Gold Line

C. 1900

[Written in the late 1970's-early 80's]

September 2001


{ The 1904 Town Of Scipio NY Map can be viewed at website: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~springport/pictures43/00004373.jpg }

"Good Neighbors" is a collection of my memories of the people who lived
on the country road where I was born, in 1891, and reared on a small
general crop farm bordering on the Black Street Road, Town of Scipio,
Cayuga County, New York. My grass roots were well-established in this
area, prior to 1900. The farming neighbors selected were also
well-established prior to the "turn-of-the-century." All of them were
dirt farmers, living from cropland and livestock.

Black Street Road consists of a three-mile stretch of road commencing at
a right hand fork off Route 34, approximately two miles south of the
village of Fleming, and extending three-plus miles in the southerly
direction to an intersection with Center Road.
For many years there has been some confusion over the name "Black
Street," which I consider the north end of the Indian Field Road. The
Indian Field Road extends southward over twenty miles to the high steel
bridge at Ludlowville. The author believes that this bridge is the
highest steel bridge in the state.

The first Indian Field road marker appears less than two miles south of
the Hoskins House. Black Street, which is north of the Cobblestone House,
is the common name used by most of the local people. I heard an
explanation of the origin of the name, but I promised my good friend,
Howard Chamberlain, now deceased, that I would not divulge the origin of
the name.

I remember best the names of several members in each family; their
leading activities, interests and abilities. I remember about the farm
homes and of the buildings in the several farmsteads.


My father said that our house was built by Mr. Shaw, who bought the
Joshua Hoskins farm when his estate was settled in the 1840's. The house
I still live in today, where I was born, is of a plank construction. It
is built on a foundation of stone drawn from the fields. Several plank
houses were built in the so-called prosperous period prior to the Civil
War. They were a great improvement on the tenant houses. My back kitchen
was an old frame house that once stood by the road where my old lilac
bush blooms in the spring. [ Ed. note: Mr. Hoskins' handwritten note says
that his daughter Angie suggested:
"First house with memories is to be Hoskins House. This section needs to
be thought and finished. Page called "Courting" should be incorporated in
this section of memories of my house."] See NOTES: pp. 27-32 of "Hoskins
Family Record."

Wednesday night and Sunday night were courting days, when people were
"going steady." You were required to carry a light on the side of your
buggy. Jack Foran said of one courter, "There goes that George Deremus
running up and down the road with a lantern hunting for a wife."
My father [Ned] set up the hitching post in 1901 for Hattie's and Irene's
beaus. When Otto [Post] came courting, Hattie would sit on Otto's lap in
the sparking chair. One of my cousins strung up the shade. Carriages had
higher wheels in back than they did in front. He would exchange them and
the beau would have a bumpy ride home.

The girls had a limited opportunity to socialize. Hired men and local
farm boys were the only men available for social contact. My sisters and
the Powers' girls were the only girls in the neighborhood to "go away" to
high school. My father wanted us to go to "Teachers' Training Class" in
the Moravia School, twice the distance of the Auburn School. More girls
went to high school than boys, who had to work on the farm. The girls
prepared for teaching by starting one year in the M.T.C. (Moravia
Training Class) conducted by Myra Chandler.

The first family I'll mention is the Loren Curtis family, living near the
fork near the north end of Black Street Road. The only ones I knew were
Mr. and Mrs. Curtis, their middle-aged daughter Ella, and two married
sons, Frank and Walter. The family lived in a well-established farm home
but rumors of friction were heard as the two sons attempted to establish
their attractive wives within the parents' household.

As conflict grew, Frank decided to go to Alaska with the '98 gold
"seekers." Excitement grew at the Black Street School as the little dogs
drew the sleds through the snow drifts in the adjoining big field to show
the gold seekers the way north. We imitated the adventure of Frank
Curtis. the little dogs were little boys like me, pulling the big dogs
like Harry Chamberlain and others on the sleds.

Mary Beech Curtis, Frank's wife, was left with a small boy, Floyd, when
Frank went to Alaska. Mary and her little boy, Floyd, visited many homes
including the Hoskins Farm, which in the long run established many
friendly relationships with the Beech-Mosher family. Many years later,
Floyd became best man at my wedding in 1924.

In 1899, Mary baked a cake for my father's fortieth birthday. He thought
the cake was so beautiful and wouldn't let anyone eat it. It was
enshrined in fossilized grandeur on the top of the pantry shelf. I threw
it out thirty years later when I cleaned out the house. Jenny H. and Mary
were friends. They traveled together to the Buffalo Expo in 1901, on an
excursion train and they traveled to Brooklyn by train to visit Aunt
Hattie Richardson. We used to send Aunt Hattie a barrel of apples every

Frank Curtis had some success and brought home some gold nuggets. He came
home and bought up horses and equipment in the attempt of trying to
succeed in farming. He finally gave up, sold out, and went back to Alaska
and the west, saying, "I can make more money sitting down in Alaska than
working my head off on a home farm exchanging work with George Doremus."
He went west and returned to die at his son, Floyd's home in Cayuga
Village several years later. his wife, Mary, and he were divorced and she
later married a Mr. Atwater.  

George Doremus courted Ella Curtis in the traditional way, Wednesday and
Sunday evenings. Old Jack Foran used to laugh at George going by, while
he was sitting in his rocking chair on the porch, the source of the
earlier story.

MEMORIES OF THE COWAN INFERNO [recorded by Paula Hoskins]
The following is an account of a disastrous fire that occurred in 1896 on
the Russel Cowan farm located just north of Hoskins Homesteads. But
before I describe the fire as told to me by my grandfather, Edwin Ray
Hoskins, here is some historical background on the Cowans.

Two brothers, William and Thomas Cowan, arrived in Scipio in 1797, one
year before the Hoskins family arrive on the premises. Here is an
interesting anecdote on how the two brothers decided where to build their
farms. The two brothers came to the corner of the Gulley-Mosher Road on
Black Street. During the winter, when there was a crust of snow on the
road at that place, Thomas Cowan stood up his ox whip and said, "Whatever
direction this falls - I'll settle there." His brother William did the
same act. The outcome was that Thomas settled towards the west of the
road while William settled towards the south of the road. The two men and
their families then settled in Scipio. Both brothers operated farms that
adjoined each other. Everything was fine until 99 years later.!

In May, 1896, the Russel Cowan (a descendent of William Cowan) farm,
which included a beautiful brick house and six barns, went ablaze during
an exceedingly warm evening. Russel Cowan was visiting the Hoskins at the
time of the incident.

Pandemonium occurred in the neighborhood! Sparks were flying all over. A
thought that was lurking in many of the farmers' minds was the fact that
it was unusually dry for May. My grandfather was only five years old at
the time of the great fire. Even though he was deprived of viewing the
spectacle, his sister, Irene, who was seven at the time, was allowed to
watch the blaze. How my grandfather came to know about the Cowan fire was
because his sister boasted to him about her being able to see the fire.
My grandfather's father partook in helping extinguish the fire. His task
was to pump water from the well into buckets. While he was doing that
another man was throwing water on his back in order to prevent my
great-grandfather's clothes from catching on fire.

Some courageous men went into the blazing house to save some of the
furniture. Although the men were very careful about carrying the feather
beds down the stairs, they showed a lack of common sense when they threw
the valuable marble tops and bureaus out of the windows. Needless to say,
they did not survive the fall.

After the fire was extinguished, there was great speculation among the
neighbors on how the fire was started. The popular theory was that the
fire was a work of an arsonist. Some of the neighbors, who didn't like
Russel Cowan, believed that Cowan set his farm ablaze for the insurance
money. This was highly unlikely because all he received was $4,000. The
actual value of his loss was several times the amount that he received
from the insurance company.

The Cowan family, who wanted to find out who the arsonist was, even went
to the extreme of visiting a clairvoyant. Even though the woman put on a
great show by looking into her magic globe, she didn't come up with any
concrete information. However, she did say that while looking into her
magic globe, she saw two men running into the woods. The question of who
set the Cowan fires has never been answered.

My grandfather recalls the aftermath of the fire during the summer of
1896. He and his father often visited the Cowan farm. One of my grandfather's most
vivid memories was that of the awful stench of burned livestock and grain. One
beneficial thing resulted from the terrible fire. Russel Cowan sold a good sized lot
of land to the school. The Cowans moved to Fleming for two years and they haven't been
heard of since, though there is a monument for Thomas in the Eddy Cemetery.

E. R. Hoskins continues: Russel Cowan sold his farm to Thomas Murphy in
1898, thus making it one of the largest farm operations on the road. The
Cowan fire of 1896 had much to do with changing the operation of several
farms in the neighborhood. My father hired more help, bought more
machinery, and expanded his business for two years. My dad should have
bought the Cowan farm but he just had one scrawny five-year-old son when
he was forty years old. Lots of people, looking at me, said, "Ned, you'll
never raise that kid." But I fooled them!

Eighty years have passed [1976] and even though there are only pine tree
stubs that mark where the beautiful brick house once stood, there will
always be memories of the terrible fire of 1896.

The little one-room school played an important part in the life of the
neighborhood. The school stood very close to the Russel Cowan mansion and
was used to store furniture at the time of the fire. The new white school
had replaced the old red schoolhouse. It was built at the cost of $430 by
Libeus Murray in 1878 and moved to its present site after the Cowan fire.
One delightful day all of the children watched down the road as it was
moved to the good-sized school ground on the west side of Black Street.
Cowan wouldn't let any children step on his fields. The old red
schoolhouse was moved to the Hoskins farm and served as a shop for many
years. One door is still to be found in the Hoskins farm museum. See
NOTES: pp. 58-65, "Hoskins Family Record."

The little one-room schools often required two different teachers - one
for the regular school year and a male teacher for winter, when the big
boys went to school after the farm work was done. It is said that Will
Hoskins, a cousin to my father, attained the highest wages ever paid to a
teacher during that period when he received $25 per month for the four
months of winter term. The famous school fight occurred in the 1890's
when Tom Ringwood declared that he would hire a Catholic teacher and he
did - a Miss Detrick - after he was voted in as trustee for one year.
(See Hoskins Family Records.) Frank Curtis said that when the meeting got
warm, my father, Ned Hoskins, and Day Chamberlain picked up their
lanterns and went home, following which, Coot O'Hara picked up a stove
poker and said, "Now, damn you, vote." Tom Ringwood was voted in.

At that time, 1898, Thomas Murphy and family arrived on Black Street,
where they bought their own farm place, adjoining the Hoskins farm on the
south and also bought the Cowan farm on the north. He was the first big
operator on the road, with a total operation of around 200 acres. This
required a different type of operation which he carried on with two
three-horse teams. His horses were cheap ones. Murphy was known to be
quite a trader, especially with the gypsies. I remember him best as an
eager man to get back to work and a man trotting his work horses back and
forth in front of my home. He admitted that he didn't always get the best
of the deal with the gypsies. He had cheap horses, balky horses, kicking
horses and ugly horses, but they got the work done.

When Murphy bought the Cowan farm, the family commenced a procession.
First it was horses and steel-wheeled equipment; then tractors; and
finally the large machinery on rubber. Annie, the oldest girl, was about
my age and I liked her. She was a tall, slender, good-looking Irish girl.
I can still see her raking the rakings with old blind Fan, a cheap horse
worth about $20, using the straight-away rake. She married a man from
Auburn. Her father didn't like it that her father-in-law owned a gravel
bank: "Any daughter of mine should marry a man with a different kind of

Thomas Murphy had lots of child labor. In order to have a driver for the
second team, he kept his oldest boy, Jerry, out of school. This was
illegal to keep him for work and Jerry always blamed him for it. The
other younger brothers, as they grew up, worked on the farm, but only
Jerry was kept from his schooling.

Tom Murphy was a good manager and a bargainer even when he was known to
have been drinking too much. His ability to get work done, such as
building annexes on his barn, was accomplished through "Bees," -
assemblies of Irish friends, with beer - on Sunday afternoons. It is said
that he recruited his friends at church with a keg of beer and he would
then have a barn raising in the afternoon. Tom's horses always brought
him home when he had too much to drink. Tom always said, "I put the money
under the town clock to pay for my farms." He was a great one for
sneaking down stairs in anyone's house looking for hardening apple juice.
He was a drinker.

[A handwritten note adds: Jay Forkes said that Ned Hoskins took time to
visit. You couldn't visit Tom Murphy - he was always too busy. My father
[Ned] would let his horses stand idle all afternoon if he could find
intelligent people to talk to, like Reverend LeBar, the Baptist minister.
My father didn't go to church much but he like talking to Rev. LeBar. Dad
felt sorry for a man only given $400 for a year; we asked him to come to
preach at my father's funeral. ]

The other sons, Bernard, Ed, Leo and Harold, all grew up together and
helped on the farm when they were not in school, but Bernard became the
best manager and the one who saved his money. He remained a bachelor for
many years and became the owner of a wonderful team of work horses which
he used on his upright haypress. Bernard became one of the best
haypressers in the county, which he accomplished by using his excellent
teams of horses and his good workmen. He used his horses on sweep and the
farmers pitched the hay ten feet in the air. There were two jumpers, who
came down heavy with their bodies. They were the so-called guys with a
strong back and a weak mind. The horses would wind it up and then the men
would wind it and would kick out the bale. The driver of the horses would
then weigh the bale on a scale and tag it. The bale would ten be ready
for market. Bernard could press 25 tons a day. He had a set rate per ton
and it was cash money. I can hear the men yelling now, "Wire the bale,
more wire for the bale. More wire for the next." The old uprights were
hard work.

The following are brief statements on the other Murphy children. Leo
operated other farms, including the author's. Ed became a carpenter and
repairman at Wells College. Harold had a permanent position for several
years with a milling company. The two girls, Anna and Margaret, were
married and had successful homes in Auburn. One of Margaret's sons is
presently the County Treasurer. The Murphys were a very kind-hearted
family. They were always willing to help their neighbors when help was
needed. Our family had maintained friendly relations with the Murphy

The Forans were the next to the largest family on the road. The Irish
clan had six boys and two girls. These boys were men when I remembered
them, as they were my father's generation. He used to wrestle with them
on the lawn when they were growing up together. My father was the only
one in the neighborhood who seemed to understand the Forans and get along
with them. They stuck to themselves most of the time.

The father, Andrew, was an immigrant with a heavy brogue. He and his sons
were very knowledgeable about horses. His boys worked out at other farms
for room and board and cash. Andrew first had forty acres on the corner
of Gully-Mosher Road, which might have cost $30 an acre. It was good farm
land. The original house is long gone and it was used for a hay barn for
a long time before it eventually disappeared. They may have sold the land
or traded it for a larger farm to the south, for the purpose of raising
horses. Sometimes the Forans had as many as thirty horses.
Young Andy would follow the fairs around with his string of trotters. The
Forans had a jogging track down in the back fields. They bought still
another farm as their horse business expanded, the old Wright farm which
adjoined their Black Street farm on the west. Andy Jr. used the barn
during the winter to house his trotters.

Mrs. Foran was a small poultry farmer besides mothering eight children.
She raised turkeys, starting them in spring and having them roam the
fields picking up a living during the summer. She brought them up at
night, driving them up to the front of the house, where she shooed them
into trees to roost for the night. People in those days sometimes walked
flocks of turkeys into New York City, along the road, and often picked up
other turkeys along the way in their procession. In the fall, the thrifty
housewife sold them, all fattened up from the fall harvest grain that
fell to the ground, to help pay the taxes. I also remember that she had a
beautiful row of brilliant red peonies right across the lawn by the road.
They are gone now and only maples are there.

Mike was the son who went to Canada for an education. He was a
veterinarian at first and he became a medical doctor, graduating from
McGill University. I thought of going to McGill at one time to learn
railroading. He was the head of the Medical Society in Tompkins County
and practiced in Ithaca. Once, around 1915, when I had a bad cold and no
money, he treated me without charge. Mike might have been married and had
children; he came to the farm once in a while to see his mother.

Jack was partially crippled in the neck. It might have been tubercular
bones. My dad said he was the smartest of the bunch. He went to Denver
once, that's where everyone went who had tuberculosis but he came back.
He couldn't stand walking down the streets and not knowing anyone. He
couldn't do much physical work. Once Andy said, "Jack, which carriage do
you want to drive to Auburn?' Jack replied, "Bring out the rubber tire,
Andy, there's nothing too good for the Irish." I had a rubber tire, too.
I bought it my first year of teaching for $115.

When I went to Jack's wake forty years ago (=/-1936), Agnes met my
daughter, Angie, and me at the door with great warmth. She gave her bread
pudding and took us to see Jack. Jack was in a black suit on a sofa, with
a candle on the table behind the crucifix. I had told my young daughter
that we were paying a visit to my old neighbors, but the Forans hadn't
mentioned that Jack was dead. I didn't even know that he was in the
house. Agnes said, "Jack looks so peaceful, doesn't he?" My little girl
wondered about this man who slept on the sofa all dressed up, with
candles burning in the day time, who didn't even say "Hello" as visitors
stood there admiring him.

No one seemed to work very long hours at the Forans. There were enough of
them that they didn't have to. Some of them were always sitting on the
porch in the big line of rockers, watching the neighbors. They would
always have passing remarks concerning their neighbors such as, "Marriage
is a great cure for the ting they call love."

Andy had a stand in Venice where on certain days people could bring their
mares to breed with his stallion. He owned two distinguished stock horses
called "great Britain" and "Ossington Grand." My father had about five
colts from "Ossington Grand," a French coach horse, but the colts were
not that useful. "Great Britain" was finally sold to a remount station in
Canada for $6,000, while "Ossington Grand" was owned by a stock company,
but managed by Andy.

Tim went to Rochester to work and met a beautiful Irish girl and married
her. Tim was the odd one of the bunch - he didn't get along with the rest
of the family. He came back from Rochester and had on a dirty shirt. One
of the neighbors said, "Tim, you haven't changed a bit, you haven't even
changed your shirt." While he was in Rochester,
he had not been getting an cut of the profits, so he griped. As a result,
the Forans said he could come home and operate the farm. Tim came for two
years and most of the family cleared out while he was there. Then, the
brothers decided that he should get out and they came back.
One dark night, his wife ran to our farm and asked my father to come help
her stop the Irishmen fighting in the barn. My father knew better than to
mix in. Tim was cussing out the hired help that he picked up cheap in the
saloons in Auburn. Tim said of his wife, "She's too damned young to come
out here on a farm."

Frank, the youngest lahd, died young. The two Foran ladies were Mary and
Agnes, who never married. When Hattie Hoskins was married, Agnes said,
"What a pity. What a pity. She would have made a wonderful harse woman."
The two women owned a millinery shop and a house in Rochester. That must
have been where the family went when they cleared out and let Tim manage
the farm for the two years.
My father didn't like the cooking of the Foran women and when he went
there for threshing, he'd come home to eat. He didn't want to hurt their
feelings, since they were so sensitive, but he couldn't stand their food.

Big Ed was a farmer. Most of his activity was with work horses in the
field rather than with stallions or harness horses or trotters. Sometimes
he would go to the fairgrounds with his brother, Andy, and he died at

The Foran house was located near the school house. One day my sister
Irene and another girl were sent to get a bucket of water from the
Forans, for their teacher. They were having a jolly time, and Mary Foran
said, "All right, you young Hoskins, to coom here for water BUT don't be
loffing and making fuwn. Irene was scared to go there for years. The
Forans spent so much time criticizing and mocking others that they were
most suspicious of whether someone was mocking them.

In the sixties, my son Earl met Tim Foran's grandson at Hotel Wolcott. He
was asking if anyone knew where the County of Scipio was. Earl said, "My
father has a farm in the Town of Scipio. Ever hear of Forans? My dad's
land borders on Foran land." They talked about horses and Earl said that
I had a picture of "Great Britain." We had one made from it for Tim. On
the back of the picture was a "thank you" letter from Jack to show his
appreciation to me for letting him have water. I let him run a pipe from
a spring east of the road to his farm on the west side. It was about the
only water he had. When Leo Murphy ran my farm, he quarreled with Forans
and didn't want to let them have water.

The old Hoskins Homestead [on the west side of Black Street] was said to
have been built in 1827 or when my grandfather was 15 years old. Prior to
the erection of this colonial house, the two Hoskins families, Samuel I
and Samuel II, lived in a log cabin about 300 feet to the north of the
present house. This sight has recently been marked as the original site
for the erection of the first cabin. See NOTES: pp. 29-30, "Hoskins Fam.

The Body family was a family of English immigrants with a rural
background. The family, as I knew them, moved to Black Street in the
1880's. Jim was a rugged English farmer. He and his wife, Betsy, had
three children: William, Harry, and Florence. Before moving to the
Hoskins farm [west side of Black Street], they lived on the Allen Eddy
farm, where there was a big bell on the house. When Jim was away, Betsy
was alone when she gave birth to Florence. Betsy had to crawl out into
the kitchen and ring the bell for help. Later, Betsy explained, "When
Florence were barn, Jim Body and Jim Marsh were on a bit of a toot."
Upon moving to the Hoskins farm, Jim Body made many changes, especially
in the buildings. The big hay barn, known as one of the "thirty by
forties," was expanded to the east by 25 feet, greatly increasing the
capacity. The changes in the house were much more devastating, including
making the huge room of the south end into two lower rooms and tearing
down the big brick fireplace that extended across the house, thus using
the brick as a new cellar bottom.

Once when the writer was showing the old colonial house to an expert
carpenter and builder, Tom Coulson, he asked, "Where was the small door
to the west of the fireplace?" I showed him where a door had been filled
in and he remarked, "Colonial houses of this type often were equipped
with a long rope and a whipple tree to draw in the logs for the
fireplace. The rope was passed out a front window, where a horse drew in
an all-day log." The fireplace utensils and pot that were taken from the
old farm have been given to the present owner, Earl Hoskins, for safe
keeping. The changes may have fitted into Jim Body's desire for a butcher
shop, but the renovations spoiled the home as a typical colonial home.
Jim Body made other drastic changes. About 1901, he blasted a 30 by 10
foot well in the limestone rock. To the members of the historical
society, the change in the appearance of the house was very bad due to
the loss of the big chimney. When Jim put up a woodshed on the west side
of the house, he said he was building a "wart" on the house.
He and his sons did a great deal of hard work on the farm, such as
picking stones from the fields. Besides remodeling buildings, Jim had put
a bent on the big hay barn.

Here is a story about the Bodies. Jim was fighting in the yard with
Charlie Davis, who had him down and was thumping him. Jim said, "Got ya
right where I want ya, Charlie. Sic him Smut!" Smut was a miserable black

The Body family did not continue to own the farm permanently. The
property was acquired by the youngest son, Harry. His mother, Betsy, kept
house for him. Betsy did all of the milking and would walk from the barn
to the house with a full pail held in each hand and one on her head. The
so-called "Body Farm" was restored to the Hoskins farm in 1920, when I
purchased it from Harry Body. He was boastful of selling it for $9,200,
which was double of what he paid for it.

The other son, William, became a blacksmith. He worked for many years
with Ed Britt of Mapleton. Though Will Body's lifetime operation was
blacksmithing, he ended his working days by traveling around with a
little blacksmith's shop on a truck to shoe the remaining horses left in
the country. Gone were the days of sending the boys on rainy days with
two or three horses to have their shoes reset. Florence married William
Orchard and there are still members of the Body family in the larger

Day and Rebecca [Odell] Chamberlain, whose girlhood home was in Owasco,
were married in 1884, the same fall that my mother and father were
married. However, they did not become fast friends.
While my family raised a group of three, my two sisters and myself, the
Chamberlains raised nine, eight boys and one girl. My father brought my
mother into the well-furnished and equipped Hoskins Homestead. My mother
always had the help of Grandmother Hoskins while apparently Rebecca
Chamberlain got along by herself, saying that she wouldn't want to live
with old Mrs. Hoskins! Rebecca worked continuously before daylight 'til
dark, doing everything she could to help her family. Needless to say,
there was considerable jealousy on the part of the Chamberlains, who were
having a struggle to exist with a big family. One of the Chamberlain boys
explained to a friend how his family would use the minimum amount of
utensils, a tin plate, cup and spoon for the meals of the day.

When Day walked with a flock of his boys behind him and spotted a tree
with ripe fruit, he would say, "Fill up your bellies, boys. Fill up you
bellies." I think of the family as primarily carpenters and repairmen,
with considerable military interest. Both Earl and Howard Chamberlain
served in World War I and Earl was wounded. He was a local carpenter and
his first marriage gave him the Clark property on Owasco Lake/Ensenore.
Howard was also a carpenter. He lived at home with his father after his
mother's death and became the community's sought-for repairman.
Leslie, another World War I veteran, had an early death in California,
while Clarence was thought to be holding a good position in the
automobile tire business in Ohio. Harry, the eldest son, was a farmer,
while Carleton was an interior painter, who married and had two children.
He did some work on the Hoskins farm house. The youngest son, Smitty, was
an excellent scholar.

Odell married early when he married Lillian (Lily) Smith, one of my girl
friends with whom I went barn-dancing. (Lily was my father's first choice
for me to bring home to live with him and mother, and ranked all my girls
as to his preference.) Odell sold insurance and had the experience of
seeing the Wild West while working his way with Barton Smith. He and his
wife were managers of the County Home. They had four stalwart sons: one
of them, Smith, was a West Point graduate. [see NOTES.]
Pauline, the only daughter, helped raise the large family. She married
Robert Dill of Union Springs but had an early death due to burns from the
stove. [Penned note:MORE]

Benjamin Gould was a Civil War veteran who came through the Battle of
Gettysburg. He was badly wounded and suffered the loss of his hearing,
one eye and one arm. In spite of these deficits, he was known to
accomplish more work on his farm than any man he could hire. He bought
the John and Porter White farm following the War. The house was square
and frame, a full two stories. The following story was told to my father
regarding the building of the house.

John White was a great worker. He had two teams of horses and after
working in the field all day, he would hitch up his two teams and leading
one team, he would start for Long Hill, ten miles southeast, and load up
his wagon with beautiful oak lumber to build his house. While the house
was being built, he lived in the Chamberlain house, where his son Ray
White and daughter Adella were born and reared. He usually got back with
his loads about midnight and the next day got up and did another day's

The farm consisted of approximately sixty acres. Ben Gould was known as a
great feeder. He and John White had been in the same company in the Civil
War. Ben came to see my father in 1913, just before he went to the 50th
Reunion of the Battle of Gettysburg.

His parting words were, "Ned, I'm an old man. I've lost one eye, I've
lost my hearing and an arm, but those damn rebels better not start
anything during our reunion at the camp grounds." A similar thing
happened when his neighbor placed the big stones off his own field and
rolled them over into Ben's woodlot. When Ben discovered the, he repeated
the stolid waning, threatening dire consequences for any more thrusts
into his territory.

One day Ben was going to be away from home all day. Before leaving, he
called the hired man aside and said, "While I'm gone today, I want you to
put that pile of ashes over by the garden fence." Then he left. After his
departure, his wife Amelia came out and informed the hired man that she
didn't want the ashes there at all. She wanted them down in the poultry
yard. The man had a problem of pleasing both Ben and Amelia. He finally
took a measuring stick and measured off a spot just halfway between Ben's
spot and Ameba's spot and dumped all the ashes on that spot. When Ben
returned, the hired man got fired.

Ben built the best and biggest barn in the neighborhood. The timbers for
the structure were drawn in all winter long. They were drawn by sleigh to
his farm, from the railroad, where they had been brought by flatcar. Tom
Coulson, the greatest carpenter in the area, put the frame together in
the summer months. The frame was built in sections which were then put up
during a "barn raising" . Gould had a pension from the Civil War);
therefore people said of him, "Oh he can do it. He has a pension, steady
income. If we had steady income we could do that."
By the end of the summer of 1905 there was the biggest barn dance ever
held in the community. The biggest event was the square dance and I took
a local girl, Lillian Smith, to her first dance. They sang," We won't go
home, we won't go home, we won't go till morning, till daylight does

Ben Gould had one daughter, Libby, who married Louellen Becker, a
machinist. They had three children, two still residing in the
neighborhood: Charlotte Becker Hill and Gavin Becker. My father called
Gavin "gabbin' Gavin." Gavin farmed there all his like and retired and
Charlotte occupies the first modern house to be built on the road in a
long time. Charlotte's son, Ralph Cuatt, has established one of the
largest dairy farms in the community, consisting of over a hundred Jersey
cattle. There are two dairy farms left - Cuatts and Redmonds on the
Murphy Farm. Every farm used to have its own little dairy. Ralph Cuatt's
daughter, Dawn is now married to John Van Ormond, who had taken over the
whole Gould-Becker operation including a pre-Civil War house across the
road from the big Ben Gould barn. John and Dawn have three young husky
boys who play o the farm built by their forebearers. The family's living
is made off the dairy farm. Today Cuatt rents my land. A street which was
once filled with teeming small farms is now transformed into a street in
which a couple of working farmers rent the usable land of unworked small

Ed and Martha Powers had a family that paralleled my own as far as size
and ages are concerned. The oldest girl was Grace, who was the same age
as my sister Harriet. Ethel was about the age of my sister, Irene, and
Wilson, long deceased, was about my own age. Wilson died young during an
operation. Grace and Ethel graduated from high school in Auburn. Grace
became a teacher and taught at the Black Street school for two years
while I was a young boy in attendance. Grace married William Wyant, of
Scipio, raised a family, and lived on Route 34B, on the former Hoxie
Farm, while Ethel continued with her nursing profession the rest of her
like and also wrote some historical information.

Though the Hoskins three and the Powers three were companionable, the
Powers Family was considered a family with money (came from Mrs. Powers'
Wilson side of the family.) For example, one spring the Powers three had
brand new bikes while the Hoskins three never had bikes.
However, Ed and Martha Powers were not companionable much of the time. He
lived with the Dones, who were neighbors north of the Curtis place. One
Christmas Day, Ed, after a quarrel with his wife, while he was lonely for
his family, visited a rough saloon in Auburn, quarreled, was hit over the
head with a bottle, and died. One of the local ministers wrote an article
for the local paper. He showed a sketch of three children and a mother
standing by a coffin with the big headline as follows: "What Killed
Powers' Christmas Day?" and in large letters: "WHISKEY!"

Mr. and Mrs. Charles Davis moved to Black Street in ___, bringing with
them two Shaw men, one an uncle and the other a grandfather. In the
judgment of the writer, this was the only family that brought
craftsmanship to the neighborhood. One of the Shaws was a cooper, making
barrels in the days that apples were plentiful in the neighborhood.
One of the Shaw ladies had a loom and wove rolled rag rugs with the other
ladies in the neighborhood. One Shaw man built the house that they lived
in for many years. He also built the Murphy/Redmond house and the Howard
Chamberlain house.

Mr. and Mrs. Davis had a family of four children, three girls - Maude,
Alma and Gentry - and one boy, Walter. Walter was about my age and I
enjoyed his company. I have already spoken about his trips to Auburn on
Saturday nights to sell my sister Irene's butter to customers in Auburn,
and the horse and buggy songs (?) This I also covered in the letter in
the spring of 1980 concerning Gentry's death.
The Davis Family was a long-lived family. Maude Davis Arliss is still
living at this writing, while her sister Gentry died recently. During the
last three years of her life, gentry sold the farm and enjoyed her
newly-acquired manufactured home on a reserved corner of her farm.

Little is known about the Elliot family, though the Cayuga County History
showed that the original Elliots to settle to settle on their site came
to the highway in the same ox cart that brought Revolutionary War soldier
Samuel (1778.) One bit of information indicated that a Charles Elliot
stroked the Cornell Crews on or about 1911, when the writer attended
Spring Day via Auburn-Ithaca Shortline Railroad.
It was said that young Charles Elliot and his Cornell bride tried to farm
for a year after Cornell graduation. They also tried what the neighbors
thought were foolish experiments. After a year they gave up farming. I
believe this Charles Elliot was a successful businessman in Auburn or
Syracuse. I shall always remember the Elliot house for its historical
relationship to my forefather, Samuel.

The Wood farm was a six-generation neighborhood farm that consisted of
approximately 180 acres. The first generation known to me was Henry Marsh
and his wife, who was a Wycoff. They had a daughter, Jess, who with her
husband, Fred, had a son Floyd Wood. Floyd and his wife Edna had a
daughter named Marion, who still lives on Black St. The last two
generations I knew were Marion Wood Hammond's daughter and granddaughter.
Marion Wood's sister, Mildred, raised a big family. She had two children
by her marriage to Carl Chapin and seven sons from her second marriage to
Thomas Murphy. This Murphy branch of the family is in the village of
Owasco and the boys are doing well, according to their grandmother Edna.
The farm bordered on the corner of Manchester Road and extended northward
along Quarry Road. It was recently sold and purchased by Ted Dunn. The
original Wood family owned a beautiful colonial house which ranked with
the Cowan home, the Hoskins home, the Elliot home, and the Cobblestone
house at the corner of Center Road.

This place is across the road from the Elliot place. It is a good example
of the pre-Civil War architecture common to the area and quite similar in
type to the house in which I lived. The area of the farm is approximately
40 acres and is usually rented out to other operators. One time it was
owned by Mr. William Orchard, a blacksmith whose sons and grandsons are
still in the area. I believe that it was also a former home of the mother
of the Wheat Brothers.

At the south end of Black Street stands a beautiful cobblestone house.
The story concerning the construction follows.
It is known that the cobblestones were drawn from the shores of Lake
Ontario, near Rochester by teams of Oxen in the colonial days. It is also
known that special masons constructed them. Five houses were to be
erected in one season. The houses that were undoubtedly constructed with
the Loveland house were the King house at Scipio Center, the Burlew house
at Owasco Lake, one house east of Aurora (Rafferty) and the fifth house
was north of King Ferry in Ledyard (VanOrman.) Apparently the five were
constructed during one open season. The roundest and smallest stones were
saved for the front of the house while the irregular stones were added to
the walls in back.

The first four or five layers of cobblestone were laid on the wall, bound
with a special lime (cement was not available), left to be dried while
the special masons moved to another site and started another cobblestone
structure. The masons rotated with the houses from one to five, while the
lime mixture hardened. This process is explained in detail by several
books in the Rochester Library, where such houses are common.
The same special masons were said to have also built the locks on the
Erie Canal. Historic reports show the cobblestone to be among the oldest
colonials. The report show the usual erection of five cobblestones
undertaken in the same area and at the same time. The best cobblestones
were found on the shores of Lake Ontario. Apparently the stones ere
rolled over and rounded off by the action of the waves. Se3lected stones
were loaded on carts and sleighs in the winter time and drawn to the
sites of the homes to be erected.

The Loveland Cobblestone house has been known to me, though I only knew
the Loveland family from what I heard of them. The father's name was Hin
Loveland. He had a beautiful and clever daughter and a talented son named
Floyd. Both had good voices and sang at community gatherings. Floyd
Loveland was the first commercial poultryman in the area to use electric
lights in his poultry house to encourage winter production of eggs. I was
the laughing stock in West Virginia in 1920 when I told this story of the
use of lights.

During the past twenty years, the Loveland house was bought by two
parties who understood how to beautify it, which they surely did. The
house is now owned by Mr. and Mrs. Corey. Mr. Corey is an engineer with
the county highway department. Mrs. Corey is very willing to show the
house to people who are interested in the cobblestones.
Some Black St., Scipio NY dwellings in the 1900 census
Some Black St., Scipio NY dwellings in the 1910 census
Visit The Website Home Page For
The Howland Stone Store Museum


Pat White
Howland Stone Store Museum