Whiskey Island was/is in between Elpis, West Vienna and North Bay.
Most of the residents were buried in Maple Flats Cemetery.
History of Whiskey Island by Mary Clarke Norton - August, 1959
History of Whiskey Island School District No. 16 Town of Vienna, Oneida County, New York, as I know it. Mary Clarke Norton, 1954 Written for Roger and Elaine Norton, who have Bought Father's stone house in Whiskey Island. "The Township of Vienna Records were burned in 1871. Sandy Rae of North Bay was Town Clerk. His house burned to the ground." "Vienna was formed from Camden, April 3, 1807. It's name was changed Bengal April 6, 1808, and to Vienna April 12, 1816." "A portion of the town was originally covered with yellow or pitch pine, the balance was made up largely of hemlock, so that lumber interests were large. In the west part of the town was a strip of land covered with rock maple and know as Maple Flats." "Saw mills were built at every available point and at one time there were thirty-seven in operation in the town." "Elpis is a small village in the northwestern part of the town, containing a church, blacksmith shop, etc., a dozen or fifteen dwellings. About half a mile from here, on the farm of Samuel Holmes, is an old beaver dam, and on the tract known as Beaver Meadows, containing a large amount of peat."
(Quotations from Durant History of Oneida County).
Settlers came to the east part of the town of Vienna, in the early 1800's. The west section remained forest until the demand for tan bark, cord wood to stoke steam engines, hemlock for paving "Plank Roads" and large families focused attention on this locality. Men who wrote the histories of Oneida County evidently were tired.
Before they reached the "V's". I have quoted all I can find of interest about the Island. My information for the history of Whiskey Island came from the maps, "School Clerk's Book", deeds, census, burial ground records, old letters and my personal knowledge.
Whiskey Island, Town of Vienna School District No. 16.
How Whiskey Island got its name was a question that bothered me when I was a child. I used to believe it really was an island. I planned when older to follow the brooks around the district to find its boundaries and locate the Whiskey Spring legend said existed. Later I was to learn that land higher than the surrounding locality stands out as an island in a "Sea of Forest". Surveyors named this section "Island" on their maps. Settlers accepted the name. In 1853 at the "Raising of the Schoolhouse" a falling beam broke Daniel Widrick's leg. Whiskey became part of the name. Whiskey has helped raise many a buildings.
The first man to settle in this hemlock-covered island was a barkpeeler, Charles Tummery, a queer character, who lived alone in a crude house back of where our schoolhouse was later built. He owned a yoke of oxen used for hauling. The foundations of his home could be seen when I was a girl. He contracted for his land, part of lot 54, of George Parish, of Ogdensburg, New York, on January 2, 1837. I don't know what became of him.
The next settlers were Elias Church and wife Sarah, her two sisters Ruth Whaley and Ester Gilbert, and Sarah's brother David Gilbert. They came in 1839. All settled in a row on lot 64. First Elias Church with wife and children, a millwright and farmer; next, just north of him, Ruth Whaley and son Clinton, a lad fourteen years old; next David Gilbert and wife Nabby with their children; then Esther Gilbert with nephew Merritt Barnes, aged seven years. These families helped each other in their new homes. All were exceptionally nice people.
Andrew Washborn, a carpenter, and his wife, Mary Davis Washborn, and children Davis, William, Sarah J., Charles, Lydia and Julia A. settled in this year 1850, at the Island. His house was valued at $300.00. Mrs. Washborn was related to the Davis family of Maple Flats, (see Maple Flats Davis Cemetery), and a sister of Stephen Cropsey's wife. William Washorn, the son, died of T.B. when a young man. The record called it "Lung Fever". Amiziah Armstrong told of a blacksmith shop at the Andrew Washorn home was doing business before Richard Jones came to the Island. Mr. Washborn also built a wintergreen distillery on Pierce Brook, where it crosses his farm.
1850 also brings Ezekiel Dunham and wife, Eunice and children. He was blind. They were parents of nineteen children. Only the youngest seven came with them. The hill on the road by their home and the brook that crosses their land are named Dunham in their honor. The family got water from a spring by the bridge that crosses the brook at the foot of the hill. Ezekiel was from Massachusetts but came to the Island from Oswego County where some of his older children's descendants are living.
The same year brings Daniel Widrick to the top of the hill that bears his name. The brook at the foot of the hill is called Widrick Brook from where it rises until it gets to Elpis. From there it's called the South Branch of Little River. Daniel built a frame house painted white, set out a row of maples along the road, dug a well, cleared several acres of land, split rails to enclose a sheep pasture, planted fruit and built a good barn and other buildings. He gave consent for a burying ground across from his home and later for a blacksmith shop to be built below his house at the foot of the hill near the brook. He also gave consent for a family to build a shack or shanty on his land. He found time to help erect a schoolhouse and serve as a trustee. All this in eight years. He was killed on June 5, 1858; a tree fell on him while working in the woods. He is buried in Maple Flats Cemetery. In a few years his house burned and the barn was moved to Benjamin Myers' farm. I found a small tree growing where the house stood. I didn't know the name of this tree, so took a branch home to Mother. It was a "Balm O'Gillied". I admire what I know of Daniel Widrick. I am glad, son, that you own his acres.
The man who lived in the "shack" was William Deveresse, a french Huguenot whose family had left France, going to England. Years later the family came to Clinton, New York. There he found he could get work at the Island as a barkpeeler. He came with wife Eliza and five children, and built this plank shanty, value $5.00, that stood in the sheep pasture on Daniel Widrick's land where a grapevine still grows. The "School Clerk's Book" tells us that in 1855 it was voted to hire a woman teacher, to board around with the exception of the William Deveresse home. The family lived here until 1859 when Mr. Deveresse bought a home in Elpis. One day Jimmy Deveresse, a three-year-old child, was playing with an older brother George, cutting down a young tree. It fell, killing Jimmy. He is buried in the sheep pasture on Widrick Hill, where a "burying ground" had been started. There were six or eight mounds, when I was a child that could be traced. Ida Brockway, Kate and I climbed the rail fence to look at them after Mrs. Brockway told us of the cemetery. Trees are growing over the graves now. There weren't any headstones; just mounds and slabs of fieldstones. I wonder whether Charles Tummery is buried there?
Settlers in 1851
In 1851 Samuel Holmes came from Frankfort, New York, with his wife Parmelia Thurston. He is another man to be admired. I never knew him, yet "from his works ye shall know him." They had a large family. Only the last two, Warren and Winnie, were born after settling in their new home. He bought 353 acres of land on what came to be known as the Holmes Road, that connected the Island with Oak Opening. He built two log houses, one to live in, one to house his hired help. He also erected huge barns to shelter the horses and oxen. When needed, he built a hop kiln. He was first a lumberman, then farmer, and hop grower.
Nancy, Samuel's oldest daughter, had married Richard Jones, a blacksmith, in Frankfort, New York. When a blacksmith was needed by her father, they came to the Island. There is shop was on the Widrick property on the north side of the road at the foot of the hill by the brook. I've seen the old foundation of the buildings. The road turned to the right so the teams could drive through the brook for horses to drink and to wet the wagon wheels. Or you could drive straight ahead over the bridge. It used to be a beautiful spot. A big log extended into the brook above the "drive-in". the log and fence served as sort of a dam. The water backing up collected silt, etc., making earth enough to grow a clump of wild roses near the end of the log, with Jewelweed and Meadowrue and rushes growing luxuriantly. A path along the top of the log was used by fishermen to fish in the deep shady hole about the log. There wasn't dirty scum on the water in those days, or dead trees spoiling the beauty. Toward the schoolhouse on the same side of the road a wood road led to a big hemlocks where the Partridge berries and ferns carpeted the ground. Here campers came from across the lake to trout fish.
Samuel Holmes' son James married Mary Remington from Oak Opening. When James went to the Civil War, he left his wife and baby son John and his "spanking" team of horses with his father-in-law. When he returned a man from Camden was in the yard after the horses. Mr. Remington had mortgaged the team. Jim was mad. His was stayed with her father, keeping the baby. They never forgave each other.
Jim died at his sister Martha Johnson's home in Hillsboro. Ernie was a bearer for at the funeral. Jim's wife, Mary Remington Holmes, lived only a mile away but didn't come to the funeral. (I have a G.A.R. smoker picture of Jim.)
Samuel's son Lewis sent his #13.00 per moth pay as a soldier home for his father to keep for him. When he returned, he bought land, lot 53, built a frame house and barn, and married Emily Janes from Lockerby school district. This house was across the road from the Andrew Washborn home on the Elpis Road. (See map of 1874.) They had several children; Millie, Eva, Lottie, Eugene, George, Ed., and Merton. Emily was a very pretty girl and made a good wife and mother. She was as "neat as a pin". Often Lewis and Emily would visit my father and mother. Lew and father would fight the Civil War over. I can hear Lew tell father, "Yes sir, Clark," clapping his hand to his head, "they got me right there. The doctors took out a piece of bone and put quicksilvre to hold my head together." We wouldn't even smile. Lew was a brave soldier. His comrades all praised his courage. He was in the 117th and saw lots of action.
Samuel's wife died. He couldn't be happy without her and in time his mind failed. One day Jim, who was at home, missed his father. He traced him to North Bay. There he was told that his father had started for West Vienna down the railroad track. When Jim reached the crossing west of North Bay, the eastbound train had stopped. His father lay in the ditch beside the track, dead. Samuel had bled to death. Jim took his father's body home in a Democrat wagon. When the body was lifted out off the wagon the knee dropped. The dog grabbed it and ran into the woods back of the house. As it was dark, it wasn't recovered.
Samuel Holmes is buried in Maple Flats Cemetery beside him wife Parmelia. I found when the cemetery was incorporated in 1873 he is named one of the three trustees. James Hemmingway was another. Merritt Barnes was the secretary.
After his father's death, Jim cut off the "sugar bush" and left the place. The blackberries grew in such quantities that the Holmes' place was known far and wide. Pickers came from as far as Chittenango bringing crates to fill. We have seen as many as thirty rigs go by our house in one day, filled with pickers all bound for the "Briar Patch". I never went blackberrying in Holmes' woods, but I thought of Samuel's missing knee and sort of looked for it.
Truman Marsh had the place for taking care of Harriet Holmes, who wasn't bright. He gave it to his nephew, Will Marsh. Through Will's son Glenn, the Pratts have ownership.
Settlers in 1852
In 1852 Albert Brosmer, a German, and wife Eve, with sons William and Simon, settled on the south side of Elpis Road on lot 42. He was a good farmer, clearing the land, planting an apple orchard and erecting good farm buildings. Both sons were in the Civil War. William came home, but Simon died from effects of measles. The farm was sold to Jack Audas, whose son Leon took down the buildings to remodel the Audas home before Rena Audas was married. Orley LaSalle was born in this house. A row of maples along the road is all that is left of this once comfortable home.
Benjamin Myers came from Frankfort, New York in 1852. His was Catherine Bridenbecker, or Kate, as she was called, smoked a pipe. We used to get water for the school from their well. We could see her in the window, rocking, and puffing away on her clay pipe. She was the only woman I ever saw smoke in those days. The Myers place, lot 54, was bought by George Parish of Ogdensburg, New York on March 26, 1852. The deed was made out to Benjamin, his wife and children, Margaret, Nancy, Rhodette, Felix, William and George. Price was $422.50, paid in part by his father, Charles Myers.
Felix Myers, or Joe, as he was called, stayed on the place until he died. How well I remember his driving by our house with his team of colts hitched to an open top buggy, "his whip in hand". His first wife, Mehitable, died and then he married Mary. She died, leaving a small daughter, Libby. It seems strange to see trees and brush where Joe's tall corn grew.
The year 1852 brought William Linus Fellows and wife Betsy and son Ebenezer Joel, twenty-two years old. Joel bought the place with his parent, part of lot 63, for $500.00. William Linus died and Joel and his mother continued on, taking care of younger children. When Betsy died, Joel (was always called him Joel) took care of his brothers and sisters children who were in need of help when there fathers were killed in the Civil War. Late in life he married Mrs. Rosie Gill, who had a daughter Frances. Joel was a thoroughly good man. He was school clerk for a number of years. The house is still standing.
In 1852, Merritt Barnes, who had grown to manhood, bought Ruth Whaley's place. Ruth went to live with her sister, Sarah Church. (Clinton Whaley, Ruth's son, had married Nancy Myers, I think.) At any rate, he lived in the woods in front of Nelson Fellow's place. A woods road or lane went along the Nelson Fellows-Stephen Marshal line fence back into the woods. Nancy Myers married a Whaley, so I think it must have been Clinton. Afterwards, they moved to Amboy Center.
Merritt Barnes married Henrietta Widrick, daughter of Daniel. She was a girl 15 years old; Merritt was 22 years old. More about their married life later.
The Schoolhouse is Built
In the year 1853 the settlers built the schoolhouse. The old clerk's book was found a few years ago in Benjamin Brockway's attic by his grandson, Myron Sutherland. He gave it to me. The book evidently was someone's account book, as I can see figures on the edges where first pages have been cut out. They used what they had, instead of spending money for a new book. It dates from the first school meeting -
"April 10, 1853," and begins,
"My dear friends"
Merritt Barnes, Clerk
Daniel Widrick Trustees of
Benjamin Myers School District No. 16
Town of Vienna"
I can't read more of the first page as the cover is missing and paper badly worn. I have copied all of the book. I will give book and copy to you, Roger, as you have bought my father's stone house that stands where Daniel Miller built the first home.
Thus ends the year 1853 with the important fact - we have a school. Benjamin Myers gave the land. It was never deeded to the district. When school closed for the last time, the property reverted to the Myers estate. Esther Church, daughter of Elias Church, was the first teacher. She later married Hiram Root and moved to Elpis. The school closed after the summer term in 1900 when it's last teacher, Bessie Meaney, locked the door. The annual school meeting in August passed unattended because notices were not posted as law directed. This automatically broke up the school district. Father was in Utica plastering Uncle Erza Ripley's new home. Joel Fellows, the clerk, was old and forgot the notices. There were a dozen children in the district when this happened. It was at this time the state was trying to close district schools.
Settlers After School was Built
Before the road from North Bay was extended to the Hemmingway house, Amiziah Armstrong came with his wife Clarissa, her mother Hannah Miller, and brother Daniel and four sisters to lot 65. Amiziah took the east 2/3 and the Millers the west 1/3.
Clarissa had taught school before she married. She told me that one school at Oak Opening paid her 75¢ per week; she boarded around. She was small and dainty and a very neat housekeeper. When the Armstrongs came that first summer, before their well was dug, Clarissa would take her three children and her wash to Widrick Brook, build a fire, heat the water and take the wet wash home. One night before a door was made in their log house, a bear came and sniffed at the blanket hanging in the doorway. The noise of the children frightened the bear away. The next day a door replaced the blanket.
She told of hearing panthers scream over Beaver Meadow, and of the cattle having to browse like deer in the winter. Amaziah was the "rough and ready" type. He was always kind to his wife, whom he adored. They had ten children. Little Nancy Ann died and is buried back of their house under a tree. There used to be a headstone. Perhaps it's still there. Clarissa brought up two grandchildren, Jenny Sutherland and Charles Armstrong.
Hannah Miller was a widow. She and her son Dan cleared a few acres around the house, cut off the wood, and Dan worked for neighbors earning enough money to support his mother and sisters. The younger girls married, but Mary was listed "idiot". After Daniel died in 1868 or 1869, Clarissa Armstrong took her mother and Mary home. Dan had never married. Clarissa had the Miller place for taking care of her mother and sister. When they died, she had them buried in Murry Cemetery near North Bay. Dan is buried in Maple Flats Cemetery. He was discharged from the Army for disability. He was never well after coming home. I sometimes think of him when I look around the place where he worked so hard. He was only 38 or 39 when he died. The only thing of beauty when father bought the place years after Dan's death was a clump of pink Scotch roses growing around a big hemlock stump in our yard near the front door.
The map of 1858 shows the road extended to the Hemmingway house, to what is how called Hemmingway Corners. When the Armstrong and Miller families settled, the road only came as far as the J. Little place. (See map of 1852.)
Newton, son of Elias and Sarah Church, married Sarah, daughter of William Linus and Betsy Fellows. He built their home just beyond Amaziah Armstrong's on west part of lot 66. His was the last place in Whiskey Island school district in that direction. They lived there long enough to clear part of the land and plant maples along the road in front of the house before he enlisted in the Civil War. Sarah planted lilacs, Damask roses and snowberries. I have picked her flowers when a child. Four boys were born to them. One died in infancy. While in the Army Newton had the measles. His comrades were leaving for action. He went outside to bid them goodby, caught cold and died. His widow, with their three boys, went to live with Ebenezer Joel Fellows, her brother. She later married a man named Sears. She and her new husband left for Denver, Colorado, taking the boys with them.
Linus Nelson Fellows, son of William Linus and Betsy, married Esther Miller, daughter of Hannah Miller. He bought acreage on lot 42. He built a good frame house and barn on the south side of the road leading to Elpis, and as stone hop kiln across the road from his house. The hop kiln is still standing. (Father and Roscoe Armstrong dried their hops in Nelson's kiln.) Nelt, as he was usually called, was a good farmer. He had several children by his first wife, Esther. His second wife was Julie, aunt of Hat Armstrong. In Nelson's old age he gathered shells along the brooks and made pearl buttons with a machine in his hop kiln.
Charles Henry Fellow, another son of William Linus and Betsy, married Mary Mack. He bought the Newton Church place. While living there he put a state mortgage on the farm. Three children were born to them, Charles, Sarah, and Ada. When his wife died he moved away. The place became a state farm. We always called the house the State house. Roscoe Armstrong farmed the land. Charles remarried a girl named Nora and had a second family, Ed., Belle, Euphemia, Henry, Howard, and Freddie. Euphemia and Freddie were deaf and dumb. Belle, a beautiful girl, looked like her aunt, Mrs. Brockway. Ed. And Henry, with their wives, came to see me last summer. They are very nice people. They live in Oneida.
In 1854, Elias Church sold his farm to J. P. Johnson and wife. James P. Johnson and his wife, Elizabeth, came from England. How they discovered Whiskey Island and came directly to it is a mystery to me. It seems James P. married above his social station and her father disowned her, so they emigrated. They built a new house on the Elias Church property, value $3,000, a big sum in those days. (My English violets came from her lawn.) It was a "show place". They didn't have children, but adopted Cora Pierce after Cora's mother was murdered. Cora died at the age of eight. (See headstone in Maple Flats Cemetery.) The Johnson brought up two other children and provided a temporary home for others. Needless to say, they were very fine people. He was school clerk for year. I must tell of one of our school meetings he recorded in the school book in 1863. The district needed a new toilet - "It is motioned and seconded that we have a necessary built for the accommodation of the schoolhouse. The dimensions are as follows - 5 x 8, 6 ½ ft. high to the heavies - to be built of hemlock - 2 doors - of pine 2 ½ ft. wide a partition in the centre of 1 ½ in. plank the seats to be of 1 ½ in. pin of 2 holes each the doors to be hung with iron hinges and latch the farm 4 x 6 hemlock. The whole to built with sound material the work to be done in workman like manner. The doors to be battened doors to be mount iron nails - Motioned and Seconded that the building be put up to the Lowest bidder - To be built by the first day Of Dec/63. On motion it prevails - It is Bid at $11-75 by B. Brockway. Moved and Seconded that we adjin to the next annual Meeting. J. P. Johnson Clerk - "
I must tell one more interesting fact about this "necessary". After serving the needs of the "Schoolhouse" for years and years, it was moved to the Nelson Fellows' barn and used as a milk house by George and Fred Myers when the bought the Nelson Fellows place. It's still standing. More about J. P. Johnson later.
When Elias Church sold his farm in 1854 to J. P. Johnson, he moved to Elpis, where his daughter, Esther Root, had located. Ruth Whaley went with the Church family. She had sold her home to Merritt Barnes.
Esther Gilbert went to live with Merritt Barnes when she and her brother David Gilbert sold there farm to Wm. K. Fellows and Joel S. Fellows, brothers and I think nephews or cousins of Wm. Linus Fellows.
David and Nabby Gilbert located in the town of Lenox in Madison County. In the Murry Cemetery at North Bay I found the headstones of their children - Dan, died June 27, 1846, aged 7 years, 1 month Mary W., died June 29, 1850, aged 18 years, 3 mo., 2 days Freedom D., died Oct. 11, 1857, aged 23 years, 3 months. They had other children, Isaac G., James, Lucinda S., Lemuel T., Cyrus H. and Clarence. I wish I knew more about this Gilbert family. I like to say their names and in imagination see the children playing in the same fields I played when I was a child. Why they sold their home makes me wonder! Was it because Elias Church moved to Elpis? Was it because they deemed the climate unhealthy? Why did the Island have to lose such a fine family? Mrs. Brockway told me of the big white farm house the Gilberts built after clearing the virgin forest. At first they lived in a log home. I could have asked her many questions had I been more interested. Now there is no one left to answer me.
Joel S. Fellows lived in Daniel Gildbert's home and William K. in Esther Gilbert's, where Cal Herman lived when I was a girl. Joel S. Fellows finally sold his place to John Burns. The 1869 Directory lists Joel S. Fellows as renting a farm from Mrs. S. Maddock of Vienna.
William K. is listed as a boatman. He was a mouthy, rough sort, a real "Canaler" type. He was spoken of as Bill Fellows. He became friendly with Henrietta Widrick Barnes, wife of Merritt Barnes. Suddenly they left for "parts unknown". Bill left a wife and a year-old daughter; Henrietta a husband and a young son, Eugene Palmer Barnes. In time Merritt sold his home to J. P. Johnson, bought a farm on Maple Flats and married the widow Lois Marsh Philbrick.
When I was looking for information in Maple Flats Cemetery, I found a headstone erected for Esther Gilbert; also one for Ruth Whaley. I rejoiced as though I met old friends.
Settlers After 1858
After 1858, James Hemmingway sold his home to Benjamin Brockway. James and his father bought a place just beyond the Bitz farm. (See map of 1892.) Another loss to our district.
Benjamin Brockway had married Elizabeth Fellows, a daughter of William Linus and Betsy Fellows. They had three children when they came to the Island. Benjamin was a tall, curly-haired blond. He was a boat builder and carpenter. One record lists him as a sawyer. We know he was a farmer if wife and children helped him. A jolly, good-natured man who liked to fish. He and his brother-in-law, Charles H. Fellows, dug wells in the neighborhood, including his own and ours. His is sixty feet deep. I have seen him climb over the well curb when the rope broke and descend the well to get the bucket. He would place a foot first on one side and then on the other. When he recovered the bucket he would tiptoe up, as he had descended. His smiling face would appear over the well curb and I would breathe freely again. I have many pleasant memories of him.
Mrs. Brockway was fat. Not tall, she was round like a pumpkin. She was a very pretty girl, they tell me. The first time I saw her she was baking cookies. It was the morning after we moved into our home. Her daughter Ida, a girl of my age, came in while we were having breakfast and asked Kate and me to go "wintergreening". We took our little pails and went home with her so she could get her pail. Through Mrs. Brockway's open door was the end of a rail. The other end of the rail was in the side door of the kitchen range fire box. The stove stood opposite the door, making this arrangement possible. She gave us cookies and three happy little girls got acquainted while we filled our pails with the biggest berries I've ever seen, almost as big as marbles. Some of the berries cracked open their skins.
Mrs. Brockway was a great worker. She would spin and knit and weave homespun cloth and rag carpets, no only for her own use but to sell. She made her own dyes and did the dyeing. Ida used to help her. The Brockway family was always up early in the morning. My father was an early riser too. How often have I heard him come in the house and call Mother. He would say, "Mate, get up. Mrs. Brockway's had her breakfast two hours ago." Mrs. Brockway used to tell me stories of the past. One story was of the night her baby died. She held the baby in her arms. Suddenly the empty cradle began to rock all by itself. She knew then the baby would die. It did.
Another story, Her son James, a young man, was walking home from Camden one dark night in July. He took the short cut by way of Holmes Road. As he approached Samuel Holmes' vacant house he was startled to see a light that looked like a lantern bobbing about in the field behind the house and disappear into the woods. James too to his heels and rant he rest of the way home. Mrs. Brockway said, "It was Samuel's ghost, looking for his lost knee."
W. G. Jackson -
This family came to Whiskey Island before 1862. They lived across the road from the Ezekiel Dunham place. I know very little about them. His house was gone before we came. I used to stop and look for treasure on my way to and from Bitz' Store. All I ever found was gooseberries growing in the yard. They had a son, Stephen, listed sawyer, in the history of the 117th Regt. In the Directory of 1869 W. G. Jackson is listed lot 64, farmer, 110 acres. Ezekiel Dunham isn't mentioned.
Whiskey Island in the Civil War
In August, 1862, a Liberty Pole was erected on the corner across the road from Benjamin Brockway's home. A platform was built at its base. Here, under the flag, Recruiting Officers came and made speeches asking for volunteers. On August 4th, Newton Church was the first to sign his name. Stephen Jackson, son of W. G. Jackson signed August 7th. John Higly Dunham and George Milton Dunham and Richard Jones signed August 8th. Orlando Dunham sighed August 9th. Charles Henry Fellows and Daniel Miller signed August 12th. All enlisted in the 117th Regt. New York State Volunteers. The morning the big wagon came for them the men met on Brockway Corners. The ladies served doughnuts and hot coffee made in Mrs. Brockway's kitchen. The men, I should say soldiers, went over Amiziah Armstrong's hill with the flag waving goodby from the back of their wagon. They were on their way to Rome, where they camped until they were sent out.
Others to go from Whiskey Island School District, not more than a mile square, were Lewis Holmes, James Holmes, William Brosmer, Simon Brosmer, William Walter Marshall, Jerome Fellows, Zackeriah Fellows, Llewellyn Armstrong, Amiziah Armstrong, William Goodnough, Alexander Dunham and Stephen Marshall.
I have been told that Clinton Whaley was a soldier. Also that Stephen Marshall wanted to go. They rejected him. He was 54 years old. He plead so hard saying, "I can shoot a rabbit and I can shoot a Reb." He was French-Canadian and it sounded so funny they decided to let him go. John Armstrong told this story. (Stephen Marshal did go. He makes 20 soldiers from Whiskey Island.)
Of these men, Newton Church, Stephen Jackson, John Higly Dunhan, Simon Brosmer, William Walter Marshall and Zacheriah Fellows were killed or died of disease. Simon Brosmer is buried on the side hill in the sand at Elpis near two other Civil War soldiers from Elpis, Revillo Philbrick and his brother Jay. Do you wonder that I am proud of Whiskey Island?
Records of Whiskey Island Civil War Soldiers
1. Newton F. Church, Sarg't., enlisted August 4, 1862 in 117th - farmer - died of measles June 1 , 1863. Left wife Sarah and three sons, Albert N., Auson A., Franklin W.
2. George Milton Dunham, Pvt., enlisted August 8, 1862 in 117th Regt. - boatman - discharged from hospital. (In the hospital one year. Later in life became a Free Methodist minister. Married Martha Audas. Had s son, Erie.)
3. John Higley Dunham, Pvt., enlisted August 8, 1862 in 117th Regt. - boatman. Died of wounds Nov. 17, 1864.
4. Orlando Dunham, Pvt., enlisted August 9, 1862 in 117th Regt. - boatman. Promoted to corporal January 16th, 1865. Discharged. Wounded at Petersburg.
5. Charles H. Fellows, Pvt., enlisted August 12, 1862 in 117th Regt. - farmer - discharged Nov. 10, 1862. Enlisted again in August or September 1864, Co. K, 189th Infantry.
6. Daniel Miller, Pvt., enlisted August 12, 1862 in 117th Regt. - farmer - discharged from hospital. Buried in Maple Flats.
7. Lewis Holmes, Pvt., enlisted August 9, 1862 in 117th Regt. - Farmer
8. Richard Jones, Pvt., enlisted August 8, 1862 in 117th Regt. - farmer.
9. Stephen Jackson, Corp., enlisted August 7, 1862 in 117yh - sawyer - died July 5, 1863.
10. Zacheriah Fellows, 34 yrs., enlisted December 25th, 1861 in the 97yh N.Y. Art., Pvt. - promoted to corporal and detailed as hospital cook. Killed at Antietam.
11. Alexander Dunham, Co. K - 189th N.Y. Inf. (Buried in Maple Flats Cemetery. His death date not engraved on his tombstone.) This makes four Dunham brothers in Civil War.
12. Jerome Q. Fellows, Co. G - 97th Regt., N.Y. Vol. Died February 11th, 1917. (Married Sophia Dunham, sister of the Dunham brothers.)
13. James Llewellyn Armstrong, Co. K - 189th N.Y. Inf. Died November 28th, 1925. (Born May 14th, 1846.)
14. James B. Holmes, Co. K - 189th Inf. (Brother of Lewis.) Died May 15th, 1912.
15. William Walter Marshall enlisted January 27th, 1862 in the 93rd N.Y. Wounded in shoulder at Cold Harbor and died.
16. Stephen Marshal, 110th N.Y. Vol., enlisted August 12th, 1862. Had yellow fever. (He was 54 or 56 when he enlisted.)
17. William Brosmere, Pvt., Co. K. - 2nd Art. - wounded - discharged October 9, 1864.
18. Simon Brosmer, enlisted August 14, 1862. Mustered in as Private Co., K August 14, 1862, to serve three years in 2nd N.Y. Heavy Art. Died November 24, 1862 at Ft. Corcoran, VA. Aged 18 years.
19. William Goodnow (Goodnough) - born 1836, died 1902 - buried at Maple Flats. Co. H, 150th N.Y. Regt.
20. Amiziah Armstrong, enlisted September 25, 1863, for three years. He was forty years old. He was a cook. The story is he got $1,000 bounty and then deserted.
Whiskey Island After the War
The road from Brockway Corners was extended to the Elpis-Maple Flats road after 1858 and before 1869.
In 1858 William Audas was living across from the William Linus Fellows place. I have seen the foundation. The 1869 Directory lists William Audas, lot 52, boatman and farmer, 60 acres. His place was on the north side of the road. He had married Mary Sutherland, daughter of Bilisent. His wife died and he went to New York City to work, taking his little daughter Belle with him. More of him later.
Bilisent Sutherland's Widow's home was east of William Audas' on west part of lot 53, just west of Benjamin Brockway's. Nothing but the cellar left for me to see. Her son Rufus married Mary Jane Armstrong, daughter of Amiziah and Clarissa and lived in the Dan Miller house that was owned by her mother. When Sophia Will, my husband's mother, taught the school, she boarded with Mary Jane and Rufus. When Mary Jane's fourth child Jenny came, she died. Rufus married again, this time to Fanny Brockway. He kept the three boys. He and fanny had three more boys, then parted. Fanny did housework and paid her motherboard for keeping the two younger boys, Myron and Benny. The boys were about our age. Myron was the one who found the "Clerk's Book" and gave it to me.
Jerome Fellows, the youngest son of William Linus and Betsy, married Sophia Dunham, the youngest daughter of Ezekiel and Eunice. His home was across the road from William Audas' on lot 63, In a few years they left for the Lockerby District. When I was a child, I found the well and a firecracker honeysuckle vine that told of their having living there.
John Munderback bought just west of William Audas on lot 52. He built a good house and other buildings. He had a good farm and a large family. For some reason, he moved to Canastota, N.Y., leaving the place vacant. It was his son who told Father how cheap the land was across the lake in Whiskey Island. Ben Armstrong bought the place later. When Ben's children were of school age, he moved to Jewel.
The youngest son of Ezekiel and Eunice Dunhan, Alexander, married Juilette Goodnough, daughter of Barnabas and Juilette. He went to the Goodnough home to live. Three children were born to them, Louise, who married a Lansing from Cleveland, New York; John, who lived in Sherrill, New York; and Imogene, who married Mike Hoover from the Lockerby District. In turn, Mike and Em lived on the Goodnough place with her people.
Alexander and Juilette took an active part in church work of the community. I might call them the "cream" of our society.
George Myers, son of Benjamin and Kate Bridenbecker Myers, married Ella Harris from Panther Lake. He bought the Andrew Washborn place. His son Fred stayed at home helping his father farm and raise strawberries. Ella made butter from their dairy, George selling it in Camden. They made money and when the Nelson Fellows place was for sale, they bought it, remodeled the house and barn, etc., and did big business. Fred should have married. Ella needed help. For some reason the girls said "No." Some zero night about eight o'clock in the evening, listen - you may hear the music of Fred Myers' sleighbells coming nearer and nearer, "Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way," then growing fainter and fainter - Fred was going courting.
Ella worked too hard. She tried to keep peace between Fred and his father. George didn't like Fred's social activities. He wanted him to get married and stay at home. Fred wouldn't take just any girl; he wanted to marry a girl "Just like the girl who married dear old Dad". Before he found her his mother died. Fred went into the Army in the 1st World War. The place was sold to George's grandson, Gleen Marsh, who didn't want to go to the war, but to marry Louise Suits and farm the place. Roberta was born there. When was ended, Glenn went back to his father's farm in Elpis. He is an only child.
Glenn sold the place to Louise's father, Jerome Suits. Later, the son, Walter Suits, married Clarissa Armstrong and became a Methodist minister. The house burned and the land was sold to C. M. Pratt.
It was Ella Myers who used to keep Sunday school going in the Free Methodist Church. Her favorite hymn was "Beulah Land". I can still hear her high notes. She was a very good woman who came from a fine family.
One my way to Elpis after the mail, I would often stop for a drink of water at the Myers' home. I admired her charm string of lovely buttons and started my button collection. She loved flowers. A beautiful Seven Sisters rose grew over her front door, and her fushia still blooms in my memory.
Fred is now married to a dear little woman. Ella and George would love her. He has a new home near Utica. All is well with him.
Charles Fellows, Jr., son of Charles Henry and grandson of William Linus was a great worker. He and Linus Brockway cut ten cords of one foot firewood in one winter day, working from sunrise to sunset. They worked in their undershirts in zero weather. Myron Sutherland would take them a hot dinner that Mrs. Brockway prepared for them. A true story.
Ada Fellows, Charles, Jr.'s sister married John Renwick. They were living in the J. Little house when Ada sent for Mother and Father. Ada's baby was sick. When Father looked at the baby he knew it was too late for a doctor to help the child. The baby was dying. Mother saw the nursing bottle with its long rubber tube or hose and knew the cause. Father made a box. Mother lined it with soft material. Father preached a sermon. Kate and I say, "Let the Little Ones Come Unto Me". Roscoe Armstrong took the homemade coffin, Ada and two older children, Will and Sarah, in his Democrat wagon with Father on the seat beside him to Maple Flats Cemetery. Mother and Hat followed in our buggy. Kate and I walked home. Mrs. Brockway stayed to put the house in order, and be there when Ada came home. John Renwick was away working.
Another funeral - a few years later.
Abi Brockway had fits. She fell on the stove and burned her face badly when she was a child. She couldn't speak clearly. Nevertheless, she got her man. His name was Johnson. They lived near George Armstrong's in the Putnam house. Their baby died. Rev. J. P. Johnson preached the funeral sermon. A number of people came. The procession formed for Maple Flats. The baby's casket was put in a platform wagon. Just before they started the father called out in a loud voice, "Wait a minute. I want to get a chaw of tobacco." The procession waited.
When Joel S. Fellows and William K. Fellows left the Island, the Gilbert place was sold to John Burns and wife, Isabel. He was a farmer from Ireland. Their children were Thomas, 17, Mary, 13, and Fanny, 10. I don't know how long they lived there. The David Gilbert house burned. There was a lawsuit. I think the Daniel Widrick house that burned was involved in the suit. Will Barnes, Merritt's son, told me about this lawsuit, but couldn't recall the details. He said some could look up the facts, but I haven't. I don't know what became of the Burns family. The Burns family, involved in two burnings!
Erie Dunham, a grandson of Ezekiel, bought the Joe Myers' place, cut off the wood and moved away. His mother, Martha Audas Dunham, bought the William Audas place, cut off wood and left. Gene Holmes still owns his father's old home. He moved the new barn to his North Bay place. All other buildings are gone. Others came to the Island and left.
I haven't told of Caleb Herman. I will do so now. On Maple Flats, in the early days, lived a family by the name of Herman. One morning the little son Cal was sent with an egg to a neighbor, John Conklin, to trade his egg for a greaser - a "greaser" is a piece of pork with the rind left on, used to grease a pancake griddle. Aunt Sophia Conklin told this, thinking it a joke, as the Conklins had greasers. Later, Cal Herman lived with his second wife in the Dan Miller house. Then he bought the Gilbert-Fellows-Burns place. When I first knew him he was again a widower. He kept three or four cows, bees and some chickens. He found it hard to cook, make butter, and do farm work.
Mr. Pooley, a peddler from North Constantia way, used to drive his grocery, tin peddler sort of cart along our roads buying butter, eggs or anything we had to sell if we would trade with him. One day Cal told Mr. Pooley that he was a "lonely heart". Mr. Pooley told him of a good woman he knew who wanted a home. Cal told him he'd give him a five-pound jar of butter if he would bring her next trip. Mr. Pooley took the butter to bind the bargain. Sure enough, next trip the lady was on the seat with Mr. Pooley. Cal kept her three days, then decided she'd fill his need. He hired Father's horse and buggy, and my brother Homer, a boy ten years old, drove them to the nearest Justice of the Peace to be married. They found Lew Kritzer out in his onion patch weeding onions. In this onion patch, without benefit of paper or book, Lew spoke the marriage words as he could remember them. Then he pronounced them man and wife. Cal gave him a quarter. In those days the law said the Justice of the Peace could charge twenty-five cents. The only witness was my littler brother.
Ida Brockway, Kate and I stood by the well when Cal came back with Homer to pay Father for the "buggy ride". As he passed us he said, "They always kiss the bride." We were too young to avoid his kiss. Next day we called on the bride. She was very nice. She treated us to snow pudding; the first time we ever tasted that kind of dessert. It was good. They lived happily together until she died many years later. Then Cal went to live with his son in Cleveland, New York.
Cal made a scarecrow in his cornfield. He took his wife's white drawers and shirt, stuffed them with straw, placed them on a pole stuck in the ground, and put his wife's old hat on the sort of straw head, thus making a realistic figure. Several of the boys decided to have some fun. They poured kerosene oil on the scarecrow and set it on fire. They then hid where they could see and hear Cal's reaction. He came through the door in his shirttail and nightcap, calling to his wife, "My God, woman, we're all ablaze!"
One evening Howard called and found Cal sitting on his doorstep. He had a brick in his and with a string tied around it. The other end of the string was tied to his aching tooth. Suddenly, swinging his arm around his head as ball players do, he threw the brick. Sure enough, when Howard picked up the brick, there was the tooth dangling from the end of the string.
The Ups and Downs of Whiskey Island Free Methodist Church
After the Civil War the Free Methodist Church was organized. In a letter Ollie's Aunt Louie Wilcox Hand wrote to her husband, a Methodist minister, while she was visiting her husband's brother, Meigs Howd at Oak Opening, she writes, "Dec. 21, 1876 went with Meigs Howd and wife to Elpis Donation For the minister...........Brother Johnson has gone With the Free Methodists. They have meetings at His schoolhouse. (Whiskey Island Schoolhouse.) He is to give ground and $50 for Free Methodist Church. Asked Meigs if he would not help them. (Meigs Howd had married Julia Washborn of Whiskey Island). Brothers, Smith, Little and Yager, etc. Have gone with the Free Society, as I have been Told." The result - "Sept. 15, 1877, between James P. Johnson and Elizabeth, first part and James P. Johnson, E. J. Fellows and Aseph Stephenson, trustees of the Free Me. Ch. of Vienna for the sum of $1.00 for use and benefit of members of Free Me. Church. The seats shall be forever free so long as premises she be used for the purposes above mentioned. Sworn to before J. N. Conant, Justice of the Peace."
In the Crenan diary I found:
"June 9, 1878 - went down to Free Methodist Camp Meeting at Whiskey Island." J. P. Johnson was ordained a Free Me. Minister.
The church was well built, painted white, unpainted kitchen chairs for seats, two chandeliers, and bracket lamps on sidewalls. It would seat 150 people. It had two front doors, a broad platform across the front of the church, three windows on each side, a small window in the back of the pulpit; a raised platform across the front with a hand rail for converts to kneel before. There wasn't an organ. When J. P. Johnson moved to Cleveland and rented the farm, the membership dwindled; some died, some moved away, and others "backslid". Incidentally, the church was built where Ruth Whaley-Merritt Barnes' house stood. The church was closed when we came in 1892.
In 1894 Rev. William Dunham, a grandson of Ezekiel, came with other ministers to hold revivals. They were well attended. A hymn new to us was, "I Have Anchored My Soul In A Haven Of Rest". It was a "hit". Every time Roscoe Armstrong or one of our other neighbors came to our house to spend the evening, they requested to hear the hymn. Kate would play chords and sing and I could read. I would have to sing with her to carry the words. Rev. Dunham moved into the J. P. Johnson house. After a time the congregation shrunk to the point where it didn't pay to open the church. He began going to Uncle Ezra and Aunt Mary Ripley's home in Elpis. The Ripleys were ardent Free Methodists. We would see the buggy with the Rev. and Mrs. Dunham and their 13-year old son Earl drive by in the afternoon. They would have supper with Aunt Mary and in the evening would hold service in her big kitchen.
Earl came to school. He always wanted to play train at recess or noon hour. The little children would be stationed as ticket agents along a good wood road back of our schoolhouse. Earl always wanted to be engineer and trainman. He called out the stations, pretended to ring the bell and whistled. We children arranged ourselves each side of a long pole. We would hang on for dear life, while we ran as fast as our engineer. We stopped to rest at the stations. It was fun.
One day Earl was at our house. We were talking about what we wanted to do when we grew up. Mother asked Earl what he was going to do when he was a man. He thought a minute, then he told her, "A preacher until I've saved a little money, and then a railroad engineer."
Another series of revivals in 1899. The Christian Crusaders came from Bennett's Corners, New York, and Oneida Indian Reservation. The Rev. Crowthers, pastor at the Reservation, came with them. One Cadet, William Housel, dressed in cap and uniform, was a handsome, blond, little mustached man, 28 years old, and a gentleman. Best of all he had a sweet tenor voice. Everyone liked him. He was asked to stay. He accepted the "call" to preach for the collections. Alexander Dunham gave him board and lodgings. Really he boarded around. Dunham's was his headquarters. He held services every Sunday evening. He wasn't well but we didn't know it was T. B. The climate seemed to agree with him that summer. In the fall he had a hemorrhage at the home of Ed. Augas in Elpis. He was in bed a long time. All the ladies helped nurse him. He got better and resumed preaching. Toward Spring things began to happen. It seems, before coming to us, he had been at the Crowther's home at Bennett's Corners. He was sick in bed. The minister's second wife, a very attractive woman, nursed him. Rev. J. C. Crowthers was glad when Mr. Housel left.
One day Mr. Housel brought a sample handbill to father asking him to have copies printed next time he went to Camden. The bills arrived by mail. Homer and Howard help Mr. Housel distribute them. I was going to Eaton High School at this time, so never saw a copy. The wording was sensational: something like this: An invitation was given the public to come on a certain date to the Whiskey Island Church to hear the story of Mr. Housel's life - his boyhood, education, first time he went astray, conviction, life behind prison bars, etc. Llewellyn Armstrong objected to its being given in the Church, said his girls couldn't listen, etc. A few others voiced objections. Mr. Housel heard of the remarks. The night came. The Church was packed. A rig was tied at every fencepost from Dunham Hill to Cal Herman's. The Church sheds couldn't hold them all. Mr. Housel didn't appear. Finally Antone Hoover said he would go look for him. Mr. William Garlick spoke to Alex Dunham, then stood up and suggested while waiting they have a home talent entertainment. Kate sang a solo, Ed. Nichols from North Bay gave an oration he'd learned in Oneida High School. Hymns were sung. An hour and half passed pleasantly before Antone Hoover came back. He had traced Housel to Cleveland, where he'd found Mr. Housel had bought a ticket for Syracuse. The meeting was adjourned, to be held again next Thursday evening. All were invited to go next door for supper the ladies had prepared - not food enough for such a big crowd. Some went home hungry, but the ladies made quite a bit of money.
Thursday evening came, but not Mr. Housel. Mr Garlick stood up and read an article from the Syracuse Post-Standard saying Housel was in jail. He had attended a Salvation Army meeting in Syracuse, asked for prayers, and for someone to advise him. One of them took him home, prayed with him and listened to his history. After due thought, he was advised to go to the police and give himself up. The police, after interviewing him, locked him up until they could get information from the State Police in Trenton, New Jersey. Mr. Housel wasn't wanted by the New Jersey police. They said since being released on parole because of T.B., Mr. Housel had lived such a good life they had no more interest in him. The charge against him had been forgery.
Well, the hat was passed around, the money taken, added to the supper money, and Antone Hoover was to go to Syracuse to bail Mr. Housel out of jail. The friends didn't know Mr. Housel had been released. Next day, when Antone arrived in Syracuse, he found Mr. Crowthers had seen the paper, was worried, hurried to Syracuse and took Housel home with him. Money can burn a hole in some people's pocket. Antone couldn't take a chance; he got drunk. Mr. Housel had failed to report to New Jersey the last three months. Mr. Crowthers threatened exposure if Mr. Housel didn't leave the locality. Mr. Housel had been paroled to Rev. Crowthers, his former guardian. Housel's mother had died when he was a small child. She named her old sweetheart and best friend to rear her son. There was money. The child was neglected and spoiled.
Again Mrs. Crowthers nursed Mr. Housel. He got better, came back to his church, carried on for a while, and then went away without saying goodbye. Later my mother received a letter from him postmarked Denver, Colorado. He told her he was sick and wanted to come back to the only place that had ever been home to him but wondered how he would be received. He went on to explain that he had preached and earned his way to Denver in hopes of the climate of the west would cure him. In Denver he had preached and made friends. Among these friends was the wife of the Mayor of the city. In his rooming house he had another hemorrhage. He was taken to the hospital. There the ladies of the church gave him money to go onto Arizona or he could use this money to return east. He wanted to come home.
Mother wrote, "Come back." He was taken off the train at West Vienna on a stretcher to the home of Zenus White. There Edith White nursed him for three or four weeks. She found the store and post office kept her so busy she needed help.
Antone Hoover came for him, put up a bed in the parlor, and the ladies took turns caring for him, my mother among them. He asked for Father who promised him he would bury him beside the church where Housel said he had really truly tried to live a true Christian life. Father dug the grave. The funeral was held in the church. Kate and Homer sang. Not one of the New Jersey people came to his funeral.
I found this slip of paper in Mother's and Father's writing and I think it would be of interest. Mother wrote: "Housel died Nov. 11th, 1900. Funeral Nov. 14th. Text was 1st Cor. 15 Chapter, 57th verse. 1st hymn, "There Will Be No Dark Valley". 2nd hymn, "Will Anyone There Be Waiting and Watching For Me?" 3rd hymn, "Someday" - (in hymnbook, "Finest of the Wheat".) Bearers Mr. Conant, Antone Hoover, Rosco Armstrong, Wallace LaCelle." Father wrote on the back of the same slip of paper: "Rosco Armstrong and Elmer Clarke dug his grave at the south side of the Church, just where he wished to be laid to rest. Elmer Jay Clarke."
Later Father asked Mrs. Brockway for one of the gravestones that he leaned against the back of their barn for years. Before being placed back of the barn they had been covered with hay at the bottom of the haymow. We knew this but never asked where they came from. The stones were no engraved. She gave Father one. He chiseled the lettering and placed the stone. It is still there. The church with its shed and all its "free seats" are gone. One thing more, on the map of locality you own, Roger, cemeteries are marked with a small cross. Cadet William had his cross!
One day my sister Kate's phone rang. It was Mansfield's Pennsylvania relatives who wanted to come up on the hill and see Uncle Erza Ripley who was at her home. The company came, and during the conversation the name Housel was mentioned. One cousin said, "That's the name." Then she told that Mrs. Crowthers had obtained a divorce and taken their ten or twelve-year old child and gone back to her Mansfield, Pennsylvania home. She opened a gift or variety shop to support herself and child. She was a very sweet singer and leader in the musical life of the town. Rev. Crowthers left the ministry and became an undertaker. Truth is indeed stranger than fiction!
Following Cadet Housel came Milbury Metcalf, another Christian Crusader. He didn't wear a cap and uniform. Mrs. Brockway took him home with her. She sent for Ida to come home. It was love at first sight. So many chickens were killed and eaten that Metcalf said he felt like crowing. Ida and he were married in the church. He was from a lumber camp in Pennsylvania. He was so big the boys nicknamed him Gunboat Dewey. Mrs. Brockway and Ida and Metcalf were at a church social. Afterwards, Mrs. Brockway was telling Mother they wouldn't have had any fun at their table if Milbury hadn't put a whole fried cake in his mouth at one time.
One Sunday afternoon Addie Garlick rode her wheel up to see me. Kate and I walked as far as Dunham's Hill with her when she left. On the way home we met Jim Wright in front of the church. He had been to our house and Mother told him where we were. Jim saw the church lighted and said, "Let's go inn." We stepped inside as Metcalf was pronouncing the benediction. When he saw us, he said, "Come right up front. I was just finishing but will begin over." He did. The only ones there were his wife and mother-in-law. They left the farm after Ben Brockway died. The family moved to Sherrill where Ida supported him by taking boarders. Metcalf called on Mother and Father one day and stayed to dinner. Mother had apple pie. He told her the pie reminded him of one Ida baked the day before. It was so good he ate his piece and then said, "Ida, see that pig out there. Ida turned her head to look out the window and I ate her piece of pie." Mother looked at him and answered, "She looked the wrong way to see the hog." He laughed and helped himself to another piece of pie. He joined the Salvation Army. I don't know who supported him after than. They parted and Ida remarried.
I must tell of one more minister, C. C. Wright from Medicine Lodge, Barber County, and Kansas. He was a student at Colgate University. He came to North Bay to preach in the Baptist Church. He made his headquarters with Dexter Nichols. He had morning service at the Bay and came to see us in the evening. I call him "The Little Minister" as I had just read the book and he was small. Grace Crenan, a former schoolteacher, now a dressmaker at North Bay, boarded with Dexter Nichols. Naturally, Grace and the minister fell in love. The marriage was to take place when he graduated from Colgate, before he left for the Mission Field. When the Baptist Mission Society of Boston said African Congo, Grace said no. She was willing to go to China or almost any other place, but not the "Dark Continent". As the Society had financed his education, he felt he should go where they sent him. He went alone. Mother received two or three letters from him. Later the Missionary Society wrote to Mother telling her he had died doing his best forty miles from any white man. The Society had found my mother's address among his things.
I must tell you what became of the Free Methodist Church. Several Colgate students occupied the pulpit for a while. Then the chimney was blown off. The church and shed needed shingling. The shingles were bought and stored in the shed. Before they could be put on, Rev. J. P. Johnson died. The Free Methodist organization didn't feel like keeping up the church for Baptist students. They sold the buildings for old lumber. There was a change-taking place in the new 1900's. The demand for second-hand lumber was such that the organization cashed in. The banister before the kneeling alters is used in my brother Charlie's home as a stair rail. The land the church was built on reverted to the Rev. J. P. Johnson estate.
More about William Audas. He came back to the Island bringing a bride from Brooklyn, a sweet, nice lady, mother of ten children. One was born without bones in its body. When it died she had the grave watched for doctors wanted the body. Her two youngest children, Hilda, 15, and Chester, 11, came with them. Chester came to school. How we loved his Brooklyn accent! He was bright and full of ideas. The first day he taught us to play a Brooklyn game called "Mickeys and Paddys Hop Over". We chose him captain. The rest of us stood a short distance in front of him. When he called, "Mickeys and Paddys Hop Over", we hopped over on one leg. If one of us touched the ground with the other foot, he called our name and we joined him watching. The last hopper was rewarded by being captain next game. This game was a welcome change from "Palm, palm, pull away" and "Tag". As our schoolyard was a side hill, we played in the road where it was level and sandy. We played in the woods road back of the schoolhouse. We would climb young trees and sway back and forth until the tree broke or the bell rang. We were a happy gang. Wonderful place to build a school.
The summer that Bertha Will taught our school we had a picnic in Garlick's Grove at Elpis. There were tables and swings, and a platform in the Grove where picnics and camp meetings were held. The entertainment following the picnic dinner was best of all. Ernest Marshall, a little red-haired, freckle-faced boy wouldn't or couldn't learn a recitation. Bertha let him speak a page from his Swinnerton first reader that he knew by heart. It goes like this, "Oh Fi, do not cry, if you hit your toe, say oh and let it go, be a man if you can, but do not cry." She announced, "Do Not Cry" by Ernest Marshall. Ernest took his place on the platform, looked at the audience, down at his feet, tried to open his mouth, and burst into tears, crying out loud. Up went his arm, covering his red face. He stood still. Bertha went to him and led him to his seat. The crowd roared with laughter. Today he would have won a prize.
His brother Arthur, a tall, angular, loose-jointed boy, two years older, had a piece but wouldn't tell what it was. When the time came, Bertha just said, "A recitation by Arthur Marshall." He went up on the platform and without stopping said in a loud voice, "Pretty little kitty, old black cat," and took his seat. This time everyone clapped their hands and roared with laughter. They cheered and cheered but he didn't come back for an encore. When Ed. Holmes' turn came, he recited in a big voice, "Cold winds may blow and snow may fall, but well we know God cares for all." Again, the guests were pleased. I can see Ed.'s sturdy, straight little body standing there and still know the feeling of surprised - such a big voice and such a little boy!
Strange, but I can't remember my piece or any of the others. Hattie Howd tells me she was there and Kate and I sang, "Johnnie is so long at the Fair." Hattie says, "It was good, so good!" I was 11 and Kate was 9 years old. (It must have been me who knew the words and Kate who carried the tune.)
How Can I Do Justice To The Armstrongs?
Our neighbor on the hill was Roscoe Armstrong. He was born on the place and lived there until his heart gave out, when his daughter Edith took him with her to Rome. He was just 25 when we came in 1892. A nice looking, blue-eyed, brown-haired young man. In June he brought home his bride, Harriet Riffenberger Leonard, a grass widow. She was blond, quite pretty, hot-tempered, and very kind-hearted. Roscoe met her when she came with her small son Roy to visit her mother, who was Cal Herman's second wife and lived in the Dan Miller house. She supported herself and child doing housework. She worked for Grandfather Will after Grandmother died. When Roy was older she put him in a children's home in Utica where she paid his board. She was then working for a wealthy family on George Street in Rome. Roscoe had bought the Armstrong farm. There was nothing Amiziah and Clarissa could do but move into the parlor and parlor bedroom. Amiziah was real mean but Clarissa made the best of it.
I remember Roscoe bringing Hat down to see Mother. She wore a lovely blue chambray dress that made her look beautiful. We all liked her. Edith, their only child, came to them with Mother's help while Roscoe was gone for Dr. Nick. Roscoe was delighted with the baby. His pet name for her was "Toad". Madge, Roscoe's dog, took my wrist in his mouth when I was shaking my hand at Edith to make her laugh.. How Hat and Roscoe would small when Edith toddled up and down the aisle when they were at church. She could do no wrong. I never saw bluer eyes than Edith's. Kate was Roscoe and Hat's favorite. Roscoe would say, "Hello, you little devil."
Kate would laugh. If he'd called me that I would have stuck out my tongue at him. He could swear better than anyone I ever knew. I was habit. How I wish you could have seen him and heard him drive his cows up the lane into his barn. Dear old Roscoe! One of the best neighbors we ever had. Hat was an equally good neighbor. It wouldn't be half bad to have them on the hill above us in the next world.
Roscoe was first to get his team, Ned and Baldy, out in the winter to beak the roads, go for Dr. Nick, or help in any way he could. Hat was kindness itself. One winter when Father was sick with rheumatism she brought a frozen egg to him - the first egg she'd found in the barn that winter. Chickens didn't lay in the winter in those days.
One thing I want to tell you, son, is how we loved the long evening visits from neighbors. We would pop corn, bring up the cider and apples and just talk, talk, talk. It would be midnight before they went home. In summer, we had shorter visits.
Today, with our modern conveniences, we don't know the meaning of neighborly visits. How we used to borrow a bottle of coal oil or a cup of sugar until we could go to the store. They borrowed from us as often as we did from them. When anyone in the community was sick, we helped nurse them. In turn, they helped us.
I have such dear memories of Mrs. Brockway and Rosie Gill Fellows. They were happy days and I am really sorry for the busy people of today.
I should tell you of little Charlie Armstrong. When his mother died, his father Warren brought baby Charlie home to his mother to care for. Charlie was eighteen years old when we first knew him. He liked Alice and Charlie was at our house a great deal. He was always doing nice things for us. He never married. He was with Roscoe the New Year's Eve when Roscoe's house burned. Really a Peter Pan that never grew up. "He doeth good like a medicine."
Whiskey Island's Dr. Nick
I should have told you about him after I told of our ministers.
Dr. Henry Nicholas, a graduate of Geneva Medical College, began practicing medicine at North Bay in 1856. He continued until his death in the late 1890's. I heard him tell Mother when he first began coming to the Island that he had to ride horseback carrying his medicine in his saddlebags. He was everyone's "Dr. Nick" - a grand, aristocratic old man.
Dr. Nick told my mother when he called to check on the condition of Ruth after her long sickness of measles and complications that he never game medicine without a prayer with each dose. He had a dead of being buried alive. He requested to be embalmed. Embalming was not generally practiced at that time.
My Father's House
My father's house! You asked me once, Roger, about the deeds. I've never thought about deeds in connection with home. There would be the Miller-Armstrong-Pendfield and Stone deeds. I will look them up sometime. If I don't, you will find them in Utica Court House.
Father bought the place in 1892 from Pendfield and Stone of Camden, the price $400. The State of New York had a mortgage of $200. Father paid Pendfield and Stone $200 but let the mortgage wait. He paid $10 per year interest. When the State called in the mortgage, Father paid the $200 to them. Jim Brown at North Bay was State Agent.
Before we moved in Father put in new windows, mended the plaster and pointed the chimney. When we came Mother and Alice painted woodwork and papered. When settled we had the most wonderful home in the world, for it was ours.
Father had Gene Holmes come with his oxen and scoop level out an upper drive and the dirt out of the cellar. When the trees, shrubs and Mother's flowers were planted, woodbine to cover the gray weathered walls, he built on a woodshed and east porch. In time a new barn, and last the new house was built. This is your home, and may you and yours love it as did the Clarkes.
Whiskey Island was a good place to raise children. We were in the front yard one afternoon when a rig passed. They were strangers, so we watched them go by. A man in the front seat pointed at us and said to a lady in the back seat, "Auntie, I thought you said you could raise anything but blackberries in Whiskey Island." We never had money. We had what money can't buy, happiness and friends. Most of the people I have told you about are buried in Maple Flats Cemetery. I would be among my friends and feel at home there.
I can still hear Father say to Mother, "Kate, come here. The swallows are back."
Note 1: I have found that on December 2, 1851, Amiziah Armstrong bought 2/3 of lot 65 from Richard Whitcomb and wife Lucy, and Frederick Jewell and wife Betsey. Probably Hannah Miller, widow, bought from same people the west 1/3 of lot 65.
Note 2: After completing the History of Whiskey Island, I found the following items in Mother's scrapbook, Date 1901 or 1902.
The Crowther Divorce Case
The Crowther divorce case, which as been in the courts for some time, ahs been settled and the proceedings discontinued. The parties in the action are John C. Crowther, formerly pastor of Bennett's Corners Church, but now a funeral director and furniture dealer in Vernon, and his wife, Mr. Lena Crowhter, of Mansfield, Pa. Mr. Crowther began the suit, alleging that his wife had violated her marriage vows. She, through her attorneys, Jenkins and Peaslee, put in a counter charge that he had been unduly familiar with women in Pensylvania. Mr. Crowther paid the costs of the action. He was recently ordered to pay $100 counsel fees and $5 per week alimony. Mrs. Crowther, who had been at her home in Mansfield, is now the guest of relatives at Kenwood. Mr. Crowther and His Dog Mr. Crowther's pet dog died a few days ago and its death was deeply mourned by him. The reverend gentleman procured a find child's casket, beautifully lined with white satin, smocked in the latest style, and into this receptacle for the dead the body of the canine was placed. The remains had previously been embalmed by Mr. Crowther, the undertaker. A profusion of carnations and other flowers were then placed in and abuot the coffin. The silver plate, affixed to the lid, bore the following inscription, ‘McGinty Crowther, aged 11 years. The Master Leadeth His Flock.' Mr. Crowther then journeyed to Stockbridge, where he waited on the trustees of The Stockbridge Cemetery, and tried to purchase a lot in the cemetery, in which to place the body of his beloved pet. The trustees refused to sell him a lot for such a purchase. Mr. Crowther returned to his home, disappeared, and made arrangements for the interment of "McGinty" in some other place.
Mary Clarke Norton
The format in which this book is presented on the Internet is Copyright©1999 by Betty McCulloch.
Given permission from Oneida County Historical Society - Richard Allen to publish this information on the Town of Vienna Web Page dated 03/28/2007.