Saturday, December 29, 2007

Welcome in the New Year

It is almost time to say goodby to 2007 and welcome in 2008. Our ancestors would be amazed at the changes to our town!
Scipio continues to look to the future by such actions as working towards finding out if wind energy is a potential resource for our town. Wind energy really is nothing new; most of the homes in Scipio were using a windmill well into the 1930's and 40's. I remember ours still stood on Wyckoff Road into the 1950's.
"Living off the grid" was the norm, since the grid did not come to Scipio until about the early 1940's. An early bill features a picture of Reddy Kilowatt and a cost of $2.50 for a month's service for a house on the then Lake Road - now Wyckoff Road.
And electricity meant that the old hand pump wells could be replaced by a cistern or a dug well. To just turn on a faucet and draw the water you needed instead of pumping and bringing pails full to the house must have been a huge improvement and timesaver.
What New Year's resolution will you make for 2008? I resolve to continue to look at Scipio's past, and share what I learn through this Blog as well as at the Town Hall. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Holiday Wish List

My mother used to say "If wishes were horses, we all would ride." Meant to stop my daydreaming, I still think that is a marvelous thought and so much nicer than "wake up and smell the coffee" as we might say now.
Every family historian or genealogy explorer has a wish list, and I am no different despite my mother's warnings. I think most of us know about EBAY, but there are lots of other interesting websites out there.
Some of the best places to make those dreams come true are bookstores that sell originals or reproductions of old histories, maps and family genealogies.
One of my favorite spots is to look for a variety of items, and often they have a sale. I also like, and it's hard to beat to search for the best price for an old book on the open market.
If you want to look for interesting books about a locality or publish a little local history book yourself, try
Take a look around, you may discover some other sites and find that book you never even knew you really wanted. Happy hunting!

Famous Firsts for Scipio

I've been working on a timeline for Scipio. As part of that, I have begun to compile a list of "firsts" for our town. Today I thought I'd like to share some of them.
Our first settler was Henry Watkins. In 1790, he settled near what is today Scipioville.
The first house was a log cabin built by the same Henry Watkins, also in 1790.
In March of 1791, Henry's 3 sons, 2 daughters and presumably his wife, arrived to become the first family of Scipio.
On June 25, 1793, daughter Betsey Watkins married William Allen, for our first marriage. William was the son of Gideon Allen, cousin of Ethan Allen of Green Mountain fame.
The wedding must have been performed by a circuit rider, as the first preacher I could find for Scipio was Elder David Irish in 1794.
The first child born was Betsey Durkee, on 12/5/1790. She was the child of Elisha Durkee.
More of these another day!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Special Veteran's 1890 Census Reprise

I'm going to see if transcribing the 1890 census into a Word document allows me to post it here. I tried in Excell but that did not work out. There are four pages, I've transcribed one so far. It is actually for the Town of Venice, our neighbor and at one time part of Scipio. It contains the name of one of my great-grandfathers, Frederick A. Peckham. I'm not too satisfied with how it appears, but for now it will have to do. Let me know what you think:

Page No. ____ Eleventh Census of the United States
Supervisor’s District No. ____ SPECIAL SCHEDULE
Persons who served in the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps of the United States during the war of the rebellion (who are survivors), and widows of such persons, in Venice, County of Cayuga, State of New York, enumerated in June, 1890.

House No. Family No. Name of Survivor Rank Co. Regt. Or Vessel

27. 283 248 Frederick A. Peckham Private I 111th NY Inf.
28. 312 329 John Grinnell Private I 111th NY Inf.
29. 329 317 Edward W. Stark Private A 10 NY Cav.
30. 332 332 John Jones Private I 9 NY Artill.
31. 348 366 Elbert A. Peck Private H 2nd NY Cav.
32. 372 391 Thad Bryant Private A 1 C-?- Inf.
33. 381 400 Nelson Mason Private I 111th NY Inf.
34. 392 412 George W. R--?-- Private E 9th NY Artill.
35. 393 413 Aaron R. McCourter Private F 3rd NY Artill.
36. 354 414 Almi-?- Foot Private B 103? NY Inf.
37. 306 323 Ira S. Smith (U.S.) Pol

Date of Enlistment Date of Discharge Length of Service in
Yrs. Mos. Days

27. 14 Aug.. 1863 14 Feb. 1864 = = =
28. 16 Aug. 1862 16 June 1863 = = =
29. 10 Apr. 1861 19 July 1865 = = =
30. 15 Nov. 1861 28 Sept. 1865 = = =
31. 08 Sept. 1864 05 June 1865 = = =
32. 18 Apr. 1861 28 June 1861 = 02 10
33. 20 Aug. 1862 Blank Here - sg = = =
34. 1863 25 July 1865 = = =
35. 23 Aug. 1864 17 Jan. 1865 = = =
36. 09 Aug. 1862 04 Jan. 1865 = = =
37. Nothing Entered Here – sg

Post Ofice Address Disability Incurred Comments

27. Poplar Ridge Varicose Veins X
28. Poplar Ridge Wounded X
29. Ledyard Wound in Arm & ? ? X
30. Ledyard X X X
31. Ledyard X X
32. Genoa Deafness X
33. Ledyard X X
34. Venice Center Stomach and Hand X
35. Venice Center X X
36. Venice Center None X
37. Venice, Cayuga County, NY

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Value of a Dollar in the Civil War

I did some checking online after I wrote the last comments about each Civil War volunteer getting $50, raised by taxation ordered at the 1862 Scipio Town Meeting.
A dollar in 1862 has about the same value as $20 in 2005.
In other words, the same volunteers would now receive $1,000.00.
Not a huge amount, but enough to have significance to the volunteers and their families and to recognize the sacrifices made.

Available Records at Town Hall in Scipio

From time to time, I plan to publish lists of documents and records available in Scipio.
Besides our growing "History Corner" we have been fortunate in preserving some of our earlier record books. My favorite is probably the Book of Records for the Town of Scipio of annual town meetings, begun in 1794. Someone neatly crossed out "Onondaga County" and wrote in "Cayuga County" when that change occurred! That book itself has a lot of information and a lot of names, so may be a source to verify one of your ancestors actually resided here at a particular point in time.
We have a Book for Recording of Strays for 1803 - 1894.
There is a Book for Recording Elections in the Town of Scipio; the first entry was made for 1801. The book has consecutive years through 1832, and entries for 1840 - 43.
The Town Meeting book first mentions a resolution to secure a place to hold elections in 1887. In 1890, two election districts were created. If you check the blog below for Election Day, you'll find out where the two districts held their elections.
At the 1862 Town Meeting, a resolution was passed to raise by tax enough to pay every volunteer $50. The 1863 and 1864 Meetings also addressed paying Civil War volunteers.