Monday, November 29, 2010

Dutch Reformed Church of Fleming Again

Earlier this month, I published a list of marriages of Scipio folks that I found in a transcription from the Dutch Reformed Church of Fleming records. Fleming is our next door neighbor, and many of the other names are familiar so I decided that I would publish them as well.

The earliest marriage in the transcription pages that I have was performed on March 16, 1844 by B. W. Knight. On that date, Oliver Perry Hicks married Lucinda Philips of Fleming. It would be interesting to find out if Oliver is related to the family that Hicks Road, located in the southwestern part of Scipio, is named for.

Rev. A. B. Winfield performed several marriages in 1845:
On February 8 Wm. Morgan of Oswego married Elizabeth Thompson of Sand Beach (Sand Beach is the name of the area this church is located in. In later years, it was known as Sand Beach Dutch Reformed Church until its sale in recent years first to the Mennonite community who used it as a school and place of worship, then to the owners of the Springside Inn, who christened it "The Point" and use it as an event building).
On December 25th, Erastus Strong and Elizabeth L. Tryon, both of Fleming, tied the knot, ensuring an easy to remember Christmas anniversary!
On September 23rd, 1846, Rev. Winfield married Richard Selover and Rachel Ammerman of Niles.
January 6th, 1847 brought the wedding of Nathan T. C. Haines of Chatauqua County NY to Mrs. Mary W. Hamilton of Sand Beach.
January 16th, 1847 was the wedding day for Mr. Cornelius Van Arsdale and Miss Hannah V. D. Van Nest of Sand Beach.
January 18th, Rev. Winfield married Mr. Benjamin Van Auken and Miss Elizabeth Crawford of Sand Beach. And on April 11th, 1847, he united Thomas Jorolemon and Miss Maria Burnet, both of Owasco.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Scipio Post Office

Every trip to the Scipio Post Office brings to mind the old Post Office that was located on the east side of State Route 34 almost where it intersects with Center Road, in the front of the house where the Powers family lived. Mr. Powers was the Postmaster for many years. I recall visits there to mail a package or buy stamps in the 1950's and 1960's.
As time passed, that building eventually was replaced by a home and Scipio built a new Post Office just down Route 34. Venice Center's post office was closed and Venice merged with Scipio when their postmistress retired, and their zip code was dropped in favor of using Scipio's.
The postal system itself has been in use in our country since Revolutionary War Times, headed originally by Benjamin Franklin. Home delivery wasn't added until the 1920's.
I've been doing some research on the postal system, for an article I am writing about a Scipio man named Harry Lawler. Harry was a rural carrier for many years. The first reference I found to his occupation was in 1907 when he would have been about 23 years old. The latest reference is in 1934 when Harry would have been a postal carrier for at least 27 years.
While researching Harry and his career, I stumbled upon a couple of news articles about Scipio Post Office being created. May 1st of 1934 was the day that Scipio Post Office first opened its doors. The Postmaster was George McDonald. As part of this new arrangement, on April 30, 1934, the Post Offices at Ensenore and Merrifield were closed. Moravia rural carrier Millwood Fitch retired with 30 plus years under his belt, leaving room for George Shorkley who had been the Merrifield rural carrier to transfer to the Moravia route, and Harry Lawler to transfer in from Ensenore as Scipio's rural carrier. Timing was everything, I guess!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Harry Lawler

The post you see directly below this one was my feeble attempt to learn how to use and I have a photo of Harry Lawler, who was a rural mail carrier for Scipio since the Scipio Post Office was opened on May 1, 1934.
I wanted to sharpen this photo a bit, then post it to this blog. Easy, right?
Each website on its own is fine, but somehow I missed a beat when transferring the photo to this blog. So what you see below is one page of the Special 1890 census of Civil War Survivors for Scipio.
Click on this census page, and it will lead you to the other 3 census pages - 2 more for Scipio and one for Venice. And you will also see there, finally, the photo of Harry Lawler!

Scipio Center, NY History

Thursday, November 25, 2010


The Fiddler on the Roof had it right when he sang about "Tradition." Perhaps more than any other holiday, Thanksgiving smacks of tradition. Every family has certain foods they like on the table, and people travel many miles to be with those they love.
Although harvest celebrations and days of thanksgiving were celebrated since Pilgrim times, the Thanksgiving proclamation was issued by Abraham Lincoln in 1863, smack in the middle of our Civil War. In 1941, Congress officially declared Thanksgiving to be the 4th Thursday in November.
I have celebrated Thanksgiving many ways. As a child, we all shared the day with my paternal grandparents. I remember ripping my dress at about the age of 5, while engaged in an exciting game of "crawl under the big long table as fast as you can with a bunch of cousins."
Eventually, my mother was the hostess as our family grew. My favorite photo of her was snapped in a moment on Thanksgiving Day. She has her worn pink apron on over her good housedress, and her smile reaches from ear to ear. I think she had just put the big yellow Pyrex bowl on the dining room table, filled with perfectly mashed potatoes. That picture always brings a smile to my face because it helps me recall the day with startling clarity.
So what does Thanksgiving mean to you? Is it about gathering with family? Are you the host, or do you travel every year? Who carves the turkey? Take a few minutes right now to note what Thanksgiving has meant to you personally through the years. Now, share that with someone dear to you, and take a picture. They will cherish the memory.
Happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Dutch Reformed Church of Fleming, NY

In 1919, the NYS Genealogical and Biographical Society transcribed the records of the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church at the Owasco outlet in Fleming, Cayuga County, NY. Edited by Royden Woodward Vosburgh, I obtained copies of pages listing marriages from 1844 to 1850; a few from 1854, and 1861 to 1863. Fleming borders the northern edge of Scipio, so several names were of interest. It is difficult to find vital records from these years, so I hope you find one here that you have been seeking!

The Reverend A. B. Winfield performed these marriages:
Henry Farnam married Cornelia Adeline Darrow of Scipio on December 4, 1845.
John H. Smith married Jane Elizabeth Knox of Scipio on March 18, 1846.
Herman Macumber married Mrs. Margaret Knox of Scipio on October 14, 1846.
William De Groff of Fleming married Helen Holmes of Scipio on October 26, 1848.
David Keeles married Lydia Close of Scipio on December 3, 1850.

The Reverend S. R. Brown performed the marriage ceremony for Baxter Colvin of Cato and Miss Mary A. Knox of Scipio in June of 1854.

These weddings were performed by the Reverend John Garretson:
John Graham of Fishkill, Dutchess County, NY married Phebe A. Hasbrook of Scipio, Cayuga County, NY on September 18, 1861.
George W. Miller of Scipio was married to Celia Stocker also of Scpio on August 28, 1863.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Scipio Comprehensive Plan

I saw an article in the Citizen newspaper the other day that Scipio residents have until November 22, 2010, to submit comments on the proposed Comprehensive Plan. A committee of several dedicated town residents put a lot of effort into crafting this document, the result of those surveys sent to us all last year. You can view the draft Plan online at: You can make comments or ask questions of your Town Board, or send an e-mail with the subject "Scipio Comprehensive Plan Comment" to

There are some very interesting parts to this plan, which will be voted on by your Town Board after November 22, and drive future zoning and other local laws. Perhaps the entire town will become a Historical site, like the Hamlet of Sherwood. Shall we allow building near our lake? Bigger farms? A park, or other common green space?

A lot of hard work has been done; now it is time for us to review and be thoughtful. What do you see Scipio becoming in the future? Only you can decide.

Always Remembered

A municipal historian spends a lot of time focusing on cemeteries. Taking photos, reading headstones, and even locating where they are or used to be. Often the small rural cemeteries and headstones show their age. Families have moved away from the area, and little to no maintenance occurs to their ancestral grave sites.
That's why I was especially pleased to learn that a Scipio family runs a business of grave site maintenance.
In talking to the owner, she tells me this is the most personally fulfilling work she has ever done. Their company provides a menu of grave site services to make sure that your ancestor's final resting place is being kept neat, clean and well-groomed. Although located in Cayuga County, they also service grave sites in our neighboring counties: Onondaga, Tompkins, Seneca, Cortland, Wayne Monroe, Ontario and Livingston Counties.
They will visit once a season, once a week or any range in between. For $85 to $320 a season, you can arrange for basic clean up, planting and watering of flowers,washing of the stone, and other services. Always Remembered will then send you a photograph that shows you how nice the cemetery looks afterwards, and to document their work. I am always glad to see another new business in Scipio.
If this service sounds like something you'd like to know more about, send an e-mail to them at:

Friday, November 12, 2010

History Detectives

I think I mentioned in a previous blog that I have been spending some time working with students on a Scipio Cemetery project. It has been interesting to learn and grow with them! Some students have accomplished a lot independently, and are teaching me new resources and even some different research methods. Others have experienced an awakening of the importance of honoring our ancestors; of "marking their spot" so to speak so that they don't become forgotten and pushed aside.
Like any other small town Scipio has experienced the loss of old cemeteries through benign and not so benign neglect. In the 1960's dedicated ladies from the local Daughters of the American Revolution completed an enormous project; they documented all existing headstones. Some have fallen, disappeared, or been used to pave walkways since then and we would perhaps never know of their existence.
One student was concerned at the fact that an entire cemetery and the headstones were destroyed and displaced, in the name of progress. A Revolutionary War veteran was among those now without any marker to guide us to his final resting place so we can pay our respects to him for his brave deeds.
Scipio is right now trying to create a Comprehensive Town Plan. You can view it online at We struggle with maintaining economic viability while preserving the history of this Military Tract town. How do we find the balance?
We find the balance by being involved; by showing up. Read Scipio's proposed plan and ask questions; send your comments to your Board or to with a subject of "Scipio Comprehensive Plan Comment."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Peter Fort and the Battle of New Orleans

One of the first songs I remember my sister singing along to on the radio was “The Battle of New Orleans.” Sung by Johnny Horton in 1959, you can hear it on youtube if you have a high-speed connection to the Internet. My favorite verse was always this one:
They ran through the briars and they ran through the brambles
An' they ran through the bushes where the rabbits couldn't go.
They ran so fast that the hounds couldn't catch 'em
Down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.

Peter Fort was there! The article that I blogged two days ago including the names of so many veterans also included an excerpt from Peter Fort's partly finished autobiography.

Peter’s family was Huguenots who came from France via Holland. Of the three brothers who came to America, Peter was descended from the one who became a farmer in Poughkeepsie, NY by the name of Major Abram Fort, who was a Revolutionary War veteran. That is where Peter was born on November 27, 1783, one of 11 children.
He recalls the first steamboat, the Clermont, and watching it come noisily up the Hudson River as he worked in the field, and his family was personally acquainted with the man who went on to become NYS Governor, Dewitt Clinton. In 1799, aged 16 or so, Peter sailed off to New York City to seek his fortune, a voyage that took 2 or 3 days. Then in October of 1808 at the age of 25, Peter sailed out of NYS and after a voyage of 39 days, reached New Orleans.
In 1814, he joined Captain Beal’s company of rifles, an independent organization of 63 men but under the immediate orders of General Jackson. Peter was the only survivor of that rifle company. His brother John A. Fort was a Colonel on General Jackson’s staff.
Peter speaks of the return to New Orleans and the welcome of its citizens. He remained there only until 1815, and then went to New York with his health completely broken down. He returned by sea for a visit in 1820, but never made his home in the Crescent City again.
In 1821 Peter and his brother John and John’s wife undertook an overland journey to New Orleans. It took them about two and a half months to make that journey. He remained in New Orleans until April 10, 1822, when he took a ship for Providence, Rhode Island, reaching that place on May 4, 1822. He says his life from then on was “cosmopolitan” and that he lived in Salisbury Connecticut, New York City, Albany New York, Schenectady and Geneva. He says “I kept my horse and gig and was seven years searching for a home until in 1838, being in my 55th year, I found it in Aurora.”
Peter was conscientious of his right to vote, and voted for Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Jackson, Van Buren, Polk, Pierce and Buchanan for President through the years.
Never married and never a church-going man, although of Dutch Reformed background, he nevertheless advised anyone reading his autobiography to read the Bible. He gave God credit for his longevity and endeavored to live his life in His service.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Veteran Burials

I have been prospecting again on and I found an interesting article written in June of 1925. It seems the Attorney General appointed an E. P. Grey of Aurora to take a census of soldiers buried in the Town of Ledyard. E. P. also apparently conducted this census in some other small rural cemeteries in Cayuga County. Here is what he reported.

Cuyler Cemetery in Ledyard:
Benjamin Ledyard
Major General Asa Burnham

War of 1812:
Philip Buckhout at Scipioville (Evergreen) Cemetery
Peter Fort in the Fort vault, Aurora (and there is a story to go with this man, check back soon!)

Ira Terwilliger and Daniel Nichols in private ground in Aurora

Civil War soldiers in Oak Glen Cemetery:
Thomas Sherman
Captain George Smith
Lt. Henry Smith
John Winters
Nathan Prue
Charles H. Hardy
Peter Matthews
Thomas Hickey
Davis Fox
Daniel McGordon
Cornelius Van Horn
Hiram Ellis
Henry Shaw
Charles Smith
Lt. Lansing Tracy
William Graves
John Vanderipe
Dr. M. B. Van Buskirk
Charles Pendell
Charles Gunn
Ithiel Winters

Scipioville Cemetery Civil War soldiers:
Eban West
James Rose
Benjamin Cain
George Blowers
George Austin
Elisha Winters
Davis Ross
Chester Sincerbeaux
Dog Corners Cemetery Civil War soldiers:
James Smith
Theodore Hogar (?)
Justin Trim

Civil War soldiers in Friends Cemetery, Poplar Ridge:
William Peckham
John Peckham
Albert Doan

Civil War soldiers in Ledyard Cemetery:
Thomas Peckham
Charles Nye
Seward Dean
Thomas G. Steward
Charles Smith
William M. Smith
Oliver F. Bennett
George P. Wheat
William H. Jones

Civil War soldiers in St. Patrick’s Cemetery, Aurora:
Thomas Turney
Patrick Hickey
Jeremiah Coughlin
Thomas Quinn
William Goslin
John Dane

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Early War Graves

I guess you would believe I have been down a rabbit hole for the last few months since I have not been writing but nothing could be farther from the truth. Although I haven't posted since mid-September, I have been kept quite busy working with students of American History at Cayuga Community College. Our Town Supervisor arranged in partnership with their professor to conduct a study of some of our cemeteries. Students have been assigned a particular name, and are gathering information on the individual, their family, and any other items of interest they discover.
Often in Scipio, this includes Revolutionary War or Civil War service records. It has been refreshing to watch these students catch the genealogy bug! And I am learning new facts from them as well. Just this morning I learned that Ambrose Sperry, buried in one of our small cemeteries, was a Revolutionary War veteran, serving the state of Connecticut and settling here in Scipio until his death in 1817 at the age of 62. He may also have served in the War of 1812. Ambrose's wife was Patience Wheeler.
This same cemetery also holds the remains of Dr. Perley Kinney, whose first wife was Mary Sherwood. She was the daughter of Judge Seth Sherwood, who came to Scipio from Vermont in 1794 or 1795 and gave his name to the town. Dr. Kinney came from Connecticut, perhaps as early as 1797, when he would have been about 28 years old.
There are only about 5 other known burials in that little Baptist Cemetery, now defunct. Some of our very first settlers rest here, and I am happy to see that their stories are being preserved.