Monday, March 29, 2010

Friend's Cemetery Photos

Drum roll, please! The Friend's (or Quaker) Cemetery is in the Town of Ledyard, which used to be in Scipio until 1823 or so. I serve on the Board of Directors, because my Peckham great-great-grandparents, many of their children, and their parents are buried there.
We try to repair a few of the stones every year, and otherwise maintain and clean up this historic cemetery.
I am pleased to tell you that some of the gravestones have been photographed, and are now available from the Cayuga County Rootsweb site. Select cemeteries, then in Ledyard, select Friend's Cemetery. Where you see the camera (what a cute graphic, Bernie, thanks!) there is a clickable link to that persons gravestone. Or, just follow this link:
I owe a huge thank you to the Cayuga County Rootsweb Coordinator, Bernie Corcoran for getting this project off the ground. We hope to continue it with some Scipio cemeteries, perhaps adding a GPS component.
If you have ancestors here, let me know. Some of the names are Searing, Haines, Hotchkiss, Peckham, and Mosher.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Assessment in 1860 continue

More of Scipio’s property owners:

Strong, Joanna
Story, M. A.
Smith Elijah
Smith, Jno V
Smith Bonin(?)
Smith, Bemjamin
Smith, Valson
Shorkley, Julia A.
Slocum, Giles
Sperry, Ambrose
Smith, Harvy
Searing, Chas W
Searing, Richard
Searing, Leonard
Searing, Rebecca
Searing, Samuel
Sandwich, Isaac
Sensabox & Gould
Standish, Henry
Smith, Thom (?)
Spangleer, Henry
Smith, Daniel
Smith, Hannah
Shaw, nos T.
Shelf (or Shelss), Jacob W.
Smith, Robt.
Scully, Wm.
Shirlock, Nicolas
Slocum, Geo
Slocum, Henry
Smith, Chaz F.
Smith, Ellnathan Jr.
Smith, Eli
Smith, Cynthia
Snyder, Jno
Smith, Ellnathan
Smith, Crosby
Snyder, Henry
Snyder, Cynthia
Seely, Alvin
Seering & Green
Searing, Leonard
Sperry, Philo Jr

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Scipio Property Owners in 1860

I am continuing with the 1860 assessment book, listing the names of Scipio property owners:
Vanliew, Daniel P.
Vanliew, Fayette
Vanliew, Peter
Van Arsdale, Peter

Daniel owned 235 acres in Lot 17. Fayette and Peter owned 84 acres and 75 acres respectively, in the same Lot. The Vanliew family (and that’s another name that spelled many different ways) was and continues to be a prominent one in Scipio. Daniel’s father was a Revolutionary War veteran and Daniel went on to fight in the Civil War.

You’ll recognize some of these names as well:
Tracy, Uriah
Tracy, Calvin
Tracy, Calvin
Thomas, Allen
Tallman, Jno. K.
Taber, Wm
Tallman, Gideon
Townsen, Samuel
Taylor, Franklin

The Tracy family also was one of Scipio’s earliest arrivals, again due to the military balloting of land to Revolutionary War veterans. A Calvin Tracy fought in the Civil War, dying in service in another state and returned here to lie with his family in death. One Calvin is listed as owning 210 acres; the other owned 1/2 acre.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

More 1860 Assessments

Let’s talk some more about 1860. By this time, Scipio had been in existence about 65 years. It was populated by families, many of whom were farmers. There were churches, schools and libraries. Members of a Quaker group in the hamlet of Sherwood participated the Under Ground Rail Road. If I squint when I read the assessment book, it appears there were 366 pieces of property that year, everything from ½ acre to 200 or 300 acres.
State Taxes were $1420.65. County taxes, $2529.97. School taxes were $780.28, and Town taxes were $298.99.
Usually with the lists I put on the Scipio blog I start at the top of the alphabet. Let’s change things up for 1860:
Wooden, Sally
Wooden, William
Wright, Wilson
Whitfield, Geo.
Walton, Hannah
Ward, Hope
Ward, Irvin
Wood, Amzi
Wood, Amzi in trust
Wood, Oliver
Webster, Nathan
Webster, Nathan J
Watkins, G. S.
Wilson, Isaac
Whitfield, Chs
Wilson, Isaac in trust
Watkins, Sedra (?)
Watkins, Roswell
Weeks, Ira
Warner, Sally
Wallis, Sally
Wyckoff, G. B.
Wilson, Wm
Wyckoff, Alonzo
Wheat, Samuel
White, David M.
White, Luthan (?)
Waring, Raimond & Geo
Waring, Raimond
Ward, Hiram
Ward, Artemas & Bro(?)
Wilson, Samuel

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Scipio in 1860

It was 1860, the year of turmoil just before the Civil War began. In Scipio, many men sacrificed their time, their lives and their livelihood for this war. I wondered who lived here then, so I checked the assessment book for 1860.
The total acreage that year was determined to be 22,426 and 3/4 acres. An acre in Scipio was valued at an average of $38.48 (or $1,020 in today's dollars).
That 1860 real estate was assessed at $863,166.00. Personal property was assessed at $190,650.00, for a total of $1,054,186.00. Take a deep breath - according to, $28,100,000.00 in the year 2009 has the same "purchase power" as $1,054,186.00 in the year 1860.
That year, there was an additional assessment of 50 cents for military purposes. It appears that anyone liable for military service, including any household with a person age 18 to 21, was asked by law to pay this amount to defray town expenses. In Scipio, about 97 folks did not pay that bounty at the time the records were filed, and they are listed by name in the assessment book. They include George Adriance, Edward Buckhout, Fay, William and Edward Close; Robert and Manassah Knox, Manassah Story, Abram Post, Henry and Giles Slocum, and Alonzo Wyckoff.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Ozam Merryfield

Faithful readers may recall just a few posts back, I mentioned where the little hamlet of Merifield got its name. Ozam Merifield's father Thomas Merryfield was married to a Eunice Watkins in Massachusetts. Ozam lived and prospered in Scipio; the 1850 and 1851 assessments show that he owned 270 acres in Lots 21, 22 and 29. The same record shows Thomas Merryfield owning 100 acres but fails to show in what Lot.
Jane Merrifield, daughter of Ozam, married the second time to Samuel Russell. Samuel shows up in the 1853 assessments owning a small piece of property in Lot 38. Samuel's mother was Ann or Anna Russell and her name is also found in the assessment book as a property owner in Lot 38 in 1850 and 1851. Her name is missing in 1852, but we find a Dolly Russell, her daughter, owning property in Lot 38 so perhaps this is an indication that Anna deceased that year and ownership passed to Dolly. In 1853, the small and presumably same piece of property is in Samuel's name, no Dolly and no Ann.
Ozam started spelling the name with an I; previously it was spelled Merryfield. I also see this spelled as Maryfield. As many of you know, surnames are spelled as they sounded to whoever was doing the writing!
Little is known about Ozam, such as his wife, or what year his family arrived in Scipio. I have checked the Balloting Book, and this name was not granted land in Scipio or any other town in exchange for military service. They may still have arrived here that early. I also checked the Balloting Book for Russell, as it is believed that a Jonathan Russell was a Revolutionary War veteran and he is shown in the assessment book owning property in Lot 22 and he was indeed granted that land.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Property Laws

I found some interesting terms while researching property laws in NY.

Coverture: In English and American law, coverture refers to women's legal status after marriage: legally, upon marriage, the husband and wife were treated as one entity. In essence, the wife's separate legal existence disappeared as far as property rights were concerned. Under coverture, wives could not control their own property unless specific provisions were made before marriage, they could not file lawsuits or be sued separately, nor could they execute contracts. The husband could use, sell or dispose of her property (again, unless prior provisions were made) without her permission. Sir William Blackstone, in his 1765 authoritative legal text, Commentaries on the Laws of England, said this about coverture and the legal rights of married women:

"By marriage, the husband and wife are one person in law: that is, the very being or legal existence of the woman is suspended during the marriage, or at least incorporated and consolidated into that of the husband: under whose wing, protection, and cover, she performs every thing; and is therefore called ... a feme-covert...."

This is from 1765, a time when women did not have the means, the societal approval, or the protection of society's laws to be self-supporting; the husband's job was to support and protect his wife and children. It was the woman's lot in life to find the best possible "feme-covert" to ensure not only she, but her children would be well-taken care of. In exchange, she ran the house and was responsible for meeting the domestic needs of the family.

Dowers: Under English common law and in colonial America, dower was the share of a deceased husband's real estate to which his widow was entitled after his death. After the widow's death, the real estate was then inherited as designated in her deceased husband's will; she had no rights to sell or bequeath the property independently. She did have rights to income from the dower during her lifetime, including rents and including income from crops grown on the land. One-third was the share of her late husband's real property to which dower rights entitled her; the husband could increase the share beyond one-third in his will. Where a mortgage or other debts offset the value of real estate and other property at the husband's death, dower rights meant that the estate could not be settled and the property could not be sold until the widow's death. In the 18th and 19th centuries, increasingly dower rights were ignored in order to settle estates more quickly, especially when mortgages or debts were involved.
In 1945 in the United States, a federal law abolished dower, though in most states, one-third of a husband's estate is awarded to a widow automatically if he dies without a will (intestate). Some laws limit the rights of a husband to bequeath less than one-third share to his widow except in prescribed circumstances.

Curtesy: A husband's right of inheritance. This is a principle in common law in England and early America by which a widower could use his deceased wife's property (that is, property which she acquired and held in her own name) until his own death, but could not sell or transfer it to anyone but children of his wife. Today in the United States, instead of using common law curtesy rights, most states explicitly require that one-third to one-half of a wife's property be given outright to her husband at her death, if she dies without a will (intestate). Curtesy is occasionally used to refer to a widower's interest as surviving spouse in the property left by the deceased wife, but many states have officially abolished curtesy and dower.

Dowry: refers to a gift or payment by a bride's family to the groom or his family at the time of marriage. As an archaic usage, dowry can also refer to dower, the goods a woman brings to a marriage and retains some power over. Less commonly, dowry refers to a gift or payment or property given by a man to or for his bride.

The Lawes Resolutions of Womens Rights: or, The Lawes Provision for Women. London, 1632:
New York State followed English common law in regard to the right of women to retain their property after marriage. This 1632 compilation of laws regarding women states:
Whatsoever the Husband had before Coverture either in goods or lands, it is absolutely his owne, the wife hath therein no seisin at all...
For thus it is, if before Marriage the Woman were possessed of Horses, Sheepe, Cowe, Wool, Money, Plate and Jewels, all manner of moveable substance is presently ... the husbands, to sell, keepe, or bequeath if he die: And though he bequeath them not, yet are they the Husbands Executors and not the wives which brought them to her Husband.

Pretty specific, in 1632!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Married Women Property Laws

I decided that since March is Women's History Month, I would do some research about when NYS decided that women had rights to property. Property rights include the legal rights to acquire, own, sell and transfer property, collect and keep rents, keep one’s wages, make contracts and bring lawsuits. In history, a woman's property has often, but not always, been under the control of her father or, if she was married, her husband.
In colonial times, law generally followed that of the mother country, England (or in some parts of what later became the United States, France or Spain). In the early years of the United States, following British law, women's property was under control of their husbands, with states gradually giving women limited property rights. By 1900 every state had given married women substantial control over their property.

Here are some laws of New York State:

New York, 1771: Act to Confirm Certain Conveyances and Directing the Manner of Proving Deeds to Be Recorded: this required a married man to have his wife's signature on any deed to her property before he sold or transferred it, and required that a judge meet privately with the wife to confirm her approval.

New York, 1848: Married Woman's Property Act: this was a more extensive expansion of property rights of married women, used as a model for many other states 1848-1895.

New York, 1860: Act Concerning the Rights and Liabilities of Husband and Wife: expanded married women's property rights.

I think it is important to see the text of the 1848 New York Statute known as the Married Women's Property Act, as amended in 1849, as it reads in full:
§1. The real property of any female who may hereafter marry, and which she shall own at the time of marriage, and the rents, issues, and profits thereof, shall not be subject to the sole disposal of her husband, nor be liable for his debts, and shall continue her sole and separate property, as if she were a single female.
§2. The real and personal property, and the rents, issues, and profits thereof, of any female now married, shall not be subject to the disposal of her husband; but shall be her sole and separate property, as if she were a single female, except so far as the same may be liable for the debts of her husband heretofore contracted.
§3. Any married female may take by inheritance, or by gift, grant, devise, or bequest, from any person other than her husband, and hold to her sole and separate use, and convey and devise real and personal property, and any interest or estate therein, and the rents, issues, and profits thereof, in the same manner and with like effect as if she were unmarried, and the same shall not be subject to the disposal of her husband nor be liable for his debts.

This law may seem like it would not be necessary to someone in the 21st century, but reading it will give an indication of just how far it has really been for women from 1848 to 2010.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Scipio Assessments in 1898 Part Two

It is interesting to find so many women listed as property owners in 1898 Scipio. Aside from the ability to finally own property independently, for genealogists the women of the family are usually difficult to track as many of the references to women use their husband’s first and last name, as in “Mrs. Byron Hitchcock” rather than “Mrs. Mariam Hitchcock”.
I will need to look up under what circumstances women were "allowed" to own property in 1898. For now, let’s continue with the almost-alphabetical list of landowners for 1898; if you find a relative, let me know!

Amos Mosher
Charles Merritt
Mary Libeus
Henry Marsh
William Manchester
John Murphy
Thomas Murphy
J. L. Mack
Charles Morgan
Patrick McIntyre
Robert Manchester
Gershom Nichols
John Neville
Thomas Nolan
James Oconnel
William Orchard
Mariah Payne
John Payne
Martha Pease
John Perkins
George Perry
David Parks
Mrs. David Parks
Sarah Pope
Edward Powers
Ellen Quinn
Rumsey & Shorkley
Phillip Ringwood
Caroline Reynolds
Frank Sellen
Theo F. Smith
Alma Smith
Levi Sanders
Lydia Strang
Henry Spangler
Hettie Caroline Shaw
Mrs. Davis Shaw
Enos F. Shaw
W. D. Smith
Patrick Tehan
John Turner
Harriett Toan
Hannah Miller
Sarah Talladay
Dan Thurston
Lewis Thurston
Amanda Underhill
John Van Liew
Mrs. Guy Van Liew
William Young
George Waldron
Cornelia Whitten
Sally Wallis
William Ward
Lotti Wallis
Frank D. Wright
Marsh Webster
A. L. Watkins
George Watkins
William Wilshere
Charles Wilshire
Eber West
James Whalen
Thomas Welch
Arlington Watkins
Henry Wheat

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Assessments in 1898 Scipio Part One

By 1898, the larger land holdings were gone. Few in Scipio owned much more than 100 acres. The assessment book for 1898 showed 151 unique landowners, with some of those owning more than one piece of taxable property. Those landowners declared a total of 52 dogs, also apparently taxable. The majority of them were men, but women were well represented as owners too. Most residents owned 25 or fewer acres. Here are some names that are still extant in Scipio:
Phillip Buckhout owned 58 acres in Lot 27. A W. F. Buckhout, also in Lot 27, owned ¼ acre. I will have to ask the current-day Phil Buckhout how those two were related!
Day Chamberlain owned 84 acres in Lot 7. Mary Conklin, 50 acres in Lot 20.John Fisher owned 19 acres in Lot 14. Susie Howland as executrix was listed as owner for 110 acres in Lot 14. The Hoxie women were represented in Lot 13, by name Mary E., Dorinda L. and Mrs. Phebe.
My great-grandfather James B. Hitchcock was listed as the owner of 98 acres in Lot 13. E. D. Mosher owned 145 acres and E. S. Manchester, 101. Mary E. Smith may have owned the largest piece of land; she was shown as possessing 195 acres in Lot 6. Close behind with 180 was Hellen Tate.

Other owners more or less by alphabet are:

Sarah Anthony
Leonard Brewster
William Batten
Larry Bruten
Maggie Burns
Lewis Baker
James Boddy
Martha Baldwin
Michael Bresnan
John Bowness
H. Brewster
C. Butler
William Conley
Chauncey Culver
Loren Curtis
John Canaly
Orsevilla Cowles
Edwin Cooper
Mrs. John Casler
Henry M. Cain
F. B. Chapman
William Coss
Alenzo Culver
Josephine Darrow
John Donnelly
Daniel Dean
C. D. Dowd
Frank Doane
Robt. B. Eaker
Mrs. John Eaker
Heny C. Elliot
Charles Fritz
Isaac Fiester
Mary Fieser
John Folay
Andrew Foren
John Farley
Nancy Fish
Geo. Groom
William Gulliver
James Grady
B. F. Gould
Henry Golden
William Grant
Arthur Golden
Thomas Gray
Anna Hilard (Hiland?)
Martha Hoxie
Edward Hoskins
Hiram Hill
George Hoxie
Abigail Hunter
L. B. Hunter
Thomas Hanlon
Benjamin Houghlin
Allen Hartman
Charles Jones
John King
Patrick Kinsella
John King Jun.
Mary J. King
Lillian King
John Knox
Thomas Lynch
Clarence Lawson
George Loyster
Nettie Leeson
Sarah Lawson
Hinman Loveland