Monday, November 26, 2007

Town of Scipio place names

Anyone from Scipio can probably tell you what are currently the 3 main place names: Scipio Center, Scipioville and Sherwood. But there used to be lots more place names. If you are over 50, you probably recognize a few of these that are still used locally today:
Merrifield, Bolt's Corners, Mapleton, Mosher's Corners and Pope's Corners, also known as Frog's Patent.
A Patent is a term used for a specific area of land owned by someone; the land is then distributed or sold to others as in the Mohawk Valley the Burnetsfield Patent named after an early Governor.
To continue about Frog's Patent,as you might guess in the Spring mating season, the frogs and peepers were busily trying to outtalk each other and were so loud that the folks living on or near the corner of Wyckoff and Center Roads referred to it as Frog's Patent!
I took a look through the 1914 assessment book, and found a few other places that I am not familiar with. Do you know where any of them were? There was Botsford's Corners, Covey's Corners, Kinsella's Crossing, Chase's Corners just to name a few.
Let me know if you could find any of these today!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Gift from Cayuga-Owasco Lakes Historical Society

The Town of Scipio recently received a copy of the reprinted Leslie L. Luther book Moravia and Its Past from the Cayuga-Owasco Lakes Historical Society.
Mr. Luther was appointed the Historian in Moravia in 1946, and the book was begun in 1966. The reprint has a full name index, making it very easy to search for your ancestors!
There is a section in the book about the Town of Scipio, including Scipio Center, Scipioville and Sherwood. The book tells about our early settlers in the 1790's. Henry Watkins came first, settling about 1/2 mile south of Scipioville on Ridge Road. Some of the others mentioned are the Tracy brothers (Captain Alanson and Gilbert); Gideon Allen (cousin of Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys); School Commissioner George Peckham and Dr. Emily Howland. There is also a listing of Scipio veterans of the Revolutionary War and their burial places compiled from the researches of Ms. Flora Daniels.
You can visit the Society in Moravia or at their website at as they have lots more information on Scipio and our families, being an adjacent town.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


As a Town Historian and amateur genealogist, I spend a lot of time researching people, places and things that are no longer here. As fascinating as that is, today is a day to put all that aside and spend some time with the relatives who are still around! I am thankful for the opportunity to do so.
Have a great Thanksgiving and remember to spend some time with your elderly relatives, they have lots of stories to share.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Sherwood and the National Register

Exciting news! For about two years, a concerted effort has been made to place the hamlet of Sherwood on the National Register as a historical district as well as the State Register. Yesterday, I received a letter from NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and Sherwood is to be considered by the State Review Board for nomination to these Registers at its next meeting. Comments need to be submitted by December 12, 2007.
Sherwood is being considered for these Registers based on its history of involvement in abolitionism, the Underground Railroad and women's rights. Extensive research and commitment of time by a few dedicated folks have brought this event about.
For more information about the National and State Registers and what affect being listed has on a district, you can access the NYS Office above at

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Cayuga County Directory of Towns

We received a gift from a Scipio resident a few months ago. It is a copy of the D. M. Osborne & Company Cayuga County Directory of Towns for 1897 - 1898. It tells us that the highway distance from Scipio Centre to Auburn is 10.2 miles. And just think, today there are only two stoplights on the way!
We also discovered that the total acreage in Scipio is 22,079 acres.
There are 3 pages of names listed for Scipio, along with the number of acres that person owned at that time. It is interesting to note that many of the names are still here in Scipio today. Names such as Buckhout, Body, Bancroft, Gulliver, Howland of course with total acreage of 349; Letchworth, Otis, Wood, Wyant and Young are still in our telephone book.
Please stop by the Scipio Town Hall and take a look in the Directory for your ancestors!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Civl War Veterans of Scipio and Cayuga County

I think on Veterans Day it is fitting to remember to say thank you to those who have served their country throughout history. Many sacrifices are made, so we can enjoy our freedom.

Here is an excerpt from a letter written by my great-grandfather James Hitchcock in 1910, detailing the Civil War service of himself and his brothers:

In the spring of 1851 the Hitchcocks moved to Aurora the family consisting of the father, mother, and six sons: Thomas E., Richard, Frederick F., James B., George, and Alfred A., the youngest being two years and the oldest 16 years.

Three of the brothers enlisted and fought on the Union side in the war of the Rebellion. Frederick enlisted in the old 19th NY Vol. Inf. organized in Cayuga County – was with the regiment during its two years of service and “Veteranized” in the 3rd Seward Artillery, also a Cayuga County organization. He was with his regiment at the Battle of Newbern (sp.), NC.

Richard enlisted in the 75th NY Vol. Inf. in 1861. This regiment was organized at Auburn NY and was made up mostly of Cayuga County boys. He was discharged on account of blindness. Soon after the regiment reached the front he reenlisted in the 22nd NY Vol. Cavalry and was with Sheridan at Cedar Creek.

James B. enlisted in the 44th “Peoples Ellsworth” Regiment N.Y. Vol. Infantry, organized at Albany NY in August 1861 and made up of volunteers from all parts of the state. He was with the Army of the Potomac during the whole of his three years and two months service, was with McClellan during the seven days fight in the Revioisan (spelling unclear – possibly Revisionist) Campaign; was wounded by a buckshot in the breast at the Battle of Hanover Courthouse. At the battle of Malvern Hall, VA a minie ball passed through his left thigh and another broke his leg just below the knee upon the field and during the battle. He was promoted for “Gallant and Meritorious Conduct in the face of the enemy.” Was with his regiment at the Battle of Fredericksburg or Maryes Heights on that fateful 13th 14th and 15th day of December 1862. Was at the Battle of Gettysburg. Was all through the Wilderness Campaign and at the siege of Petersburgh VA, receiving his discharge as Quartermaster a short time before the final surrender of Lee’s army at Appomattox.

Four of the brothers are now living. Thomas E Hitchcock, the oldest, is a practicing dentist in the city of Syracuse. Frederick F. is a dealer in furniture etc. and still (1910) living at Aurora. Alfred Albert is a farmer living in the immediate vicinity of Aurora and James Benton is a farmer and justice of the peace living in the adjoining town of Scipio.

N.B. from sg: Further information may be found on these men and and many of our other Cayuga County veterans and their Civil War service in the book “Cayuga In The Field” by the Hall brothers of Cayuga County. Also in Nash, Eugene A.'s History of the Forty-Fourth Regiment, New York Volunteer Infantry, in the Civil War, 1861-1865. Chicago: R.R. Donnelly & Sons, 1911.

Do you have a Veteran in your family with a story to share? Post a comment to the BLOG.

Veteran's Special Census Removed

I have removed the special 1890 Veteran's Census from the BLOG today for a couple of reasons. I need to place them out on the Web, then create a link so anyone who wants can access them. The smaller versions I had on here were too small to read, and anything larger would take a long time to download.
The majority of Scipio residents have dial-up service. Without a high speed connection, adding images directly to the BLOG makes it take so long to download that folks won't use it as much.
Meanwhile, anyone wth a subscription to Ancestry (see the link below) can search the census records by their Civil War ancestor's name and likely find the record themselves.
I'd also be glad to look for your relative on my copy of the census, just add a comment or contact me through the BLOG.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Military Tract in central NYS

The Town of Scipio was formed on February 6, 1796. It originally was a part of our neighboring Onondaga County until March 8, 1799, when it became a part of Cayuga County.
Scipio is part of an area known as the Military Tract; this was a vast area of about 1.75 million acres located in the heartland of Central NY. Lands purchased by the State from the Onondaga Indian Nation in 1788 and from the Cayuga Nation in 1789 were surveyed into 28 Military Tract Townships to satisfy the claims of veterans of the Revolutionary War, who had been promised acreage as an inducement to enlist in the New York regiments. Townships contained 60,000 acres of land, and were mapped and subdivided into 600 acre lots consecutively numbered from one upward.
Scipio, named for the Roman General, became Township number 12. Our eastern border is Owasco Lake, one of the lovely Finger Lakes of central New York State.
The Town of Ledyard, bordered on the west by Cayuga Lake, was formed off from Scipio January 30, 1823.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Vital Records for Scipio Center

We get lots of requests for vital records from folks researching their family history. A grant-funded project completed in Cayuga County a few years ago has made it easier to provide copies of those important documents.
Most of the vital records available at the Scipio Town Hall begin in 1847. Birth and death records end in 1850, then start again in 1882. Marriage records end in 1865, then begin again in 1882.
There are some gaps after that through the present day, but we are always glad to look and see what might be available.
Another set of records that are often overlooked are burial permits. Other than a handful from 1905, our earliest burial permit is from April of 1936.

Sunday, November 4, 2007


With Election Day just around the corner, I thought it would be interesting to look back say 100 years, and see where people cast their votes in Scipio.
There are lots of interesting tidbits in the Book of Records for the Town of Scipio, started in 1794. An entry in 1912 shows the Town Board contracted for McCormick's Hall at Scipioville with Mrs. Virginia McCormick for $17 yearly, to use the Hall as the place for registration and the polling place for the second district.
At the same time, the Town Board designated Snyder's Hall in Scipio Center for the first district, and for all other town purposes including caucuses and justice court, for $35 yearly from John Snyder.


We received a nice packet of information about some early Scipio settlers (Scipioans? Scipioites?) Elisha and Hannah Durkee. Elisha came to Scipio in 1791, settling a quarter mile north of Bolt's Corners. In 1798, Elisha was Scipio Town Clerk and in 1810, our Supervisor.
There is a Society of Genealogy of Durkee, Inc., and they sent us the information that will be on display in our History Corner next week for any curious descendants!