Saturday, January 26, 2008

Sherwood Historical District

I had a letter in today's mail from the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. They were informing us that the Sherwood Equal Rights Historical District had been listed on the State Register of Historic Places, and nominated to the National Register of Historic Places. Many people have worked very hard to accomplish this, and I imagine they are glad to see their efforts have paid off.
If you look back through my earlier blog entries, you can find more information or you can also go to I'm sure I will be talking more about this as time goes on. Congratulations!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

1800 Census for Scipio, Cayuga County, NY

I received a nice packet of information from a correspondent from out of state, who has family roots here in Scipio's very early days. He visited us last summer and his recent mailing included a section of the 1820 census for Scipio showing his Smith ancestors.
I got thinking about how great census records are. They are in many cases inaccurate, and from year to year sometimes contradictory. But they are a fascinating glimpse into the communities of our ancestors. You can see who were neighbors, and a few years later those neighbors were sometimes newlyweds! Often, three or more generations lived together and a census offers a chance at discovering the name of that pesky elusive great-great-grandmother.
The censuses are a reflection also of the times. Who owned a radio, who worked where, how much was their property worth and when did they come to America are all questions asked at various times.
I looked up the 1800 census for Scipio. It listed the head of household only, then the total numbers by age groups within that household. Invariably, the families in those first few years were young and that makes sense as the countryside was undeveloped and required a pretty hardy individual to tame the land.

Here are the names shown on the first page of the 1800 Federal Census for the Town of Scipio in Cayuga County, NY:

Samuel Brush
Seth Burgiss Junr.
Gabriel Shutts
Welcome Mosier
John Brewer
Hezekiah Avery
Isaac Avery
Daniel Babcock
William McCorty
Seth Phelps
Friend Phelps
Walter Woods
Elizabeth Huggins
Briggs Jones
S? Marsh
Joseph Darrough
Timothy Tripp
Frederick Delanoe
Philip Allen
Glenn Cuyler
Benjamin Ledyard
Daniel Foot
Daniel Avery
Elias Avery
Dudley Avery
Thomas Mumford

Friday, January 18, 2008

1890 Federal Census Replacements

Many family researchers have learned that most of the 1890 Federal census records were lost forever in a fire. This has brought a lot of frustration as folks trace their ancestors.
But in many instances, there are helpful substitutes for the missing census records. On a recent trip to the NYS Library in Albany, I found an 1892 enumeration of the inhabitants of Scipio (NYS census). At ten cents a page, I copied the microfilm for Scipio and placed a copy in our History Corner at Scipio Town Hall.
I haven't indexed it yet, but here are some random names whose families are still in the area in 2008 (some misspellings are entirely my fault):
Edward Hoskins and his family Fannie, Harriet, Hattie June and Ray.
Joseph Flynn and Catherine, Elizabeth, Harry J. and Mary.
John and Elizabeth Knox.
Ezra Howell and Clara M., Monroe and Ernest.
William Wyant and Jane, Joseph and Arthur.
Daniel Colling and Eliza, John, Emma, Maggie, William, Jennie, Edward and Florence. Interestingly, we have Maggie Colling's autograph book on display, given to her about the time of this census when she was 16.
The census goes on to show Clarke, Weeks, Wheat, Welch, Allen, Peckham, Hitchcock and many more familiar names. Stop by and check it out!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Yearly Report

I just filed my fourth yearly report as Scipio Historian. I thought I would post this year's report on the blog so you know what it is a small-town Historian does. Here goes:

YEARLY REPORT of Town Historian, Scipio for 2007

This year was my fourth as Town Historian. The duties I performed included but were not limited to the following items:

I attended Cayuga County Historian’s meetings when they were offered and the yearly banquet and otherwise shared information with other local historians.
I responded to inquiries and requests for information of a historic or genealogic nature directed to me for the following names: Wyant, Freelove, Chilson, Lytle, Rhodes, Durkee, Gore, Mallory, Howe, Burt, Conkling, Fitzgerald, Reddy, McLoughlin and Hudson.
I continued an inventory of documents held by Scipio.
I accepted and inventoried donations to our historical holdings.
I maintained and updated our scrapbooks.
I submitted a brief article for each biannual town newsletter to inform our residents and increase local interest.
I obtained and organized copies of historical writings about our town and made them available in our History Corner for our residents and visitors.
I updated a brochure for display and/or mailing to interested parties about our available historical information.
I kept a supply of business cards at the Town Hall so residents could have a means to contact me by mail, phone or Internet.
I wrote an article that was published in our newspaper, The Citizen, about Scipio: Wyant Family. This generated several telephone contacts from Wyant family members and led to increased family tree information.
I visited the NYS Library and Archives in Albany and copied some information about Scipio residents for our History Corner.
I attended a NYS Historian’s Conference in Hunter, NY and brought back new information on how to set up exhibits, how to research the history of a house or property, and other ideas.
I completed work with the Town Clerk and our residents to find pictures and other information about our one-room schoolhouses and established a display.
I continued to attend functions and publicize information relative to the potential naming of the Town of Sherwood as a Historical District.
I created a BLOG for Scipio at to encourage younger residents to participate in their Town’s history in a medium they understand, and for others to communicate electronically with questions, etc.
I created a handout to gauge local interest in a project to photograph and document our barns.
I was provided with a file cabinet drawer at the Town Hall.

Sandie Stoker Gilliland
Town of Scipio Historian
January 6, 2008

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Cayuga County Farmland Preservation

It is encouraging to read that the New York State Governor, Eliot Spitzer, is again providing funding to protect our historic farmlands. In Round XI of the Farmland Protection Program, Cayuga County will receive about $2.3 million to partner with the New York Agricultural Land Trust to protect two farms. One of these farms, Allen Farms, is located in Scipio.
Now approaching 800 acres, Allen Farms was founded in the mid 1800s and is primarily a dairy farm. Its soil is 88% prime soil.
The Farmland Protection Program gives money to municipalities to support local farmland protection activities. For example, it lets municipalities purchase development rights on these historic farms, and that allows the farmers to use their equity without selling their farm.
Title 3, Article 49 of the New York State Environmental Conservation Law allows for the creation or conveyance of a conservation easement on real property. A conservation easement is a legal document written in the form of a deed, in which a landowner permanently restricts the future development of real property for the purpose of preserving or maintaining the scenic, open, historic, agricultural, or natural condition, character, significance or amenities of that property. Under the State’s Farmland Protection Program, agricultural conservation easements must be held, monitored and enforced, in perpetuity, by a public body (e.g. a county or town) and/or a qualified conservation organization, such as a land trust, which has the authority to acquire interests in real property. Any amendments to an easement funded under this program must be in keeping with the stated agricultural purposes of the easement and must be approved by the Department.
Further details can be found at the website of NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets at
There are other websites with related information as well. The Cayuga County Planning Board has played an active role in assisting with these applications, and may be another source of information.
As a Town Historian, I am pleased to hear that the rural nature of our town is being preserved where possible.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Scipio Assessments

I spent some time today looking through our old assessment books for 1939 and 1940. Our Assessors both years were Byron Hitchcock (my maternal grandfather), George Powers and Clinton Mosher.
The total acreage for Scipio is reported at 22,039 and 5/8 acres.
In 1939, Scipio had 6 churches, 3 parsonages, 9 cemeteries and 12 school districts.
In 1939, New York State Electric & Gas Company had 546 poles in Scipio and paid $417.55 in taxes. By 1940, they had placed a total of 603 poles.
I decided to take a look at the Town Meeting minutes for 1940. The minutes for March 5th of 1940 showed that the Town Board made the decision to sign a contract with New York State Electric & Gas to furnish electric at the Town Quarry, at a minimum of $4.00 per month. They were also given permission to run line over quarry land.
It's interesting to note that at a Town Meeting on May 5th of 1940, permission was also given to Empire Electric & Gas Company to run line over quarry property.
The quarry is located beside our present-day Town Hall, at the intersection of State Route 34 and Hunter Road.

Friday, January 4, 2008

We have arrived in 2008, and I look forward to sharing lots of Scipio information this year!
Recently, I talked about "firsts" for Scipio. I have a few more to share today.
The first known death was that of William Fleming on January 13, 1807.
The first tavern was at Sherwood in 1804. It was torn down in 1845.
Pssoibly due to cause and effect, the first jail, also at Sherwood, was in 1805. It was conveniently located in the upper part of the tavern.
Our first school was about 2 miles northeast of Scipio Center, in 1798. The teacher was William Daniels.
Scipio had at least one famous artist born here. He was Charles Loring Elliott. Born in 1812, he painted several famous folks. Our Cayuga County Historian, Sheila Tucker, has an interesting article about him on her website at
or you can google him to learn more.