One who lingers over the graves of the departed within our Church-yards and Cemeteries, or pause over the mounds of the hamlet where our forefathers sleep, refreshes the memory with the names of those early ones who made their mark on the community in which they lived years and years ago. There are representatives of the MAXWELLS, BALDWINS, COVELLS and DUNNS, more numerous under the sod than among the ranks of the living. Col. JOHN HENDY was buried in the old Church Street Cemetery, until the year 1859, when his remains were removed with all due military honors, by the "Southern Tier Rifles," to Woodlawn Cemetery. The occasion is well remembered by most of our citizens, and was quite an imposing and solemn affair. The "Southern Tier Rifles" was a splendidly equipped organization, and was composed of the best young men in the village, under the command of Col. H. C. HOFFMAN, an experienced and popular commander. Another Revolutionary hero, JEFF. BARTLETT, "sleeps his last sleep" in the same burial place--Church Street Cemetery. Lawyer ROBINSON, an eccentric but distinguished village character, with his wife and his children, leaving no living representative, also rest in the same church-yard. Uncle JOHNNY DAVIS, the popular landlord of Newtown and Elmira, known far and wide through this region of country among the traveling community of those days, will be recalled even by those still living.
Judge GRANT B. BALDWIN, "Esquire" NORTH, GUY PERRY, STEPHEN TUTTLE, AARON KONKLE, are all gone with the rest--the last living links of the pioneer civilization in this Valley. The generation who succeeded them seems to have been shorter lived, and furnished fewer representatives--or it may be that more moved away in search of fairer fields and better fortunes. Their children and grand children thickly dot the cities of our dead.
Of the early merchants, who gave such impetus to trade and barter in those early times, who found markets for the productions of the country, and stimulated industry and wealth, only two remain--LYMAN COVELL and JOHN ARNOT. In that day the business part of the town was located below Lake Street bridge. JOHN ARNOT’s store was situated opposite or below the present residence of LYMAN COVELL, on the River bank, and even then employed a half dozen clerks. At that time was laid the foundation of the great fortune he has since acquired. The living rooms of his family were in the back part of the store. Just below was located the store of LYMAN COVELL, on the corner, about opposite his present residence. After him came the store and residence of his brother, MILES COVELL. Next to him the residence and store of GUY PERRY, and still above was the store of STEPHEN TUTTLE and Robert COVELL, opposite the old TUTTLE mansion, which was just been remodeled and changed into a hotel. ROBERT COVELL resided on a large farm in Southport, the old farmhouse still standing, and is the residence of Judge H. B. SMITH, Fifth Ward. It formed a large proportion of the present Fifth Ward, numbering four or 500 acres, extending from Mount Zoar to the present SLY family residence. It was admirably fenced, and kept under high cultivation. It was afterwards sold for the unprecedented price in those days, of $20,000, to HORACE MANN, of Geneva, a member of an Albany Land Company. MORDECAI OGDEN, after this, owned, resided and died on the place. He was father of the present DARIUS A. OGDEN of Penn Yan.
The famous hostelry of JOHN DAVIS was established the next above TUTTLE & Co’s store, which was spread out about 200 feet on Lake, with its capacious barns attached. It was a noted place for the youngsters of the village, who congregated about its stables to view the fine stud of horses kept there, presided over by that incomparable horse professor, TOMMY HILL, who showed as much pride in the management of his equine charges as he ever did, even at a later day, when the animals under his charge were the marvels of well groomed and thoroughly trained horses. Only on one subject he and the boys clashed, and that was in a certain unjustifiable treatment they indulged in against a certain unruly Billy Goat, which was the pet of the stable, and TOMMY’s especial favorite. Just below the bridge was a long wooden building for poor tenant families, and grog shops--the Five Points of the village. The hardest place was the oyster and drinking saloon of BEN DUDLEY, the rallying post of the hard characters and rum bruisers. But a temperance movement swept over the place, converted the proprietor, and put the notorious saloon in mourning. When he opened his doors again, the bottles were empty of the ardent, pasted with temperance tracts, and dressed in crape. The older part of the then village was still further below JOHN ARNOT’s store. The residences of JOHN GREGG, JOHN SAUNDERS, and Wm. SHOCKEY, are enumerated in this locality. The father of the latter, JOHN SHOCKEY, moved here from Lancaster, Pa., in a Durham boat in 1801. A son of the latter, GEORGE W. SHOCKEY, still residing here, during the war of 1812, in his 13th year, carried the mail on horseback from Newtown to Geneva. UNCLE JOHNNY DAVIS was the contractor. The Post Offices were few and far between. The only ones on his route were at Catherines, (Havana) Peach Orchard, Baleytown and Romulus. The round trip through the almost wilderness occupied four days, the youthful route agent stopping two nights of the week at Judge SMITH’s, who was then Postmaster at Peach Orchard, and two at Geneva. While on these trips he frequently carried an extra saddle bag containing BOGART’s Geneva Gazette, to supply the sparse population on his return. He rarely had many copies left over. If the war news was important, they were often in demand at 25 cents each. Afterwards his father carried the mail over the same route in a one horse Dearborn wagon.
The ferry which did duty at the foot of Conongue Street for the first year of the settlement, had been succeeded by a permanent bridge across the River at its present location, the foot of Lake Street. It was built more cheaply than the structure of the present day. It was uncovered, and rather a dilapidated erection, with common woolen abutments and piers, yet in those days it was regarded as quite a feat of engineering science. The old toll-gatherer was "Papa DEAN," as he was familiarly called, a man of weighty ponderosity, who occupied a little toll house at the end of the bridge, where the present office is located, or not far from it. He invariably dressed in gray, and donned a peculiar old white hat. The toll for foot passengers was two cents, and boys skillfully avoided the impost by climbing around secretly and adroitly, unknown to the old gentleman, over the picket fence which debarred the guarded entrance to the bridge.
There were few buildings in that vicinity at that early period. The Covell farm came up pretty near to the bridge approaches; what buildings there were, were low and unpretentious, along the street to the farm residence of ROBERT COVELL, on the ridge above Elm Street, Fifth Ward. Some later, ISAAC REYNOLDS put up a store and dwelling on the west side of the street. On the Wellsburg road there were one or two buildings, on the north side, before reaching the SLY residence, corner of Ann Street. One was occupied by JAMES ROBINSON, Esq., the village lawyer. He had a peculiar affection for dumb animals, at that time concentrating upon a little canine named "Pud," which was as well known to the villagers as the master himself. The nickname descended to a son, who learned the foundry trade, but died young of consumption, who went among his companions as "Pud."
"Esq." ROBINSON possessed an extremely sensitive nature, especially for music, and many a time a pathetic or sentimental strain, on a well played violin, would send the tears coursing down his cheeks. He was the soul and life of the village choir, which was his fostering care to the latest day of his life. His faults were those that did more harm to himself than to those whom he befriended, and upon whom he conferred neighborly deeds of kindness. There were few better or more public spirited citizens. His whole zeal and energy were devoted to the building of the Chemung Canal, and his efforts were duly appreciated by the citizens, when the project had been completed, by the donation of a house and lot on the part of the inhabitants. This was situated on the north part of the village, near the banks of the Canal, and he continued to reside there to the day of his death.
Opposite the present residence of Miss CATHARINE SLY, on Ann Street, stood the first log house built in the Fifth Ward. It was erected in the year 1788, by her father, the late JOHN SLY, who occupied it with his young wife, (a Miss POLLY HAMMOND, then only 15 years of age) for a number of years. He was married some distance up the River, and his "bridal trip" was accomplished on horseback. Upon his arrival he immediately built the "humble cottage in the wilderness" spoken of above; and truly it was an humble cot--not even a floor graced the primitive dwelling for some time. After living here for a few years, he cut the timber and built the old homestead, which still stands as a landmark of the "olden time." After removing from his log house, (where three of children were born), to a more modern structure, he started a small store in the vacated building, taking in a partner, JAMES MATHEWS, who came here some time after.
Mr. SLY came here from Delaware, Pike County, Pa., when only 24 years of age, since which time he has witnessed the gradual transformation of the wilderness into the populous village, with all the varied improvements incidental thereto, and surrounded by a numerous family, all of whom he has reared from infancy to manhood and active life. When he came to this locality, destitute of friends, and possessing nothing but energy, remarkable industry, and solid, genuine, uncounterfeited integrity, his strong judgment and well balanced mind taught him to believe--yea, almost, yon may say, know--that this now unsurpassed and richly cultivated Valley, was destined to become populous, noted, and a very desirable location. Accordingly he purchased about 600 acres of land for 10 shillings an acre, the largest portion of which surrounds the old homestead. By the gradual rise of his vast estate, he soon became wealthy, and at the time of his death, which occurred August 27, 1856, at the advanced age of 92, he was possessed of a large competency. Mr. SLY having devoted all his life to agricultural pursuits never mingling in the political issues of the day--he was not as well known as some of our citizens; but his honest kind-heartedness to the poor, who never left his door hungry, were traits in his character long remembered.
About 1830, the present three story brick structure just southeast of the tan yard, Fifth Ward, was erected, designed for a hotel, and has been a prominent feature all along with the growth of that portion of the City. The inscription over the door has always been a poser to classical students: Auster portus diversorian. It was not well understood, we believe, at the time it was placed there, and the subject came up for ventilation in the village papers. The inscription was furnished by RANSOM BIRDSALL, then editor of the old Republican newspaper. It even figured in local politics. The explanation was that a mistake had been made in the termination of the last word, which ought to have been "diversorium," and thus pointed the shafts of ridicule, wit and repartee which flew from mouth to mouth, and found a local habitation in the newspapers. Unfortunately the discussion gathered force from the undue sensitiveness the author exhibited on the subject. The village wags therefore re-pointed their arrows of ridicule. A certain ex-Judge, now living, has never thrown off the reputation of having a leading hand in the amusing persecution. The real meaning intended was, AUSTER (SOUTH) PORTUS (PORT) DIVERSORIUM, (HOTEL), but the termination of the last word made the muddle, which was at the best, "Hog Latin."
On Water Street, above the Lake Street end of the bridge, was a long two story wooden building, occupied as stores. In one of them, at the east end, was located FREDERICK I. BURRITT, and irresistible wag, from whom has descended, legitimately, the mantle of oddity and humor which now rests on his son. This was a great rallying place for kindred spirits, and many were the jokes here concocted, to be played off on unsuspecting and unwary victims. Countrymen especially came in for their butts, and were frequently sent there to go through what was called a system of "Niagaraing." The sell was always most adroitly conducted by Mr. BURRITT himself, who by a series of cunning questioning would make capital for the risibilities of his companions, who were lying back and almost ready to split with laughter. The facial expression of Mr. BURRITT was a study for the physiognomist or the painter. He was the true originator and foster-parent of the "Bush Seine" Company, a title of the very essence of ludicrousness and broad farce, whenever it is mentioned by the knowing ones at the present day. It was for a long period a great institution for Elmira. He died years ago, and is buried in the old Cemetery. About 1834 COOLEY & MAXWELL occupied the same store. F. SISSON sold goods in the same block. The Brothers LAWRENCE carried on trade in the same block; likewise, HARRISON PURDY, about 1835. In the upper end was the shoe shop of ISAAC ROE, which was long an old landmark, until swept away by fire. Beyond and above was WILKES’ blacksmith shop, which continued to stand until 1832. He moved away into some part of Pennsylvania.
The old Mansion House stood nearly opposite the present store of DAVID H. TUTHILL. Below was a small building occupied by AARON KONKLE, as a law office. The Mansion House was a rambling, disjointed sort of a structure, used for a hotel, with a Masonic Lodge Room in the upper story, but was rented at an early day to poor tenant families--rather a forbidding place. In 1827 the landlord was Judge BUNDY. He was succeeded by his brother, named SMITH. The great social festive event in the history of the building is even recalled at the present day by those who survive--namely, the wedding of "TOM TALLADA"--all right. There was but little distinction shown in inviting guests, and the attendance was consequently very large, if not exclusively fashionable. They assembled in unprecedented numbers, at an early hour of the evening. The event was so notable that prominent citizens took the ceremonies in charge. The knot-tying, it was stipulated, was to take place at 12 o’clock, precisely, by the late JOHN W. WISNER, Justice of the Peace, for which job TOM agreed to cut for him a cord of wood. The groom was habited in a long tailed blue coat, with brass buttons, much too small for him, kindly loaned for the occasion by his good friend GEORGE KINGSBURY, long dead and gone. It was confined to his body by a red sash tied around his waist. The village barber, duly sworn, tenderly shaved ½ his face, under the instruction from the master of the revel, and a third benevolent individual unearthed a three-cornered military chapeau, which TOM was instructed was imperative for him to wear during the actual performance of the ceremony. As early as the primitive hour of 6 o’clock, the guests began to arrive, and long before the actual time appointed, about all the men and boys of the town had congregated in front of the building. The whisky bottle circulated freely, and TOM was plied with plenteous libations, and hustled about unceremoniously by the crowd. In the confusion his loving sweetheart, BETSEY, was spirited away; and duly escorted, TOM was put on track for a successful pursuit and re-capture, aided by the magnanimous spirits present. Finally, at precisely the hour and minute, the ceremony was performed, and they were, with all judicial gravity, pronounced "Man and woman." The last words were the signal for the bride kissing, which was done with the heartiest and most resonant smacks. So furious were the salutations that a grand rush was made, and the bride nearly smothered amid the ardent oscular congratulations. She was finally borne into the hall, and the candle dips at that moment happening to go out, a barrel of ashes came down in a shower upon the heads of the crowd. And so the carnival of high revelry was kept up all night, and scenes transpired which would be hardly delicate for ears polite. There are many who can recall the incident.
As late at 1828, at the northwest corner of Lake and Water Streets, stood the residence of SAMUEL H. MAXWELL, the corner apartment being occupied by CHARLES MAXWELL, for a grocery. It was moved off or torn down, to give place to the present brick structure, erected by JOHN ARNOT, Esq., in 1831. Next adjoining was put up the present brick stores known as the Covell Block, by ROBERT and LYMAN COVELL, and the three stores when completed made an imposing appearance for the young village. Next above were two small buildings, which served for offices. Judge GRANT B. BALDWIN kept the Post Office in one, in 1832. BEARDSLEY, in his "Reminiscences," written for the Gazette, details an incident connected with him and the spot:
"Judge BALDWIN was sociable and friendly to the boys, and I formed an excellent opinions of his generosity, and I made great calculations upon the sum he would give me for a copy of my New Years Address, written by Mrs. ALMIRA THOMPSON, to the ‘Patrons of the Elmira Gazette, January 1, 1833.’ I went to his office in good season, and elate with hope that here I would get a shilling at least, and I was extravagant enough to soar, in imagination, up to the unprecedented sum of a quarter of a dollar. I went in, found the Judge alone, made by best bow, wished him a ‘Happy Near Year,’ and handed him a copy of my Address. He took it in his hand, looked at me savagely, and said-- ‘Who are you, boy, and what do you want?’ I replied, with the blood in my heart down to zero, that I carried the Gazette, and that I had brought him a copy of my Address. He thrust the copy I had given him, back into my hand, and said-- ‘I have three of them now, and I don’t want it.’ I could not say a word, but went from his presence more disappointed than I had ever been before in my whole life. That incident ruined the Judge in my estimation, and I could never overlook it to the day of his death."
Old Granny CLYMER’s house was an ever memorable residence among the youngsters of those days, like DAVIS, ALEXANDER BALDWIN, WILLIAM D. COVELL, Gen. GREGG, and their comrades. She lived nearly on the present site of the elegant modern block of SIMEON BENJAMIN, Esq., on Water Street. For a fair consideration in pennies, she satisfied the youthful appetite with molasses candies and ginger cakes. Pop corn balls were not an institution of those days. Her stock of pennies, thus gathered in, counted up to a marvelous man, according to the rosy youthful imagination. She in her way surpassed the magical and wonderful creations in confectionery offered by our own COKE to the present appetite. Her’s was the pioneer candy shop of the town, and her name was more widely spread than our confectioners of modern times. The old grandfather was a cobbler, and he pegged away in one corner of the room while in another was appetizingly arranged the candy dips in penny sticks. A granddaughter, ELLEN, and a grandson, NICK WENTZ, lived with and kept company for the old couple. The family afterwards moved to the terra incognita of that early day, Pennsylvania.
Above them was the house of Mrs. CHERRY, whose husband died before this date. The children were ISAAC, WILLIAM and EMILY. WILLIAM died of consumption, in 1831, and the family took the long Western journey to Ohio, which was then on the very borders of civilization. The house was used for business purposes, afterwards, and the late Hon. JOHN W. WISNER practiced law there. Then there was another long two story wooden block, which was owned by various parties; JOSEPH VIAL’s store was in one part, but he failed, and the property went into the hands of creditors, and at last passed into the possession of SIMEON BENJAMIN, Esq., and gained quite a reputation in the litigation which was followed as to the legal title. Dr. URIAH SMITH had his residence and office here. In the block, Miss SUSAN and AMANDA BEERS kept the only millinery establishment of the village. The latter became the wife of Hon. ALEXANDER S. DIVEN. Hon. HIRAM GRAY was a young and rising lawyer and Justice of the Peace, and had his office and held Court in this building.
BENJAMIN C. WICKHAM, WICKHAM & TUTHILL, SOLOMON L. GILLETT, TRACY BEADLE, WILLIAM FOSTER, FOSTER & DUMARS, were all successively in trade in this block before 1836. It was printed the first number of the Elmira Gazette, quite a venture for those days. In 1832 JOB SMITH was editor and proprietor; the late BRINTON PAINE, who had learned his trade in the office, was a partner, the firm name being SMITH & PAINE. JAMES M. FITCH was an apprentice; he died last year, at Oberlin, Ohio, and esteemed and honored citizen of his adopted town. These were the entire working force of the office. The only two fonts used for the paper were long primer and bourgeois. The old Ramage press would be a novelty for this day. The only way to increase the power of the impression was to pack the tympan with sheets of paper. The standing press was another unique specimen: "A bench with four legs, with uprights on top, holding a cross piece, to which was slung by ropes a box filled with stones." Much as modern printers might distrust the fact, the Gazette was a pretty well printed sheet, and enjoyed an equal estimation in the minds of its then readers as it does now, in an enlarged form, among its more numerous patrons. It 1832 the office was removed to ARNOT’s block, at the corner below. Here it remained for several years, and then went up Lake Street to Mechanic’s Hall.
Before reaching Baldwin street, Dr. RULANDUS BANCROFT’s residence was the last building, and one of the finest houses in the village. It was burned down in 1830, with most of the furniture it contained. The ground was sold, and was used for the erection of stores. A dwelling house was built on the corner of Water and Baldwin Streets, by HORACE WELLS, in 1829, and in a year or two he died of consumption. The same building was afterwards altered over and occupied as a store by the late A. C. ELY.
Where the present costly and immense structure of the Rathbun House now stands, was the residence of the late ISAAC BALDWIN. It was a large, old, weather-beaten, two story building, with barn and garden in the rear. The house stood fronting on Water Street. This was 40 years ago. It was cleared away to give place to the first Eagle tavern. Its first landlord was a man by the name of WEBB, and after him, GAMBLE & KEEP. It was an architectural nondescript in its proportions and style, but regarded then as a stately and harmonious structure. This was the beginning of the Elmira essays at hotel building, which have culminated in the "Rathbun" and "Hathaway" of modern times.
HOGAN’s tavern, a red and dilapidated looking old building, was the first edifice west of Baldwin Street. It was a filthy place in its surroundings, and was the head-quarters of the Irishmen who dug the Chemung Canal. It was the scene of many broken noses and disturbances not entirely bloodless. It was a place traditionally to be given a wide berth by the youngsters at night, and remained a terror to the neighborhood. Beyond, the old SATTERLEE dwelling stood next the Canal. Upon the removal of the widow from it, it went rapidly to decay. It became the rendezvous of poor families, and contained a saloon or two on the ground floor. It will be remembered that Dr. SATTERLEE had been killed before this date by the accidental discharge of a gun which was being repaired in Major ORWAN’s shop. On the other side of the street, west of the old Mansion House, next came a wooden block occupied by JOHN B. WHITE, for a tailor shop, and at the cast end a comb manufactory was in full blast. A grocery was afterwards carried on by A. HARVEY & Son. He was an old gentleman, peculiar and eccentric, and having emigrated from Troy, he compared everything "as we used to have it in the City of Troy." The habit was so common as to excite the risibilities of the villagers, and begot rather an undue disregard for his gray hairs. After quite a blank space on the River bank, came the hat factory, and store of ARCHIBALD HECGIE, which was about 1830. There was no other building up to the Canal, until 1832. Mr. LEGGIE has been a resident of the City within the present memory of people living here. He only a few years removed to Ithaca, his native town, where he died.
The early inns or taverns were then prominent features of the Valley--the centre of newsgathering and discussion among the village magnates. The tavern kept by HAWKS and WILLIAM DUNN, stood on the north side of Water Street, next the Canal. The latter was the brother of Judge DUNN, and many will recall his later years as having been connected with some of the clerkships of the Washington Departments. He was killed by the falling of a brick wall, at a fire on Water Street, below Lake Street bridge. His death was not immediate, but he died shortly after, from the concussion his brain received. The second story of this building witnessed the first theatrical exhibition given in Elmira. The proprietor and manager, star and stock actors and actresses, were made up for the most part of GILBERT and TROWBRIDGE, and their wives. The playing was pronounced quite creditable, and the parties afterwards made their mark in the profession. NEAFIE was a young stage aspirant, and POWELL made his debut, and died at Erie some years since, but used to visit Elmira with a company, occasionally, under the firm of POWELL & KORE. The first play brought out was the "Lady of the Lake," a very popular play for provincial troupes in those days. The scenic display must have been of a remarkable order, compared with our modern Theatres. The stage did not exceed 20 feet square, but the acting, to the villagers, was superb, something which captivated their imaginations and extracted their good old English silver shillings. "Pizarro" was brought out; TROWBRIDGE as Pizarro, and GILBERT as Rolla, with a very impressive effect, and even at that early day, the old sterling farce of "The Spectre Bridegroom." One violin made the orchestra. The house must have been crowded with 100 people, yet the managers were said to have done a prosperous business. People admired, with as much satisfaction, the rude appointments of that early stage, as they now enjoy the best represented play with the magnificent appointments of the Opera House.
The hotel became the BUNDY House, and then was kept for several years by ERASTUS GOODRICH. Above the Canal the buildings were more scattering, and before coming to the railroad were BENJAMIN VAIL’s cabinet shop, JOEL JONES’ tailor shop, and JOHN ROE’s residence. The only structure on the opposite side was two stories high, known as Deacon WILLARD’s chair factory. A building was put up opposite the hotel, in 1832, for a hardware store, kept by RICHARD F. SEABURY. P. R. K. BROTHERSON, son-in-law of MATTHEW McREYNOLDS, was with Mr. S., and the successor in the business was J. C. SAMPSON, now of the firm of BALLARD & SAMPSON. The old JERRY SULLIVAN house, the brick building just above the corner of Railroad Avenue and Water Streets, and occupied as a leather store previous to the destruction of BIGELOW & Co.’s fine shop, is an old landmark, and was quite an architectural accomplishment for those days. Dr. MOSHER, a young and rising physician, had his office and residence there. When the cellar and basement of the building were dug, Indian skeletons, arrow heads and other relics, were unearthed. Dr. MOSHER brought his young wife there--a Miss WOODS, of Orange County. The publication of the marriage was made memorable by an appended verse, indited by a village chum:
"Come, brothers, let us mourn
Another brother dead;
He has left our merry ranks in scorn,
And to the Woods has fled."
JOEL JONES and Judge GRANT B. BALDWIN lived a short distance west of the railroad, and THEODORE NORTH, on the corner of Main Street. An absent-mind trait of the latter is recorded, when one day he went to the village Post Office and dropped in a batch of letters undirected. The Postmaster, who was then THOMAS MAXWELL, found and returned them, and upon the next visit of Esquire NORTH, handed them back to him, with the observation that he should be quite happy to forward the letters soon as they were properly directed. He replied in some astonishment, asking how he knew they were his. He was answered that the Postmaster was sure that no other man of his acquaintance could have made such a compound blunder. The ‘Squire acknowledged the corn, and taking them to his office, re-opened and properly directed them. The old JERRY SULLIVAN wooden tavern was a great rallying point about those days. It stood on the bank of the River near the railroad bridge. About that time, BENJAMIN VAIL erected his shop, further up, on the bank of the River, and it is now one of the primitive relics. Above was WHISTLER’s brewery, the first place in Elmira where ale was made. The present mill of HOTCHIN & Co. was then doing an extensive flouring business in the hands of ISAAC BALDWIN. The same blacksmith occupied by his father 40 years ago, is now used by PIERCY BRIGGS, for the same business. The residence and tannery of WM. WILLIAMS were further on, above. His neighbors were J. P. BEERS and DAVID WRIGHTMAN, who were carpenters and house builders, and beyond this place was the open country.
Of the buildings on the north side of Water Street, was the house of JOSHUA CLEVES, above the present corner of Main, where his sister kept a school to set off the accomplishments of young ladies, and where they completed a sound, if not flashy, education. It was really an important institution. Its examinations were attended by the elite and chief intellects of the village, and it had the reputation of affording a polish which could not then be attained short of the larger cities. The branches taught were music, composition, mathematics, and some French. The reputation of the school even extended down to 20 years ago, when the whirligig of the time transformed Elmira into a virgin City, and its founders, with increasing years, relinquished the post they had filled so well, to our more modern institutions of instruction demanded by the exigencies of our growing population. The young ladies, who finished their education there, are the mothers of the present generation, or have gone to swell the population of the silent Cities of the Dead.
There were two or three dwellings before reaching the old brick building known for years as the BILLINGS family residence. It was the first brick structure ever put up in Elmira, the owner being MATTHEW MCREYNOLDS, and finished in 1827. SAMUEL SEELEY, who died here, afterwards purchased the building. It is narrated of him, that years before, he lived at the head of Seneca Lake, and under Legislative charter built a bridge across Catherine Creek, which was a navigable stream up to Havana, or as it was in those days called, "the Mills Landing." "He had a right to collect tolls from teams but none from boats, for which he was obliged to swing the bridge; but attempting to make them pay for going through, some of the boatmen went to Johnson’s Settlement and took an old iron six pound gun they had there, and mounted it upon the bow of a boat, and with a picked crew set sail for the scene of action. Not having balls, they had loaded the old cannon with cast iron slugs. Their arrival was anticipated, and several persons had gathered upon the fated bridge, but upon being warned off by those on the boat, all left but one man, who was ‘not afraid,’ and ‘had smelt gunpowder before.’ When within shot range the gun was discharged, and the hurtling missiles went crashing through the timbers, almost demolishing the structure. The valiant occupant rushed rapidly to a place of safety, discreetly considering that gunpowder smelt better in a secure position. This was the first and last naval warfare on the waters of Catherine Creek, and the bridge was no further obstruction to the navigation."
The residences of ELISHA BRIGGS and JOHN FITZSIMMONS were the last on that side of the street, before reaching the farming country. Before attaining the residence of WILLIAM HOFFMAN, the farmhouse of the DAVIS family was passed, and was the only building intervening.
The foregoing was about all included in the strictly business portion of Elmira, 40 years ago. Lake and Baldwin Streets were not built up then--the "Star of Empire" for the young, thriving village, being eastward and westward, along Water Street, with a sprinkling of residences on Sullivan Street, in the vicinity of the old Court House. Lake Street, at an early date, began to rank next to Water Street in business importance. It was the street leading direct to the River bridge, and was recognized as the traveled route to the head of Seneca Lake, Johnson’s Settlement, and Ithaca. All merchandise from New York was brought by Havana by Canal boats, and thence to Elmira by teams. The route to New York for travelers was by stages, lines running through the Southern Tier towns and counties to the Hudson River, and was a tedious one at the best. The writer, when a resident of Owego, 20 years ago, well recalls the old line of four horse coaches which had been kept up for nearly 20 years, and even then required five or six days to land passengers in New York City. Uncle JOHNNY DAVIS’ tavern was located on Lake Street, and caught about all the stage traveling custom, and was quite the centre to learn what was going on in all parts of the world. The lot on which the old tavern and barns stood, reached from Lake Street to the bounds of STEPHEN TUTTLE’s garden, on Water Street, and up Lake as far as Carroll, embracing one of the present most eligible situations in the City, and now in part occupied by palatial stores. The saddler shop of JOHN and COWDEN HEPBURN stood next the barn, on Lake Street. The firm moved away in 1830, but the premises passed successively into the hands of WM. R. JUDSON, JUDSON & MERWIN, MERWIN & HOFFMAN, and some of their successors. Beyond the shop was the residence of WM. MCCLURE, who had a tan yard and vats on the back part of his lot, and did an extensive business. Carroll Street runs nearly through the locality of the old vats.
Quite adjoining the premises of the latter, were the silversmith shop and residence of FRANCIS COLLINGWOOD, father of the COLLINGWOOD brothers, who have so honorably and worthily continued the business to the present time. Mr. COLLINGWOOD was from Canada, an Englishman, a quaint, singular man, eccentric in manners and dress. He dropped the aspirate h and inserted it where it did not belong. His singularities engendered many anecdotes, which were price current in the community. Over the shop, PETER HALEY, a learned Irishman, kept a select school. The building was low and rambling, and the shop abutted on the street. The old foundry, so many years occupying the present site of the Opera House Block was built by JOHN ARNOT, Esq., in 1829. The first steam engine ever seen in Elmira was set up there and put in operation. It was a seven days wonder for the town, and crowds of people duly visited the place, until the novelty wore away. The old dilapidated buildings were only cleared away to give room to the palatial pile which now adorns the spot. MILES COOK carried on a saloon and had a house near the corner of Market and Lake Streets. He set up the first billiard table in the village.
Some of the old structures of that period are still standing on Market Street, east of OWEN McGREEVY’s livery stable. There were three or four in number, and for the most part served as residences, with the exception of a paint shop in one of them. There were no buildings in that direction. At a considerable later date, the residences of Judge DUNN and GUY M. PERRY were put up. Further east, between Market Street and the River, in the vicinity of Fox, was a cluster of houses which were among the earliest landmarks of the village. The venerable JOHN GREGG, ANDREW K. GREGG, his son, OWEN O. HANLON, Dr. NORMAN SMITH, JOHN SAUNDERS and WM. SHOCKEY, (Senior), had their residences there.
Going back to Lake Street, between Market and Church, east side, the only building was the old Court House, the present City Hall, which gave place to the fine structure that now graces the old site, built in 1861. In the rear was the same low story and a half district school house, which still does duty with the addition of several wings or ells. Here Judge A. S. THURSTON and Hon. A. S. DIVEN bent the tender twig as the tree inclined. It is not within the power of any present citizen to compare the primitive with the modern accommodations in stately buildings, being provided for the same school now grown into unparalleled proportions. The house of the late WM. MAXWELL was on the upper corner of Lake and Church Streets, fronting the former, and this was the last building in that direction.
Open fields or commons extended above the junction of Baldwin and Church Streets, which were thickly studded with pine stumps and scrubby pines. The thick woods began half a mile above, or at East Third Street, which extended to Pigeon Point. One farm house near Sullivan, on Church, was the only building in that direction. The old Sullivan Street Court House had been abandoned, and was used as a residence by the father of the late BRINTON PAINE. PETER C. LOUP and JOHN W. WISNER lived north, the house of the latter only during the past year having been torn down to give place to the erection of the First District Schoolhouse. Below the old Court House, towards the River, was the residence of JOHN HUGHS. North of Church and East of Lake, was nothing but a vacant space, with only two buildings dotting it, as far as Pigeon Point, divided into farming country, and scrubby yellow pine forest, which, as we have hitherto mentioned, originally overspread the site of the city. The west side of Lake was built up more thickly. Next the Water Street corner was the saddle and harness shop of COOLEY & MAXWELL, who probably succeeded ELKANAH SMITH, who carried on the same business, and was assisted by several of his sons. One by the name of FRANK, scribbled for the village paper, and dabbled in politics. He removed to Troy, Pa.
WILLIAM R. JUDSON bought out the interest of COOLEY & MAXWELL, in 1832, and continued it for many years. It may be mentioned here, that Col. JUDSON, with the exception of his Kansas residence, has been identified with the business interests of Elmira for the past 45 years. He has been repeatedly honored with offices of trust and emolument, and is an enterprising and esteemed citizen. He was one of the first militia Captains, and on him devolved the duty of drilling the somewhat refractory and obstreperous flood wood candidates for military honors in those days. His first company had mostly reached the very ripe age of 18 years. Guns were not freely supplied, but wooden substitutes in any number were in as great diversity as there were members of the rank and file; and then the handling or drilling was as surprising as the exhibitions of individual genius, to do just contrary to the actual word of command. These primitive military makeshifts were as amusing to the participators as the spectators, who looked on in ludicrous amazement. The custom of straightening the line was to back it against a building, and when it advanced from that position it was by zig-zags like a rail fence. One half day usually satisfied to give the commander all he desired of militia drilling, and the remainder was given up to whisky and repose. Everybody can recall how great was the burlesque of the old militia system, and the improvement has not been very marked as yet, even since the terrible experiences of the war of the Rebellion.
Not far from Carroll Street, and setting well back, was LEVI J. COOLEY’s residence. It was afterward inhabited by PETER LOUP. He will be recalled by old citizens, and the utter wreck he made of naturally brilliant talents. A pretty hard whisky shop was kept on the lower corner of Carroll Street, which dispensed the ardent "on the sly." Past Carroll Street, BREESE & STEVENS conducted the blacksmithing business. The latter was the present DANIEL STEVENS, hale and hearty, at a ripe old age, and generally respected, formerly a prominent politician, and Postmaster for two terms. Forty years ago he wielded the blacksmith’s hammer vigorously, and shaped and welded the competence which now supports his mellow old age.
An old water course crossed Lake Street, just below the shop, at the foot of a steep declivity, where the boys used to have their winter coasting; but boys, creek and hill have long disappeared. On the crest of the elevated ground stood, for many years, a small, rather weather-beaten building used by the late ELIJAH JONES for a jewelry store. L. D. HAVILAND afterwards resided there, and carried on a tailor shop. His nickname was "Old Togue." He was a man of good intellect, but eccentric. C. C. ATKINS learned his trade with him, and still resides here, a worthy member of the trade, and should therefore be classed among our oldest citizens. In the rear of the house was an old foundry, where machinery was propelled by horse power. It was conducted by ARCHIBALD SMITH and MATTHEW McREYNOLDS. This event was before the advent of steam power, in this region. The old popular Mansion House occupied the spot where the present Hathaway stands, then a building of two stories, and of quite humble pretensions. It was owned by ELIJAH JONES, and E. B. TUTHILL, or "BREWSTER" TUTHILL, was mine host. It did good business, and was quite a place of resort for a portion of our citizens.
Upon the election of LYMAN COVELL to the office of Sheriff, TUTHILL became his Deputy, and moved to the Jail, and ELIJAH JONES himself became the inn keeper. As a landlord he was popular, and a sterling and valued citizen. His demise will be recalled by many who have lived here within the past 12 or 15 years. Deer were plenty then in the country about, and he was a natural sportsman, devoting his leisure hours to the exciting pastime. An amusing anecdote is told of how he effected the killing of his first venison, and the ecstatic momentary result. Rushing up to the dying monarch of the forest, a noble buck, he soliloquized: "Dod! E. JONES killed a buck!" and becoming so elated with his good luck, he struck the stock of his gun against a tree, and it flew in a dozen pieces. When surprised by a companion, he seemed lost to all else, except that "E. JONES had killed a buck." But he lived to become a notable deer hunter, pursuing them year after year, until the game secluded itself out of easy reach, within the wilds of Pennsylvania. His successor in the Mansion House was SILAS HAIGHT, who built it into more respectable proportions. We shall have occasion to allude again to this life-long popular landlord who at present is the presiding genius of the Hathaway, one of the finest hotels in the Southern Tier.
The present City Market covers, also, historic ground. Here was the headquarters of all the staging done in this region, the only method of communication with the outside world. No long shrill echoes of the locomotive whistle, awoke the haunting spirits of our forest-clad hills, nor trains, with the speed of supernatural power, went rushing through our Valley. People were then more sober and contended and little dreamed of the lightning express trains which are now nearly ready, in a wastes time, to waft them from one side to the other of a broad continent, of a width of 4,000 miles. The old mail coach then served every purpose, and the coach and four was regarded as rather a startling innovation--in fact, a great institution. Communication East and West, North to Geneva, and South to Philadelphia and Washington via Williamsport, were kept up daily by four horse post coaches. The line to Ithaca was tri-weekly. The mails never exceeded a single way mail bag, and the coaches were not then, as when travel increased, often crowded to excess. The proprietor of these lines, COOLEY & MAXWELL, were considered to be engaged in an enormous business, but the old staging days had to give place to faster ideas of locomotion, and when it had usefully served the day and generation, was laid up in ordinary, as trophies of the civilization of a past age. The driver will be recalled as a genius, in those old "coaching days. He was an artiste of the lines and whip. His practiced hand could bring his long lash to just touch a leader’s ear with the weight of a feather, or with a stroke on the flank that would send him, like a bolt, forward to his work. The snap of the lash, as he willed it, was like the snap of a fire cracker or the reverberation of a pistol; and when coming into town, his long horn trumpet blasts and his whip lash executions, and he brought down the four-in-hand to the round trot, and the spurring command, "g’lang," formed the daily excitement of the inland village. He must be, too, a dare-devilish, independent sort of a fellow--too often wedded to the intoxicating cup, but withal popular, hail fellow well met, and the horse oracle along the whole stage route. Horses formed his study; their habits, their wants, their language, were to him like a book of nature. He was generous to a fault, always ready to do a favor, and wherever he stopped over night, one of the village cronies, for which his perambulating travels had given him ample experience. At least two of this old honored craft are still living in our midst--Gen. WHITNEY GATES and EDWARD WALTERS, the latter of late years one of our most popular conductors.
MICHAEL BLACK for a while lived on the upper corner of Market Street, opposite the Mansion House. He went West in 1833. His lot was 75 feet frontage on Lake Street, with a depth of 210 feet. The buildings were a large old two story house and a blacksmith shop on the corner. These have been removed within the memory of present citizens. The last owner and occupant for many years was the late PRENTISS NORMAN, whose widow now resides on Sullivan Street, and whose sons and daughters still live in our midst. JOB N. SMITH lived at the corner of Church and Lake Streets, and his was the last and only house in that direction. In the vacant space between Market and Church Streets, a field of oats was raised in 1832; and in 1833 JOHN HUGHS cultivated it for potatoes. SAMUEL MAXWELL’s residence was erected in 1835 on the present site of RIGGS WATROUS’ modern structure, and LEVI COOLEY built on the lot at the back part of ROBERT COVELL’s beautiful residence. JOHN ARNOT erected his old family mansion in 1836, and DAVID TUTHILL put up his house a year or two later, which has been transformed into his present commanding residence at the corner of Lake and Church Streets. Mr. SMITH cut down the last of the yellow pines growing on his lot, the original growth. He was the first publisher of the Gazette, and was a man of rather refined, studious habits, and possessed a fair degree of culture. He was absent minded, and wore glasses to correct a defect of short sightedness. He was tall and slim, and in appearance much older than in reality. He was not inclined to the crooks and turns of politics, but had a strong penchant for farming, and finally sold out and went West in 1834; he located about 30 miles west of Chicago Junction, and is now a wealthy farmer. His wife was a woman of marked character, courteous and kind to all who came within her sphere. The duties of a "printer’s devil" at that period are thus daguerreotyped by one who thoroughly knew:
"The duties of a printer’s devil then were of a more diversified character than would be pleasing to the modern imp, for he was obliged to cut fire wood, feed and milk the cow, tend baby, and every Monday morning put on an apron and pound out the clothes, and otherwise make himself useful. At least these were a part of my duties, and it is to this day a source of satisfaction to me that I did them cheerfully, for it placed me on the most favored footing with the feminine half of the family, and I experienced such kindness in return that I remember the period of my apprenticeship as one of the happiest portions of my life."
Hon. THOMAS MAXWELL became editor, and BRINTON PAINE publisher of the Gazette, after him. BEARDSLEY, in his Reminiscences, thus refers to the fact:
"My home was transferred to the opposite corner, and for several years I was a member of the family of Mr. MAXWELL. The old house remains very much as it was in those days; but where are the inmates? the eminent and honored master, the kind, good mother, whose heart ever responded quickly to the story of poverty and distress, and who gave with an open hand? where the cluster of young faces that completed an envied family circle? The stately monument and the marble slab in the Cemetery will answer the question with solemn eloquence for the largest number. The few survivors have other and distant homes, and have become almost strangers in the home of their birth. In calling to my mind other families of a generation ago, I can remember but a single one, all the members of which survive and are still residents."
As far as the junction of Baldwin and Lake Streets, there were but three dwellings above the residence of MAXWELL: Mrs. MYERS, ABRAHAM RIKER, and ELISHA BUNDY, who died in 1838. Right at the point was an old log house, and next a furnace where small castings were done. The farm residence of JOHN MARTIN was on the west side of the road, below Pigeon Point, Lake Street, although second in importance to Water, down to 1830, was then meagerly occupied. On Baldwin Street, the first house above Water was at the corner of Carroll Street, north side. It stood on props to about the height of the present grade, and at the end flowed the small creek which made its course along the present Carroll Street. It was dubbed "Viall’s Saw Mill," from its owner, JOSEPH VIALL. Above his residence, on the corner of Market, was a diminutive house of one story, to which WARD DUDLEY attached a front, and became afterwards ISAAC BALDWIN’s residence.
Above Market Street was a vacant lot, reaching back to the stage barn, which lately constituted FASSETT’s Livery Stable, and only recently has been transformed, with additions, into the present elegant City Market, owned and conducted by T. S. PATTINSON. There was space for spreading an occasional circus tent. It drew its usual crowd then, and was marked with no greater respectability than modern circus performances. The two story dwelling of JOHN TOMPKINS, a mason, stood a little below the present residence of T. S. PATTINSON. WHEELER, of the firm of WHEELER & GILLETTE, merchants, afterwards resided there. The next house above PATTINSON’s was built by A. BEARDSLEY, 40 years ago. The lot cost $100, the standard value of lots, at the time, on Baldwin Street. The property was sold in 1837 for $1300, and recently Mr. PATTINSON purchased it of one of the BUNDY Brothers, (who has lately removed from there), for $6,000. Elmira property has increased just above the same ratio within the past 40 years. The house above, the residence of W. W. BALLARD, corner of Church and Baldwin Street, was built in 1827, by Capt. BENAJAH B. PAYNE.
Baldwin Street, during the three or four years following, was quite rapidly occupied with residences, but there was no expectation that it would ever become a business street. The west side showed only a few buildings. Here was erected the residences of the late widow SATTERLEE, and of THOMAS DUNN, a short distance below. On the corner of Market Street lived a tailor by the name of BURROUGHS, and on the opposite corner, was the house of Dr. JOTHAM PURDY, the same now occupied by his widow and son, Dr. H. H. PURDY, who succeeded to his father’s practice. Market Street was then not laid out as now. Between Baldwin Street and the Canal, (not the built), there was but one building, and on the south side near the basin, there was the house of PHILLIP SCHALTZ and his brother, who were engaged in transporting iron and nails from the Juniata Works in Pennsylvania. The means of transportation was by the heavy lumbering Pennsylvania wagons, somewhat resembling the baggage wagons used in the late war. These were drawn by four horses, the driver occupying a seat in front, or riding the near wheel horse and directing the leaders by a single line. It was one of the peculiar institutions of that day, and their arrival full of freight was quite an event. Above Dr. PURDY there were two or three buildings erected in 1830, one of which was occupied by a man named CLARK. Judge HIRAM GRAY purchased it of him for a residence, and lived there several years with his family. On Gray Street, in the only building standing next the Canal, south side, resided Rev. Mr. LATHROP, the Presbyterian clergyman. It was two stories high. JOHN P. BURT occupied the northwest corner of Gray and Baldwin Streets; he was by trade a carpenter. Next was the house of ELIJAH JONES, afterwards the residence of JOHN PARMENTER, and the present ample grounds of SOLOMON L. GILLETTE were owned by Dr. ERASTUS L. HART.
On the same site of the present splendid erection was the old wooden Presbyterian Church. It was weather-beaten and uninviting on the outside, small in size, but large enough for the demands of the congregation. It possessed the only Church steeple in the village. Its brick succession was put up in 1832, or later, and that gave way to the present building, which was burned March 18, 1864, and rebuilt and completed in September, 1865. The present site has witnessed the succession of four Church edifices, within 40 years. Above the Church came the meat shop and slaughter house of MANN HOLDEN. Still further on was the tin shop of CADWALLADER HOWELL, and about half way to the junction of Baldwin and Lake was another small dwelling, and the last house on the west side, was that of LATHROP BALDWIN, about opposite the furnace, before referred to. West Union Street, in those days, was the culmination of the regular Baldwin Street.
The house now standing on the northeast corner of Church and Baldwin Streets, at present owned by ROBERT HYLEN, was built by Col. TUNIS RIKER, father of ABRAHAM and SAMUEL RIKER, about 1830; and north, SAMUEL RIKER built his present residence, about the same time. The corner house was for some years the residence of Dr. E. L. HART. The first Methodist Church erected, stood on the site of the present Parsonage, and above there was no other house on that side. The continuation of Baldwin Street was an open country or commons, until 1830. In the year or two after, houses were put up by THOMAS PATTINSON, the butcher, whose son has continued the general market and meat trade so extensively; also by ROBERT THOMPSON, who was the first drayman in the village, and had a monopoly of the business for many years. His worthy representative and namesake, JERRY THOMPSON, carts at the present time. His wife, AMIRA THOMPSON, was the village poetess, and wrote quite a number of poems, which were afterwards collected into a meager volume, 12 mo., with paper covers. Typographically, it was decent, buy many a gem serene, born to blush unseen, may have sparkled in its pages. The title was "The Lyre of Tioga," and was hawked around the country by her husband. It is narrated that when a copy was presented to an old Dutch farmer, with a solicitation to buy, that he exclaimed: "Was is de name von dat book?" inquired the old man. "The Lyre of Tioga," replied Mr. T. "Vell," said mynheer, "I did hear dere vas a goot many liars in Tioga, but I did not know dat dey vos so pad dat dey make a pook about dem!" Readers can judge of the compliment therein conveyed to old Tioga.
We have fortunately been able to procure a copy of the "Poetical Relics" referred to under the above title, by Mrs. AMIRA THOMPSON, in all probability the earliest poet of Elmira. Our readers will be able to judge that her genius was of no mean order, either, and its effusions are worthy of a record in these pages. We cannot do better, in introducing the work, than to quote from the preface what the authoress says about herself and Elmira:
"And first, with regard to herself: If report speaks truly, she is the daughter of her father, Gen. MATTHEW CARPENTER, who 35 years ago exchanged the pleasant fields of an Orange County farm for one of the extensive and then wild valleys of the Tioga (or Chemung) River, in the now town of Elmira and County of Tioga, at which time this County embraced nearly all the territory southwest from that of Montgomery.
"The ‘scene of her childhood’--to her ‘the loveliest spot on earth’--is so often alluded to hereafter, that a more minute description of it is deemed the next thing in order. ‘The mansion where her earliest breath she drew, ‘ stands about a mile northeast from the present village of Elmira, until lately called Newtown. The site is rendered somewhat romantic by a high, uncultivated ridge a few hundred rods east, running north and south, with Newtown Creek meandering at its base. This stream has here sufficient fall for a mill seat, and the rich meadows which line its banks yield an ample reward for the toil of the husbandman. On the west, a thick growth of saplings recently skirted the opposite side of the road, concealing from view the village and the hills two or three miles beyond it. Nearly half a mile south, and about the same distance east of the village, stands the ‘old Court House,’ more fully described hereafter in the Author’s first attempt at rhyming.
"The village of Elmira is now a thriving town, situated on the north bank of the Chemung River, at its proposed junction with the contemplated Canal to the Seneca Lake; through it passes the great thoroughfare from that Lake to Washington City, Philadelphia, &c. The street on which the village is principally built is more than a mile in length, and runs on the margin of the River. There are in the place good Schools, a respectable Church, an elegant Court House, and a substantial Bridge near the centre, 600 or 700 feet long.
"Immediately above the bridge is Clinton Island, from 10 to 50 rods wide, and more than half a mile long. This beautiful relic of the rural simplicity which once reigned in the valley of this noble stream, is annually covered with the finest verdure, interspersed with bluebells, cowslips and lilies, overhung with a lofty growth of weeping elms and sycamores, whose commingling boughs form the most romantic and shady retreats. In connection with the surrounding scenery, it may well vie for beauty with the elysian fields of the aborigines, or the enchanted ground of the ancients.
"The River is formed by the waters of the Tioga, the Canawisqua, the Canisteo and the Conhocton, which unite from 20 to 30 miles above this place, and flow into the Susquehanna 20 miles below, affording at times a descending navigation for the surplus produce and lumber of the country, which find a market on the shores of the Chesapeake.
"Some of the oldest inhabitants can well remember when this extensive Valley was peopled by Indians, whose rude corn patches were sure indications of a rich soil, though they lessened but in a small degree the labors and hardships necessary in preparing it for the abode of civilization and refinement. Many relics of antiquity, and Indian skeletons and implements, have been discovered in the course of these improvements.
"Here, in ‘days that tried men’s souls,’ Gen. SULLIVAN with his army, encamped, after a sharp conflict with the Indians at a ridge uncouthly named Hog-back-hill, from its singular shape, six or seven miles below; and about the same distance north is the place where he slew his worn out pack horses after destroying the Indian towns at the foot of Seneca Lake and farther west, from which circumstance grew its present no less poetical name, Horse-heads.
"A few miles west, on the summit of a ledge forming the south bank of the River, may be seen the ruins of one of those ancient fortifications so renowned in the Western country.
"Other scenes might be adverted to,’ but perhaps enough has been mentioned to answer the purpose intended, and to apologize for what may appear wild or romantic in the musings here presented to the public."
Her apologies and explanations as to putting forth her poetical waif, are further given:
"Several of these pieces were originally published in different newspapers in this vicinity, under the signature of ‘VICTORIA’ but some of them having been re-published abroad without this disguise, the Author has not thought best to retain it. They are arranged nearly in the order of time in which they were written, with the exception of the Drama.
"Perhaps she has done herself injustice by publishing nearly the whole mass of her productions; but it was found that a guarded selection would curtail that variety which appears so necessary where many different tastes are to be consulted.
"The common apology for the demerits of juvenile productions, is that they were not designed for the public eye, and the importunity of friends is as often urged as the reason for dragging them from their intended obscurity. But the Author of this little volume will insist upon neither of these to cloak her imperfections or conceal the real object of her publication. Such as it is she submits it to the public, and if she derives from it an equivalent for the fragments of time she has devoted to her Muse without too great a tax upon the indulgence of her readers, she will cheerfully leave pretensions for fame to those whose acquirements better qualify them to contend for the palm with the bright constellation of genius which adorns our own country, or that which glows on the other side of the Atlantic.
"ELMIRA, Tioga Co., NY, Jan. 1, 1829."
The modest volume was published in 1829, by J. BOGERT, of Geneva. We re-publish two of the characteristic poems it contains:
ON THE OLD COURT HOUSE AT NEWTOWN, (ELMIRA,) WRITTEN IN THE YEAR 1813. (When the author was about 13 years of age.)
A wondrous tale I will relate,
Of modern or of ancient date;
It matters not so much to know,
You’ll understand it as you go.
I sing of famed Elmira town,
Admired by many a rustic clown;
Whose oldest legends cannot tell
Of steeple high, or tinkling bell.
This place can boast the vast estate
Of merchant and of lawyer great;
(And you may search from pole to pole
For such another grovelling mole--
Blind to the interests of itself,
Awake alone to paltry pelf.)
Now judge if all my words are true,
While of its church we take a view,
It stands on well selected ground,
And rails enclose it all around;
E’en in the garret we may find
Dame Virtue with the Graces join’d;
For there Free Masons hold their sway,
‘Tis there they revel--there they pray;
In Charity’s dominions sweet,
The rat and moth find safe retreat.
Its shattered sides are torn by Time,
And windows wasted by the same;
Paper and shingles fill the place
That was intended once for glass.
No paint or carving there we see,
‘Tis hung with cobweb tapestry;
No steeple crowns its sacred head,
Nor bell to summon home the dead,
Nor pride, nor pomp, nor sinful state;
The Parson fills the Judge’s seat;
No curtains round his head do flow--
E’en elegance with shame lies low.
When filled, the tott’ring fabric shakes,
The maiden starts, the matron quakes,
And the poor preacher, pale with fear,
For safety pours an ardent pray’r.
But, raised, the public eye to meet,
There stands one spacious singing seat,
Filled till its sides can hold no more,
And then the guard must close the door.
‘Tis here the psalmist takes his stand,
His ranks arranged on either hand;
While squeaking treble wounds the ear,
The bass low rumbles discord near;
And through the cracks old Boreas tries
With a fifth part to give surprise;
And creaking doors and rattling boards,
A chorus for the tune afford.
In this majestic building view
The public Jail, and Court House too--
The Mason’s Lodge, the Christian’s Church,
Without a pulpit, pew, or porch.
On The Death of
DOCTOR ELIAS SATTERLEE,
Who was shot at Elmira by the Accidental discharge of a gun! (This piece was written soon after the preceding one, and is entitled to the same shield from criticism.)
Ah! see you mourning widow bend,
That grief-worn spot to view!
Convulsive sighs her bosom rend,
Her heart is filled with wo!
For underneath the crumbling sod
Her dearest half is laid;
She meekly bows to kiss the rod
That strikes her comforts dead!
No more a tender husband’s love
Rewards her for her toil;
He’s gone to meet the choirs above,
Where sister angels smile.
The tender father, faithful friend,
Affectionate and kind;
‘In him the noblest virtues blend--
In him were all combined.
(The folly mark of human sense,
And view the hand of God;
That unseen hand his laws dispense,
And spreads his name abroad.
What though to those ‘tis bitter food,
Who dare not trust his word?
All things together work for good
To those who love the Lord.)
But ere the sun his daily race
Had scarce began to run,
Th’ unwary man had turned his face
Towards the fatal gun. (Then in a smith’s vice, undergoing repairs.)
One spark, full swift as lightning’s dart,
Sent with unerring aim,
Discharged the contents near his heart!
And shook his trembling frame.
Now by his weeping friends he’s led,
And followed by their cries.
And, groaning, laid upon that bed,
Whence he must never rise!
With anguish rent, the dying man
To heaven raised his eye;
His quivering lips a prayer began,
His bosom heaved a sigh:
"To Him who bears the raven’s cry--
Who hears the sinner pray;
Respect Thy word, O God, and be
My weeping widow’s stay!
"On Thee alone my hopes I rest,
In Thee, my God, I trust;
Though death’s keen pangs invade my breast,
Omnipotence is just.
"With Thee, great God, my soul I leave,
Sure of Thy grace," he said;
And struggling, gasping, ceased to breathe,
And sunk among the dead!
To him who hears without dismay,
The chilling death-bell ring.
"O grave! where is thy victory?
O death! where is thy sting?"
JAMES ROBINSON occupied a dwelling on the west side of the street, presented to him by public-spirited citizens for the part he took in securing the building of the Chemung Canal. His lot extended back to the tow path, and opposite to the spot where the first shovelful of dirt was taken out at the commencement of that undertaking. As we have repeatedly referred, there were many anecdotes told of him, and these were, within late years, collected and embodied in articles which the late Hon. THOMAS MAXWELL communicated to LEWIS GAYLORD CLARK’s Knickerbocker Magazine, under the title of "Reminiscences of the Southern Tier." He was such a marked character of those early times, and even now recalled by the oldest citizen as "Squire ROBINSON," that farther allusion to him may not be amiss, and few, probably, have even seen the current anecdotes related of him in print. He was born in New Hampshire, and was at Portsmouth during the portion of the time, when WEBSTER, CASS and MULLER were students. He migrated to the Southern Tier in 1809, and entered upon the practice of law. He was a fine scholar, warm and ardent in his attachments, and always the best friend of his client or comrade, in whom he never recognized faults. He was seasoned with real attic salt, and never was more happy than in a toast or repartee. He was, withal, most public spirited, and strongly advocated every public improvement. His newspaper articles urging these measures were remarkable for ability and strength, and contributed to their success. A large share of his tune was devoted to matters of public concern. In these he engaged with a zeal and energy which ought to have spurred his more lagging brethren. He was disinterested, too, for he held no property to be made more valuable, or improved, or even depreciated by the success or failure of various projects, in which his ardent temperament urged him to engage. He was a most stirring politician in the Harrison campaign of 1840. He had formerly been a consistent Democrat, but the log cabin excitement overcame his equilibrium, seducing him from his life-long adherency, and made him a most zealous supporter of Gen. HARRISON. The Whigs were flattered by such defections, and accordingly made him a prominent spokesman in the campaign, in which he made many telling speeches. His opening speech at the dedication of the first Log Cabin in Elmira, will not be soon forgotten by those present who still survive. His fine personal presence, graceful gestures, the dignity of his manner and flow of language, made his oration one of the most eloquent ever listened to. He neither aspired to or wanted office. His efforts were wholly unselfish and disinterested, and in this regard his example might be a bright and shining light to the politicians of the present day. We now append some extracts from the "Reminiscences of the Southern Tier:"
"For his patriotic exertions his memory well deserves to be cherished,
but he will be remembered much longer for the wit, humor and eccentricity
by which his career was distinguished. He was a zealous politician, but
his kindly nature always kept him on friendly terms with those who differed
with him on political questions. His genial wit and humor continued to
the last moment of his life. A friend who watched with him the night before
his death, relates that on going to his residence for that purpose, he
found him, as he had never before done, apparently low spirited. On inquiring
the cause, he remarked: ‘I have been looking over my account for another
world.’ On being asked what he found to disquiet him, he replied that the
review reminded him of GARRICK’s remark on the result of an unproductive
benefit, ‘that it was a beggarly account of empty boxes.’