th birthday, the U.S. Constitution is the oldest constitution still in active use in the world today and is the basic document of our republic, which protects the individual liberties of all citizens through written law. Fly your flag with pride!

Friday, August 1, 2014

John Foster Dulles and Vietnam

Sixty years ago today in 1954, the Geneva Accords divided Vietnam into two countries at the 17th parallel. It also freed Vietnam from many years of colonial rule by the French and formally recognized Communist control of North Vietnam.
This year we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. I am old enough to remember when our country did not call it a “war.” In the year 1968 alone, over 14,000 Americans died in Vietnam; a good many of them during and due to the Tet offensive. There were several individuals from our area who participated in this war, by choice or by draft.
During a two-year transition period created by the above-mentioned Geneva Accords, Vietnamese civilians could relocate to either North or South Vietnam, and the military was to return to their place of origin. Elections were scheduled to be held in 1956, but that did not occur.
The United States and South Vietnam never actually signed the Accords, and although the USA did formally acknowledge them they did not promise to obey them. Our Secretary of State John Foster Dulles did not recognize, shake hands or speak to the Chinese and Viet Minh delegates. Edward Moise has written a 10-part account of the events leading up to, surrounding, and ending the Vietnam War that can be found at
It is a thoughtful account of the many factors at play during this period of our history and I learned much of the background and details that I hadn't considered or known of before.
Secretary of State John Foster Dulles was married to Janet Pomeroy Avery of Auburn, NY, and is buried in Arlington Cemetery, whose website has a very complete biography of his life at Their son, John F. W. Dulles, was born in Auburn in 1913. It is indeed a small world after all.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Comstock's History in its Entirety

Over the winter I took on what proved to be quite a task - that of building an every name index for
SOME OF THE EARLY HISTORY OF THE TOWN OF SCIPIO CAYUGA COUNTY NEW YORK by Austin B. Comstock. It was only 28 pages long, so I thought it would be an easy task. 
Silly me! 
If Excel is to be trusted, I indexed a total of 446 surnames. Kudos to Mr. Comstock for writing such an extensive memory of our area. 
I have transcribed all 28 pages of his text as well,  and each page is a separate entry on this blog. The index is also provided in the "What's New" section on with a link back to the correct page of my blog for each surname. Many thanks to the Cayuga County Site Coordinator for this and for all his hard work in bringing information to us about our past.
The job of a municipal historian is to preserve and interpret the past through research, public education and promotion of local tourism as it relates to the history of the municipality. I believe the ordinary folks who shopped, ate, farmed and worshiped are what made it possible for our area to thrive and Mr. Comstock's History is a wealth of information on those people. I hope you enjoy reading it, and maybe find a relative or two in the pages.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Comstock's History Page Twenty-eight

CAYUGA COUNTY NEW YORK by Austin B. Comstock

I have posted each page of this history separately. The index, posted on June 24, 2014 in 4 parts, provides the page numbers; you can also search the blog for a particular name appearing anywhere within it. 
The index is also being published at and will eventually have a link back to this blog.
This page was written after Comstock had completed his work, by Elizabeth P. Andrews Taylor in approximately 1958. 
I hope you have enjoyed reading about more of Scipio's early history!

Page Twenty-eight
Written by Elizabeth P. Andrews Taylor, wife of Hermon W. Taylor
In the year 1801 Obed Andrews came in and settled in the town of Scipio (now Venice) taking up a large tract of land about a mile square which was eventually divided up in a number of farms; there were four farms which were occupied by his descendants up to about ten years ago (now 1958) when two of the farms were sold out of the family. Two still occupied by relatives.
Part of this tract of land being Lots # 73, 61, 72 and 60.
Obed Andrews lived on his farm until his death – he was born (probably) about 1780 and died after year 1844.
In 1844 he deeded to his son Ephraim Andrews a certain piece (more or less) of 134 ½ acres Ephraim then deeded it later to his wife Emily Mosher Andrews in 1781. At her death it was left to their two daughters, Phebe Andrews Bennett and Lucy Andrews. Phebe was the wife of Charles Bennett and had four children: Phyllis, Arvid, Ephraim and Mary. Lucy remained single. Phebe gave her farm to Ephraim Bennett and Lucy’s farm went to Arvid Bennett.
Abidah A. Andrews (granddaughter of Obed) and who married Daniel Kratzer lived on one farm until she sold it to Charles Bennett when they moved to Cortland, NY. They had one son Glenn Andrews Katzer who was a minister.
Charles and Phebe Bennett lived on this farm until their deaths; then Mary Bennett Cornell (who married E. Cornell) lived there until death (Cornell having died a few years previous). Phyllis Bennett who married Will Wyant lived on a farm given to the family by an uncle Orvid Mosher – a brother of Emily Mosher Andrews, and great-uncle of Hermon W. Taylor. At the present time this piece of land is owned (and occupied as a tenant house) used as a turkey farm by E. Y. Smith & son whose farm joins this property; these farms are about three miles south of Stewart’s Corners. At the death of Mary B. Cornell, the property went to Phyllis’ sons Walter and Claude Wyant, then passed on to another nephew Will Bennett who now lives there (1958).
Abidah Andrews deeded to William H. Andrews (her father) a farm of 70 acres more or less – where William Harrison lived until his death. He married first Mary Welch (interred in the Stewart’s Corners Cemetery). Three children were born by this marriage, Glenn Andrews who served in the Civil War, 111th NY Infantry, Camp Sumpter, GA and died in Andersonville Prison in May 1864; Abidah Andrews and Morton M. Andrews, a carpenter and Pattern maker who moved to Buffalo, NY; Mary died when these three children were very small and W. H. then married Emeline Harris one of the daughters of Sophia Hurlbut Harris (and Henry Harris). Sophia and Henry Harris’ children were Lucy, Fannie, Sally, Annie, Emeline, Maria, Mary & Carrie. Fannie Harris was the wife of Hermon Mosher, grandfather of Hermon Taylor.
 The children of Emeline and William Harrison were Amelia, Mary, Vestina, Dr. Lucius, Victor, Adelbert and Willie.
William Harrison’s farm was occupied by his son Victor Andrews until his death in 1924, after which his children took over; Charles Andrews having lived there at one time then a daughter Jennie who married Clarence Baker and they then kept the farm until her death in 1939; since the farm was sold to J. Rejman and house used as a tenant house (1958).
Daniel Kratzer’s father was also a soldier in the Civil War, and held in the Andersonville Prison.

CAYUGA COUNTY NEW YORK by Austin B. Comstock
sg 6/24/14

Friday, July 18, 2014

Comstock's History Page Twenty-seven

CAYUGA COUNTY NEW YORK by Austin B. Comstock

I will be posting each page of this history separately. The index, posted on June 24, 2014 in 4 parts, provides the page numbers; you can also search the blog for a particular name appearing anywhere within it. 
The index is also being published at and will eventually have a link back to this blog.
I hope you find something new!

Page Twenty-seven
When the church was torn down Al Robertson built a house on the land, no one seeming to care to contest the title.
We are sorry to again call attention to the burial ground in back of this old church. I am informed that there were more than 100 burials there and that nearly all had markers; the small amount that is left is not over two or three rods square and the writer was there in the summer of 1938 and was unable to get through on account of weeds and brush and was unable to find over two tombstones, although I could not get to the center of the plot where there perhaps are more.
The law provides for a sum not in excess of $50.00 to be used to fence and improve any abandoned cemeteries. This is a good law as it is right that these old cemeteries be kept in reasonable condition so that the graves are not desecrated and so that if markers are present, relatives may be able to find out where friends are buried.
As the writer gets more facts that he is able to verify from County records he will extend this history of the Town of Scipio.
Much difficulty is being formed in getting authentic facts regarding the villages of Scipioville and Scipio Center as it appears that no one has taken the pains to write down anything that old settlers have told them and the “old timers” are like the history they helped to make, a thing of the past.
There are a few clues to some of this information, which I am now working on.

A Book Named The Seceders: By Alethea Connolly

The Seceders: By Alethea Connolly: Reviews: Alethea 'Lee' Connolly has written an extraordinary local history. Click on the title to go to her blog site.
Alethea contacted me last year as she was researching this book. She had seen an earlier post in this blog about an image in the Scipio Ledger of Slaves, that mentioned a slave named Esther, owned by J Fleming, who turned up in Alethea's research, as she spent most of her life in Manlius.
Esther's gravestone is behind the old Methodist Church in Ledyard. There is a store on the corner, and a Ledyard historic marker sign at the junction across the road. Behind the church, the stone is inscribed SAMUEL GLOVER.  His second wife was Esther's sister, Betsy.  Esther's name is etched on the side of the thick stone. 
The reference in the book to the Flemings is in the last chapter titled AfterWords when Alethea was looking at several ex-slaves (Wheatley and Armwood)  from the town, who interestingly ended up in Ledyard. She will be appearing on July 26th at 2:00 PM  at the National Abolition Hall of Fame & Museum, Smithfield Community Center, 5255 Pleasant Valley Rd., Peterboro, NY 13134
The Scipio Ledger of Slaves information is available at the Cayuga County Hsitorian's website and at the History Corner in the Scipio Town Offices. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Comstock's History Page Twenty-six

CAYUGA COUNTY NEW YORK by Austin B. Comstock

I will be posting each page of this history separately. The index, posted on June 24, 2014 in 4 parts, provides the page numbers; you can also search the blog for a particular name appearing anywhere within it. 
The index is also being published at and will eventually have a link back to this blog.
I hope you find something new!

Page Twenty-six
partiality for some of his flock, and the voice of scandal asserted that he was inclined to give his woman parishioners more time than was seemly.
Certainly no gentleman of generous emotions would listen to frivolous charges. But whether true or not it was certainly the seeds of dissolution and one of the things that eventually was the cause of the disbanding of this society. The preacher was discharged in disgrace. After he left, contention ran high and some of the best members withdrew and others became lukewarm and converts ceased to be added.
It was a long time before another pastor was engaged, but after much discussion they agreed on one Axdell who was settled as the shepherd at a moderate salary. Mr. Axdell was a pious, earnest, creditable man and did all he could to build up the church but to little avail; internal dissension and external causes were too strong against him. Heresy was creeping in, infidels were beginning to whisper. Quakers were increasing, Unitarians were growing bold and Universalists were teaching unwelcome doctrines.
Mr. Axdell struggled among these difficulties until 1837 when he gave up in despair and left for parts unknown. In 1838 another attempt made to revive the nearly defunct society was tried. Reverend Johnson was secured and a hope that he would perhaps be able to start again the smouldering firs of religion that were ignited with so much promise 16 years before, but poor man he reckoned without his host.
The building had gone into decay and the seed of skepticism ad taken root and produced 100 fold; the choir had dispersed and its members had forgotten the hymns of Zion. Some had backslidden beyond power of recovery and some had moved away. Many were dead and the Reverend, with lessening faith and failing strength continued the unequal contest nearly two years, working as preachers seldom work, but the Society could not be resuscitated. It was doomed to annihilation. At the expiration of his engagement he bade a melancholy farewell to the faithful few and departed to fields of more promise. This was in 1840. In a few years the church began to show the marks of vandalism but it still stood, its spire 100 feet high, firm and erect, a monument of the past and a measure of the state of religion and public opinion in other days. Probably the five Protestant churches in the town had no more members than did this church about the time of its greatest glory.
After the old church had been entirely abandoned it went rapidly to destruction, and in 1858 it was torn down and the remains divided among a greedy few; a part came to
Sherwood and was used for the enlargement of a barn. Who got the Silver Chalice that once consoled so many hearts we do not know. But we do know of many foot stools and two fiddle cases that were decorated with the beautiful red velvet that lent beauty to the pulpit.