Sunday, November 23, 2008

Early Scipio and Ledyard Schools

I think it is probably time to write some more about our early schools. If you look at some of my blogs since my trip to the Archives in September, you'll see that I made copies of the Official Minutes and records of School Districts # 32 (Scipio) and #5 (Ledyard, formed off from Scipio). These records include names of teachers, and other interesting details.
Let's start at the annual meeting held at the house of Ezekiah Avery on May 3, 1823; Chair was Charles Kendall. This year is significant in that 1823 is the year Ledyard was formed off from Scipio.
The minutes reflect that it was Resolved that school be continued at the same place and be supported by the inhabitants of Ledyard and Venice, who were the old proprietors of the school before Scipio was divided.
It was also Resolved that Consider King be Clerk, and Trustees were Charles Kendall, Benjamin Avery and Samuel Tilley (?).

The next entry is for the annual meeting held May 3, 1824. The Trustees reported having sixteen dollars and ninety-three cents in their hands. The teacher employed that year was Amy Adams, at a salary of one dollar and sixteen cents per month.
The Trustees also reported that the money they received from the Commissioner of Common Schools that year was from Ledyard, $30.60 and from Venice $26.70.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Historian's Conference

I had a great time at the APHNYS (Association of Public Historians of NYS) Conference in Lake Placid, NY last week. There were about 100 members attending, from all different sized towns, cities and historical societies. I attended some informative workshops, and plan to write about them later this week.
For today, I thought I would share a few web addresses.
First is, a website about the Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial of 2009. That year will mark the 400th anniversary of Hudson and of Champlain's voyages along the river and the lake that bear their names. It is also the 200th anniversary of Fulton's first successful steamboat trip.
Many of the towns and villages along their routes have special events and celebrations planned, so please explore this website for some vacation ideas for next summer that you and the kids can enjoy.
If you are a local historian, you should go to the APHNYS website at and explore information about next year's conference, scheduled for April 27 - 30 in Albany. It will be the 10th anniversary of APHNYS so they have planned a whole day at the NYS Archives complete with Archives staff assistance so we can get an idea of what wonderful resources are held there.
Albany will have quadricentennial celebrations going on all year. And while you are in the neighborhood, a stop at the NYS Military Museum and Veteran's Research Center in nearby Saratoga Springs NY would be very interesting. They have more than 10,000 military artifacts of all types, including battle flags from the Civil War. Their website is found at

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Nineteenth Amendment

Today is a very important day for Americans. I knew I was going to be away at a conference, so I mailed in my absentee ballot last week. I was able to vote for the first time in 1970, and I don't think I have missed a Presidential election yet.
The national right for women to vote did not arrive until the 19th amendment was passed only 50 years earlier, in 1920.
n 1873, Susan B. Anthony voted illegally for her President and was arrested and fined.
She made a speech in 1873 about voting that made the point that it was "we the people" not we the white male citizens who formed the union to secure the blessings of liberty, which include the right to vote.
I agree. So be sure to exercise your right and vote today.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Historian's Conference

I am so pleased to be attending the Fall Conference of the APHNYS - Association of Public Historians of New York State.
Their website is at I have held a membership since I became the Scipio Historian.
This organization provides access to information and contact information for other Historians and Historical Societies at their semi-annual conferences, and holds regional meetings throughout the year.
The workshops are wonderful. This Fall, I will be sitting in on a roundtable discussion with our new State Historian, Robert Weible. I will also go to a workshop on the Underground Railroad in Northern NY, a North Country Digital History/Historical Newspaper Project, Adirondack Architectural Heritage, the Tuberculosis History of Saranac Lake and then conclude with a roundtable of City, Town & Village Historians.
It is being held in Lake Placid this year during this first week of November, and I always find it relaxing to visit that area of our state.
Can't wait to return and tell you all about it!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Archives Month

As Archives Month draws to a close, I want to share that a lot of the information I share comes courtesy of the NYS Archives staff and electronic resources. There is a link at the bottom of this page and it is so worth a visit. There are more records available than I have time left to see.
The newest project undertaken by Archives staff is very exciting. They have begun an all-name index of their extensive Revolutionary War records.

An index to the records will allow people to more readily find a record or to know if one is available. This will also allow folks to access records at no cost electronically. If you visit the Archives website, give them a thanks for all they do to keep our history safe. Then enjoy a browse!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Canada Thistles

I continue to read over the Town Meetings of Scipio's formative days. It must be that pigs were still a problem for in 1801, there was another resolution that hoggs be not free commoners - at all. A resolution was also passed that the bounty for wolves scalps would be five dollars. That would be $78.27 today adjusted for inflation.

Nuisances were not always animals. In 1806, a resolution was passed that any man having "Cannady" (Canadian) Thistles knowingly on his land, that he cut them at the full moon in June and in September. A penalty for neglect of that duty was assessed as $10.00 ($163.94). The money was to be collected in the name of the Town Supervisor, with one-half going to the complainant and the other half to the Overseer of the Poor. The thistles must have been a huge problem, for the Town to pit neighbor against neighbor!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

More Town Meetings

Town Meetings have always been a vehicle by which the local folks controlled their environment. As we saw in the last post, ordinary people had their gardens and crops uprooted one too many times by a free-range hog or ram, and so made a rule to limit that from happening again.
Scipio in 1799 was much different than Scipio today. The only clearing was one created by brute labor; to chop down the enormous trees from the virgin forest, using them to build barns and homes, uproot the stumps using an axe and maybe a team of horses if you were lucky so you could then clear the rock and stone away and plant the crops that would sustain your family through the year. After doing all that, I imagine looking out the door and seeing neighbor John's pigs feasting on the garden was just not acceptable.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Happy Anniversary

Happy Anniversary to the Blog! The first message was posted on October 26, 2007. Since then, there have been over 2,500 visitors, from all over the US and even a few from Europe.
I have rambled on about all sorts of subjects, and gotten interesting comments and new information to add to our History Corner in the Town Offices in Scipio. This weekend, for example, I was searching for information for someone on their particular Allen family line. I did find a different Allen family genealogy, and since they are also cousins to Ethan Allen (yes, that one), as is the one I am researching, we most likely found a connection that would not have been available without a blogster sharing what they knew last October.
So here's to you loyal reader. Keep reading and keep commenting, and we'll see where we are next year this time.
A votre sante!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Scipio Town Meetings

In 1799, the yearly Scipio Town meeting had two resolutions. First, it was resolved that Hoggs (yes, the 4-legged kind) be not free commoners unless sufficiently yoked. And second, all sheep rams found running at large after the first day of September until the tenth day of November, the owners were to forfeit the sum of three dollars, payable to the Poor Masters.

In 1799, three dollars was a lot of money! According to the website,
Three dollars in 1799 are equivalent to $48.80 in 2008. That is enough to make you pay attention to the rules!

Cayuga County Board of Supervisors in 1869

It was a rainy morning Saturday, so I spent it poking through some older books available at the Scipio Town Offices and History Corner. A book printed in Auburn in 1870 by Dennis Brothers and Thorne, held the proceedings of the Board of Supervisors of the County of Cayuga at the Annual Session for the year 1869.
That year the Chairman of the Board was F. L. Batchelor of Brutus. The Clerk was John G. Hosmer of Aurelius. Scipio was represented by A. J. Chapman.
The Annual Session began with a meeting on Wednesday, November 10th, 1869 at the Board rooms in the Court House in Auburn at 10:00 a.m. The last meeting was held on Wednesday, November 23, 1869. A lot of business was transacted along the way, and the book gives you a real sense of what were the important issues of the day.
Some things never change. Ambrose Jones of Scipio presented a petition praying for relief from unjust assessment. Anna Mekeel petitioned for relief from an excess of tax; that was referred to a special Committee on Excess of Tax so must be she was not alone in her complaint.
Four folks were removed from the County Poorhouse to Willard Asylum for the Insane. There was an acknowledgement that Cayuga County was entitled to place no more than 15 lunatics.
The salary was set for the District Attorney's office. I hope you are sitting down. The District Attorney was to be paid $600.00 the following year and his Clerk, $300.00.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Sears Kit Houses

Sears has been around a long time. For folks in the country like Scipioites, everything you needed could be ordered by mail through their catalogue. If you saw the article by Cato Historian Eva Taylor Sholes in the Citizen last week, you know that one of the more unusual things you could buy from Sears in days gone by was your house.
That's right - in the early 20th century, the whole thing was delivered "some assembly required." Eva went on to provide very interesting information about some kit homes, including the location of some local ones, but she didn't list any from Scipio.
I spent some time looking through our History Corner material today, and in the scrapbook from 1999 I found an old article from the newspaper with the information I was seeking.
I discovered that 4375 State Route 34B is a Sears house. It was built in 1938 for John H. and Mary Payne. They sold it in 1957 to William and Emily Smith. Only a few years later, the house was sold again to Archie R. and Virginia Koon in 1961.
The Koons owned this Honor-Bilt Modern Home by Sears for about 34 years, selling it in 1995 to Karin Komins. It passed to Karen and David Moscov and now appears to belong to Shirley Corbett.
I will take a ride by and get a photograph to post here on the blog.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Schoolteachers in Scipio in the 1800's

I continue to read the Trustee minutes, and in November of 1821 find a new teacher by the name of Edward Ruggles engaged for four months at $12.00 a month and board.
Lydia Brownell is contracted in April of 1822 for a mere $6.00 a month and board. School that term doesn't start until May 6th. Lydia must be new to the profession for such a low salary.

This year the minutes reflect the amount of money taken in and expended. For April of 1821, $70.31 is taken in and $48.00 is spent. Then in the report of May 1822, Money received from the school commissioners is reported at $54.42 with $50.25 paid out of it for teacher's salaries.

The Trustees also apparently decided what they could afford, as there is a statement that a teacher is employed for five months at $8.00 per month as well as being boarded at some place convenient to the school house. Below that is written that an M. A. Chittenden (?) is the teacher.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Lucy was a Keeper

Our teacher Lucy Crocker is back again; engaged to teach the next term at $9.00 a month and board. Harmon (possibly Herman) Landon in November gets $12.00 a month plus board to teach. Then Lucy returns at $9.00, beginning the first day of school - April 24th, 1821.

It seems the women are engaged for the summer, a shorter term and one that presumably is more girl students than mixed boys and girls as the young men would be busy helping bring in the crops.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

School Trustee Minutes from 1819

In April of 1819, the Trustees engaged Harmon Landon to teach six months. He received $15.00 a month and board, again from home to home. New Trustees elected in May decided to purchase a stove for the schoolhouse. They agreed to meet the following Saturday to take down the chimney. Those who did not help would be held liable to pay the price for 1/2 a day's labor which was estimated at 27 cents. They also decided to hire Alfred Briggs to teach at $15.00 and board for four months.

Lucy Crocker (remember Lucy Crocker?) must have done a suitable job as she was hired again in April to teach for six months. Her salary went up a little; from $2.00 a week to $9.00 a calendar month and her board. Her first day, when school began the summer term, was April 17th, 1820.

NYS Archives Information

I continue to look over the information I brought home from my visit to the NYS Archives. I am having a lot of fun reading the school Trustee minutes.
Looking at the 1817 entries, we find the first female teacher was engaged to teach the summer school for $2.00 a week and her board. Melinda Timey received considerably less than her male counterparts but times were different then. At the next Trustee meeting, Silas McHall was hired to teach the four month winter school session. He received $17.00 a month plus his board.

In 1818, new Trustees were elected: Charles Kendall, John Barber and Samuel Cook. Consider King remained as the Clerk. A contract was made with Lucy Crocker to teach the school five months at $2.00 a week and her board, beginning the second week in May. In October of the same year, John McEdlerkin (?) was hired to teach four and a half months at $16.50 a month and board, and he was to board around and not stay with one family.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Autumn in Scipio NY

The Canada geese are honking their way north along Owasco Lake this evening; heading from Auburn to Moravia and points beyond. Looking across the water to the east side of Owasco Lake, the trees are beginning to show brilliant oranges, reds and yellows in the bright sunlight. The colorful hedgerows and trees mixed with the green fields make me want to grab a camera and get busy!

Digital cameras have made an enormous change to our ability to take photos. The Civil War era was the beginning of mass photography, thanks to James Brady. In later years, folks posed for a single lifetime family portrait. Then along came Kodak and the Brownie box camera, affordable and available to many; and now not so very many years later I use a digital camera that takes and stores hundreds of photographs. Some are pretty good, others not so much.

The point is that our ability to document our selves, our actions and our communities is so much better than a century ago. So get out there and get snappin'!

The Necessary House

I wonder how many of my readers know what a necessary house was? It has had many different names through the years, but the outhouse was indeed very necessary. I do not know what arrangements were prior to 1817, but I am sure everyone was pleased that in April of 1817, the School Trustees voted to built a necessary house for the accommodations of the scholars while at school.

Lowest bidder was Thomas Mannahan. He was given 2 months to erect a building 8feet long and 5 feet wide with a partition; two doors and 2 seats in each room. Thomas was to stud and side the frame, and plane the siding. The roof was to be covered with boards and shingles. All materials were included in his price of $12.00.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

School District Minutes

On June 8, 1816, the regular meeting was held for Scipio School district #32. Trustees were Benjamin Avery, Hezekiah Avery and John A. Barker. The Collector was William Freeman and Consider King again served as the Clerk.
A new teacher, Noah Dennis, was hired for $12.00 a month and his board. This was quite a bit less than the last teacher, so we can presume that Noah was probably younger and quite inexperienced. He apparently didn't stay long, as in November, Joe Riggs was hired to teach for the next 5 months. Joe was paid $20.00 a month, and was boarded at one place for all 5 months instead of having to move from family to family. He also negotiated that he would be transported home at the end of the semester rather than having to pay that expense himself.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Scipio and Ledyard Schools

I have so much interesting material from my visit at the NYS Archives in Albany last month that I hardly know where to start. Since I spoke with another local historian yesterday about getting together to pool information about early schools, it seemed logical to talk about that subject here today.
At the Archives, information is available in many forms. There are the actual old record books (not always available to the public if very fragile), written and other records, movie scripts, photographs, microfiche and microfilm - about every medium is represented. I spent some time on the microfilm machine with a roll of official minutes from School District #32 of Scipio and District #5 of Ledyard, dating from 1814.
The Town of Ledyard was formed off from Scipio January 30, 1823. As these official school minutes show, in 1824 Ledyard District #5 was created from Scipio #32.
The first page of these minutes is a copy of a public notice dated September 24, 1814 to the freeholders and taxable inhabitants in school district #32 Scipio, "warning" them of a meeting for the purpose of forming themselves into a school district.
The meeting was apparently held, and Trustees were elected: David Avery, David Price and William Freeman.
There were 86 children between the ages of 5 and 15.
The first teacher, employed in April of 1815, was Ira Riggs. He worked six months and was paid $18.00 a month and board.
Ira must have done a good job with those 86 pupils; he was hired again in October of 1815 for the next five months at $2o.00 a month exclusive of board.
The Trustees also went on record to say no out of district pupils would be accepted. Each taxable inhabitant was required as well as paying their school tax to provide their share of 25 cords of wood to the school.
Disasters happen and in December of 1815 there was a special meeting to assess the $7.73 expense of repairing the schoolhouse due to a fire.
A busy year for Scipio's early residents, wasn't it?
Many entries show the name of the teacher and their pay, and some years include the number of pupils. Some years there is information about Scipio, Ledyard and Venice.
There is a lot to share, and a paper copy of these minutes will be available for all to see in our History Corner at the Scipio Town Offices by Election Day. I will also be sharing some of the interesting details here as I discover them!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Archives Month

October is Archives Month here in NYS. It's a very special year for the New York State Archives. It is the 30th anniversary of the Archives, and the 20th anniversary of the Documentary Heritage Program! The heritage, culture and wealth of history we New Yorkers share exists in the historical documents, photographs and artifacts that places such as archives, historical societies, libraries, and museums collect and make available.
Over the past several years different organizations have celebrated Archives Month in a variety of ways, both big and small. Types of activities have included:
  • Displays & Exhibits
  • Dinners, Banquets, & Awards Presentations
  • Family History or Genealogy Days
  • Lectures, Film or Slide Shows
  • Open Houses or Special Tours.

The Upstate History Alliance builds the capacity of upstate history organizations to use history to engage the public in shaping their communities. A wealth of information about workshops, grants, and celebrations can be found at their website of This website also includes links to all member websites; primarily these are historical societies and museums. Check them out!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Alanson Tracy and the Civil War

When you read the name Alanson Tracy, you may recall that as the name of a man who was one of Scipio's very first settlers, and who rode a bear (see previous blog "Tracy and the Bear"). This man died in 1852 at the age of 81, so was obviously not around for the Civil War.

Alanson did however have a son, Calvin, born in Scipio in 1810. Calvin in turn had a son of his own, and named him Alanson; that is who we are talking about today. I’m going to call him Alan in this posting, to distinguish him from his grandfather.

Born in Scipio in 1828, Alan served his country in the Civil War. He was mustered in to the 3rd Michigan Cavalry as a Lieutenant in October of 1861. Alan was not married, and would have been about 33 years old at that time.

Alan died of disease at Cincinnati in June of 1862. He was buried here in Scipio.

A sad story indeed. But how did I learn all these facts about Alan Tracy? From my trip to the NYS Archives.

These facts (except the part about the bear!) are found in the Complete Record, as required by law, of Officers, Soldiers and Seamen prepared by the Scipio Town Clerk for the War of the Rebellion.

Some entries are more complete than others, but there is a great deal of information here that could guide you around that brick wall you have been banging your head against. The Archives has a lot of information and this is just one example of something learned about an early Scipio family that we didn’t know before. I hope to share many more stories!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Barber's Corners School #5

I spent some time at the Cayuga County Historian's Office recently and found some information about the Barber's Corners School teachers. Here are some names, and if you recognize any or have any stories to share, post a comment please!

Teachers here included:

Fannie Taylor, Susan Brown, Matilda Jacobs, Adolphus Searing, George Swayze, Fred Bowen, Frank Kent, William Otis, Mrs. Hoag, Oscar B. Swayze, Sarah Howland, Nelson Stevens, Mary Tompkins, Fanchia Groom, Augusta Phelps,Martha Bancroft, Lucy Anthony, Mrs. Carr and Miss Post.

School # 3 also saw George Swayze as a teacher; in fact it is where he began his teaching career, with as many as 40 pupils in that one-room schoolhouse at a time.

NYS Archives Visit

I am back from my visit to the NYS Archives in Albany. What a wonderful place! You can find them online at
I highly recommend a visit. The Archives are located in Albany and are very easy to find, right on State Route 20. Their website has some finding aids, so you get an idea of what is available. But those finding aids only scratch the surface of what is there. More than once, an Archivist was able to retrieve a document with information about Scipio that I had no idea existed!
I took many pictures of documents, and made a lot of copies. Some documents were too fragile to be handled by anyone but Archives staff, who will be sending copies and scans to me in a few weeks of those materials.
I will be making a lot of information available both on the blog and at the Scipio Town Offices over the next few months, so stay tuned!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Scipio Newsletter

Our Fall 2008 newsletter for Scipio has arrived in the mailbox, and I hope you are visiting the blog today because the URL was listed on its front page. One nice feature of this blog is the ability to search for a specific topic or person and waste no time.
Sepnd some time, look around, make a comment if you would like to see a specific topic addressed. The blog is yours!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Fire Prevention Week Posters

It is about the time of year again when the firemen sponsor their poster contest for the grade schoolers. They like to remind people to be careful as we go into the heating season, and a nice way to do that is by asking children to draw a picture, then giving out prizes.
I had forgotten all about this until I was reading the newspaper from Thursday, October 22, 1959 and saw my name among many others. The article listed the Sherwood School winners of a poster contest sponsored by the Scipio Center Fire Department for Fire Prevention Week.

Kindergarten: Christopher MacCormack, Prudence Campbell, Mary Britt, Keith Bergerstock, Ann Redmond, Darryl Philo (?), Winifred Hailwachs and Jerry Cooper.

First Grade: Marion Reynolds, James Chase, Wendy Alexander, Charles Hou??, Sonia Minde, Richard Myers, Penny Powers, and George MacAllaster.

Second Grade: Sandra Stoker, Ricky Wiggans, James Chamberlain, Marcy Klipple, Susan Brown, Donald Brown, Teresa Costello and Peter Campbell.

Third Grade: Diane Rafferty, Alan Mapes, Dawn Cuatt, William Van Nostrand, Beverly Wood, Thomas Kanalley, Donna Bancroft and Ray Botsford.

Fourth Grade: Roberta Church, Stephen Burcroft, Shelley Hetherington and Jane Maroney.
Fifth Grade: John Wilbur, Richard Wilbur, Kevin Lacey and John Babcock.

Sixth Grade: Cathy Mullally, Lesley Winters, Pat Kanalley and Jonnie Fiorenzo.

In charge of the contest were Assistant Chief Edward McCormick, Jack Powers and John Sarnicola. The committee was aided in judging by County Fire Marshall Wendell P. Lindenbach.

I can still remember the fireman, in his firefighting gear in our classroom. I kept my prize, a dark-haired doll, for many years!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Record Breakers 4-H Club

Continuing to read the old newspapers available online, I found in the same paper as my mother's 8th grade report card an article entitled "Belltown 4-H Club Plans Project Tour:"
The "Record Breakers" 4-H Club met at the home of Ward O'Hara on the evening of July 16. Eleven members were present. The president took charge of the meeting. Under old business an uncertain time, dependent on the weather, was set for the project tour and the plans for the club social were left on the table for a later meeting.
Mr. Samuel B. Dorrance, the county club agent, was able to be at the meeting and he gave an interesting talk on the club activities for the remaining club year and he also answered numerous member's questions. We were very glad to have Stanley with us who came with Mr. Dorrance from Auburn.
The program committee gave a good response by Danny Mitchell giving a humorous joke. Ward O'Hara read a selection "Entertaining Sis's Beau." Leslie Wager asked some 4-H riddles. Edison Quinn recited a poem and Alice Wager gave a demonstration on "manners at the table." Root beer and cakes were served by Mrs. O'Hara after the adjournment of the meeting.
Nancy Bowen, club reporter.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Mama Was a Daydreamer

I spent some more time at this weekend, and in the Genoa Tribune of Friday morning, July 25, 1930, found my mother by her maiden name. As Ruth Hitchcock, she completed the 8th grade at Emily Howland High School. Her classmates (or at least the ones who passed!) were Mary Baker, Lavinia Benjamin, Willard Brown, Donald Cook, Frances Grady, George Jacobs, Harry Lacey, Genevieve Lawton, Robert Simkin, George Wade and Lyle Wood.
Of this dozen, I remember my bus driver Lyle Wood and Algebra teacher Willard Brown. Harry Lacey was on our school board and my mother remained friends with Genevieve for many years. I believe Bob Simkin ran a store in Poplar Ridge. So most of her class stayed right in Scipio or Cayuga County.
When I read a little further in the article, I realized that my mother Ruth had perhaps been a bit of a daydreamer. Her marks for 8th grade English and History were 74, not exactly indicating a great deal of attention being paid. I had to laugh though when I saw she excelled at one thing - Silent Reading!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Military Tract

I'm getting excited now, since I will be leaving Tuesday for Albany. I mentioned in an earlier posting that I was successful in writing a grant application for the Larry Hackman Local Historian Grant. This includes my expenses to stay in Albany, one-on-one assistance at the NYS Archives and money for copying or scanning some records there. Mostly, I plan to look at some of the earliest records I know of for Scipio, the tax and assessment rolls for 1799 - 1804.

Scipio is one of the original Military Tract Towns in NY - number 12. Congress in 1776 required New York to come up with four battalions of men. The 12 other colonies were asked to provide from 1 to 15 battalions. Congress also made provision for soldiers in each state to receive land as bounty for enlisting.

The Military Tract was established to make it so by a treaty made with the Onondagas in 1788. After more congressional action and some decisions about what amount of land a man might receive, the lands were surveyed and townships were divided into 100 lots, as nearly square as possible; each lot had 600 acres.

Scipio was originally a part of Onondaga County, which had been set off from Herkimer County in 1794. The other 10 towns of Onondaga County were Homer, Pompey, Manlius, Lysander, Marcellus, Ovid, Ulysses, Milton, Aurelius and Romulus.

Scipio was set off in 1799 into Cayuga County; Cortland County was set off from Onondaga in 1808, and Oswego County in 1816 - leaving us with the present-day Onondaga County.

The NYS Archives have some early Revolutionary War and Military Tract records and I hope to find some great new information to share!

Friday, September 5, 2008

NYS 4-H Congress

I looked myself up at that great website and found an article from July of 1968 that brought back some great memories. That was the year I was one of 15 local 4-Hers selected to attend the State Congress for 4-H held at Cornell University in nearby Ithaca NY June 26 - 28 of that year.
I had my Earth Science Regents exam the afternoon of the 26th, and I can still remember how slowly that clock moved while I tried to concentrate on my exam (didn't work, had to repeat the course).
One thousand 4-Hers from each and every county in NY were at this Congress in 1968. They included Cayuga County residents Linda Pierce, summer 4-H assistant; 4-H agent Pat Burns; Vivian Zakielarz, Elaine Foster,Cindy Cappy,Mary Ann Frank and myself from Auburn; Lora Outhouse from Union Springs; Paula Defendorf of Skaneateles; Richard Clark and Sherrie Lloyd of Cato; Sonia Minde and Chris Redmond of Scipio Center; Chris Flanigan of Owasco and Doug Potter of Sennett.
The article in the Citizen Advertiser says the highlights included presentations on several topics and bus tours of the campus. What I remember is being worn out from all the walking around on campus; and meeting other 4-Hers at ceremonies and afterwards at dances and other get-togethers. It broadened our perception of the world and of 4-H.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

How Scipio Got Its Name

You say tomato, I say tomahto. I was talking with someone interested in our town and she asked me a simple question - how is the name of our town pronounced? Now why I hadn't ever thought about that before, I'll never know.
The short answer is that phonetically we pronounce it "Sip-ee-oh."
I have heard it said as "Skip-ee-oh: too, and I think that is because of the way we pronounce the name of the man who our town was named for.
He was Scipio Africanus, a great Roman General who defeated Hannibal (another nearby town) in the Second Punic War in 202 BC. You can read all about him online at Wikipedia or any of a dozen other websites.
Our town of Scipio was town #12 of the original Military Tract, an area of about 1.75 million acres that includes portions of the present NY counties of Onondaga, Cortland, Cayuga, Seneca , Oswego, Schuyler, Tompkins, Yates and Wayne.

Monday, September 1, 2008

New York State Fair

I wrote about the "Big 5" and the "Big 6" - both 4-H Fairs where children showed handmade or raised items and animals in competition for ribbons and prizes. The best of the best was selected to go on to the NYS Fair in Syracuse, NY.
As long as I can recall the State Fair is held at the end of August, and today is the final day of this year's State Fair.
I didn't attend this year, but when I do I always visit the 4-H areas; the buildings with horses, cattle, pigs, chickens and rabbits; vegetables, flower arrangements, baked goods, and so much more.
A lifelong Scipioite and former 4-Her, now retired, recently shared a copy of the 1890 NYS Agricultural Society Catalogue with me. At a price of ten cents, it is the catalogue of entries for the fiftieth annual Cattle Show and Fair of the NYS agricultural Society at Syracuse, held on September 11, 12, 12, 15, 16, 17 and 18 of 1890.
The booklet is stamped H. Wait Cigar and News Room, Leland Hotel, Syracuse, NY and was created by the press of Moser, Truax and DeGolia of 216 Clinton Street, Syracuse. According to the booklet, the Leland was located at Fayette and Franklin Streets, opposite the NYCRR Depot.
There is an ad for the West Shore Railroad, describing their buffet drawing room cars with revolving chairs as a special feature. West Shore trains ran for the NYS Fair at Syracuse; excursion tickets ran folks directly to the entrance and included admission.
The contents of the Catalogue are amazing. Prizes were awarded from fifty cents to a few hundred dollars, in subdivisions of categories ranging from watercolors or painting on porcelain to various livestock, poultry, farm produce, art & domestic departments and implements and manufacturers.
So far I have only found a few mentions of Scipio. In the section on Percheron horses, for stallions 4 years or older I find Elwood S. Akin, of Scipio, with Favori. If I am reading this correctly, Favori was a gray Percheron stallion, 16.2 hands and 7 years old.
A John Akin showed in the same category a black Percheron stallion named Tongleur, at 16.2 hands and 6 years of age. And Howell & Slocum of Scipio showed Brin D'Or; a black, 17 hand 4 year old.
Elwood and John must have raised Percherons; we find them again in the 3-year old stallion section with Joseph and Aristida respectively. In the 2-year old stallion section, they are showing Harod and Joyeux, while Howell & Slocum offer up Planton. Elwood also shows against one other fellow a one year old stallion named Emett, then he and John show L Amie and Angele in the Percheron Brood Mare with foal at foot section. They continue to show in fillies and foals, French coach stallions and Farm or Draft sections.
There is a surname index, making it easy to find someone if you know they showed that year. If you want to check a name, post a comment!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Cayuga County 4-H Clubs

Not only did we have a "Big 5" Picnic in 1938; in April of that same year the Cayuga County 4-H Clubs held a Dramatic Festival on Friday, April 29 at the Fulton Street Auditorium and on Monday May 2 at the Emily Howland Central School.
A donated copy of the program from someone's scrapbook shows us that the County Agent that year was Francis R. Sears. Our Judges were Miss Dorothy Burns, Miss Esther Edwards, Mrs. Mabel Smith and Mr. Andrew Smith.

The Friday evening program at the Fulton Street Auditorium included the following activities:

"Orville's Big Date" by the 4-H Hill Climbers, Mrs. Leonard Jordan, Leader
"L'il Black Heliotrope" by the Owasco Wideawakes, Mrs. Grace Chase, Leader
Tumbling Act by Marjorie Bodine
"Midnight in Goose Hollow Graveyard" by the Conquest Hard Workers, Mr. R. H. Sears, Leader
Reading: "A Little Girl's Secret" by Marjorie Hoagland
"Incurable Optimist" by the Conquest Happy Homemakers, Mrs. Aldice Clary, Leader
Reading: "Here Comes the Bride" by Rosemary Williams
"Seeings Believing" by the Friendly Cloverleaf Club f Fair Haven, Miss Flora Alexander, Leader
Reading: "A Mortifying Mistake" by Gertrude Cooper
"Two's Company" by the 4-H Hill Climbers, Mrs. Leonard Jordan, Leader.

On Monday evening at Emily Howland Central School, there was a different and much abbreviated program:

"Mrs. Magician's Mistake" by the Scipio Rainbow Stars, Miss Helen Mullally, Leader
"Alien Note" by the Knights of Art, Miss Jane Foley, Leader
"Buddie Buys an Orchid" by the Barbers Corners 4-H Club, Mrs. Ray Alexander, Leader.

I'm sure everyone practiced and practiced; wouldn't you love to know who got the blue ribbon for their performance?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The 4-H in Cayuga County

I was looking through some donated items at the Town Hall and found some old 4-H programs.
One is from the 10th annual Big 5 Picnic at Enna Jettick Park held n Wed., August 3rd, 1938. The "Big 5" were the Grange, Farm Bureau, Home Bureau, 4-H Clubs and Dairyman's League.
A farm kid anticipated this event all year long. We practiced our baking, gardening, animal husbandry, sewing and other skills with an eye on the blue ribbon prize for first place. And a lucky few were selected to go on and compete at the NYS Fair in Syracuse. Heady stuff.
There is probably not a 4-her out there who doesn't have a story about how the angel food cake refused to rise or the jersey cow balked at show time.
The general program was a 10:00 a.m. judging of homemaking exhibits and livestock. At 11:00, the county horseshoe pitching tournament was held, followed by a concert by the Meridian Band.
At noon, everyone had a picnic lunch brought from home. 4-Hers certainly didn't go out to restaurants.
Sports and other contests were held starting at 1:00 p.m. and at 2:00 was the horse pulling contest. There were some real workhorses entered, and the loads they could draw amazed the crowds.
Then at 4:30 (with a repeat at 6:00) was the entertainment. In 1938, it was Les Kimris and his Aerial Act.
The Enna Jettick Park, nowadays known as Emerson Park, had several exhibits. They were on the verandah of the Pavilion and included fruit, vegetables, baked goods, crafts and other items from the 4-H, Juvenile Grange, Home bureau and Farm Bureau. After placing their items on display, an anxious 4-her would look over all the other exhibits to see how theirs stacked up against the competition.
Several local merchants and individuals are mentioned in the program for their contribution to this yearly event. Sears, Penney's, the GLF, Harry's Tire Shop, Langhams's, Fred Rondina and many others made it possible for so many to have such great times and memories of days gone by.

Stoker Family Reunion 2008

It has been a busy, busy summer so far. Last weekend was our 100th Stoker family reunion. As secretary, I was very involved in planning and execution. I am so happy to report that we all had a wonderful time!
The day was one of those beautiful summer days on Owasco Lake. People were busy renewing acquaintances with each other, and our group picture will be something to see as our guest book showed 115 signatures, from NY, PA, CA, NC and FL to mention a few states. Our family tree stretched out 16 yards long along the porch.
After we ate, we shared games and prizes and updated our family information. All the hard work was worth it.
If you do a google search for "(your family name) reunion" you may find that there is one nearby. If not, maybe enough of your family lives near enough to start the tradition yourself.

Friday, August 1, 2008

NYS Archives Visit

I am so pleased to share this information. I wrote an application for the Larry Hackman grant for local Historians last month. Yesterday, I received notice I had been successful.

What this provides is 4 expense paid days in Albany NY and the help of a research assistant at the NYS Archives for a project for Scipio.

I will be reviewing the tax and assessment rolls for Scipio and surrounding towns for 1799 - 1804 and I can't wait! The only records we have from those early years are the Town Meeting notes, and while they are invaluable there is so much more I'd like to learn.

I will also be researching Military Patent records and applications for land grants and if I have time, the records from the War of 1812.

I have visited the Archives before, and the NYS Library which is housed in the same building. I copied the 1892 census for Scipio while I was there last time, you can see them at the Town Offices.

You can get an idea of the vast amount of information available by visiting the Archives website at, or the Library at

Stoker Reunion

What a busy month this has been! Summer this year has been filled with friends and family and time spent outdoors - in between the raindrops. A week from this Sunday the Stoker family reunion will be held. It is our Centennial celebration - 100 years of reunions.
We are planning a few special activities, and there are games and prizes especially for the children. I created a Stoker family tree last night using Family Tree Maker and was amazed to find how much information we have gathered through the years. And every year it seems we learns something new. For example, through the use of, I found out in a newspaper clipping that Joseph Stoker, a brother of my ancestor, had spent over 40 years in California, returning about 1904 to Homer, NY. I had no idea! The fulton website is a wealth of information.

Friday, July 4, 2008

4-H Clubs

This is a reminder that the Cayuga County Fair is going on this weekend, over in Weedsport. And on Saturday July 5th, there is a gathering there for any and all 4-H members at 5:00 p.m.
I have some old programs to share from when the Fair was known as "The Big 6," and held near Emerson Park. Can any blog readers remember what "Big 6" meant?
I also have a photo from the 4-H Congress at Cornell University in 1968, and a few blue and red ribbons. Any white ribbons were probably thrown out.
Hope to see you there!

Our Nation's Birthday

Today, the 4th of July, marks our nation's 232nd birthday, when the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Continental Congress. There were about 2.5 million people living here then, according to the US Census Bureau.
Today, so many years later, there are 304 million.
You can keep track of our population growth by checking the website of the population clock at
Did you or are you going to watch a fireworks display? In 2007, the US spent about $207 million on importing fireworks from China. We did a lot of shopping there in 2007, spending another $4.7 million on US flags.
Here in Scipio the sun is shining and the goldfinches are busy at the birdfeeder, arguing with the cardinals over the sunflower seeds, while the hummingbirds dart and hover by their nectar feeders. I took a ride over to the Town Offices this morning, and it was great to see how many folks have their American flags on display.
Happy Fourth of July!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

4-H Clubs

There is a reunion coming up of 4-H members. It will be on July 5th, 2008, at the Cayuga County Fairgrounds in Weedsport, NY.
The organizers are asking for old memorabilia and photos, so I have begun looking through some old scrapbooks. It has brought up lots of great memories.
I, like most of Wyckoff Road north of Hunter Road, belonged to the Wyckoff Highlanders through the mid-50’s and 60’s. I don’t know the origin of the club name, but it was around for a long time. Our skills were mainly in baking, sewing, raising animals and gardening. That’s because those were the skills of the volunteer leaders we had.
Our leaders were our parents. We attended a meeting, paid dues and elected officers, conducted business and then some part of the meeting would be dedicated to an activity.
We had a lot of fun at those meetings, and we learned a lot too. I remember attending a session on basic electricity, taught at the (by then abandoned) one-room School #2 on the corner of Wyckoff and Skillett Roads. One parent taught us how to properly iron a shirt, with gusto! I learned to sew almost anything from another cherished leader and got the blue ribbons to prove it.
We baked muffins and biscuits; pies and cakes. Our goal was to enter them at the County Fair and win a blue ribbon, and perhaps be selected to go on to the State Fair. Of course we needed to practice, so our families were our lab rats. To this day I cannot choose cherry pie for dessert and I have 2 older sisters to thank for that!
I’ve mentioned the website before; it is an awesome searchable site of newspaper articles. So I searched and you guessed it – found an article on my sister’s cherry pie recipe!According to the Auburn Citizen of November 7, 1954, Cynthia Stoker and her cousin Joan Minde entered, for the second year, the cherry pie contest held at NYSEG, then located on North Street in Auburn. After the judges were through, Cynthia won by a mere 2 points over her cousin Joan – the exact opposite of the previous year. The article contains the entire recipe. When I shared a copy with these two ladies, they had lots more memories to talk about. If you have some to share, send us a comment!
I will write some more about the 4-H and the county fair this week.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Lucinda the Mountain Mourner

High in the mountains in a rustic cabin we left poor Lucinda, cowering in her bed with shame about her pregnancy by a man who now ignores her. A man who was likely Melvin Brown, one-time resident and shopkeeper in Sherwood in the Town of Scipio, Cayuga County, NY.
The early 19th century has a very different outlook on unwed mothers, and Lucinda's reputation is forever destroyed. Mr. Brown will not likely suffer in any way unless he experiences a few pangs of guilt someday.
Eventually, Lucinda delivers her child. She never leaves the mountain. To discover how the book ends, visit the Scipio Offices where we have a copy available. You can sit and read it in our History Corner! Or, Google books by the title or author.
Let me know what you think of the book if you read it.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Lucinda and Why She Mourns

Picking my way through the letters that make up this book, and understanding what Lucinda was agonizing about was no easy task. The language and morals of the day kept me hanging until about midway through the book when I finally was clear about what was the issue.
Lucinda was raised by a relative through her formative years after her mother died. As a young lady, she met Melvin Brown, who apparently made promises of marriage that he had no real intention of keeping. Lucinda was naive, and believed him. This naivete led to Lucinda compromising herself.
When she tried to discuss this with Melvin Brown, she was met by hasty and rash assurances that he failed once more to live up to.
Despondent and suicidal, a pregnant and forlorn Lucinda made her way to her father and stepmother's primitive cabin and was temporarily taken in.
Poor Lucinda!
In an agonizingly embarrassing letter, we learn of the visit to the family from the Town officials, who need to determine who is responsible for Lucinda's situation so he may be held accountable for any cost, rather than the Town. Lucinda herself is unable to discuss this and takes to her bed.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Lucinda the Mountain Mourner

I spent a lot of time earlier in the week on Sherwood Select School, and some of was with my nose deep in Storke's History of Cayuga County 1789 - 1879. On page 430, I read about Sherwood and its select school established in 1872 with about 36 pupils under Principal Hepsibeth C. Hussey and her Assistant Dorcas Gardner.
My eyes skipped down to a section on merchants and stopped at the name Melvin Brown. Melvin was an early merchant and inhabitant of Cayuga County. In partnership with another about 1808, Melvin was in the potash business for about 2 years.
In another early history of Scipio where I gathered some information for my post about Tracy and the Bear, I had seen a reference to Melvin Brown stating he was probably the man in the book "Lucinda; or The Mountain Mourner."
This book was written by Mrs. Manville, Being Recent Facts , in a Series of Letters, from Mrs. Manville, in the State of New York, to Her Sister in Pennsylvania. It is a novel comprising 30 letters, set around Saratoga Springs and in Marcellus, near Syracuse.
I was able to download and read it through Google books. What a sad, sad story!
You need to remember that times and morals were different in 1800, the year this book was written. There was no welfare system; people took personal responsibility for their actions and suffered the consequences.
Town Board meetings for Scipio and probably most towns of the day always included an amount set aside for the Poormaster to use on behalf of someone fallen on hard times; to pay for an urgent medical need or prevent someone from starving or being thrown out of their dwelling. Our ancestors were compassionate folks but they felt that those responsible needed to be held accountable for any costs.
The next blog will tell you about Lucinda, and why she mourned from the mountaintop.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Graduates of Sherwood Select School

Today I am posting to the blog the last of the graduates for 1910 - 1926 under the Regents. These folks graduated from Sherwood Select after attending a one-room schoolhouse until probably eighth grade.
Some went on to be teachers themselves, giving back to their community and enriching it for future generations. You probably recognize a few of the names, I know I did.
Stop on over to the Scipio Offices and see our current display of one-room school photos. Maybe you can find a picture of an aunt or uncle that you haven't seen before!

The five who graduated in 1920 were:

Helen Beck
Margaret Cotter Bowness
Anna Dooley McSweeney
Mildred Hoxie Atkinson
Frank Powers

In 1921, Sherwood graduated six:

Ethel Bowen Perkins
Elizabeth Crowley
Edith Ely Scileppi
Fred Howland
Raymond Mahaney
Eva White Schenk

Sherwood had seven graduates in 1922:

Herbert Heffernan
Dorothy King Kearnis
Mary Murphy Maroney (another of those one-room school and eventually Sherwood School teachers)
Harriet O'Neill Landice
Mildred Smart Youtt
Edgar Ward
James Welch

And there you have it, all the Sherwood Select School graduates for 1910 - 1926 are available on this searchable blog. Were any of them your teacher? Do you have a story to share? Either post a comment to the blog or e-mail me at Scipio, we'd love to hear from you.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Sherwod Select School

We have a selection of pictures of the Sherwood Select School over at the Scipio Town Building. It was a great-looking building, like something out of a Gothic novel. I don't know much about styles of architecture, but I can say without hesitation that the school was an imposing building, truly one of a kind.

The class of 1917 had six people:

Florence Beck
Ruth Bradley Tuttle
Esther Ely Manchester
Clarence Heffernan
Warren Loyster
Walter Wyant

In 1918, seven graduated:
Irene Bowness Welch (another dedicated teacher at Sherwood, Irene lived in "downtown" Scipio Center for as long as I can remember)
Ida Ferris
Robert Harold Manchester
Frank Mekeel
John Stephenson
Pearl Wood Chamberlain
Ruby Wood Balsley

The Mekeel family lived on Wyckoff Road in Scipio at one time - we have a picture of School #2 (corners of Wyckoff and Skillett Roads) taken about 1922 with a Hilda Mekeel in it; she looks to be under 10 years old.

In 1919, the six graduates were:

Harold Beebee
Elizabeth Fenn
Mildred Holland Hockeborn
Muriel Holland Winard
Carrie Mekeel Hoag
Francis Tierney

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Sherwood Select School Graduates

In 1914, we find seven in the graduating class:

Gertrude Bowness Nolan
Anna Haines Smith
Mary Keefe
Jessie Marshall Chilcott
Mary Marshall Hatch
Virginia Mekeel Morse
Elizabeth Mosher Hoagland

1915 brought 5 graduates:

Harriet Buckhout Young
Agnes Conaughty (and now that I think about it, I believe this was the Sherwood teacher I knew as Mrs. Conaughty, not the 1912 graduate Jennie Conaughty)
Catherine Cunningham Gosline
Marie Fordyce Loyster
Alleine Winn

In 1916, only four graduates:

Eugene Bradley
Hazel Casler Scott
Francis Harris
Amy Winters VanDuyne

If you recognize any name and have a story to share, please post a comment - we'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Sherwod Select School

Sherwood Select School

Strange as it seems, the graduating class of one person in 1910 beat the class of 1911 - there was no one to graduate in 1911!

In 1912, two folks graduated: Jennie Conaughty, who I believe went on to become a teacher at Sherwood, and George Mosher.

1913 was a busy year, with 9 graduates:

Archibald Bradley
Lyman Cook
Henrietta Bly Lehrbach
Esther Haines Giles
Phebe King
Patrick Purcell
Maude Seccomb Alvord
Emily Slocum Wilbur
Harry Smith Cook

Sherwood Select School

In 1970, my graduating class from Southern Cayuga Central School, a combination of the former Sherwood, Genoa and King Ferry Schools, consisted of 96 people. I thought that was a lot until I met my husband, who tells me his Class of 1972 in Bayonne NJ had about 900!
Small town living is indeed small. In 1910, Sherwood School had one graduate, Claude Chase. Aurora may remember Claude as their friendly mail carrier for many years. Some of his family remains in Cayuga County today, and maybe we can get them to share the tale of Claude's whaling captain ancestor from Nantucket.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Sherwood Select School

The Historian for a neighboring town, Phyllis Stanton, was kind enough to drop off a copy of graduates of Sherwood Select School 1910 - 1926 as found in "Historical Sketch of Sherwood School" by Phoebe King. She knows we are trying to identify the students in a school photo of 1923 - 1924. Stop by the Scipio offices and take a gander, maybe someone you know is in the photo!
Those who graduated in 1923 were Paul Cotter, Alton Groom,Lois Venable Wightman, Charles Howland and Mildred Ward Howes. In 1924, the graduates were Margaret Kanalley (who went on to teach sixth grade at Sherwood), Volney Mosher and Homer White.
Underclassmen who may be in the photo include the graduates of 1925: Elizabeth Hitchcock Bergerstock (wife to LeRoy Bergerstock of Moravia, my mother's sister Betty was a nurse and also worked several years at Jennings Department Store in Moravia), Beulah Howland Stephenson, Margaret McCormack Youngs, Evelyn Venable and Paul Wagner.
The graduating class of 1926 consisted of Elizabeth Cotter Bokal, Carl King,William Maroney, Mary Mitchell White,Rena Powers Brogan, Virginia Watkins Swayze (Sherwood School nurse for many years and co-owner of a maple syrup operation with her husband), Gertrude Whalen Passamonte and Clifford White.
Stop over and put a name with a face!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Scipio and the Military Tract

Here are the final 25 names, as published in Tree Talks, of those Revolutionary War veterans who drew land in Township #12 (Scipio). Do you recognize any of them? I have added here a few of the comments found in Tree Talks, as copied from the Balloting Book:

Petria Rutan, Lieutenant ----------------------Deranged
Henry Tiebout, Captain
Evans Jones
George Seeds
Benjamin Preston
John Barnhart
William Barrett
Philip Conline (Conine), Lieutenant
Lewis Piper
Joseph Thomas, Captain
Stephen Mix
Elias Balis
Jonas Addoms, Lieutenant
Hunlock Woodruff, Surgeon ---------------------Deranged
Ebenezer Wood
John Kitchum (Catchem)
William Burnham
James Barrett
Frederick Dalton
Richard Morrison
John Alport
Henry Pawling, Captain
Nathan Strong, Captain -------------------------Deranged

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Decoration Day

Decoration Day is coming up next week, or as we now call it Memorial Day. Our town and indeed county are rich in military history, in fact Scipio is part of the Military Tract in NYS.
I continue here to list more of the Revolutionary War veteran's names drawn for Township #12, Scipio, as shown in Tree Talks:

Farrell Summers
William Leaycraft
Robert Cochran
Jeromus Hogelandt
George Leaycraft
Christopher Closer
David Miller
Richard Coteree
William Brumley
Alexander M'Master
Elisha Miller
John Buggarow
Henry Godwin
Samuel Jones
Richard Platt
Ebenezer Parker
John Marsh
David Ogden
Adam Wendell
John M'Cormick
John Osmun
Thomas Grill
Jacob Wright
Jacob Wendell
Patrick Symott (Synot?)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Military Tract and Scipio

On March 23, 1798, a law was passed in NY that stated lots needed to be set aside to provide for the support of the gospel and schools, and the promotion of literature.
An Act relative to lot number One, in the town of Scipio was passed March 29, 1809 which stated that the supervisor of Scipio along with appointed commissioners, in pursuance of the above law of 1798, was to execute a durable lease or leases to anyone including their heirs and assigns forever, for lot number one.
Heady stuff, but it appears that the intent of the law was to assure that any soldier on a lot that was to be set aside instead for gospel, school or library, was fairly compensated.
This information is also taken from Tree Talks of December 1969. And here are the next 25 names of Revolutionary War Soldiers who drew lots in Scipio, starting with Lot # 26:

Thomas Miller
Daniel Owens
Robert Cochran
Arthur Lamb
Edward Kizor
John Sandford
Juhn Utter
Theodore Bliss
Peter Van Buscoten
James Slack
Samuel Mitchell
Salter Pulman
Cornelius Swarthout
Henry Ennis
George Clinton
Abner French
James Stewart
John M'Lane
Alexander M'Dougall (yes, in addition to Lot #24)
George St. Clair
John Stump
Frederick Weissenfels
Joseph Concklin
Richard Platt
Henry Post

Devine Cemetery

Another old cemetery that has become overgrown and needs some tender loving care is the Devine Cemetery on Wyckoff Road in Scipio.
When I was a child, I remember having some foggy notion that it was so-named due to the connection with Heaven. Not so - there was once a family by the name of Devine that it is named for. I still like my theory better.
The Devine Cemetery is about 1/4 to 1/2 of an acre of land on the east side of Wyckoff Road, about 1 mile from Wyckoff Station. It is a lovely and private spot next to a small stream. Children used to decorate the gravesites with violets and lilac branches, and pass along the stories of its inhabitants, including the "unknown German" written about by Ward O'Hara. Some years, cows passed by or through the cemetery on their way to and from the barn every day.
I have found no record of anyone in the Devine family being in this cemetery. There are, however, at least 3 Revolutionary War soldiers here: Robert Knox, Abijah Rude and Timothy Smith.

Revolutionary Scipioites

It has been a busy week here in Scipio. The lilacs are in bloom, the trees are leafing out, and the dairy farmers are disposing of the winter's accumulation by spreading it on the fields and then planting. Ah, Spring!
Scipio has some of the best farmland in NY, and has always attracted farmers of all kinds. Our Revolutionary War veterans who drew lots in Scipio, Township # 12 in the Military Tract, and actually came and settled here discovered that despite the hard work of clearing the then- forested land and planting their crops, they could prosper due to the rich and fertile soil.
Many veterans sold or traded their land sight unseen, and never discovered what a good area they missed out on. I have a copy of a list of 100 Revolutionary War Soldiers who drew lots that was published in Tree Talks in 1969, contributed by Mrs. Laurence Tanner of Scipio. Tree Talks is a publication of the central NY Genealogy Society, based in Syracuse. You can visit their website at Many of these names do not appear in our 1800 census, nor are they in the Town Meeting book.
I thought that I would post these names 25 at a time. Tree Talks shows, in addition to the names, their rank, Regiment and Company. A few have additional comments.
These are by Lot #, beginning with Lot #1:

John Ralja
Joseph Hunt
Joshua Philips
Charles Van Note
Andreas Christopher
Ebenezer Stevens
Jacob Spelsbury
Timothy Campfield
Thomas Pemberton
Finch Guildersleeve
John Pearce (Pierce)
George Flemming
Joshua Kethcum
Nathaniel Higgins
Thomas Smith
Elbert Crouse
Peter Fuller
Johnathan Russell, 2nd
John Smith
Alexander M'Dougall
Samuel Pribble

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Early School Teachers

I was sorry to miss last week's presentation by Judy Furness, Historian for Ledyard, on our one-room schools. I have been compiling information too, and the Scipio Offices has a nice display of photos from early schools. A recent trip to the NYS Archives in Albany yielded some information on education of the teachers, and I hope to share some of that soon.
On one of my visits to the Cayuga County Historian's Office, I found school information in a "Scipio" folder. It was taken from a "Historical Sketch of Scipio Number One, Scipioville and Levanna Communities" by Ernest Jo Young in 1938.
For the Town of Ledyard, Mr. Young wrote about School # 2 or Cooney Corners School, named after an early inhabitant. He also wrote of Ingleside, a preparatory school conducted by Professor Dickinson. Washington Irving, a relative of William Grinnell, did some of his writing here.
George Swayze began his teaching career at School #3, with as many as 40 pupils at one time.
There were many people who were teachers in these one-room schools. At School #5 or Barbers Corners School, teachers included the following folks:
Fannie Taylor, Susan Brown, Matilda Jacobs, Adolphus Searing, George Swayze, Fred Bowen, Frank Kent, William Otis, Mrs. Hoag, Oscar B. Swayze, Sarah Howland, Nelson Stevens, Mary Tompkins, Fanchia Groom, Augusta Phelps, Martha Bancroft, Lucy Anthony, Mrs. Carr and Miss Post. I wonder which Miss Post?

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Cemeteries in Scipio

It seems like the time of year when I always do some cemetery walking. So many of our little rural cemeteries get overgrown with brush during the summer months and this time of year it is easiest to find fallen markers and do a little weed pulling. To find a cemetery, click on the link below to the Cayuga County Rootsweb site.
I think my favorite find was my third great-grandparents, Abiel and Mehitable (Smith) Mosher. After finally learning the location, my cousin and I obtained permission from the farmer to enter their property. Scrambling over a low stone wall that marked off the burial ground and ducking a few tree branches, we found a large stone clearly marked and easily photographed. What a great discovery! But had we waited until July or August, I doubt we could have entered the area or seen the stone so easily.
I've been looking at the records for the Cornwell or Cornwall Cemetery recently. There are probably 8 Revolutionary War veterans in that cemetery, and we would like to ensure they all have markers.
The records I saw that were gathered by Louise Coulson stated that the earliest burial here was in 1799, when the infant son of Joel and Huldah (Horton) Coe was buried. Sadly, Huldah joined him there in 1803.
Joel was one of Scipio's earlier settlers. He purchased property here in September of 1790 from General George Fleming. In the early spring of 1796, Joel and a few other men, including his brother-in-law Benjamin Fordyce, came to Scipio. They built log homes, cleared land and planted corn, then returned to New Jersey. In the fall, they returned with their families to settle in Scipio and harvest their first crops.
The Revolutionary War veterans known to be buried here are Ebenezer Cheever, Joel Coe, Elias Manchester, Samuel Hoskins, Frederick Van Liew, Caleb Wadams, Israel Ward, and Benjamin Fordyce who is in the Fordyce burial ground nearby.

Weavers in the Census

After my recent post on the Strong family, there is a nice commentary you should read, giving more details about this industrious family. One of those details is the fact that Rhoda Strong, a daughter of Epaphroditis Strong, married a weaver by the name of Henry Johnson in 1829, moving to Genesee County by 1840.
This may seem like a strange occupation for a man, but the truth is that in those mid-1800's, many men were weavers.
Scipio has a jacquard coverlet woven in 1834 on display at the Scipio offices, and in an effort to learn about these and the weaving process I visited the Alling Coverlet Museum in Palmyra, NY a few years ago. It is well worth the time. They have on display at least 50 different coverlets, and an enormous amount of information on weavers.
The museum has one of the looms used to weave in this style on display. The weaver could use a series of cards to create different design elements, creating a reverse design on the other side.
Often, these men were itinerant, with weaving as a part-time job when not busy with farming or other business. They would travel to a town and advertise their coverlets as custom-made. Scipio's coverlet was identified as most likely created by a man from Groton, a nearby town.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Ezra Strong

My last blog was meant to be about Ezra Strong, but somehow I took a left turn and wrote about one of my great-grandfathers! The Town of Ledyard Historian that I mentioned, Judy Furness, wrote a recent article about the Strong family published in the Genoa-King Ferry Tribune of March 12, 2008.
If you check my blog for March 6th, 2008, you will find page 9 of the 1800 census. On it are Ezra Strong and Epaphroditus Strong. According to Judy's research, Ezra's family lived in Scipio for a time. And so they did at least in 1800 at census time.
Many early pioneers had no other means to move themselves and their worldly goods but their feet, and the Strong family was no exception. Judy tells a tale of their move to Rochester, in Monroe County, NY, by foot, a distance of about 75 miles that can be accomplished today in not much more than one hour on our Thruway.
The Strong family became prominent in Rochester; Alvah became editor of the newspaper and a founder of the Rochester Theological Seminary. His son Henry Alvah partnered with George Eastman of Kodak, a mainstay of Rochester. According to the story as conveyed to Judy Furness, Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester is so named after Henry Alvah. This Scipio family indeed went on to contribute to their community in a big way.
You can subscribe to the Genoa-King Ferry Tribune so you don't miss stories like this by joining the Genoa Historical Association. A one year membership is only $15. Contact them through the following link:

Small Town Historians

Small town historians like myself do this job as a labor of love. Often, their personal roots extend deep within their community; then they are bitten by that old genealogy bug and spend so much time with their Town Clerk copying old documents that it makes sense to become the Historian! In Cayuga County, our County Historian brings us together a few times every year and that has been a valuable experience as we come to know each other and exchange information and requests from folks seeking their roots.
I am fortunate enough to belong to a few other organizations, and the Board of the Friends Cemetery Association is a membership I share with 2 other local Historians - Phyllis Stanton and Judy Furness, Historians for Venice and Ledyard respectively.
At our yearly meeting last week (incidentally held by candlelight due to a spring storm) we spent some time talking about the initial formation and members of this Board. I joined the Board initially because my great-great-grandparents, Sally and Daniel Peckham, are buried in this cemetery. Through one of those serendipitous events that other family researchers know occur, through joining I discovered their son and my great-grandfather, Fred Peckham, was a charter member of the Board.
By candlelight, I shared with the other members the story of my great-grandfather, a Quaker who had felt so strongly about the Civil War that he joined the 111th NY Volunteer Infantry.

The 111th has also been known as the Harper's Ferry Cowards, a real misnomer for anyone who has actually taken the time and researched them. The truth was that these green troops, mustered in on August 20, 1862 and with little to no training or weapons provided, were sent to Harper's Ferry where they faced Stonewall Jackson three weeks later on September 13.
Captured, imprisoned and then paroled, somehow Fred was invalided and spent some time in a hospital in Virginia before being discharged in February 1863.
While anti-slavery, the Friends or Quakers were also anti-war. Fred did not return home after serving his country, but made a place for himself in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. In 1869, he married Laura Riddle, a Scotch-Irish woman who had been orphaned by the age of 14. Together, they moved to the then-frontier of Iowa and there they remained for at least a dozen years. Sometime between the 1880 Iowa census and the 1885 birth of my grandmother Mariam Peckham, they returned to Cayuga County.
Fred and Laura both died in 1916 and are buried elsewhere in Cayuga County, but Fred served on the Board of the Friend's Cemetery from its inception in 1899. I believe he found it a way to reconnect with his roots, just as joining the same Board did for me a century later.

John & Deborah Otis House

I received some good news yesterday in the form of yet another letter about a historic site in Scipio, in the vicinity of Sherwood.
The John and Deborah Otis House, at 1882 Sherwood Road, has been placed on the NYS Register of Historic Places, and nominated to the National Register of Historic Places.
Another thorough and successful job by Scipioites who care about their history, and want to preserve where possible what they believe should remain as meaningful parts of out town for everyone. Another great job!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Revolutionary War and Scipio

Scipio is one of the original towns for the land grants that were provided to veterans of the Revolutionary War for their service. Some stayed, some sold, some moved on. In the coming weeks, I will be providing a list of some of America's finest who originally received land in Scipio. Today I want to tell you about a website I just discovered that has a plethora of information about Revolutionary soldiers as well as Civil War information, early FBI data and much much more. It is They are busily digitizing to jpegs the National Archives records, including original documents from the Continental Congress and so much more. They have some information that is free to view. There is also a one-week free trial, or for about $60 you can go crazy for a full year and download and view whatever is available.
It seems to be a bit like Wikipedia, in that people are invited to share their information. The original documents as I said are jpegs (so for those of us with dial-up connections, it will be a long slow process) so these documents are unalterable.
I was able to view and download one of my ancestor's Revolutionary War service records and pension applications, and found that it included verification that he served at Valley Forge, and his discharge was signed by George Washington. So I think this website is defintely worth checking out for a week's trial. Let me know what you find!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Population totals per the 1800 Federal Census

On display in the History Corner at the Scipio Offices is the entire 1800 census copy, as well as the transcript I just completed.
In addition to the names lists I have posted to the Blog, the census and transcript shows the numbers of people in each of these households, broken out by age groups and separated by free persons and slaves. Some of the names are recognized as the same ones in our Ledger of Slaves, also copied and transcribed at Scipio, as well as completely viewable on line at the Cayuga County Historian's website; you can link to that below.
Here are the grand totals of each group living in Scipio at the time this census was taken.

Free white males
Under 10: 667
10 thru 15: 199
16 thru 25: 293
26 thru 44: 305
45 and over: 133

Free white females
Under 10: 599
10 thru 15: 192
16 thru 25: 309
26 thru 44: 267
45 and over: 112

All other Free Persons: 1

Slaves: 10

Last Census Page for 1800

It seems like it has taken a long time, but we have finally reached the last census page for Scipio in 1800. Now, bear in mind that Scipio in 1800 was not Scipio of 2008. Parts of Scipio became other towns. A blog for another day!
Here without further ado is the last set of names. The census taker and I have done our best to spell these names accurately but there of course will be errors, particularly where I have tried to read some of these old records and interpret handwriting.

Elisha Hewett
Ebenezar Liester (sic)
Ebenezar Wood
Daniel Leister (sic)
David Hammond
Lemuel Herrick
Simeon Herrick
Daniel Howe
James Voohies
Daniel Robinson
Judah Whitting
Hosea Buttington
John Harris
Stephen Mason
Zadaock Bateman
Nathan Hurd
John Moseir (sic)
Daniel R(?)awson
Joseph Coon
David Barnhart
William Hyer

Census for 1800

Page 20 of the census is below. It is interesting to see what names were popular in these early years of our town. Lots of Ebenezars, Ezekiels, Elijahs, etc. It seems clear that there were many Christians here who read their Bibles. Often the Bible was the only book a family owned, and it was used on a daily basis in the household. It helped instruct the children in reading, and imparted moral lessons at the same time.

Andrew Bell
George Mills
Solomon Brown
Calvin Reed
Aaron Kellogg
Elijah Chapin
Nathan G(?)osbin
Zebe Taylor
John Kinney
Mark Hoddard
Charles Leister
James Stevenson
Luke Taylor
Joseph Howard
William Churchill
??? Heaton
Robert Stuart
Jesse Brooks
Timothy Wells
Joseph Hatch
David McCrackan
Butler Amin
Joseph Thomas
Enos Babet
Henry Hewett
Ephiam Morgan

Federal Census for 1800 Scipio

Here is the nineteenth page of Scipio's 1800 census:

John S(?)lossen
David Cornell
Peleg Cornell
Benjamin Howland
John Boyd
John Hutchinson
Ebenezar Ingersoll
Henry Wendall
Miles Camp
James McLaughlin
Robert McBride
Josiah Beard
Joshua Mu(??)d
Thomas Cannon
Geo(?)ge Bear
(??)on Beard
John Clarke
Benjamin Bailey
Benjamin Patterson
James Stuart
John Mills
Gardner Congdin
Alpheus Spencer
Thaddeus Spencer
Abel Simons
Tyler Cole

Census for 1800

Today I am posting some more of the Federal census pages. Here are the names from page 18 for Scipio:

Edmund Sawtol (?)
Asa Sottle
Levi Sottle
Hezekiah Cresey
Philip Truman
John Wall
Joshua Loers
David Hu(?)ston
Ebenezar Witter
Stephen Wilcox
John Butt(?)er
Stephen Dunn
Samuel Butler
Stephen Webb
Stephen Webb Junr.
John Webb
Ezra Webb
Caleb Lawyer
James Butt(?)er
Benjamin Truman
Matthew Stephens
Samuel Clarke
Nathaniel Walker
Luther Tapper
Samuel Baker
Belden Stossen

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Abraham Lincoln and William Seward

I am a day or so late with this post, unfortunately, but so it goes. April 15th of 2008 was the 143rd anniversary of the death of Abraham Lincoln. For the past 56 years, that occasion has been remembered with a small ceremony in Springfield, Illinois where he rests eternally. What many do not realize is that his assassination was only part of a larger plot against our government.
I remember as a child my first visit to the Seward mansion in Auburn, Cayuga County, just a few miles as the crow flies from Scipio. A school bus of 4th graders got the grand tour of the home of the man who served as Secretary of State to Abraham Lincoln. He is primarily remembered for the purchase of Alaska, which you may have heard referred to as "Seward's Folly." The town of Seward, Alaska, is named in his honor.
The thing that I remember most vividly seeing with my 9 year-old eyes were the carefully preserved sheets that had been on William Seward's bed on April 14th, 1865. Mr. Seward had been in a carriage accident, and was confined to his bed with a neck brace. An assassination attempt was made upon his life that same night as the attempt upon Abraham Lincoln. He was saved from the slashing knife of the assassin by the neck brace he wore; the torn sheets were proof of the attempt on his life.
Using my NYS Library card, I found an article in the NY Times of July 8, 1912. It was an interview recalling that horrible night with William Seward's son, Frederick, at the age of 82. He was about 34 years old and home with his father when the assassin appeared, ringing the doorbell. When Frederick refused to let the man see his very ill father, the man drew a gun and fired.
The gun did not go off, and in frustration, the man pistol whipped Frederick to the floor, then ran into his father's room and slashed at his throat, injuring but not murdering Mr. Seward.
Frederick was unconscious for 9 days following the attack, and it was six more months before he was able to return to work as Assistant Secretary of State, now to President Johnson.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Census for Scipio

Page 17 of the 1800 census for Scipio:

Ishmeal Reeve
Peter Rose
John Lambkin
Aaron Dolph
Sanford Utley
Lemuel Hutchinson
John Beach
Clarke Beach
John White
Ezekiel Landers
Garrett Cottrell
Isaac Chandler
Reuben Lewis
Joshua Rothbon
Lodewisk Tabor
Benjamin Lamp(?)kin
John Cole
Winter W. Branch
Asabel Branch
William Weed
William Branch
Frederick Spalding
Ebenezar Avery
Asher Fall(?)man
William Howland
Joseph Talmadge

Scipio 1800 Census

Another day, another census page. Today I am sharing the 16th page from the 1800 census. You'll notice some familiar surnames here!

Benjamin Avery
Edmund Capon
Samuel Southard
Charles Kendall
John Jinney
William Culver
Hosias Culver
Noah Lapham
Jonathan Chamberlain
Icabod Southwick
Jeremiah Bishop
Samuel Stiles
John Wright
Hannah Bishop
Thomas Manihull
Simon Freeland
Asabel Coggswell
James Cortwright
Abraham Cortwright
Gardner Moore
George Moore
Cornelius Bashford
William Nanne
Peter Melatte
Darius Howe
Timothy Howe

Photos of Scipioville and Sherwood School

Once again I am experimenting. The lack of high speed Internet access here in Scipio is a constant source of frustration for myself and other residents. I am hesitant to post anything to this blog that would have a long download time, but I would like to make some photos and other materials available as a link.
Today, I am sharing a link to 2 photos. This album will be visible to all users at If indeed I have done this correctly, clicking the link should take you to a page with thumbnails photos, enlargeable by clicking on them. So let's see!

Memorial Day Celebrations

Before we know it, Memorial Day will be here. Originally known as Decoration Day, Waterloo New York claims to be its original home.
For the past year or so, Waterloo and some generous contributors have been working on erecting an ambitious new Civil War memorial next to Cayuga-Seneca Canal Lock #4. You can check out progress or get directions to check it out yourself on their website at
The goal is to complete it in time for a dedication ceremony the weekend of September 18th - 20th. They have already received donations of over half of the amount needed! I hope to take a look this June when I attend the Daughters of Union Veterans (DUV) Conference in Waterloo, the pictures on their website show a lovely memorial with a lot of work.
If you are interested in the DUV, there is a link to their national website at the bottom of the page.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Jethro Wood

On the same page 13 of the 1800 Census as Jethro Wood are James and John Wood. Looking through Storke's History of Cayuga County, we learn that John was probably Jethro's father. and James was a brother of John.
John and his family, and James as well as other Wood family members, came to Scipio from Washington County in 1799. John Wood served as State Senator, despite the restrictions of the Quaker Society in regard to holding office.
Googling Jethro Wood and his family turns up an amazing amount of information about the plow, Jethro's invention and antique farm implements.

Met Towers

Spring is in the air here in central NYS! The crocuses are finally up and so is the first MET Tower.
In a field on Skillett Road, just west of the intersection of Rice Road stands the first MET Tower. Its purpose is to measure the wind for the potential of wind energy development in Scipio.
That field is about the highest spot in our town. I can remember when my mother stopped the car along Skillett Road there one spring day when I was about six and told me that. We looked ahead of us and saw Owasco Lake. Craning our necks around we could also see Cayuga Lake! Pretty impressive to a first grader, and this 55-year-old still stops at least once a year to see the same view.

Pretty soon it will be time to get out and get busy. It will also be an ideal time to "cemetery walk." Once the ground dries up and before the briars and berry bushes start to grow, take a ride or a walk through an old cemetery. I always take my camera and a pair of gloves, since I am pretty allergic to poison ivy! A digital camera is great for cemeteries. You can see right away if you have the right angle to actually read the stone.
There may be an association that is caring for that older cemetery that is a final resting place of one of your ancestors. Give them a call, I bet they would welcome your help for a clean-up day.

The Cast Iron Plow

Jethro Wood appears in our 1800 census. For many years until his death in 1834, he resided in Scipio in a house now on the National Register of Historic Places, about a mile west of Poplar Ridge.
Jethro obtained letters patent on September 1, 1819 for developing a cast iron plough. His adaptive invention revolutionized the farming industry, but he never received the credit or payment he deserved. Much information is available on his struggles.
While browsing the NYS Library one afternoon, I found a Petition to the 29th Congress made by the executrix and executors of Jethro's estate. Filed January 12, 1846, it was a petition for a renewal of their patent for an improvement in the construction of the plough.
The petition outlines how Jethro went about developing his version of a better plough, using cast iron rather than the heavy and expensive wrought iron in use at the time that required regular resharpening. It also states his plough cost only six dollars instead of eighteen.
The Petition tells a sad story of a man who died early and mostly penniless, leaving behind his widow Sylvia (daughter of Slocum Howland), and sons Benjamin and John, one of whom had to go to prison apparently for spending everything he had in costly litigation to defend his father's patent.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Census for 1800 Scipio

I have one more page to share today. Here it is, page 15:

James Eastty
David Russell
James Rumsey
William Morgan
Ebenezar Green
William Vanderhoof
Elijah Vanderhoof
John Gare(?)th
James Stuart
Joel George
John Tone
Jonathan Siobie (?)
Robart (sic) Stuart
Nathan Tune
Sarah Baird
Morris Wilcox
Zeda Griswold
Joseph Lamb
Moses Rumsey
Ephraim Case
Luther Barney
David Corey
Henry Russell
David Dearbourne
David Griffin
Abijah Capone

Federal Census 1800

Today I will post some more of the 1800 census for Scipio. Soon, I will share some stories about the folks whose names you read.
Did you figure out who the "famous" person was on the last page? It was Jethro Wood, the man who invented the cast iron plow. Of course, there is some controversy about that so watch the blog for further details. Now here is page 14 of the census:

Jacob Shepherd Jnr.
Jeremiah Bailey
Moses Granger
Silas Tuttle
John Ewing
Darius Howe
Titus(?) Howe
Nathan Cash
George Nanne
Isaai Beach
Jedediah (?)yching
Timothy Howe Jnr.
Joseph Whitmore
Eli Shepherd
Rebecca Spalding
Samuel B. Richmond
Jonathan Brownell
Ephraim (sic) Buell
Isreal Buell
Edward S(?)elfredge
Daniel Brightman
Humphrey Tabor
James Smith
Samuel Smith
Benanuel Salsbury
John Bunce

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Wind Turbines in Scipio

What a historic time for our town. We are considering the pros and cons of wind turbines in our town. With a 400 foot tall turbine that has 200 foot blades, this would have a huge impact on our rural landscape. We all know that energy costs are high, though, and we want to be less dependent on other countries for our energy.
I remember a time when most farms had their own windmill to generate electricity. I imagine the debate about allowing the electric companies to place poles in the town was also a topic of great debate at the time.

We are also planning for the future direction of Scipio, and every landowner was recently sent a survey. I hope you filled yours out. What direction will our town take in the future? I imagine that these topics will be discussed by Scipioites at length. The main thing is to involve yourself in the discussion; make your opinion known. Why do you live in Scipio? What do you want to see when you look out your windows ? Let's all join in the conversation.

1800 Census for Scipio

Another day, another page of the 1800 census! We are about halfway through this first census of our town. Today I am adding page number 13; there is at least one name here that brought some fame to Scipio. See if you know who it is:

Samuel Grant
Thomas Hand (?)
John Pease
Jonas Stots (?)
Benjamin Howland
Daniel Maibling (?)
Jonathan Hussey
George Alolen
Josiah Smith
Francis Hezlit
John Wood
Jethro Wood
Franc(?) Whipple
Wilbert Dennis
Benjamin Langdon
Thomas Barnes
Timothy Piane
Salmon Buell
James Wood
Thomas Rogers
Orin Paine
James Baron
Thomas Morgan
John Sackett
Jedediah Morgan
Jacob Shepherd Snr.

STOKER Family Reunion

Does your family have a yearly or biennial reunion? Are your roots in Scipio? Send me a comment, let's let everyone know when and where!
The Stoker family is celebrating their centennial reunion this year. That's right, folks, 100 reunions.
The Stoker family has roots in Cayuga County and in Scipio. Samuel and Mary (Brockelsby) Stoker came to America in 1835 on board the Albion out of Liverpool. With them were seven children; one more was born in Homer, NY.
Good farmers, the Stokers prospered and many remained in the area.
Their first reunion was actually a birthday celebration for Sam's oldest son John. Everyone agreed to meet again the following year and a reunion was born.
Photos survive from those early years of stern-faced ancestors, and the notes from those reunions have been preserved as well. You can find the earliest 20 years posted on the Cortland County rootsweb site ( ).
The fiftieth reunion was celebrated with special place cards, napkins and invitations that are carefully preserved. The goal for the 100th reunion is to make it memorable for everyone. We plan to have lots of activities for everyone.
I must confess to having a special interest here, I was born a Stoker - the 3rd great-granddaughter of Samuel and Mary. Some associated names in this family are Dalton, Holben, Hammon, Morris, Hardacre and Edick.
If you are a Stoker I would love to hear from you. Copies of the Samuel and Mary Stoker genealogy record are available at the Scipio Town Hall, as well as the Wesley Stoker genealogy. Wesley and his wife Jennie Dennis lived on Skillett Road in Scipio, in the brick house on the corner of Gilling Road.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Gideon Allen

You probably noticed Gideon Allen on the 12th page of the 1800 census. I wanted to tell you a little more about him.
Gideon, a sergeant in the Revolutionary War, came to Scipio about 1790, one of the very first settlers in the area. He was a cousin of Ethan Allen of Green Mountain fame. Gideon first settled near present-day Scipioville, eventually moving to Springport in Cayuga County. His wife was Phebe Beardsley. Both born in Connecticut, they married in Washington County then made their way to Scipio.
While in Scipio, Gideon ran a tannery for a number of years, and was a Town Supervisor as well.
His son, Lemuel remained in Scipio at least until 1879. So did a granddaughter, Betsey, who married Jacob Post.
A descendant has posted a comment about the Gideon Allen family, and has kindly shared a family history of the descendants of Gideon and Phebe (Beardsley) Allen. A copy of that seven-generation genealogy is available at the Scipio Town Hall. Please stop by if you are in the area and want to know more about this interesting family.

Census for 1800 Scipio

Today I am posting the 12th page of the Scipio census. A few of these names were difficult to make out and I have indicated that with a (?).

Jreal (?) Bushby
Samuel Atkins
Gideon Allen
Ezra Davis
Josiah Watkins
Jonathan Swift
Samuel Chidsey
Augustus Chidsey
Samuel Boutton
Jacob Cole
Samuel Branch
Jesse Swift
William Tomkins
Thomas Bush
Thomas Lapham
Gideon Freeman
James Barber
Thomas Stoddard
Sylvanus Hussey
Friend (?) Phelps
Benjamin Whipple
Isaac Jones
Joseph L(?)audie
Roswell Franklin
Robert Geers
Elijah Drake

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Frog's Patent

A Town Historian's job is all about people, places and things. One of the places I mentioned briefly in my November 26, 2007 blog was Frog's Patent. It is almost time for those spring peepers to start up reminding us where that name came from!
I think in our town's early years, every 4 corners had a unique and very localized name. Several of the farms did too. Generally the name had to do with the people who settled there, or where they came from. With time, some of those names changed or were forgotten.
Scipio itself was named for the Roman general, when it was surveyed as part of the original Military Tract. It was larger then. I have found Scipio history in publications about Onondaga County and Seneca County.
Through every publication runs the theme of the farmers who came here to tame the land and stayed to raise their families. Some of the best soil is ours, that is why our crops do so well - from the huge farms of several hundred acres to the smallest kitchen garden.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Historic Preservation Board

As Scipio Historian, I receive notification from the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation whenever they are considering a property in Scipio for nomination to the State and National Registers of Historic Places. I was recently notified that they are considering the Job and Deborah Otis house at 1882 Sherwood Road. According to our local newspaper, they are also recommending the Augustus Howland home, located in the neighboring town of Ledyard. Ledyard was originally a part of Scipio.
The Otis house was built in 1815. Descendants of the Otis family remain in Cayuga County to this day. Placement on the National and State Registers would be a fitting recognition for the part played by this family in the direction and growth of our town in its early years.
The Howland family is also responsible for early formation of industry, governing, and education in Cayuga County. We would be pleased to see the Augustus Howland home also on the Registers.
We will talk more about the Otis and Howland families when they are placed on the Registers. Or you can always click on the link at the bottom of the page for the Cayuga County Rootsweb site where you will find more information.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Scipio Census 1800

I have another page of the 1800 Federal census to add. I am willing to bet that the parents of the last man listed had a sense of humor. He must have been born in mid-February!

Here is the 11th page of the census:

Levi Stephens
Daniel Cothrell (?)
Daniel Loomis
William Allen
Henry Watkins Junr.
Benjamin Tracey
Au(?)thur Smith
John Tarpenter
Avery Tracey
Elisha Fitch
Timothy Hallstead
James Kerr
Gideon Allen Junr.
Ebenzar (sic) White
Shedrick Hubbell
Au(?)thur Phelps
Seth McKinney
Thomas McKinney
Job Loomis
Abijah Atkins
Ebenezar Harrington
William Smead
David Edie
Isaac Parks
William Devine
Valantine Eastter

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Tracy and the Bear Web Links

I really need to check the blog comments before I post. Alanson's 4th great-grandson has posted some great information in the comments, including the web links for a version of the bear story, and a photo of Alanson. There is also some additional informaiton about Alanson's wife.
The format of the comments apparently cuts off longer web addresses, so I am placing the links here so hopefully all you need to do is click.

The bear story:

The biographical info on Alanson in Storke (1879):

Tracy and the Bear

A feww postings ago, I promised a story about Alanson Tracy when we found his name in the 1800 Federal census for Scipio. We found him, so here's the story:


One of the great stories about early Scipio is about Captain Alanson Tracy. It can be found in “Early History of Scipio” as well as in Storke’s “History of Cayuga County” and in the “Biographical Review.” It is widely accepted as a true story, although the details are a little murky.
Alanson came to Scipio from Massachusetts about 1793, making him one of our early settlers. About 23 years old, he settled near Sherwood and eventually married a Patty Howe.
The Sherwood of 1793 was much different than the Sherwood of today. The road to Aurora was little more than a dirt path through a forest. Wild animals such as bear and wolves roamed freely as did deer, turkey and other wild game. Imagine working in your garden or cornfield and seeing a bear appear in the clearing, intent on sharing the fruit of your labors! It was common for a bounty to be placed upon wolves or other wild animals that threatened the populizing of an area. Scipio was no exception, but that is a story for another day.
Alanson and other settlers were a hardy breed, needing to be creative and cope with situations we can only imagine in order that they and their family could survive.
The story of Alanson Tracy and the bear varies somewhat in the details, but the basic tale, most likely true, is the same.

Alanson Tracy was with another man, out working in the field. Unexpectedly, they saw a bear emerge from the woods and it attacked Alanson’s companion. Some accounts say the companion was injured quite severely.
Neither one had any weapons with them. In defense of his very life, Alanson Tracy jumped upon the back of this bear and grabbed hold of its ears, hollering for help.
The bear took off at a run. Hollering for help all the while, Tracy held on for dear life; he knew that loosening his grip would lead to the furious bear turning on him. For over a mile, Tracy rode bear back (I know, it really is a dreadful pun but I could not resist), hanging on to its ears, until the bear became exhausted. The bear could not shake him loose.
The bear became so exhausted that when he stumbled upon a small stream, Tracy was able to hold his head underwater until he breathed no more, according to one version of this story. Another version has someone responding to the cries for help and clubbing the bear to death.
At any rate, Alanson Tracy lived to tell the tale of his precarious bear ride for another 50 or so years, dying in 1852 at the ripe old age of 81.

Scipio Migrations

A lot of family history and genealogy research is centered on tracking the migration of ancestors; by boat, train, wagon or sometimes on foot they made their way first across the ocean and then westward across our nation. Sometimes they stopped for awhile at the newest frontier, then some or all of the family continued westward.
This time of year in Scipio you can witness another migration, that of birds returning from their winter homes. Some remain here in Cayuga County; some continue northward. We've recently seen the return of the red-winged blackbirds, and the blue jays have started squawking at the feeders in hopes of attracting a mate.
The Canadian geese are back and flying overhead as I write this posting in small noisy skeins towards Owasco Lake. This year we've had several snow geese as well. Their white bodies with the stark black wingtips stand out in the sky as they seek food and shelter in their journey.
Last week, it was possible to see a fairly uncommon sight; Tundra swans were flying along Owasco Lake. I looked out my window at the delightfully unexpected sight of an undulating white string of birds flying south, low over Owasco Lake in the late afternoon.
As we continue the sometimes frustrating search for our ancestors, the migration of the birds teaches us to keep our senses alert; because when we least expect it, we may find ourselves hearing or seeing something wonderful that we were not expecting. Happy researching!