Half-Shire has been awarded a part-time paid staff position through the experience works program for senior citizens. Long-time member and “founding father” George Widrig interviewed for the position and began work on March 23, at the Pulaski Court House. George will work out of the Richland historian’s office until early May when our Richland facility is “warmed up” decently. While working at the Court House, George has been labeling a backlog of copied photographs from the Waggoner-Moore and Porter-Blodgett Collections. He has also been doing an inventory of our family files, and working on the obituary collection.

Richard Cooper of Sandy Creek has been doing research for us in the Pulaski Democrat collection at the Pulaski Public Library. Two weeks ago we gave Richard a list of names of persons whose death records we sought, and Richard has come through on most counts! George Widrig is organizing the clippings that Richard has brought in , and they will be added to our existing obituary collection at Half-Shire.

Significant among Richard’s finds was the May 1882 obituary of Eli Wheeler, who was the builder of the Selkirk Bethel Church in Port Ontario. Wheeler’ roots have been obscure, the obituary mentions that he was a native of New Hampshire, and had settled in Lorraine, Jefferson County. In 1832 Wheeler moved to Port Ontario where he began a store on the corner of Port Rd. and modern Rte. 3, that store years later became Walker’s Restaurant. Wheeler was elected Justice in 1850, and served at least a term. He was briefly the Postmaster in Port Ontario under the Andrew Johnson Administration.

In 1848 Eli Wheeler was among those who founded the Selkirk Bethel Society. Wheeler worked with the group in raising money for a church that he himself built on land he and his wife donated. In his later years Wheeler lived with the family of his friend Sylvester Brown. Eli and his wife Abigail had no children that we have found so far. We have asked our friends in South Jefferson historical for assistance in culling their files, and if anyone in the area knows something about the Port Ontario Wheelers we’d appreciate hearing.

On March 23, we drew the winning tickets in the annual afghan raffle. George Kirkpatrick of Syracuse was the first name drawn, and he chose the large afghan hand made by Keith Munz of Osceola. Helen “Sue” Phillips of Pulaski was the second name drawn, and she was very pleased with the baby afghan donated by Carol Thompson of Oswego. Five other names were drawn for free 2009 calendars. Our thanks go out to all who participated in this years drawing, the money raised will go towards genealogical supplies for our library.

Our first meeting of the year at Richland will be Saturday April 18, beginning with a noon lunch. The meeting that follows at 1 pm will be of short duration. Please call if you are able to come to lunch 298-3620 and leave a message. We are looking at scalloped potatoes and ham dinner. We have begun the bid process to begin work on our 2nd floor classroom that is gutted. We are looking to get this room restored this year, beginning with a new floor.

Half-Shire can be reached at P.O. 73, 1100 County Rte. 48, Richland, NY 13144 or on the web at halfshire@hotmail.com. Our web site is www.halfshire.com

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March 13, 2009

In last weeks column we made mention of our computer troubles. On Saturday we received a call from Jonathan Goodsell of Rainbow Shores Rd. who offered to take a look at the computer and the non-working external drive. On Sunday Jonathan came down to the Court House and worked through the afternoon (one problem led to another) by 3 pm we were back in business, and all our files we thought were lost have been recovered and are accessible again! Our sincere thanks go out to Jonathan, who can be reached at JPGcomputers@gmail.com He comes highly recommended by us!

On Friday night Marie Lambie and I went to Camden to pay our respects to the family of Amy Darling Joyner of Williamstown. Amy was a founding member of Half-Shire, and served in various offices over the course of thirty years. Amy was a native of Redfield, and at one time was quite a basketball player for the old Redfield Union team (my grandmother Jane Ballou Seeley also was on the team). Our condolences go out to the family, and to the community of Williamstown who mourn her loss.

Also over the past weekend we had a close call at Half-Shire’s Richland headquarters. Snow from the last storms had piled up around the roof drains and formed ice, blocking the drains during our warmer weather. A large amount of water built up on the roof and the pressure separated a portion of the north drain from its expansion coupling. The result was that some water entered the Lion’s Club room, and wet the floor pretty good. I happened to check the building that day, and unable to break up the ice by the drain, called Phil Rombach who got Sancona’s roof specialist George Ballou up there on Monday. We’re pleased to report that the drain is fixed and the water that did enter the north end has proved more of a clean-up nuisance than a damaging one.

We neglected to mention last week that the annual research day at Springbrook apartments in Pulaski went well on Thursday February 19. Our thanks go out to Betty Griffith, Glenna Gorski and Florence Gardner for bringing treats; and to Eleanor Trendell of Pulaski Historical in joining Ann LaDuke, Roberta Cleveland, Erma Schroeder and myself in working with the residents. This year marks the 14th year we have conducted this research day there.

We are pleased with the number of renewing memberships received. Also, a large number of subscribers entered our afghan raffle. The drawing will be done on March 17, and winners will be offered their choice of two fine afghans handcrafted by two of our members Keith Munz and Carol Thompson. On the heels of that drawing we will begin another raffle for an amazing American flag-crocheted afghan recently donated by Richland Town Supervisor’s clerk Jodi Wickert. We have not set a drawing date for this amazing piece, but will print tickets for sale at the county fair and the weekly farmer’s market in Pulaski.

Research is underway for eventual books on the Revolutionary War veterans who lived and died in Florence and Redfield townships. While working on the Richland book these past two years we have kept an eye out for veterans in the other Half-Shire towns. We now have discovered 12 men from Florence who positively served in the revolution and another 12-plus for Redfield. In the coming weeks we will mention many of these men as we begin to flesh out their families.

Benoni Fleming from Florence has been one of the more interesting and better documented men we have looked into so far. His pension papers number over 60, primarily due to his widow’s lengthy battle to secure a widows pension after his death in 1838. Born in Cornwell, Connecticut in 1764, Fleming enlisted in the Militia there in 1781, serving variously along the Hudson River in New York during that year through 1783. He married his wife the former Laticia Squires in Cornwell, and by the early 1810s was living in Florence where they raised many of their 13 children. Fleming died in Lysander while visiting a son; his wife came back to Florence until 1840 when she moved to Onondaga County. No grave has been located in either Florence or Onondaga County for the couple yet. William Empey is one of the Florence neighbors who attested to Flemings character in his 1832 pension application. (Empey was son of another vet, Anthony Empey whose family graveyard was featured in one of our past newsletters, following clean-up and survey by Leo Seaton.)

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 Friday hours will continue at the Barclay Court House until at least mid-April noon-4pm. There are times we may be away “making a house call” but we leave a note on the door. Call ahead at 298-3620 to be sure to catch one of us.

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Half-Shire Historical Society
March 6, 2009

Our Treasurer Mary Yerdon recently found an interesting photo of a group of people taken in a hall somewhere around here. Her father, Roland Balcom is third person from the left in the middle row. Eleanor Walklett is also in the same row further down. Anyone that can identify others in the photo and tell what the occasion was, please drop us a note or email. The photo is on the clerks counter at the Richland Town Office during normal hours.

We were saddened on Saturday February 21st to learn of a tragic car crash in Wyoming County that took the life of David Colvin, age 31, who was son of one of our volunteers Fay Ann (Yerdon) Colvin. Like his Mom, David had a keen interest in history and was an earlier correspondent of this writer as he researched his Colvin and Yerdon roots. Many attended the services at Hax’s in Pulaski on Friday the 27th, including scores of coworkers from Fisher Price in Aurora, NY who came up on a chartered bus. This meant an awful lot to the family, particularly as each one told Fay Ann a story about David as they came through the line. The family has directed contributions to Half-Shire, and a suitable memorial use for them will be decided at the April meeting.

A caution to everyone who saves things to their computer exclusively—don’t! This past few weeks Half-Shire’s back up external drive has ceased working, and with it are 1,000s of our scanned digital images, the fruit of a like amount of hours labor. Most of these photos have been printed, however the last month’s work was all lost. Also on this hard drive were many of our templates and original documents. We are in hopes that someone can rescue these items, meanwhile we’re printing out everything the old fashioned way just in case!

The external drive crash was the last, best excuse this writer had for the late 2009 calendar. Four of our images were on the drive, and two borrowed from the owner while another two had to be located and rescanned. As we write the calendar is being assembled, and will now sell for $5 or $9 by mail. All existing mail orders will get a $2 rebate.

The Richland Revolutionary War book had gone on to “final edits” when two more soldiers popped up on a google search. Timothy Vorce died according to the Vorce Genealogy in August 1830 while threshing a field on his property on the south bank of the Salmon River. According to the Vorce book and subsequent research he served in the New York Line from Duchess County under the name “Timothy Force”. Vorce’s sons William and Samuel each married daughters of Col. Rufus Price.

A neighbor of the Vorce family in Port Ontario was Jacob Ellis, who served in the Massachusetts Militia. Ellis later moved to Vermont, and thence on to Richland Twp. about 1808. He appears in the censuses for 1810, 1814 and 1820 in Richland next door to his son Jacob Jr. (Jacob Ellis Jr’s father in law Thomas Burch is another Revolutionary War vet who we found lived in Williamstown and Florence townships, before moving west to Ripley, NY) The senior Ellis later moved before the 1830 census to Vernon, New York near to his brother Asa. It was here he purportedly died, but we have found no grave record for him yet.

Jacob Ellis the veteran was born in Walpole Massachusetts in September 1758 and died in 1843. He was married twice, the first wife’s name we have not discovered, but the second wife was Latitia Halstead, whom Ellis married in Manlius in March 1799. We are thinking that Latitia may have been related to the wife of Joel Harmon III, who also came to Richland from Vermont. These Ellis family members are not closely related to Caleb and Lyman Ellis, whom Ellisburg is named for.

On Wednesday March 25, Shawn Doyle will address the Pulaski historical Society on the topic of the Bragdon family and thee founding of Bethel Community Church. Half-Shire will re-open in April.
Half-Shire can be reached at P.O. Box 73, Richland, NY 13144 or on the web at halfshire@hotmail.com www.halfshire.com

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