Monday, March 21, 2016

John P. McHarg's Will

Sometimes while researching things I come across a turn of phrase that just catches my eye. John P. McHarg signed his last will and testament on April 28, 1824 and it included this phrase:

I give and bequeath unto to my Daughter Judith the sum of fifty dollars to be paid to her by my wife or executors when she shall get married or become of age and chose to do for herself. 

Isn't it interesting that John P saw the possibility that his daughters (there is a similar line for daughter Charlotte) could do for themselves?  Marriage was not the only option. My 21st century eyes would like to read into that all sorts of independent woman scenarios.

Anyway, if you are curious, here's some more about the McHargs.

John P. McHarg's parents are Peter McHarg (1740-1817) and the daughter of Peter McKie* (1742-1784). They came over from Scotland in the 1770s eventually landing in Bethlehem where McHarg leased 223 acres from the Van Rensselaers.  The property was located on the south side of today's Feura Bush Road.

John P. (1770-1830) married Catherine Campbell (1781-1859) in 1802 and probably came into the property on Feura Bush Road at the death of John's father in 1817.  They had at least 9 children together (9 are mentioned in the will but another record says they had 11 children.)  John and Catherine farmed and most of their children were baptized in the First Reformed Church of Bethlehem.

After his death in 1830, the farm was divided between the couple's two sons Peter and John, roughly two 100 acre portions . You might recognize the historic homes that today define the east and west sides.

On the east, is this lovely place.

This was Peter's legacy - perhaps even the original homestead of the McHargs, at least the rear portion of the house which is said to date from the late 1700s. Peter traded with his brother-in-law Adam Holiday (husband of sister Judith) for Holiday's property in the town of New Scotland in 1839. Holiday sold to George A. Legget in 1845.  Peter, by-the-way, married Mary Ann Haswell in 1839.

This lovely marks the western portion of the land willed to John McHarg.

John (1810-1891) married Ann Van Allen (1813-1896) in 1834. They had 6 kids together.  John served as town supervisor in 1846 and 1847 and was a successful farmer and businessman.

I know that this property was part of the McHarg farm, however, the provenance of this particular building is a bit murky.   Even Allison Bennett's articles regarding these properties in her book More Times Remembered don't help.  More research is in order!

And finally, here's a map from 1866 with the McHarg and Legget property clearly noted.  The prominent east - west street is Feura Bush Road.  The straight road heading south is today's Wemple Road.

* Annoyingly, I haven't come across her first name yet.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Historic Tales of Bethlehem, New York on sale NOW

My new book Historic Tales of Bethlehem, New York comes out today.  So exciting!

The book collects many of my then and now articles from Our Towne Bethlehem as well as other writings I've done, including this blog.  I tend to write about what grabs my interest history-wise, everything from baseball and ice harvesting, old Victorian houses and old commercial buildings, rural vistas and suburban plots. Whatever piques my curiosity, I am usually looking for the people and try in some small way to tell their story centered in Bethlehem but touching on larger historic themes and events.   I hope readers will deepen their appreciation our history and those who have come before us.

Historic Tales of Bethlehem, New York, published by the History Press, is available for sale at the Town Clerk's office at Town Hall, I Love Books in Delmar, Tattered Pages in Glenmont, and many other retailers including online outlets.  And direct from the publisher of course! The price is $21.99.

All of my author royalties will be donated to the Bethlehem Historical Association.

And in case you are curious - the top photo on the cover is Studler's 1955 Tri-Village Little League team and the bottom is a view of Bridge Street in South Bethlehem (looking east.)

And don't forget, you can still buy this one too!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Updating Page 90 - Elizabeth Terrell and her son John Allan

This is a snapshot of page 90 of my book Bethlehem. (And yes, that is a shameless plug for my new book Historic Tales of Bethlehem, New York in the corner.)  I've been corresponding with a reader about page 90 and he pointed out something I never noticed.  And a factual error.

In the top picture there is a woman and a child posing on a bridge. In the bottom, a woman and a child are seated on a bench. What I never noticed is that these are almost certainly the same people. And I never made the connection!

So who are they?  They are Elizabeth Van Allen Terrell and her son John Allan Terrell.

Elizabeth Van Allen  was born in 1868 to John and Anna Van Allen who had a farm on Long Lane in Bethlehem (now part of the Sabic property.)  Elizabeth married Emmett Terrell about 1888 and they had two children together: John Allan born in 1891 and Marjorie born in 1907.  While census records indicate the family lived in Albany (at least in the 1900, 1910, and 1920 US census), Elizabeth's obituary published February 27, 1957 in the Times Union says she was a life-long resident of the town of Bethlehem.  The obituary notes she was born at Van Wies Point and was a charter member of the Dutch Settlers Society. She died at age 89 at her home on Delaware Avenue in Delmar which she shared with daughter Marjorie.

John Alan (or Allen or Allan - take your pick) Terrell graduated from RPI in 1913 with a degree in electrical engineering. Sometime after the 1920 census, it appears that he married a woman named Elizabeth, moved to New Jersey and continued with electrical engineering.

And I must end with that factual error.  Bethlehem Historical Association records indicate that both photos were taken in 1897, not 1887 which is what I put in the caption for the bridge photo.  Totally my mistake.

Both photos were taken on the Lansing property at Van Wies Point. My reader and I have a conundrum because the older man standing in the photo on the bottom is noted on the back of the original photo as being G. Y. Lansing and that is what I put in my caption.  Unhappily, it has been pointed out to me that G. Y. was born in 1868 - which would make him only 29 in 1897.  I don't think this is a 29 year old.

Many thanks to Armin Stelzer for his correspondence about these photos and lots of other Terrell and Van Allen family history.  It turns out he owns the house that Emmett Terrell was born in which is in Summit, Schoharie County.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

"his Wife" A Stained Glass Mystery

This inscription has bugged me for a while now.  It is found in my church: Delmar Reformed.  I admit sometimes my mind wanders during Sunday service and often lands on the stained glass windows.  Who are these people? And especially, who is “his Wife.”  

As part of DRC’s 175th anniversary (we started in 1841 as the East Branch of Unionville Reformed Church) I’ve been researching the folks whose names are inscribed on the windows.  During our celebratory weekend of April 9 and 10, we’ll unveil a commemorative booklet which will include a chapter I call “People of the Stained Glass Windows.”

In the mean time….

“His Wife” is Mary Ann Scrafford.  Mary Ann is the daughter of William Scrafford and Angelica Douglas.  She joined DRC in 1863.  Mary Ann married George C. Adams and they had five children: Nathaniel, William, Julia, Mary and Lillian.  She died March 7, 1911 at the age of 79. The window was given by her son-in-law, Samuel Nuttal, husband of daughter Julia.

Mary Ann’s husband, George C. Adams was born in 1829 and died in 1900.  He was the son of Nathaniel and Rhogenia Adams and a prominent member of the Adamsville/Delmar community.  Census records consistently list George as a farmer.  He owned large tracts of land in what we now think of as Old Delmar. Even today, a title search of property in the area of Adams Place and Adams Street will often show the land was part of George C. Adams’ estate.  Adams served as Bethlehem’s supervisor from 1867-1870.

 Here's the whole window, sideways - sorry.  It is one of 14 stained glass windows at Delmar Reformed Church that have names inscribed on them.