Reminiscences of the Patterson
by Leon D. Palmer
Being an account of the happenings of
an Irish family who
immigrated to the United States from about 1840 to 1900.
Spelling has not been corrected and left as Mr. Palmer wrote this work.
Pages 1 - 21
The Patterson Family
immigrates to the United States from Ireland
We will travel a long distance, away to the Emerald isle, which is called Ireland. In the 1830's there lived in Ireland a man by the name of James Patterson. We know very little about this man except what has been handed down bit-by-bit, as narrated by his children. It seems that times in Ireland at this period from 1830 to 1840 were difficult and hard. It was difficult for many of the people to raise and get enough to eat.
We do not at this time know details enough to give a good explanation why. The main crops in the neighborhood where the Patterson family lived was potatoes and flax, and sometimes corn when the season was long enough for it to ripen. The flax was woven by hand into linen. If the potato crop failed people went hungry. Fuel for a fire was difficult for some people to get.
Some lean scrawny hogs were kept. Evidently they had to root and get their own living. People were very poor. If not enough fuel could be obtained to make a fire the potatoes and pork had to be eaten raw seasoned with pepper and salt. As Mrs. John Kelley once told me. She said "We had to get out of Ireland, we was starved out." I wish now I had asked her more about conditions in Ireland and why they come to the good U.S.A. Mr. & Mrs. John Kelley lived near Lansingville and were some distant relation to Wm. Patterson.
James Patterson was a hard man, gruff, brutal, almost primitive in his ways. The environment, and the hard life he and his family had to endure in order to exist, made him so.
He had five children, one son and four daughters. They were as follows; Wm Patterson, Jane Patterson, Mary Ann Patterson, Libby Patterson (Lib Patterson is Elizabeth), and Diana Patterson. According to these children, James Patterson's, main interest and love for his children was to get them raised up old enough so they could work out and get some wages for their labor, which he collected and put in his own pocket until they were of age at 21 years. They at times had to go without shoes and necessary clothes.
I have heard Wm Patterson say that in the year 1840 his father James Patterson embarked for the United States. Somehow or
The Patterson family looking for a new home traveled by boat up the Hudson river, thence by the Erie canal and Cayuga Lake to what is now known as Tompkins County in central New York State. How they came to settle in this place we do not know. Some one, perhaps their relatives or acquaintances, directed them there. (probably settled in Lansing area due to relationship to Dennis Kelly family.) One thing we have forgot to mention is that James Patterson was what they called at that time "An Orangeman". It meant that he was a non-Catholic. Most of the Irish were Catholics. There seemed to be a feud between the Catholics and non-Catholics at this time. Whether this fact had any bearing on their coming to the United Sates to seek a new home we do not know.
Wm. Patterson used to tell of the trip from New York City by way of the Hudson River and the Erie Canal. The trip took some time especially when they struck the canal. The slow moving canal boats were pulled by mules or horses traveling on a towpath on the canal bank. Many low bridges encountered. When these were seen the boat master would shout, "Low bridge, Heads down." And everybody would duck their heads down to escape getting their heads bumped.
Wm. Patterson according to his tell was a small boy eight or ten years old and as the boat was passing under one of these low bridges, boy like he reached up and grasped a brace or rod under the bridge and hung on for dear life. Seeing the canal boat moving out from under him and being afraid to let go, or he did not release his grasp soon enough, the boat passed on and nothing but water was under him.
Some one saw his predicament, stopped the boat and ran back to the bridge and taking Williams hands pulled him to safety. He received a bawling out from his father and the boat master. He did not try this stunt again.
James Patterson and family settled in the northeastern edge of the town of Lansing in Tompkins County. Just how many of his children were born in Ireland and came over to these United States we are not sure, but we think two, William and Jane who were the oldest, Lib, Mary Ann and Diana were younger and must have been born in this country. (all children were born in Northern Ireland- see various census records for James Patterson.) Of their mother we know nothing. I do not remember ever hearing any of the Pattersons speak of their mother. We can presume that she died some time after the youngest child Diana was born. (Their mother's maiden name was Naylor - see death cert. for son William)
After coming to America, these children went to school and
learned to read and write. Probably attending school some in the winter time as, that was the custom amongst pioneer people back in those times. In the summer time there was no time to go to school. Bear in mind these were the days when all farm labor was done by hand. Modern farm tools had not come into use or indeed even been invented. All hay had to be cut by hand with a sythe, and all grain was cut with a cradle and bound by hand and threshed by treading it out with oxen on a threshing floor, and then the chaff run through a fanning mill if you had one, if not, it had to be poured from one basket to another and blown out in a strong wind. In addition to the above work acres and acres of forest and stump land had to be cleared in order to get land on which to grow crops. This was all done by hand burning the stumps out was practiced where ever possible.
William used to relate when he was a boy in his teens how he used to mow hay with a sythe day after day with the rest of the men and at harvest time cradle grain and set it up in shocks.
The school house in which the Patterson children went to school was over to the south of the James Patterson farm on the Mutton Street road. This school hose was finally abandoned and used as a grainery at one end of the lower barn on the Wm. Patterson farm.
Diana, the youngest of the Patterson children, we are told was her fathers favorite, and received more schooling than the rest. She being the youngest was not required to work out like the other children were forced to do.
Jane, Mary Ann and Lib Patterson finally married some of the neighbor boys. We assume that all of the Patterson girls, Jane, Mary Ann, Lib, and Diana were all attractive looking young ladies as most of the Irish girls are today. There are many interesting incidents to relate as we follow events in the lives of the Patterson children. We will endeavor to relate some of them presently, but before continuing I am going to state a few facts about that most famous artificial Waterway in America the old Erie canal that William Patterson told about traveling on in 1840.
The Erie Canal was called by some, Governor Clinton's folly, or Clinton's big ditch! It linked the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean, flowing through Central New York State and was for nearly a century an important artery of travel and commerce.
This great excavation was begun at Rome on July 4th, 1817 and was finished on October 22, 1825. It was officially abandoned on June 7, 1922. Today in this, the 20th century the old Erie Canal has been replaced by the new barge canal. The flat coffin shaped things that is the craft on our modern Barge canal bear little if any resemblance to the old wooden canal tow rope along the Erie. There was a bit of grace about those old boats and the old time canalers took great pride in their own "Sally Ann" or "Mary Lou" or howsoever named barges.
Built for hardy service they had all the comforts of home.
For canalling old style was more than a mere livelihood, it was a family institution. It raised up whole generations of men and women who knew no other abode from birth till death, but the Erie Canal. Countless happy families occupied the living quarters in the stearns of these old fashioned boats, keeping them as neat as wax and attractive as any house. The family wash fluttering on the line, children and puppies playing on the deck, women gossiping over their knitting, old men smoking in the sunshine, smoke curling up from the stove pipe chimneys, and savory odors of cookery wafting on the air, all these features of home life on the Old Erie canal have been sung and storied. A trip on the Erie Canal was idyllic. Eastward gliding through the hamlet dotted green Mohawk Valley. Westward through deep forested pioneer country, past bustling villages and young cities to the shimmering expanse of Lake Erie. What a journey for the then little traveled folk of these United States!
James Patterson's children
Jane Patterson married a Robert Jones. They had one child, a son named Arthur.
Mary Ann Patterson married a man named Dean and lived in the village of Dryden. They had three children, George, Cornelia and Alice. (Mary Patterson married William A. Dean, his parents yet to be discovered, see family group sheet for children.)
Lib Patterson married Leeander Low. They did not have any children. In their latter years they purchased and lived on the James Patterson farm.
Diana the youngest, their fathers favorite the educated one, had such a temper and was so mean nobody would marry her. She finally did marry a man by the name of Zekel Osmun just to get his property and the money he had.
William Patterson married a girl by the name of Jane Davies. They had a number of children that died of diphtheria when they were young. Two girls survived Jessie and Carrie. Jessie married Frank Pelham and Carrie married Ed Strait. After Wm., Lib, Mary Ann, and Jane had married and settled down in homes of their own, Diana being the youngest was left at home alone to keep house for her father, James Patterson. All the other children had to work out until they were of age. Keep in mind these children never knew much about a pleasant cheerful home life like most of the children know about today in their own fathers home.
Diana, we understand, kept house for her father many years after the others had married. We understand she took care of her father until his death. James Patterson lived to a ripe old age. He died on Feb. 12, 1883 aged 93 years, his wife died on Dec. 26, 1856 and her name was Diana. Her daughter Diana was named after her mother. He grew to be rather helpless and feeble minded in his last few years of life and as his children had not much love or respect for their father they very seldom came home to visit him and Diana took special care to tell her father this very fact that the others did not care a rap for him, and how she (Diana) was spending her life caring for him and that he should reward her handsomely for this service. Diana played her cards so well that she induced her father to make a will giving herself the farm and practically all the money her father had saved up from the earnings of the other children.
According to William Pattersons' account of the affair Diana would tell her father that the other children (when they did go to visit him) did not care to see him and she would tell William, and her sisters that their father did not care to see them and to be sure her father did not see them she kept the door to his room locked and the key in the her own pocket. William lived the nearest to his fathers place of any of the other children, his land adjoining his fathers on the south. William called to see how his father was getting along one day and was refused admittance to his father's room as usual by is sister Diana. He demanded that she let him into the room where his father was. Diana refused, whereupon in the heat of the argument William grabbed a flat iron off of the stove and hit
Diana a glancing blow with it. This was a murderous thing to do on the part of William but lucky for him, Diana was not badly injured by it. They continued the fight with sticks or wood chairs and fists and it seems Diana came out the victor. She under the spur of the moment rushed down to Nate Malone's who was a Justice of the Peace (and Steve Molone's father) and she had a warrant made out for the arrest of William for assault and battery. This was the only time William was ever under arrest. His case came up the next day for trail but Diana could not be found. Evidently Diana after a night of deliberation on the matter made up her mind that she would be asked some very embarrassing questions about the matter if she showed up, to prosecute her case, so the Justice had no other alternative but to discharge William with a warning not to be caught fighting again.
Diana Patterson and her Nephew George Dean
George Dean, who was Mary Anne's boy, at one time stayed with his grandfather and helped do the work on the farm. He finally occasioned his Aunt Diana's wrath and he had to leave. As related by George Dean to me it happened this way.
His Grandfather James Patterson had a large bull which he sold to a cattle dealer one day. George happened in the house when payment for the bull was made in bills by the cattle dealer to his grandfather. After the dealer had gone his grandfather was recounting the money.
Diana was watching her father like a hawk, as was also George the nephew. The old mans eyesight was not very keen and he dropped a bill unnoticed on the floor. Diana very carefully maneuvered around and picked up the bill placing it in her pocket. George Dean saw her do this and told her so, and asked her what she was going to do with it. She turned on him like a tiger and told him it was none of his business and for him to leave, get out. George did not propose to go, as his grandfather had hired him to do the work, but when Diana told him she would poison him if he stayed, he made up his mind that he had better leave, fearful if he stayed she would.
George said she kept a pistol under her pillow at night and sometimes carried it around in a pocket in her dress daytime's. At one time Nate Malone the next door neighbor who was the Justice of the Peace, incurred her displeasure and she threaten to shoot him. It seems the neighbors were in fear of Diana and left her entirely alone.
George Dean about this time, 1879 or 80 disappeared and for 30 years his mother and sisters and other relatives did not hear from him and did not know where he was. In 1909 or 10 George came back. His mother Mary Ann had died an about 1901 or 2. His sisters Cornelia Pugsley and Alice Finch were living. Cornelia was living in Dryden and was married to her second husband Hiram Pugsley. Her first husband was named Warren. She had one son named Leon Warren who enlisted in the army and as far as we know is still living in the west in California. He married a girl named Lila. Cornelia used to tell mother that she had two children named Leon and Lila too, the same as he had. Cornelia died about 1934 or 35. Alice Finch lived in Syracuse at 320 Roberts Avenue. She married a man by the name of George Finch. After George Dean came back he lived in Syracuse with his sister Alice on Roberts Avenue. George and Alice Finch had two daughters. One by the name of Lily Finch (& Bessie, dau left out) married a George Porter, who at one time operated a machine shop on Water Street. George Dean was night watchman in George Porter's machine shop for a number of years. (Mary "Cornelia".....see family group sheet for other children.) (George G. Porter, founder of Porter-Cable Tool Company in Syracuse, NY, but sold it early on.)
I asked George (Dean) one time why he stayed away from his relatives so long, and where he was and what he was doing while he was away from New York State? He just said that his relatives
were not agreeable so he left, going according to his story down into Pennsylvania in the oil fields around Pittsburgh where he worked for all those years. He said he never had the luck to strike it rich in the oil business, but he did say he had enough money saved up so if he should happen to have a sore leg. George died around 1920 I believe.
(See family ground sheets for George Dean's death date.)
Dates of birth and death copied off stone in Miller Cemetery in 1946. Patterson's two children died of diphtheria, Geo & Janette.
The Patterson family are most all buried in the little cemetery at the top of the hill just opposite to where Burt Breed now lives about one mile east of North Lansing. This is called the Miller cemetery I believe as many Millers are buried there.
Engraved on the Patterson monument in this cemetery is as follows; "James Patterson died Feb. 12, 1883 aged 93 years. Diana his wife died Dec. 26, 1856. Also on same stone is Wm Patterson died Mar. 25, 1866. I understand this Wm Patterson was a brother to James Patterson and lived and died at James Pattersons. He was called "Uncle Billy" by the rest of the family.
Wm Patterson who was Edna Pattersons Bishop's father was named after this "Uncle Billy" Patterson.
Wm Patterson died 1907 - born 1841
Mary Jane his wife 1841 - died 1895
George son of Wm and Jane Patterson died March 11 - 1871 age 1 year 9 months and 2 days.
Janette daughter died May 11 - 1869 aged 4 years 3 months 21 days
Leander Low(e) died Jan. 10 - 1909 Born Nov. 6 - 1832
Elizabeth Patterson his wife born May 2 - 1835 Died Oct. 24, 1906
Elizabeth Patterson was always called "Lib or Libby" by the rest of the family.
Arthur Jones and the death of John Gallager
Perhaps Diana was partly within her rights in obtaining the greater share of her fathers money and the farm on which he lived, seeing that she cared for him so many years, but she had no excuse for her actions toward her brother and sisters. The had earned by the sweat of honest toil the greater share of the money their father had and when they were 21 years old and obtained homes of their own, they had to work all their lives to pay for them. Leeander Low(e) and Lib never did have their place entirely paid for when they died. Wm Patterson finished paying for his home around 1903 or 4. Jane Jones husband died years before Jane did and Jane said she paid for her place by drying apples and selling them and a pension of 10 dollars a month her husband left her, as he was a Civil War Veteran.
Diana after her father died sold the farm to some one. We never learned who. Eventually Leeander Low and Lib owned it. Just how much money Diana received from her father and the sale of the farm we do not know, but it is reasonable to suppose ti must have been several thousand dollars. That was a lot of money back in those days. Soon after James Patterson died and Diana had disposed of her fathers place she went to working into marring her, and who died a short time after leaving a large estate so she became a well to do and rich lady considering the times as they were in those years back in the 1880's. She lived for years in a large beautiful house in Ithaca some where on North Aurora Street. Wm Patterson pointed the house out to me one time when he and I was in Ithaca, but I could not tell now where it was.
There is a lot more of events to be narrated about Diana and what finally became of her. We will try and relate them latter as she did not bother the Patterson family or even see any of her relatives for about twenty years or 1906 or 1907 when she suddenly appeared again in the lives of the Pattersons with evil intent. We will relate these happenings when the proper time comes to fit them into the story.
We might say here that James Patterson and wife, Robert and Jane Jones, Leeander Low(e) and Lib, all lie at rest in the Miller cemetery about one mile north east of North Lansing four corners.
Jane Patterson's husband, Robert Jones has not been reported a very thrifty individual, quite the contrary, he and Jane lived on a small place about two miles southwest of West Groton and near to Orrin Millers. William Patterson told me he was lazy ("he" was lazy = Robert Jones) and shiftless and addicted to drink and not used to hard work like his wife, Jane. She, a poor woman never knew anything but hard work. Then one son Arthur got into bad company. Near to the Methodist Church at North Lansing lived John Gallager. He was a very questionable character, lazy and illiterate. He had four or five children, two boys and three girls, Peter, Fred, Edna, Mamie, and Edith. They were very handsome girls, Edna married
Howard Beardsley about 1905, Mamie married Fred Wilcox whom she latter divorced and then married M.G. Runyan. The boys Peter and Fred both died in middle life from the effects of drink. John Gallager stole chickens at times in order to help supply his families' larder, and he may have sold them also for the benefit of his own pocket book. Arthur Jones for a time at least was John's helper on his forays after chickens.
Down in what they call the gulf below North Lansing, Jacob Osmun lived and ran a gristmill. He was missing chickens and as he still had some left, he sat up one night to see if he could see and catch what ever was taking them. The night we have been told was quite clear and a faint moonlight. Jake made himself comfortable in a tool shed or lean-to to the barn across the road from the house. Nearby in several coops along side of the dirt road his chickens roosted. Shortly after midnight Jake heard his chickens squawk and arousing himself being nearly asleep he observed two men reaching under the coops and pulling out the chickens and placing them in sacks. Keeping in the shade of the shed and stepping carefully he managed to get near enough to the two men to observe who they were. They were John Gallager and Arthur Jones. Waiting until the two men had what chickens they could carry and had started up the road Jake followed them a few steps out into the road where the moon shone out brighter. He carried a gun and he spoke in a loud commanding voice, "Halt drop them chickens, Drop them I say or I will shoot" The two men surprised at this sudden command halted for an instant and Arthur Jones dropped his sack of chickens. John Gallager being the older and more hardened in crime still clung to his sack of chickens and said, "Shoot and be damned". Jake shot killing John Gallager instantly. He fell in the road just opposite a large elm tree, and his body lay here he had fallen until day light.
This was in the days before telephones were common and communications in the country were slow. It is surmised that Jake Osmun was rather panic-stricken when he began to consider what he had done. As soon as it was daylight he hustled over to North Lansing to a Justice of the Peace and gave himself up. He said, "I have killed a man John Gallager". Of course the coroner and sheriff were sent for and an investigation of the affair was made. Arthur Jones the only witness to the affair could not be found. As Gallager bore a bad reputation and Jake was defending his own property he was exonerated from his act. Arthur Jones musts have been some scared boy that night. It must have been a lesson that he never forgot. Some people said Jake Osmun told Arthur to get out of the country and gave him money to go with which may be so. Arthur Jones disappeared and for 12 or 15 years no one knew where he had gone. Then about 1897 or 8 he came back with a wife and children and he worked and lived with his uncle and Aunt Leeander Lowe for a few years. he said he went to the State of Michigan and worked as a farm hand for many years finally drifting to Iowa where he married . Arthur Jones died in the fall of 1906 if we remember it right, the same day Lib Low was killed in an accident. At the time Arthur died he was working for Will Buckley at West Groton. After Arthur's
death his wife Mamie Jones and four young sons went back to Iowa. After Jane Jones died in 1907 or 8 she came back to New York State (Mamie?) and resided on Jane Jones place. ("she" came back to NY State = Mamie)
William Patterson & Family
William Patterson purchased a place just to the south and bordering on to his fathers place, if I understand it right he purchased it from a family by the name of Weaver. This Weaver family lived in a large yellow brown house down at the foot of the hill near to what William Patterson called the lower barn. Back of this house was a very large sugar pear tree. I make mention of this pear tree as it was the largest pear tree I ever saw. It was so tall people seldom picked any pears off of it. It took a 30 foot ladder to reach them. They were a large yellow and very sweet pear. What variety they were I do not know but people called them sugar pears they were so sweet and they grew to a very large size. This pear tree was a large healthy tree around 36 inches across the stump at the base. It must have been 100 years old. Alas! About 1925 one Glenn Eaton cut his grand old tree for firewood! I could not help but have a feeling of regret to see this rare old tree sacrificed for firewood. A short distance from this yellow brown house was another house just to the east and up the hill a short distance. This was the house the William Patterson family lived in. The old yellow brown house the Weavers lived in was destroyed by fire before William acquired the place. Wm also purchased some place and 12 acres was down to the west and opposite to where Henry Howser, part of this land adjoined the Weaver place and 12 acres was down tot he west and opposite to where Henry Howser lived on the south side of the road. After purchasing this land of Henry Howser, Wm after a few years for some reason or other (We presume Henry Howser, wanted the pay for this land faster than Wm could pay for it) gave the land back to Henry Howser. After a time Henry wished to sell the land back again to Wm. Now Henry Howser was a man that would bear watching and unknown to Wm while he had the land in his possession he had borrowed 300 dollars of one Hugh Halsey of West Groton and gave a mortgage on this land for security. About 1902 or 3 Hugh Halsey died and his son Grant Halsey found the mortgage amongst his effects. So Wm had to pay this mortgage or give up the land which he had already paid Henry Howser for.
Wm should have been wise enough to have found out by searching the county records before purchasing the land of Henry. Henry Howser was a man that could not be trusted in anything and Wm should have been on his guard. A long time before this happened there used to be a number of men about North Lansing who drove around the country nights and stole sheep, poultry, geese, etc., and taking them to Cortland and Ithaca and Auburn and selling them.
Henry Howser and one Will Harris were said to be the leaders of this gang. Others have been mentioned as being connected up with this band of thieves as John Gallager and others. We have already seen how John Gallager met his end. Will Harris was ordered to leave North Lansing by Justice Dana Tarbell and never come back which he did.
The road from North Lansing toward West Groton to the east up past the old Will Harris, Henry Howser and Patterson farms is called the, "Mutton Street road," to this day, because so much mutton was stolen and taken out of the country by the Howser and Harris gang. Over north of the James Patterson farm was a "Goose Street road where the people used to keep many geese, and no doubt the Howser - Harris gang made raids on them. It seems a great many sheep and geese were kept away back when these events were happening. Will Harris was Harriet Butlers son-in-law, and lived next door to Henry Howser.
The land that William Patterson acquired was very good land but hilly and unhandy to work and through the center of the farm was a swamp. Sometimes after Wm purchased this farm a road was built along the side of this swamp and cutting the farm in two. This road was a more direct road to Locke from North Lansing and points west and south and was called the New Road. William received 300 dollars for the right of way across and through his farm.
Sometime about 1888 or 90 the house in which Wm Patterson and family lived took fire and burned to the ground. Wm relates that it was at mealtime, noon we believe, a roaring crackling noise was heard up stairs. Wm opened the stair door and going up the stairs part way saw the whole up stairs ablaze. There was a goat skin lap robe on the stair railing. He grabbed this on his way back downstairs. Some furniture was gotten out down below. The fire must have caught from an overheated stove pipe going through the floor thimble. The house was insured and this insurance money helped build the new house just up the hill to the east on a better location. We understand this new house was built in 1890. Wm drawed most of the new lumber for this new house from Cortland which is about 18 miles away. Wm use to tell how he would get up in the morning (or midnight) at one and two o'clock, drive to Cortland in the dark, load up the lumber and get back home with the lumber before the carpenters came to work at 7 o'clock, and he would work all that day himself. Besides building this house he also shortly after built or remodeled over a barn near to this house. Shortly after finishing building Wm's wife died leaving two daughters Jessie and Carrie, Jessie being the older. She married Frank Pelham of Locke.
After the death of his wife Wm lived with his sister Lib Low(e). She cared for Carrie for several years who was a girl in her teens. William worked for Leeander Low for several years and renting out his own place to a family by the name of Cooper. After a while this not being satisfactory Wm went back to his place and worked it again himself and he obtained a housekeeper by the name of Mrs. Thomas Scott. She had several children as follows,
George, Judson, Walter, Grace and Emma. This family came from Virginia. For some reason Mrs. Scott did not keep house for Wm only a year or two. She had a husband living in Virginia who was a very poor provider for his family. After Mrs. Scott left Wm and his daughter Carrie got along for a time, but Carrie being just a young girl, liked to stay over to her Aunt Libs where there was company and some one to talk to. She naturally was lonesome over in her own home with on one but her father to see and talk to. Wm had to keep house alone and get his own meals most of the time which was not so handy for a man with a farm of 70 acres on his hands.
William Patterson is Introduced to Mrs. Daniel Palmer
William Patterson was in contact with a sect of people known as Seventh Day Adventists. Their views appealed to him and he went to meetings at Mr. and Mrs. Mileses at Locke like and similar to the meetings held in Brookfield at Mr. and Mrs. Moones. There was an Elder S. B. Whitney with whom William was aquatinted and he asked him if he knew of any body whom he could recommend to keep house for him. Then this Elder Whitney said yes he knew of such a person, one Mrs. Daniel Palmer who lived on a small place with her two children in the town of Brookfield in Madison County and her post office address was Sherburne. So William Patterson wrote to the lady in question, a letter describing himself as a man just past fifty whose wife had died some years before and he was now living alone and doing his farm work the best he could and he was greatly in need of a housekeeper. This first letter we believe was written in the late tall of 1898. Also at this same time mother received a letter from Elder S. B. Whitney whom she knew and he recommended Wm Patterson as a fine Christian gentleman, worthy of consideration. I presume mother was surprised at receiving these letters and she answered them after a time as a matter of courtesy. Several letters were exchanged during that winter of 1898 and 1899.
Finally Wm Patterson in March 1899, came out to see in person the lady with whom he was corresponding. He came on the train to Sherburne and inquired there where John Bartholomews lived and was directed on the right road. He walked the whole distance from Sherburne to Grandfather Bartholomews and from there to the Elijah Miller place, Uncle Silas Ames and another man were cutting wood in the woods near to the corner that one had to turn in order to get to the Miller place. As William turned this corner he stopped a few minutes to rest and wipe the perspiration from his brow with his handkerchief. He was tired and the distance from Sherburne around the road to the Miller place was eight miles or more, and the walking was very poor, as there was snow and slush in the road. William Patterson was an average sized man and wore a red gray beard. He never took or hd the time to shave. He always wore a serious, solemn, ministerial expression on his face, he very seldom smiled. There were times when he did smile and even laugh, but these times were rare. Uncle Silas Ames and his helper over in the woods rested on their saw and axe and gazed openmouthed at this man and wondered who under the sun he could be and where he came from as they watched him going down the road and turned into the Miller place. Strangers in the neighborhood were seldom seen and in those times they occasioned much curiosity. William, if we remember right, walked back to Sherburne the next day and mother did not see him again until around the 1st of July or that year when he drove in one evening with a horse and buggy, haven driven from his home in Tompkins county to the Miller Place in Brookfield a distance of around 85 miles. He stayed over Saturday and drove back on Sunday. William was going to make sure that if he got a housekeeper this time that she was
going to stay with him.
Mother must have done a lot of studying and thinking about this matter. Here was a chance to get another home and get the worry of operating a small farm off her hands and get a man in the family who could teach her boy how to drive and handle horses and do farm work. So for her children's sake she was looking on William Patterson's offer with favor and a way out of some of her troubles.
Wm Patterson and Mrs. Daniel Palmer are Married
and I have an adventure with Serenaders.
In August of that year 1899 there was a camp meeting at Canastota and mother and us children went. The three cows were left with Uncle Silas folks and Uncle Silas took us over to Earlville to take the train for Canastota. Wm Patterson met us there and mother and he were married in the afternoon by Elder S. B. Whitney, the man who had so successfully introduced them. Mrs. Whitney and I were witnesses to the ceremony, which was held in a tent that we occupied while we were in Canastota.
When camp meeting was over William took his newly acquired family to his home on the train, the village of Locke being the nearest railroad station to his place. Jessie Pelham, Williams oldest daughter had Williams team of horses hitched to a platform wagon, at the depot to meet us. This was in good old horse and buggy days before horseless carriages for automobiles came into general use. After about a half hours drive we arrived at Williams home which looked very nice, being a newly house painted white and was surrounded by a grove of honey locust trees, and a large apple orchid could be seen nearby also there was a number of pear trees around the house. Toward night William and I went up to the next door neighbors, Lloyd Hares on the Dennis Kelley farm to get some stray ticks filled with some newly thrashed wheat straw for, extra beds had to be made up for use that night. Lloyd Hare was a big broad shouldered man. He had one son named Ralph and two girls named Mary and Lulu. "Well, Billey you brought something back home with you this time" was Lloyd Hares greeting to William.
I was given a bed to sleep in upstairs in the middle room. The night was a warm August evening. The bed was placed on the south side of the room beside two open windows and you could look out over the roof of the porch into the front yard. The light from my kerosene lamp made shadows out among the leaves of the locust and pear trees. I was a boy thirteen years old and I was enjoying this new place immensely. I was tired from the long ride on the train and the excitement of seeing so many new places. The sound of the crickets soon lulled me to sleep. All was peace and quiet.
Along about midnight there was a tremendous and terrific explosion. I was awake in an instant and it seemed as if the force of the concussion raised me off the bed. My head seemed to strike the ceiling. At the same instant there seemed to be a red, yellow green glare all through the room. I was so scared I couldn't utter a sound. Visions of Indians, bandits and what not raced through my mind. I wondered what sort of a country I had got into any way. There was voices and loud shouts out in the yard. "Hay there Billey, wake up and show yourself" etc. and another explosion followed that seemed to make the house tremble on the still night air and more explosions at every few minute intervals.
I began to realize that it was a serenading party and they had a ten gage shotgun and the muzzle at each discharge was pointed up in the air, less than ten feet from my open windows and the flash
from each discharge lit up all upstairs as well as all outdoors. The smell of burned gunpowder drifted into the room. "Come Billey show yourself or we are going to stay till morning" was followed by another "whang bang" from the shotgun. I stuck to the bed for dear life and about this time William appeared at the door to my room having sneaked up stairs in the dark and he whispered, "Don't be scared its only some boys that are trying to have a little fun. They will go away after a while". About this time the ammunition for this shotgun gave out and the party had to quit and go home, but they failed to make Billey show himself. The boys making up this serenading party were Ralph Hare and his fathers shotgun, Ben Green, Gib Malone, and others. To me this was quite an adventure and certainly a loud and noisy one. I did not get to sleep again for some time.
I Help Wm Patterson on his Farm and
I Meet the Oldest Post Master in the United States
The next day after we arrived, William Patterson worked drawing barley in the barn. He had several acres on his own place and a piece up on his sisters Jane Jounces place. The barley was loose and bunched up like hay cocks.
Wm pitched it on and I had to tramp it down and make the load after a fashion. It was new business for me. Barley beards got in my shoes and pants and shirt and I dug and itched myself until I was sore. I did not like it a bit but I stuck it out. From that day on commenced training in how to do things on a farm that I had never had done before. I learned to harness and drive horse plow, harrow, cultivate. I certainly owe the greater share of my knowledge of farming operations to Wm Patterson and William was a very good farmer.
The barley was drawn in the barn and moved away it having been cut with a reaper and bunched up before Wm went to camp meeting. The barley on the Jane Jones place Wm drew down to his own place and made it into a stack just outside of the barn door. Jane Jones, Wm's sister was a very deaf old lady and it was almost impossible to make her hear. She had a high pitched squeaky voice.
If I remember, a right after the barley was drawed in the barn and stacked, Wm set his new boy helper to picking up apples that were on the ground. These windfall apples were taken to the evaporator or apple dry house at Locke.
Wm had three apple orchids and they were the most wonderful apples that a boy ever set eyes on and what boy does not like apples? If Grandfather John Bartholomew could have seen those apples in 1899 and 1900 he would have been in an ecstasy of delight!
I picked up fifty crates full of these dryer apples in one afternoon. They were sold for so much per 100 lbs. Two bushel of apples made about 100 lbs. The apples on the trees were picked a little latter in the season by hand and placed in piles around under the trees on the ground and were sold to apple buyers who came around at this season of the year and purchased them for so much per barrel. A barrel of apples contained three-bushel. These apple buyers ere soon followed by apple packing gangs of men who sorted and placed these apples in barrels. Tompkins County was an apple producing county before the days when apple worms ruined all unsprayed fruit. Since 1907 and 8 apples were so poor in the towns of Lansing, Genoa, and Groton that apple buyers did not come through buying apples for barreling purposes. All apples being unsprayed were sold for "dryers" or for cider making. The farmers took no care of their apple orchids
what ever so in 1939 and 40 apples are a fruit of the past except for a few old scrubby trees that are left around the country.
Along about the next Friday afternoon after arriving at the Patterson farm I was sent down to North Lansing to get the mail. The day was very warm and the dirt road was dusty. There had not been any rain in weeks. I trudged down the road barefoot and it was a very interesting one mile walk as I was exploring a new country that I had never seen before. Arriving at North Lansing four corners I at once saw the store and Post Office at the end of the road in a long low appearing building. Going inside after some hesitation I espied several men sitting around on benches near to the stove and counters. They spyed me immediately, and as I was a new boy in that part of the world they proceeded to ask me all sorts of questions. Indeed they put me through what in latter years could have been called a "third degree". They were old men and appeared to take great delight in seeing how near to the spittoon they could come with a mouthful of tobacco juice. The spittoon set in some sawdust near to the stove. "Who's boy are you", one man that had a big long white mustache demanded and, "What's your name."
"My name is Leon Palmer" and I came down to get the mail. I'm Mrs. Palmer's boy", I answered forgetting that mother had changed her name about ten days before.
"You don't say" says a man with the white Mustache. "Where do you live," demanded another man who had only one eye. "Up to William Patterson's" I answered. "Huh, is that so, What part of the country did you come from," demanded the man with one eye. "Out in Brookfield in Madison County I replied. Here seeing that the one eyed man seemed to be getting ahead of him, the man with the white mustache says, " Is Billey married, " and not to be out done the other chimed in with, " Did Billey marry your mother." Of course I answered yes. They seemed to be getting some where. "When did you come up to Billey's" another man who hadn't said a word before asked, he seemed to be letting the others do the hard work. I replied "Last Monday", and more questions were asked by the man who had been silent.
At about this stage of the questioning another very old man appeared from away back in the store some place. He was short and a very small man, and the way he was dressed made him look to a 13 year old boy very odd. He had on a pair of trousers that seemed to be too small for him. They had the appearance of being skin tight and were held up by a pair of suspenders over his shoulders. He was in his shirt sleeves and as he turned around a V shaped patch was seen in the seat of his trousers, evidently these trousers had shrunk in washing and some one had put the V in to make them big enough around so he could wear them. He carried a cain and was bent over with the weight of his years and he was lame, but he
appeared to have heard all the questioning that had been going on, "So your live up to Billey Patterson's " was his greeting. "And your mother married Billey" he continued. "And you want Billey Patterson's mail" Wa'll I am post master here, and I'll get your mail. Im Roswell Beardsley the oldest Postmaster in the United States. I'm 90 years old and I've been Post master ner for 70 years. I'm glad Billey's got a housekeeper. I'll get your mail, " and he hobbled with the help of his cain around back of the post office boxes and handed me the mail a double hand full of papers and one or two letters. As soon as I got my hands on the mail I escaped further questioning by leaving for the Patterson place.
North Lansing was noted at that time as having the oldest living Post Master in the United States and this was my first meeting with Roswell Beardsley. The man with the one eye was Frank Breadsley, Roswell's son, the other two men were Ben Brown and the man with the big white mustache was Fames Fannine.
Moving from Brookfield to Tompkins County
and Picking Apples at the Patterson Farm
Along in September William borrowed a wagon from Lew and Ed Talmage who lived at West Groton. They were dealers in eggs and operated a cold storage plant there. This large platform wagon had springs on it and was one of the wagons which they used to draw eggs on. Wm. borrowed it so as to drive out to Brookfield and get a load of furniture. It rode easier than a regular lumber wagon with out any springs. Mother had an organ which she was especially fond of, and this, with the other furniture, would stand the long ride to Tompkins County on springs better than in the hard riding lumber wagon.
William's newley acquired family all went, Mother, Lila and myself. We started one September morning about two o'clock a.m. for the Elijah Miller place away out east in Brookfield. We drove to Cortland and some where east of that city on the road to Pitcher we stopped in a church yard, and fed and rested the horses as well as ourselves. It of course was day light when we halted at this place. After we had eaten and rested we continued on the South Otselic arriving there about noon when we stopped and fed and rested the horses again. Then continuing on over the hills and valleys to Smyrnia and Sherburne and on to the Miller Place arriving there about sundown.
William rested his horses for one and a half days and if I remember correctly Wm helped me dig a few potatoes mother had planted the next day after arriving. Uncle Silas Ames had taken care of mothers three cows while we had been absent.
On the second day after arriving, we started on the return trip back to Tompkins Co. starting about noon. Wm driving the team with a load of furniture and a Frank Webb and myself going ahead afoot and driving the three cows.
Frank Webb our neighbors grand son wished to go and help drive the cows and we were glad to have his help as it really needed two persons on such a long trip when one got tired of walking he could ride on the wagon and rest and then take his turn at driving the cows. Then to Wm wished Frank to help pick apples when we arrived in Tompkins Co.
On this return trip with the first load of furniture and cows some hard luck was encountered. We had only gone part way to Sherburne when one of the cows, the guernsey called the Holt cow got choked on an apple which the cows found along the side of the road. When night fall came we had reached Smyrna. Wm secured accommodations from a farmer on the outskirts of the village and the sick cow was doctored the best they knew how. In the morning she was thought to be better so we continued on all that day until we reached Deyruter where we again put up for the night at a friendly farmers house.
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