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!