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.

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