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.