Half-Shire Historical Society–October 3, 2008

At long last the planned renovations and replacement of the second story fascia of our Richland headquarters has been completed! The work was done in less then a week by Basciani Construction and looks terrific. The Bascianis also did some additional masonry work while we had the hydraulic lift rented (rental courtesy of members Phil & Rita Rombach). This work and a little additional upkeep to the chimney complete our planned capital projects for the year.
While the work in Richland was ongoing, Trustee Margaret Kastler and I were in Niagara Falls participating in the NYS Association of Counties annual conference. On Thursday evening we were pleased to join members of the Niagara County historical community as they celebrated the 200th anniversary of the county founding. The event culminated at a gala dinner that night under a tent alongside the majestic Canadian falls. Many re-enactors depicting various eras in history greeted and served at the dinner. It was a beautiful evening capped off by fireworks at dusk.
On our return trip Margaret and I detoured to the Finger Lakes region where we made two stops to investigate cemeteries. The first stop was in rural Potter Township in the north part of Yates County where fourth-great grandparents of my mother, Ichabod & Paulina (Ferre) Randall are buried. Recently a distant cousin Ted Worrell contacted me to let me know that he had purchased and placed a new marker in the small farm-field grave site. Margaret and I found the Thomas family cemetery with little problem at all, and the new marker was discovered right away, placed in front of the original 200 year-old deteriorated slate markers for the pair. It was interesting to learn that this small cemetery is said to be atop an old Indian burial site.
Headed back north we visited the city of Canandaigua to look for Pioneer Cemetery where some former Pulaskians were said to be buried. Upon discovery of the neatly kept cemetery in back of the city hall we believe we have solved a local mystery over “where Abijah Hubbell is buried”
Abijah Hubbell was born in Fairfield, Connecticut in 1761. He enlisted in the 2nd Connecticut Continentals during the American Revolution, serving from 1777 through 1783. He departed the service as a Corporal, having served at the battle of Fairfield as well as several miner skirmishes. Seven years after marriage to Clarissa Fitch, the young couple relocated to Saratoga County, New York. They raised five sons, three of whom lived to maturity and graduated from law school. Each of these sons, Walter, Hiram and Levi rose to judicial seats in their adopted localities. Two of the sons, Hiram and Walter also served terms in the New York State Assembly. Hiram was the second Oswego County Clerk, and a prominent member of the Pulaski community.
When Abijah and his wife left Saratoga County for Oswego County in the late 1830s they left behind two sons buried in Union Cemetery at Malta. A cemetery stone there had also been pre-chiseled for Abijah and his wife. Clarissa died shortly after moving to Pulaski, and by all accounts was buried there where a new family stone was erected. Two years after his wife’s death Abijah apparently was staying with his son Walter in Canandaigua when he himself died.
With his wife buried in Pulaski it seemed unusual that the prosperous Hubbell family would not transport Abijah’s body back there, however Margaret and I are now convinced that the family in Canandaigua kept Abijah there, and buried him in Pioneer Cemetery with Walter’s wife Elizabeth who had died in 1839. Walter himself died in 1848, and they all rest in very well marked plot on the north side of the historic grounds. The obelisk style marker tells the full tale of where all were born and died as well as listing the dates. Later that day Abijah’s death notice was discovered in the archives of the Ontario County Messenger proving for us finally that he indeed died and is buried in Canandaigua.
As we write we have learned of the untimely death of our good friend Shirley Balcom Hort of Pulaski. Shirley was an occasional participant in society affairs, and was last with us one evening this summer during farmer’s market. Shirley was the daughter of the late Charles and Leona (Lighthall) Balcom, and was a descendant of Revolutionary war veteran Nathan Mellon of Richland. We extend our sincere sympathy to her son, daughter and many descendants.
Half-Shire can be reached at P.O. 73, 100 County Rte. 48, Richland, NY 13144 or on the web at www.halfshire.com email halfshire@hotmail.com Our Richland facility continues to be open Fridays from noon-4pm, our next lunch meeting will be at noon on Saturday October 18, 2008 and will feature a musical performance by acclaimed concert harpist Kelsey Munz of Osceola.

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September 26, 2008 column

Oswego County’s tourism advisory committee convened their monthly meeting at the Richland facility on Tuesday September 16. Twenty two members and guests participated in the hour and a half long meeting. Jim Laird of Barton & Logudice Engineers spoke on the Pulaski section of the Salmon River trail system. Following the meeting a chicken casserole lunch was served by trustees Erma Schroeder and Rose Graham. (Special thanks go out also to Nancy Meeks for assistance.)
The Oswego County Tourism website, which was overhauled earlier this year, features many useful links to heritage related website, including the half-Shire site. The site also features directions to each cemetery in Oswego County. Much credit is due to the ladies in the tourism department for their hard work at keeping the site fresh and interesting.
Member Julie Litts Robst will be debuting her new publication this week, “Richland Township Cemeteries, Volume II—Willis/South Richland Cemetery records”. In this very large, information-filled book Julie has presented a new survey of the cemetery internments with obituaries for each person where found. In some cases Julie has even included estate records, and short sketches. The book is over 350 pages long with short margins. At $40 it is a bargain for a researcher that has to be seen to be appreciated. Copies can be obtained at Half-Shire on Fridays from 12-4 or from Shawn Doyle in person. Copies can be mailed for an additional $3. This series of books by Julie is remarkable in its detail and scope, the research community at large is truly indebted to her.
On Saturday October 18th the Society will host a special musical recital following our monthly lunch meeting. Osceola native Kelsey Munz will perform a variety of selections on her concert harp from approximately 1:30-3pm at the Richland building. Kelsey was at our last meeting and was questioned extensively about how she was doing with her harp, and volunteered to come back in October to perform. This will be a “sneak peak” for many of our regulars as Kelsey will be performing at the Barclay Court House on Sunday December 7, for our second annual Christmas recital. The public is welcome to attend both events, for the October event if you plan on attending lunch please leave a message with Shawn at 298-3620 so we can plan accordingly.
Work on the outside fascia of our building commenced finally on Monday September 22, under contract with Basciani masons. The work is expected to take a little over a week, and will replace our fallen back fascia with new material, and repair and paint the remaining three sides. Building and Grounds Superintendent Phil Rombach and his wife our trustee Rita have graciously donated the cost towards the man lift. This work is the principal capital project of the year that we will be doing, and while being somewhat costly, is essential. We are grateful to Tom Basciani for working with us on the project planning.
The northern New York Library Network has a new addition to its newspaper digitalization project on its website. The Pulaski Democrat is now online for the years 1834-1990. This searchable database has proven a huge hit with many in the research community, as well as novices. To access the site go to: www.nnyln.org/ and select northern NY Historical newspapers. This link will bring you to a map of the region. Land your curser on Oswego County and select “Pulaski Democrat”. From this point the search technique is straight-forward. A couple of hints: in the drop box below the search choose “exact phrase” for best results, and also you will have to enlarge the image each time to 100 or 150% depending on the size of the font. We showed our town clerk the other day, and he was instantly hooked!
Half-Shire can be contacted at P.O. 73, 1100 County Rte. 48, Richland, NY 13144 or on the web at www.halfshire.com our email is at halfshire@hotmail.com and our weekly column can be found at halfshire.blogspot.com There have been occasions where our column has failed to appear in either the Salmon River News or the Camden Queen Central News. We will try to ensure the blog is current.

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Half-Shire Historical Society
September 19, 2008

The 36th Annual meeting of the Society was held on Saturday September 13, 2008. Following a chicken casserole meal served by Erma Schroeder and Nancy Meeks, the meeting was conducted with nearly two dozen members present. The slate of officers presented for the 2009-10 term was approved by a voice vote. Reelected were President Shawn Doyle, Vice President Greg Monette, Secretary George Widrig and Treasurer Mary Yerdon. Four trustee seats were also up for election with current officers succeeding themselves viz.: Florence Gardner, Albion; Ed Lescenski, Amboy; Rita Rombach, Boylston and Charlene Cole, trustee at large.
Newly updated bylaws were read for the third time and enacted also by voice vote. President Doyle thanked all of the officers and Trustees present for their time and dedication throughout the summer months at various events. Richland Trustee Erma Schroeder was singled out for her expert preparation of meals during monthly meetings, as well as at the various events that have taken place at the Richland facility throughout the summer.
The next meeting of the society will be on Saturday October 18, followed by a musical program. Research hours at Richland will continue through November 14, each Friday from 12-4pm. Other times are available by appointment. From November 21, through March 2009 the Richland building will be closed to conserve on heat, with family files and other materials relocated to the Richland Historians office, 2nd floor of the west wing of the H. Douglas Barclay Court House in Pulaski, where Friday research will be conducted from 12-4pm.
The Society was saddened to learn of the passing of Geraldine “Boots” Hall of Orwell. “Boots” was born in Redfield the daughter of Everett & Viola Simpson Balcom and lived her life in the Tug Hill region. She was married to the late Harley Hall of Osceola. She is survived by Surviving are three daughters and sons-in-law, Arlie and Howard Corday, of Charlton, MA, Sarah and Tom Clerkin, of Syracuse, IN, and Kate and Paul Bartlett, of Redfield; four sons and three daughters-in-law, Carney and Virginia Hall, of Florence, Daniel and Christine Hall, of Redfield, Jon and Theresa Hall, of Norwich, and Bill Hall, of Marathon, NY; a brother and sister-in-law, Gerald and Elaine Balcom, of Nashua, NH; fifteen grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. “Boots” was a past member of Half-Shire and had helped us identify photos in the past, as well as assist with the Redfield books we wrote on area veterans. Our sincere sympathy goes out to the family.
On Friday September 12, Jim Butler of Oswego visited with us, bringing out seven very early family bibles with scores of entries on members of the Comstock, Plumb, French and Frost families of whom he descends. Most of these bibles belong to siblings of Butler, who graciously loaned them to him for our scanning. We have scanned each of these into our database, and will soon have enhanced copies of each available for public research. Each of these families were very early settlers in the Williamstown area. Ichabod Comstock scion of one of the families enumerated in a bible was a War of 1812 veteran, and the son of a Revolutionary War vet who himself died in Rhode Island.
Half-Shire encourages people who possess old family bibles with records within to allow us to make copies. Family bibles are often times the only records for some of our early settlers. Bible records are generally admissible as proof in DAR and SAR applications, as well as other genealogical organizations.
A recent communication that this writer received from a cousin may be of interest. DNA research to determine or prove a family line is a growing field of interest. The price for a DNA test report has come down considerably over the years, and now for as low as a couple hundred dollars a decent test can be done. Recently, a maternal cousin had a tests done to determine if our Seeley family line in fact comes down from Captain Robert Seeley (1602-68) of England and later Connecticut Colony—or not. The results proved conclusive that in fact our line of Seeleys does descend directly from Captain Seeley, through his son Nathaniel. We have not been able to get our descent back before the birth of a grandfather Samuel Seeley in the 1770s, but the determination that Samuel was in fact descended from Captain Robert Seeley narrows down our research.
DNA research has also been successfully used in many criminal cases and is an amazing wonder of the modern age. Price Phillip of Great Britain participated in a DNA test several years ago that helped to identify bones found in Russia that are now believed to be the remains of the last imperial family—cousins to Prince Phillip
Half-Shire can be reached at halfshire@hotmail.com as well as our web site www.halfshire.com. Our facility is open each Friday afternoon and is located at 1100 County Rte. 48, Richland, NY 13144

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Half-Shire Historical Society
September 12, 2008

The 36th annual meeting of the society will be held on Saturday September 13, 2008 at 1pm. A lunch will be served starting at noon under the direction of Richland Trustee, Erma Schroeder. Election of officers and 4 trustees will be the chief item of business on the agenda, followed by the final consideration of updated bylaws.
In a previous column we discussed the career of Pulaski native son and State Appellate Justice Irving Hubbs, whose portrait graces the main courtroom at the H. Douglas Barclay Court House in Pulaski. This writer cited an article from Hubbs’ retirement dinner that mentioned he would go on to practice law in Pulaski with his good friend and former clerk Judge Clayton Miller. What was left out is the fact that both men joined the law firm of Merritt Switzer, which was located over the People’s Bank building which sits vacant now on the SW corner of North Jefferson and Park Streets.
Merritt Amos Switzer was born May 29, 1888, and served many years as an attorney in the Pulaski region. Switzer was married to the former Jean Muier, a native of Exeter, Ontario. Switzer was active in the Pulaski community and many of its civic organizations, his death on November 7, 1958 ended a distinguished legal career. Thanks go out to Mrs. Cameron Cox, daughter of the late Merritt Switzer, for sharing some additional insight into Judge Hubbs and his later career.
On Saturday September 6, the annual Salmon River Festival was conducted in downtown Pulaski. This year’s festival incorporated additional venues in the north Park, Court House, Masonic Temple and Pulaski Historical Society. Despite some gloomy and occasional wet weather many people enjoyed the day, and sales were brisk in both parks. Half-Shire Secretary George Widrig conducted an exhibit at the Court House which saw only a few people. We were disappointed in attendance there, and hope to better advertise next year. Thanks go out to Jerry and Lorraine Orton of Syracuse who came up with their terrific display of Grand Army of the Republic Memorabilia and material from the Woman’s Relief Corp.
Our member Julie Litts Robst is nearing completion of her most recent book in the Richland Township Cemetery series. The new volume is over 300 pages thick and will cover Willis/South Richland Cemetery on County Route 41 south of Pulaski. The book is anticipated to sell for $35 or $38 by mail. Details will follow in future columns.
The 2009 local views calendar is progressing well; the theme of Historic Bridges has brought forth some very good images of the past, with only one to find for Amboy left. We are in hopes of completing this in the next few weeks and having the calendar available for $7 at local vendors, or $9 by mail.
Research on the descendants of Richland Township Revolutionary War Veteran Thomas Taylor, Jr. has been a focal point for both Mary Lou Morrow and Shawn Doyle. Taylor who died in 1826 lies at rest in McClelland Cemetery just off Exit 34 of Interstate 81 south of Pulaski. Members of the Stewart, Higler and Hinman families claim descent from this honored veteran, and a better family tree is being worked on to trace out the line. Deputy Town Clerk Millie Newcomb has been particularly helpful in searching out the Vital Statistics and putting pieces together.
Half-Shire can be reached at halfshire@hotmail.com or P.O. 73 1100 County Rte. 48, Richland, NY 13144. Our website at www.halfshire.com has links for each township with additional approaches to offsite resources.

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