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History and genealogy from the Town Of Chemung 

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“Silent night, Holy night”. Christmas festivities in colonial America were in stark contrast to the celebrations and preparations of modern day. Christmas was celebrated by early settlers of Chemung and throughout the newly formed United States of America. New York was the 11th state to ratify the U.S. Constitution on July 26th, 1788, the same year the Town of Chemung was established. Although the celebrations would not have been as elaborate as those in the cities or of the wealthy, a modest celebration would have taken place. It has been noted in writings of how generous and extravagant George Washington was on Christmas to his family, guests and servants. The Christmas of 1788 found our Country without a President, it being run instead by the Confederation Congress.[ii] The election held for the First President of the United States of America actually ran from Monday, December 15, 1788, to Saturday, January 10, 1789. No doubt politics would have been a newsworthy item spoken around the dinner table. Whether or not the settlers in Chemung were given the opportunity to vote is not known.

Decorations would have been very simple by today’s standards. The German settlers most likely would have brought a small tree into their home. If they had the means to do so they might have adorned the tree with candles. New England Puritans preached against frivolity and the pagan heathen traditions of Christmas trees, Christmas carols and any joyful expression that desecrated “that sacred event.”[iii] Although there were hymns, Christmas Carols weren’t actually sung until the later part of the 19th century.

Fruit of any kind was too precious to be wasted on decorations. You would not have seen any apples or other fruit adorning the mantel. The home and church might have been adorned with what was called the "sticking of the Church" with green boughs on Christmas Eve. Garlands of holly, ivy, and mountain laurel were hung from the church roof, the walls, and perhaps the primitive church benches. Lavender, rose petals, and pungent herbs such as rosemary and bay were scattered throughout the churches, providing a pleasant holiday scent. Scented flowers and herbs were chosen partially because they were aromatic and thus were considered an alternative form of incense.[iv]

Anglicans, Roman Catholics, Lutherans, and Moravians celebrated the traditional Christmas season with both religious and secular observances in the Middle Atlantic colonies of New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, and in the South. However, the celebration of Christmas was outlawed in parts of New England by Calvinist Puritans and Protestants. [v]

By the 18th century, Santa Claus, St. Nicholas, Christkind or Kris Kringle might have made an appearance at Christmastime to leave a gift. Similar figures were a jolly elf named Jultomten, who was thought to deliver gifts in a sleigh drawn by goats and Father Christmas, Pere Noel, Babouschka and La Befana; depending on the nationality of the family home.[vi]

Although private celebrations would have been held in the confines of some of the first log cabins and frame homes in the town, it is possible that some of the families came together to celebrate with bible readings and prayers provided by family members. Little is known about the first church erected in the Town of Chemung. It sat on the bank of the Chemung River several miles from what is now “Chemung Proper” on the south side of the river. Travel to the church especially in the cold winter months would have been difficult. A ferry would have been needed to traverse the icy water in December. For those living on the south side of the river, their difficulties would have been to travel the rutted path with their families. At that early a time in the history of the town, there were few horses or oxen and little or no carts or wagons. Most settlers would have traveled by foot. It was here where “The beginning of Christian Organizations in Chemung and Neighboring Valleys” was organized. “The site of the first church of any denomination in Chemung Valley.” It was “organized September 2, 1789 by Roswell Goff, Pastor and William Buck, John Hillman, Peter Roberts, John Roberts, Jesse Locey, John VanCamp and Elizabeth Hillman. (All Baptists)”. (A monument, located ¼ mile from the site of the church can be seen today on the Wilawana Road, located approximately 2 miles east of Wellsburg at what is known today as the Tanner Farm.)

A small gathering met in worship, according to the early minutes of the Wellsburg Church. From this beginning, the Baptist Church grew, expanding to the building of a Meeting House in 1812 on land purchased by Abner Wells for 50 cents.[vii] The log cabin church and a cemetery were washed away in a flood. There are no remains today and no record of burials in the cemetery.

Traditions from various nationalities were brought with the early settlers from their homes in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Connecticut and other New England States and from their homes across the Atlantic. Many of the earliest settlers arrived between the years 1788 and 1791. Depending on when they began homesteading and growing crops, their harvest and winter supplies of food may have been lean for several years. If they had a roof over their head, a warm fireside and enough food to eat, along with the courage and fortitude to better their circumstances, they were wealthy in their own right. “All is Calm, All is Bright”. 

Merry Christmas to All,
Mary Ellen Kunst


Toboggan Ride


 Toboggan,  (taken from the Webster Merriam Dictionary)
     to·bog·gan  \ tə-ˈbä-gən \
     Definition of toboggan
     1 : a long flat-bottomed light sled made usually of thin boards curved up at one end with usually low  handrails at the sides
     2 : a downward course or a sharp decline

In our traditional trek to the ornament store with Christmas fast approaching, there, hanging on a display was a miniature toboggan. It even had a red padded seat like the one my family owned and treasured. I grabbed for the ornament and would not let it out of my grasp until we made our way to the check-out counter. My husband asked, “who is the toboggan for”? “Me”, I replied.
Once home, I removed the ornament from the bag and inspected it front and back. Next, I placed it on the Christmas tree in it’s rightful place. What fond memories I have of our old family toboggan; even though it had to be the single most dangerous sledding equipment of our era that could cause multiple casualties at one time.  The exception would be children riding an inverted car hood down a steep hillside.  Back then, it was pure fun. I have to wonder how many children will have the experiences that I did, on my family toboggan?

In the outskirts of my home town in northeast Pennsylvania you could travel in any direction to find a “hill” on which to play. It was more like a summit that we looked for and there were plenty all along the hills of the Endless Mountain Chain. We had a favorite place where the top of the hill wrapped around like an amphitheater and all downhill activity ended up in the same pocket of lower ground with a creek at the bottom. The creek was more like a little stream, the headwaters or beginnings of a creek. None-the-less, it was usually wet with snow melt. The friendly farmer always gave us permission to use the hill.

After bundling up at home for a day of wintry fun with our toboggan strapped to the roof of the old nine-seater station wagon, off we went. Usually with a caravan of 2 or 3 cars following us with friends and family.  We also would pack ski’s, sleds and metal snow discs. It was either a good day for sledding or for discs but usually not both. It seemingly was always a good day for toboggan’s, probably because of the sure weight. Ours was only a 4 or 5 seater. As kids we would envy the 6-seater model!

First run of the day would consist of deciding who would go on the maiden voyage. It was the responsibility of the person in the front to shout commands as they steered us to the bottom of the hill. If they said lean to the left, you had better do it. But it they shouted lean hard to the left, by gosh, your life depended on it! The people behind the front position were helpless and riding blind. Except for the end seat. The end person always had that unique opportunity to bale off before the bottom of the hill.

The way the seating worked was like this: The lead person got on and scrunched their legs under the curved front of the toboggan with legs crisscrossed.  If I recall correctly, you wanted someone who was lighter weight but experienced. The next two people sat directly behind in row. The second person wrapped their feet around the person in front of them. This was not an easy task with bulky snow clothes and boots. The next person wrapped their legs around the person in front of them and the same with the fourth and fifth person. It was the duty of each person to not only hang on to the ropes that ran along the sides of the toboggan but to use their arms to secure the legs of the person who were sitting behind them. All in all, it created a human chain of sorts.

Once all were positioned and ready, a push off and down you went! Sometimes the toboggan pushed the snow creating a white out or tunneling snow. All you could see would be a tube of snow surrounding everyone. If the snow was packed and firmer, the speed of the vessel was increased two-fold. Remember the creek like stream I mentioned earlier in the story? Well, the object of course was to miss it entirely. No one really wanted a creek at the bottom of a hill, but it’s rare to find a hill that doesn’t have a little stream at the bottom. It’s sort of a package deal.
On our toboggan run, we had three choices. Stop before the stream, end up in the stream, or on an incredibly good day, jump the stream! Which we actually did successfully several times. Once you jumped the creek, you had to find your way back across without getting too wet and you had a longer climb back to the top of the hill. Back in my toboggan days, we had a miniature poodle who had the heart of a Saint Bernard. Every time the toboggan ran, she was in hot pursuit behind it with her ears flying in the wind as she chased us.

One particular day, we all boarded the toboggan, ready for a run. It was a fast day on the slope and we were having a great time. Then it happened. The inevitable. Half way down the hill, someone in the middle of the chain let a boot slip. Not a problem you are thinking? The leg acting similar to a catapult, stuck into the snow which picked up the toboggan including everyone on board and threw us off. This was at speed, mind you. It is a memory I shall never forget as we were all tossed in the air in slow motion somersaulting down onto the snow. Then there was silence. Only a few muffled moans and groans and the family members at the top of the hill converged on the scene. A spectacular crash, even from the view of the hilltop. We survived to tell the tale. The person who catapulted the toboggan had a pretty sore leg, but it was a memory I will never forget. At least we lived to tell the tale! I can still picture in my mind, bodies sailing through the air.
A similar story was related to me by my husband who grew up in Michigan. His family was out tobogganing one afternoon on their deluxe 6-seater! They too had the obstacle avoidance of the creek at the bottom of the hill to contend with, but with one difference; a small walking bridge traversed the creek.  On this particular day, the toboggan was loaded with family which included Ron and his parents. Ron was all of 4 or 5 years old and was instructed to “hold on tight to the ropes and do not let go”. At some point on the journey down the slope the decision was made for everyone to bale out! All did but Ron. The little tike was still clenching the ropes and heading straight for the bridge with his parents in hot pursuit, yelling as they ran.  It’s very possible that day on the snow-covered slope, a guardian angel was there to help guide that toboggan as it safely crossed the bridge with not even the slightest exchange of paint on either one.
It’s amazing what wonderful memories a small Christmas ornament can make. Our toboggan ornament sits on our tree with at least 50 other ornaments and each one has a story to tell, but I doubt any as exciting or as fun as the toboggan.
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a New Year full of peace, prosperity and enjoyment, with at least a little excitement!! 


The set of articles in this story were located in The Elmira Telegram and The Star-Gazette, Elmira, N. Y.  If anyone is offended by this article due to proximity of location or relationship to those in this story, please contact me. I find the article very interesting. It not only tells the sad story of this family but also gives us a snapshot of a families life back in 1917 in the Town of Chemung.  - Mary Ellen

The stories were transcribed verbatim. Special Thanks to Mike Tuccinardi for uncovering this unusual piece of history of the town.


Elmira Star-Gazette   Wednesday January 10, 1917 

Murder in Second Degree Charge Against Bentley

Evident That District Attorney Is Convinced William Bentley Did Not Premeditate Slaying of John Albee – Victim Buried in Cayuta but Son Does Not Care to Attend.



Murder in the second degree will be the charge against William Bentley, the aged slayer of John Albee, so stated District Attorney Personius this noon.
“I am going to put all the facts before the grand jury,” continued the district attorney. “When the grand jury sits on January 22 I shall summon all the witnesses before them and after they have told their stories I shall leave the matter in the hands of the grand jurors.”
“The stories told by the witnesses conflict on a number of important points. After listening to each of the witnesses I cannot now say which story is correct.”
Coroner Hammond this afternoon said he would hold an inquest either Friday or Saturday.
Attorney Michael O’Connor representing William Bentley, today said he had no statement to issue regarding his client other than he issued yesterday when he said the public would get a different impression of the case when all the facts are known
David J. Albee did not express a desire to attend the funeral of his father, which was held this afternoon at the homestead in Cayuta. He remains in a witness cell in the county jail.
It is said that David Albee has been on two occasions in a hospital for the insane and received treatment. Those who have recently talked with the young man were impressed with the evidence that his mind is not as clear as it might be.
District Attorney Personius, his assistant Attorney Leo Waxman, Sheriff Hoke and a stenographer were present this morning about two hours while Mrs. William Bentley related her version of the affair in detail. The statement made by Mrs. Bentley was recorded by the stenographer and later will be transcribed. As soon as Mrs. Bentley left the district attorney’s office she was interviewed by Attorney Michael O’Connor representing the defendant.
It was learned today that the bruises on the right side of David J. Albee’s face were not caused by the encounter with William Bentley on the night of the slaying, but were inflicted on Saturday afternoon. It was while William Bentley and David Albee were driving home from Springs Corners, Pa., where they obtained liquor, that Bentley struck his horse a blow with his whip, the horse darted forward and David fell from the wagon, injuring his face.
Information also comes in a round- about way that William Bentley is claimed to have warned Albee to halt before the shot was fired. This is a matter which probably will be brought out at the coroner’s inquest.
William Bentley has told his version of the case for the last time, until he is called to the witness stand in his own behalf. Attorney O’Connor after talking with Bentley yesterday advised the prisoner not to discuss the case with anyone. The man has told his story to the district attorney and to his lawyer. Mr. O’Connor does not wish him to discuss it with anyone else.
The fact that District Attorney Personius will place only a charge of murder in the second degree against the prisoner shows that the authorities are satisfied that there was no premeditation before the shot was fired.
Attorney O’Connor today was unable to say whether he would be able to offer bail when Bentley is arraigned before Judge Swartwood.
Elmira Star-Gazette Thursday January 25, 1917

William Bentley Is Given Liberty 
Walks From Jail a Free Man Today
No Indictment For Killing Albee

Chemung Man Weeps When He Hears of His Release –
Says He Had No Reason to Kill His Old Friend and
Blames the Victim’s Son for What Happened –
Intends to Leave Whiskey Alone – Hopes to Save His Home
William Bentley, of Chemung, walked from the county jail shortly after 1:30 o’clock this afternoon a free man. The grand jury which considered his case reported at 10:30 o’clock this morning to Justice Kiley in Supreme court that they had found no indictment against the man who killed John Albee, of Cayuta, two weeks ago last Sunday morning. Thus did William Bentley satisfy the grand jurors that the shooting was an accident.

Shortly after the grand jury reported, Bentley was visited in his cell in the county jail. When informed that he would shortly be a free man the tears flowed from Bentley’s eyes and for a few minutes he sat weeping on the edge of the steel bunk he has occupied for nineteen nights and days. 
Recovering himself he arose and said, “I had no reason to kill John Albee. We had always been close friends and if there was any way to bring him back to life I would be only too glad even to give my own life for him. When it was said that I stood and waited for him to come down the stairs and then shot him it was a lie. It was that woman, that Mrs. John Albee, that was the cause of all the trouble. She has been to my home several times and made trouble. When I was living in Lockwood she came to my house to see her mother, who is my wife, got drunk and had trouble with a man named Miller. Some time ago she left her home in Cayuta and said she was going to Binghamton to see her daughter, who was sick, but she came to my house at Chemung, went over to the hotel and got drunk and the hotel keeper brought her to my house along in the night.”
“She wants to get my home from me in Chemung which was deeded to me by Aunt Martha Rorick. That’s what the trouble was about that night. She has fixed it up with the Crispins to get hold of the place and sell it to them, for Crispin wants to buy it. I took Aunt Martha to keep for the place and she deeded it to me if I would keep her. She has been sick since I took her and I have had to pay doctor bills and in lifting her I got a bad hernia so that I now am not able to lift hardly anything. The night of the trouble she wanted me to let her take Aunt Martha and keep her and have the home where I live. She did not want to pay me anything for keeping Aunt Martha for two years and I have gone on and improved the place, hauled stone to lay a foundation and improve the house and I have set out fruit trees and done a lot of work about that place. She is the one who is responsible for all this trouble and she goes free.”
“Since I have been here in jail I have had other trouble. I had a fine horse that I was offered, $65 for just before I was brought here. The other night the man who was taking care of it for me tied it too long and it cast itself and lay there all night in the stall and a part of the next day. When the horse was found down it was so bruised and injured that it was sold for $10. Now they are trying to take my home from me, but I guess they can’t do that.”
“I don’t blame that David Albee for anything. He is not just right. On that night when I went to the top of the stairs before the shooting he jumped from bed and I guess he would have punched out one of my eyes, if his father, John, had not got out of bed and stopped him. John pulled David off me. They said I was not upstairs, but they found my hat up there after it was all over. The district attorney found it and that proved that I was upstairs. Some of the others said I was not up there. If John Albee had come down stairs first there would have been no shooting, for he would have kept David off me, but David grabbed me and pulled my coat over my head. That’s the reason I did not see John or know the shot had struck him when the gun went off.  John would have stopped that fight if he had been down stairs before David. Let me tell you, David is responsible for his own condition now, so I don’t blame him.”
“What about leaving whiskey alone, now that you are out of this trouble?” was asked Bentley.
“I said that if I get out of this trouble whiskey will never bother me again. This has been enough.”
Attorney Michael O’Connor, representing Bentley, was pleased when the grand jury reported no indictment against his client. “I was satisfied that when all the facts were told Mr. Bentley would be freed,” said Mr. O’Connor. “From the very first I was convinced that the unfortunate shooting was accidental.”
Mr. Bentley this afternoon started for his home in Chemung to join his wife.  He intends to pay for keeping Mrs. Rorick during the time he has been in jail. Bentley will live at his Chemung home for a time at least.
At no time has any formal charge been placed against Bentley who is now in his sixty-third year. Brought to this city from Chemung by Sheriff Hoke within a few hours after the shooting he has been held in the county jail on an open charge.


The set of articles in this story were located in The Elmira Telegram and The Star-Gazette, Elmira, N. Y.  If anyone is offended by this article due to proximity of location or relationship to those in this story, please contact me. I find the article very interesting. It not only tells the sad story of this family but also gives us a snapshot of a families life back in 1917 in the Town of Chemung.  - Mary Ellen

The stories were transcribed verbatim. Special Thanks to Mike Tuccinardi for uncovering this unusual piece of history of the town.


Elmira Star-Gazette   Monday  January 8, 1917
 Murder is Outcome of Drunken Night Brawl;
Hold William Bentley For Slaying John Albee

Cayuta Man Is Visiting in Chemung Village – Large quantity of Whiskey Is Imbibed – Heated Words Ensue Just After Midnight Sunday Morning and Charge of Shot Is Fired That Almost Instantly Kills John Albee – William Bentley of Chemung in County Jail Charged with Homicide.


John Albee, aged 55, of Cayuta, N.Y., was murdered Sunday at 12:15 a.m. at Chemung where he was visiting. William Bentley, aged 65, for many years a resident of Chemung is now held in the county jail under a charge of murder.

It is alleged that Bentley was intoxicated and became enraged because a bottle of whiskey had been taken from him and hidden where he could not find it.
Mrs. William Bentley witnessed the shooting. David Albee, son of the murdered man, had a struggle with Bentley following the shooting and it is alleged Bentley hit him on the head with the barrel of the shotgun.
Albee was unconscious for a time. He suffered a long deep gash in the head which was later closed by Dr. C.S. Geer, of Chemung. 18 stitches being taken. Albee is now in the hospital ward of the county jail.
Mr. and Mrs. John Albee and their son David, aged twenty-three, resided in Cayuta. Saturday the three members of this family went to Chemung to visit at the home of Mrs. Albee’s mother, Mrs. William Bentley. Mrs. Bentley was married before she married Bentley and Mrs. Albee was a daughter by that marriage.


It is said that William Bentley has been a hard drinker for many years. Chemung is now a “dry” town it was common for him to go to some of the northern Pennsylvania towns for liquor. Members of the family say that Saturday afternoon William Bentley and David Albee drove to Springs Corners, Pa. where they procured liquor and it is said that they brought some of it home in bottles. John Albee stayed at the Bentley home while his son and Bentley went to Springs Corners.
With the Bentley family lives “Aunt Martha” Rorick, an aged woman, who owns the house in which the Bentleys live. Shortly after supper she retired.
John Albee and his son, David, retired first, on Saturday night going to a room on the second floor of the home. William Bentley remained on the first floor talking to his wife and Mrs. Albee. Bentley had noticed the missing bottle of whiskey and he demanded of Mrs. Albee where it was hidden. She refused to tell him and the argument followed. Bentley ordered the woman from the house and finally put her out of doors. She returned only to be expelled again. The woman went to the Robert Crispin home nearby and engaged accommodations for the night. She returned to the Bentley home and asked Bentley to let her in to get her clothing. This Bentley refused to do until the woman pushed against the door until a window was broken. He opened the door and she was allowed to enter the house and get her clothing. Just before going out of the house she caller her husband and told him of Bentley’s actions. She then went to Crispin’s.


Albee then arose and hurried down the stairs and as he opened the door to the room he was met with a charge of shot from a shotgun said to have been held by William Bentley. The shot entered in the left side of the abdomen. Death probably came instantly.
David Albee, hearing the shot, hurried down the stairs, stepped over the body of his father and faced Bentley who held the gun in his hands. Young Albee grappled with Bentley, when the latter raised the shotgun and struck him a stunning blow on the head. Before Albee recovered from the blow Bentley ran from the house.




A short time later Bentley was caught by Ray Decker and taken to the home of Deputy Sheriff William L. Gregg. It is said that Bentley admitted the shooting. Deputy Gregg at once notified Sheriff Hoke, who with Chief Deputy Knapp and Deputy Kimball hurried to the scene. District Attorney E.W. Personius with Leo Waxman left this city at once for the scene of the murder. Policemen Geisa and Stiles, of the police department, were detailed to go at once to Chemung as it was not known but that their assistance might be needed.
Coroner Hammond hurried to Chemung from his home at Elmira Heights, viewed the body and ordered it removed to the morgue. Dr. C.S. Geer, of Chemung, and Dr. A.W. Booth, of this city were called upon by Coroner Hammond and performed an autopsy under direction of the coroner. All witnesses who knew anything of the trouble were questioned by the authorities. Photographs of the scene were taken by direction of the district attorney.


Apparently there was no motive for the crime, other than William Bentley had been drinking and his anger had been aroused by the argument with Mrs John Albee. It is said that Bentley has an ugly disposition. When he was taken to the county jail by Deputy Sheriff Knapp he was asked if he had ever been convicted before. He replied: “I was arrested once for fighting.” He was not pressed further at that time as to his former convictions.
William Bentley was born in the town of Van Etten. He has resided in this county all his life. He has one half-brother in this city, Jay B. Brink of 738 Hopkins Street.
When Bentley was seen at the county jail this morning by a Star-Gazette reporter, he appeared only slightly nervous. He paced back and forth in his cell, which is the last one in the tier on “murderer’s row,” on the second floor of the county jail. The large steel grated door to his cell is doubly locked, the usual lock being used and a heavy log chain being wrapped about the door and the steel door jam and fastened with a huge brass lock.
“I am no hardened criminal,” he said. “I have lived in this county all my life, but I have a daughter and a son living out of this county who think I live in Ithaca. I do not want them to hear of this. If I am convicted I suppose they will know about it, but until then I don’t want them to know I am in this trouble.”
“I’ll tell you, that young David Albee is not to blame for any of this. He’s all right. It’s that woman---that Mrs. Albee—who is to blame for all of it. She got me madder than anything.”


The hands of the man trembled as he tried to straighten out his brown hair, just tinged with gray, before the photograph was taken of him. “I have not had time to comb my hair since Saturday, I suppose it looks like sin,” he remarked as the photographer was getting ready to take the picture. 
“You don’t suppose that everyone will hear of this, do you?” he asked as tears flowed from his eyes.
District Attorney Personius had requested the reporter not to question the man as to the incidents leading up to or concerning the murder, so the request was granted.


It was a gruesome sight, which met the eyes of neighbors as they rushed into the Bentley home about 12:30 o’clock Sunday morning. The alarm after the killing was given by two persons, Mrs. John Albee and William Bentley. Just after Bentley had struck David Albee over the head several times with the barrel of the shotgun, having first pointed the gun at the young man and pulled the trigger, so it is claimed, the alleged murderer rushed from the house into the street. He ran to the house just west and on the same side of the street as the Bentley house, pounded on the front porch with the empty and bent gun and receiving no response rushed across the highway to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Ray Decker. Mrs. Decker was the first to hear the noise on the front porch.
“Who is there and what do you want?” she shouted.
“There’s been a shooting down to my house, come down,” was the reply of Bentley.
At that Mr. Decker said, “Bentley, you are drunk; there has been no shooting, go on home.”
“I tell you there has been a shooting, come out at once,” Bentley shouted.


Mr. Decker at once went out and found Bentley with the blood-smeared shotgun in his hands. Mr. Decker took charge of the gun and with Bentley walked back towards the Bentley home, which was but a few rods distant.
Arriving at the home they found that Mrs. John Albee had gone to the home of Robert Crispen and given the alarm. She left the Bentley yard immediately after the shot was fired. Deputy Sheriff William L. Gregg had been aroused, in fact the Crispin and Gregg families had heard the shot. They were at the Bentley home. Sheriff Hoke and the authorities were at once notified.
The Bentley home is situate about one-quarter of a mile east of the John I. Ford general store in Chemung, on the main highway to Waverly. The E.C.& W. Railway cars pass the door. The house is on the north side of the street. The door to the living room opens from the front porch. The living room is rectangular in shape, the long way extending east and west. Nearly directly opposite the front door is the door which opens from the bottom of the stairway leading to the second floor. There are two windows in the room looking out towards the highway and one window opening east. On the north side of the room, not far from the east side, sat a common trunk. The heating stove is near the east wall of the room. On the south side of the room was a couch. Opening to the north and near the east wall of the room is a door which leads into the bedroom occupied by Mrs. Martha Rorick, an aunt of William Bentley. Mrs. Rorick, aged about eighty-five years, was a sister of the mother of William Bentley, who died about five years ago. It was ascertained late today that William Bentley owned the little home, it having been deeded to him by Mrs. Rorick, on condition that he support her during her lifetime.


When the neighbors and county officials entered the room they found the body of John Albee lying at the door which opens from the stairway. His head was towards the west, his feet pointing towards the east. A large pool of blood was upon the carpet.
Piecing together the story of the shooting from fragments of information gained from various members of the party little of additional information other than contained in the first part of this story is found. It appears that when the Albee family arrived at the Bentley home Saturday forenoon, having traveled from Cayuta by railroad to Sayre, Pa., from there to Waverly by trolley and to Chemung on an E.C. & W. car, William Bentley decided it best to celebrate the occasion. To his mind the proper way to celebrate was to procure liquor. There was about half a barrel of hard cider in the Bentley home, but after partaking of much of it the decision was reached that some other “refreshment” was wanted.


John Albee declined to go on the trip to Springs Corners, Pa., which is just over the state line in Pennsylvania, near Sayre, Pa., so William Bentley and David Albee made the trip. At a café the men purchased some drinks and took with them two quarts of whiskey. After getting into the wagon they decided that more whiskey was needed, so they returned to the café and bought another quart and a pint, making three quarts and a pint. They returned to the Bentley home. Whether all partook of the whiskey or not is not yet clear, but at any rate after the shooting only a quart of the liquor was found in the home. Drs. Booth and Geer, who performed the autopsy on the body of John Albee, said they endeavored to ascertain by pressing on the chest and forcing air from the lungs, and smelling at the mouth and nose, whether or not Albee had been drinking. They could not detect the odor of alcohol. While this is not positive confirmation that the man had not been drinking, it was an indication that he had not partaken of a great quantity of the liquor.
Shortly after John Albee and his son, David, had retired to a room on the second floor, a discussion arose between Bentley and Mrs. John Albee regarding a bottle of whiskey which had been hidden by the woman. The discussion waxed warm, and after Mrs. Albee had been ejected from the home and had made arrangements to sleep for the rest of the night at the Robert Crispin home, which is the first house east and on the same side of the highway, she returned to get some of her clothing. Bentley had locked the door and when the woman demanded admittance he refused to open the door. The woman then found a paving brick which was lying in the front yard and pounded on the front door. When Bentley still refused to open the door she is said to have thrown the brick through a window. Bentley then opened the door, she entered, procured her clothes and went out.
She then desired to enter the house again, but Bentley refused to open the door. Shoving her head through the opening made by the broken glass of a front window she shouted to her husband, “John, ‘Bill’ won’t let me in. He’s shut me out.”


Albee arose and started down stairs. The man had retired after removing his outside trousers. He still wore a pair of gray trousers, socks, shirt, collar, tie, stick pin and underclothes. Albee walked down the stairs and opened the door directly at the foot of the stairs into the living room. Whether words passed between Albee and Bentley is not now known. Witnesses will state when the proper times comes. However, it is claimed that Mr. Bentley took from the northeast corner of the living room his double barrel, hammerless, twelve gauge shotgun. The gun is of Ithaca make and had been used a number of years by Mr. Bentley who frequently hunted small game in the vicinity of Chemung. It is not known whether words passed between the men after Bentley picked up the gun.
It would take but a fraction of a second to push the little safety catch device on the top of the stock of the gun. From the size and direction of the wound in Albee’s body, it is thought that Bentley did not raise the gun to his shoulder, but fired “from the hip,” as is done by some expert shots. From the shape of the wound in the left side of Albee, just above the hip bone, it is thought that both barrels of the gun were discharged at the same time. Neighbors say they heard only one report. This would have been true if both barrels had been discharged at the same time. When the gun was taken from Bentley by Ray Decker there were two empty shells in the barrels. Some who examined the gun said they thought both shells had recently been discharged.
The physicians who performed the autopsy found that the charge of shot had passed from the left side through the abdominal cavity, tearing the intestines, cutting many large arteries and had lodged in the bone and muscles of the right side. The wound was sufficient to cause instant death. Many shots were found. They are known as No. 6 size. These have been preserved along with wads found. There were no powder marks on the clothing or body. It is thought that the muzzle of the gun was about five or six feet from Albee when the shot was fired. The opening made in the clothing and flesh was oval in shape. Had only one cartridge been discharged, the hole would have been nearly round.


When David Albee heard the shot he at once leaped to his feet and hurried down stairs. Entering the room he was shocked to find the dead body of his father upon the floor. It is said that Bentley pointed the gun at young Albee, but it was not loaded. Albee started to grasp Bentley and the latter swung his shotgun, using is as a club, and hit David Albee on the head. The force of that blow can, in a measure, be estimated for the steel barrels are bent so that the gun is now useless for the purpose for which it was made. That portion of the wood stock under the barrels, which is easily removed, came off during the trouble. It was later found by Deputy Sheriff Knapp and replaced on the gun.
District Attorney Personius is making a most thorough investigation of the affair. From all he is able to ascertain there is no motive behind the shooting, other than the condition that arose that night in the Bentley home. The Albees have been frequent visitors at the Bentley home and, as far as can be learned, there has never been trouble between the families before. There does not seem to be any old feud or anything which might have led up to the tragedy. When asked if Bentley had confessed to the killing, the district attorney said: “He does not deny the shooting.”
The body of John Albee was claimed by his wife and brother at the morgue this forenoon. Coroner Hammond issued a death certificate and the body was taken in charge by Undertaker R.D. Horton of Odessa. The body will be removed to the Albee home in Cayuta where the funeral will be held Wednesday afternoon.
At noon today Mrs. William Bentley was called before District Attorney Personius where she told in detail of the life of her husband from the time she first knew him down to the present. Assistant District Attorney Waxman and Sheriff Hoke were present during the interview.
Coroner Hammond said this afternoon he would hold an inquest in the near future. As yet he has not set a date, for he desires to let the district attorney and sheriff have full sway for the present in the examination of witnesses, etc.





Putnam Hill in Chemung, better known as Putt Hill, sits at an imposing elevation of 1700 feet. Located in the north east corner of the town, it is part of the Allegheny Plateau Region of the vast Appalachian Mountain Range, well known for its hard wood forests, ridges, hills, valleys, streams and haunting folklore.
The raw beauty of the land is equally matched by the wild elements of nature. Those who inhabit this area face hardships and challenges when winter casts a spell over the mountain; turning it frozen and barren. The reward in spring and summer is the lush green foliage that reaches up to the blue sky and white clouds. However, in autumn the artist’s palette of reds and yellows that over come the hills soon turn to warm golden brown; and the fall sky turns to gray. Daylight grows short. The air is crisp. The forest floor is covered in the rustling of fallen leaves and the stirrings in the woods are amplified, with shadows darting from the corner of the eye. It’s the autumn equinox, when hauntings are prevalent in the minds of many. Were there spirits in the forest at night haunting those who entered or were they folklore tails of long ago?
Thomas Putnam a brave pioneer settler to the mountain was born August 12, 1789 in Charlestown, New Hampshire to Thomas and Polly (Young) Putnam. Lucy Bowman Morse and Thomas were married in Vermont in the year 1813. Lucy was born in Concord, Vermont on March 10, 1792. Thomas, a veteran of the War of 1812 was well aware of life in the mountains, learning as a young child the privations of the forest. He and Lucy came to Chemung with their three children between the years of 1830 and 1840. Little is known of their two children Eleanor and Charles. That is not the case for George Washington Putnam who lived next door to his parents in the 1840 census with his young bride. George W. Putnam and Eleanor Jackson were wed November 14, 1839 in Chemung, NY by the Rev. J. Piersall. Eleven children would be blessed to their household: Dean, Mahala, Wilson, Martha, Lucy, Freelove, Jahiel, Hattie, Mary Elizabeth, Clarissa (Clara), Frances (Frankie); a household of thirteen.
It was sometime between 1840 and 1850 that George Washington Putnam changed his name, becoming George Putnam West. His children and wife all carry the name of West as evidenced by their sacred family bible. The family bible also lists George’s parents as Thomas and Lucy (Bowman) Putnam. So why would a young man with a large family change his name to West, yet keeping his family name as a middle name so as not to lose his identity? The home of G.P. West is notated on Putnam Hill in the 1869 map of the Town of Chemung. The land was farmed for many years by the Putnam family in the wilds of the mountain. It was here, the family faced strife and joys.
Nonetheless a secret was buried deep within the roots of this family. Thomas Putnam carried his namesake throughout his life: a name that passed back through time to England in the 15th century. But it was Thomas’s second great grandfather who defiled their name in Salem Village in the year 1692.  


   The Salem Witch Trials were well known for their accusations, trials, and executions. During the course of the year in 1692 more than a dozen persons claimed to be afflicted by spells of black magic and sorcery, allegedly cast by men and women who had enlisted the supernatural powers of the devil. The outbreak of witchcraft hysteria took place in Salem Village. In harsh reality, the Salem witch craze was largely fueled by personal differences between two families; the Putnams and the Porters.

As the story goes, Thomas Putnam Jr. was known as a significant accuser in the 1692 witch trials. Earlier in life he was excluded from major inheritances by both his father and father-in-law and became a bitter and jealous man. Putnam, his wife and one of his daughters, Ann Putnam, Jr. all levied accusations of witchcraft; many of them against extended members of the Porter family, and testified at the trials.

An interfamily rivalry began in 1672 when a dam and sawmill run by the Porters flooded the Putnam farms, resulting in a lawsuit. A few years later the Putnam’s petitioned the town in an effort to obtain political independence for the village, and the Porters opposed them. The arrival of Reverend Samuel Parris in 1689 intensified the Putnam-Porter conflict.

Twenty-six villagers, who included eleven Putnams, voted to give Parris a parsonage, a barn, and two acres of land. Some villagers claimed these gifts were too generous. In October 1691 a faction of Parris-Putnam supporters were ousted from the village committee and replaced by individuals who were openly hostile to the reverend; including members of the Porter family and Joseph Hutchinson, one of the sawmill operators responsible for flooding the Putnam’s farms and Francis Nurse, a village farmer who had been involved in a bitter boundary dispute with Nathaniel Putnam. The new committee quickly voted down a tax levy that would have raised revenue to pay the salary of Reverend Parris.

It is no coincidence that the witchcraft afflictions and accusations originated in the Parris household. In February 1692 the reverend returned home from his congregation one evening to discover his nine-year-old daughter, Elizabeth Parris, her 11-year-old cousin, Abigail Williams, and their 12-year-old friend, Ann Putnam, the daughter of Thomas and Ann Putnam, Sr. gathered around the kitchen table with the Parris family slave, Tituba, who was helping the girls experiment in fortune telling. Realizing that they had been caught attempting to conjure up evil spirits, the girls soon became afflicted by strange fits that temporarily deprived them of their ability to hear, speak, and see. During these episodes of sensory deprivation, the girls suffered from violent convulsions that twisted their bodies into what observers called impossible positions. When the girls regained control of their senses, they complained of being bitten, pinched, kicked, and tormented by apparitions that would visit them in the night. These ghostly visions, the afflicted girls said, pricked their necks and backs and contorted their arms and legs like pretzels. Witnesses reported seeing the girls extend their tongues to extraordinary lengths. After examining the afflicted girls, Dr. William Griggs, the village physician, pronounced them under an evil hand.

Nearly 200 people were accused of practicing witchcraft in Salem during the summer of 1692. Twenty accused witches were executed, fifteen women and five men. Nineteen were hanged following conviction and one was pressed to death for refusing to enter a plea. Four prisoners, three women and a man, died in jail. The trials began in June and continued for four months; the final executions taking place on September 22.

Ann Putnam, Jr. played a crucial role in the witchcraft trials of 1692. In her socially prominent family, her mother was also afflicted and her father and many other Putnam’s gave testimony against the accused during the trials. When attempting to make a judgment on Ann, perhaps we should remember that she was very young and impressionable and thus easily influenced by her parents and other adults. Fourteen years later she admitted that she had lied, deluded by the Devil.
Historians claim to have identified a pattern of accusations that strongly suggests the afflicted girls singled out social deviants, outcasts, outsiders, merchants, tradesman, and others who threatened traditional Puritan values and or threatened the Parris and Putnam families, by claiming the spirits of the accused visited them at night and tormented them.
Was it the multitude of chains created by the family over 100 years ago that pulled at Thomas’s feet as he plowed his fields? Was it with a heavy heart that he lived his life? Perhaps, this is the reason his son George broke the chains and scars, freeing his family of the dark shroud of guilt and humiliation cast upon them. The name Putnam forever remains in the wilds of the mountain, where the darkness of the forest hides the whispering of the winds.


Disclaimer: Several on-line genealogy sites were used in researching the Putnam family. Without verifying the on line trees, there is a posibility of an error in the family tree, depicted in this story. For more information on the Putnam family: http://historicalechoes.weebly.com/thomas-putnam--west-family.html


Mary Ellen Kunst is the historian for the Town Of Chemung. To see more information, visit her site, https://historicalechoes.weebly.com


Along the southern line of the Town of Chemung, nestled on the west bank of the  Chemung River sat a log cabin for many years. To the south - south/west of the cabin ran the Waverly to Wellsburg Road, know today as Wilawana Road. 

The property owners today, speak of a cabin that once sat below their current home, and was destroyed during the 1972 flood. It had been renovated in the early to mid 20th century. Looking back at old maps I located the site on the 1853 map with the name N. McDuffee notated on the map as the property in question. The property originally belonging to one George Williamson who held the 1788 land patent.

Having been raised in the Sayre/Athens area the McDuffee Family name was well known to me and well seated in the history of Athens, PA. Even though the Chemung property borders Athens Township, PA, it seemed a little far for a McDuffee to settle, so it piqued my interest. The story I was able to put together was quite interesting as the Yankee-Pennamite Wars is another one of my interests, and seemed woven through this story. If nothing else it makes for enjoyable afternoon reading.

Records from the McDuffee family tell of their ancestor Henry McDuffee who traveled with Arthur Erwin to America before the Revolutionary War to locate several tracts of land in Bradford Co. PA. When the war broke out, McDuffee retreated to Ireland. Near the end of the War, Henry’s son Daniel came to America to act as an agent for Colonel Erwin, as he became known. Daniel born in 1752 to Scottish parents, resided in Antrim County, Northern Ireland, married to an Irish woman, Dorothy “Dolly” Ladley, they came to America with three children born in Ireland: Mary, Neil (Neal) & Anna. They had a large family of twelve children with the remainder born in America: Daniel, Hugh, Dorothy, Ferdinand, John, Joseph, Samuel, Rebecca, Charles.

Before I go on to explain the Chemung McDuffee property, I would like to take a side trip to a very interesting story of early times in our area; that of Neal McDuffee’s Father, Daniel and his good friend, Arthur Erwin.

In excerpts taken from A History of Old Tioga Point and Early Athens, written by Louise Welles Murray, 1908, she depicts the struggle of the times with property border and land disputes. 

For those of you who are not aware of the Yankee - Pennamite Wars, there were actually two, as if  one wasn’t bad enough. Basically the Dutch claimed the land between New Netherland and the English  colony of Virginia. King Charles the II rejected all the Dutch claims and granted the land to Connecticut. Charles the II also included the same land in a grant to William Penn. Both colonies purchased the same land by treaties with the Indians. Finally the controversy ended in 1799, with the Wyoming Valley becoming part of Pennsylvania and the Yankee settlers becoming Pennsylvanians with legal claims to their land.

( As a side note: Today, 3 wars were recognized in the Yankee Pennamite Struggle, ranging from 1769 to 1799. - MaryEllen )

She writes: "The handful of settlers had another source of contention. The uncertainty as to the actual State Line rendered possible the claims of certain squatters who insisted they were in New York. While Lockhart or his representatives do not seem to have been on the ground, Colonel Erwin, who had drawn a number of the Pennsylvania warrants, was."

Arthur Erwin, a native of Crumlin, County of Antrim, Northern Ireland sailed to America with his wife and five children. His wife died on the voyage. He later married again. He became one of the keenest land buyers in the country and was proprietor of a large tract along the Delaware. He made settlement in Bucks County, PA and in published writings of his descendants: Charles H. Erwin of Painted Post and Arthur Erwin Cooper of Cooper’s Plains, the town was named for him, Erwina. He served during the Revolution in the patriot army and for his valor was made Colonel of a Bucks County Regiment. He was cruelly murdered at Tioga Point, June 9, 1791.

He made a choice of lands between the rivers above the Indian Arrow, also west of the Chemung, in 1785, and soon after he added lands in New York State. Possessed of ample means and having a large family (ten children) he was evidently resolved to provide them with a goodley heritage. Unquestionably he went over the line seeking to avoid the Connecticut controversy. Erwin made a settlement at Tioga Point in 1788, and brought his agent and probably purchaser, his old friend Daniel McDuffee, who followed him from Ireland and living near him in Bucks County. They were at once and continually harassed by both squatters and Connecticut claimants and Erwin began to consider buying land in the Phelps and Gorham purchase. (East of the Genesee River in Western New York)

It is told by the descendants that Erwin and McDuffee were such firm friends that it was agreed between them that McDuffee should have as much land as he wanted at cost price, as he had less to invest than Erwin: but that at the time of Erwin’s assassination no choice had been made, although the McDuffees had been there two of three years and had built a timber house about on location of Frank Herrick House (near the Chemung River). Daniel McDuffee had resolved to take up land at Painted Post, but after Col. Erwin’s murder his sons, on account of the evident feeling against their family, urged him to remain at Athens and buy the Erwin lands there, offering even better terms than their father had. Naturally, he embraced their offer. Daniel was a noted weaver with a coat of silk and linen at one time displayed in the Tioga Point Museum. It will be seen that this family settled here apparently just as early as the Connecticut people and we think no other family of a pioneer lives today on the land originally possessed.

The story of Col. Erwin’s purchase is as follows: In 1789 he started for Canandaigua with a drove of cattle, presumably from his Tioga Point settlement. Stopping at Painted Post to rest his drove, he hired an Indian familiar with the locality to take him him up the mountain north of Painted Post. Here he had a view of the triple valleys of the Chemung, Conhocton and Tioga, with which he was so impressed that he came down and ascended the mountain on the other side, thus commanding a wide prospect. He then quickly returned to the log hut of the surveyors of Phelps and Gorham; and directing his drovers to follow, hurried under the Indian’s guidance to Canandaigua. Though late in the afternoon, he went at once to the office of Phelps and Gorham, made an offer for the tract (later known as town of Erwin), asking them to take in payment his cattle at their own price and promising the rest to be paid in gold. The bargain was closed in the morning. His historian says: “Within twenty-four hours after the deed was signed, Judge Eleazar Lindley arrived with an offer for the same land.” The reason for Col. Erwin’s haste was no doubt because he knew that Col. Lindley was on his way to make this very purchase.

Unquestionably, Erwin told a good story on his return, as the very next year, 1790, three of the original proprietors of Athens joined with him in the purchase called “Old Canistear Castle,” now known as the towns of Hornellsville and Canisteo; which statement is corroborrated by deeds and records showing that these men made transfers of their Athens property this year. This not only proves that the pioneer settlers at Tioga Point were uneasy about their Connecticut titles, but that they were in friendly relations with Erwin and that his assassin may have been one of the so-called New York squatters. Yet, it must be admitted that Col. Erwin had troubles as a Pennsylvania claimant. We have taken pains to study out this matter for various reasons. Erwin has been called a surveyor, (which he was not), many of whom suffered at the hands of the “Wild Yankees. He has also been confounded with James Irwin, who had no connection with him. The McDuffees were living here as early as 1788; whether in the home built on almost the same spot as the Curran Herrick house, still standing, northwest of town; or in a log house owned by Col. Erwin (which according to the daughter of Matthias Hollenback, and Major A. Snell, stood on the west side of the Chemung River, about twenty feet from the present road below the old McDuffee house now owned by Elsbree family), we will not assert. Nor is it important to decide whether it was in the day or evening, through door or window, that he was shot. In 1791 he brought two of his sons, Samuel and Francis, up the river to settle on the Phelps and Gorham tract and superintend his business interests there. His biographer says:

“On his return he stopped at the house of Daniel McDuffee one of his tenants near Tioga Point, and as he sat in the evening listening to Mr. McDuffee’s flute a shot was heard, he suddenly arose, and staggering towards the open door said “I am shot,” and then fell. (A side note tells the story that Erwin was listening to Mr. McDuffee’s flute; that Mrs McDuffee sat in the doorway sewing; dropped her thimble and as she stooped to pick it up the shot went over her head.) He lived but a few hours. Suspicion immediately attached to an ejected squatter by the name of Thomas, who the same night stole a horse (or, as was strongly suspected at the time, he had been supplied with one) and was never after heard from. Judge Avery in his address before the Pioneer Association at Athens in 1854 in alluding to this sad but dastardly murder said ‘About that time there was some difficulty regarding the State Line, or of the Pennsylvania and Connecticut charterists; the squatters claiming that these lands were within the State of New York or came within the Connecticut chart, threatened to shoot the first person who should purchase or settle on them, they claiming title by occupation. Col. Erwin was the first and only victim and the prompt investigation of this murder either frightened them away or forced the cowardly villains into lawful obedience.’ The late Judge Avery was of more than ordinary legal attainments and though his statements were entirely new to us, we are not inclined to contradict them.”


Neal McDuffee Log Cabin, located in Chemung, New York can be seen on the right of this photo, along the bank of the Chemung River.


It must be acknowledged that Avery was somewhat in error. While there may have been prompt investigation, nothing came of it, the assassin escaped. It seems strange that Judge Avery, with his ability and love of research, did not follow up this matter, as it is now impossible to do; perhaps just as impossible then. There can  be added to these chronicles what would seem to throw some light on this matter; a letter from Col. Erwin himself, which lay for many years unnoticed at Harrisburg, but now to be found in Pennsylvania Archives, Third Series, Vol. XVIII, page 614, addressed to Governor Mifflin: 

April 5, 1791 Sir:  Perhaps it may appear somewhat extraordinary to carry a Complaint before the Chief Magistrate of the State, where the Laws of the land have pointed out the more regular Mode of pursuing the Means of Redress but as this, Sir, is an extraordinary case, it may probably be a sufficient excuse for the irregular Mode of proceeding in it.  You are not now to learn the troubles and embarrassments with the Connecticut-claimants to Lands in the County of Luzerne have for a series of years past from Time to Time involved Pennsylvania. It will not be necessary, I conceive, to enter into any investigation of that Business. The existing laws, were they carried into effect, would be sufficient to answer every purpose. My present application to you, however, relates to myself only. When the Land Office was opened in the year 1785, and the choice thereof determined by Lott, I became an adventurer for about Five Thousand acres in Luzerne County, adjoining the New York line, and without the Limits of any of those Townships comprehended in the late confirming or quieting Law, since repealed. These lands which lay upon the Tioga above the Point, I immediately patented, settled, cleared and improved, not doubting but the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, under the solemn faith of which I had purchased and paid for them, would protect me in the possession and enjoyment of my property. I have been almost the only man who has, in that county, asserted the Claims under the Government of Pennsylvania to the Lands in Luzerne, by which I have not only subjected myself to insult and abuse, but on more occasions than one been in eminent danger of my life, not from threats merely, but by actual assault, and that of the most agrivated nature.

When in August, 1789, I was in that country cultivating my own ground I was obliged to have recourse to the legal steps to recover some rent due to me from a person who occupied a part of my Land there under verbal Lease, and when the property distrained was in the Hands of the Officer, the tenant with several others came and forceably resqued it, not satisfied with this outrage, they attacked me and one of them with the handle of a pitch-fork broke one of my arms and beat me in such a manner that I very narrowly escaped with my life. I then took the usual steps to have him prosecuted for a breach of the peace, but, altho’ every necessary proof was made of the fact, in that country he escaped unpunished. In the course of the last summer a number of persons who call themselves Halfshare men, a description of people, who I believe from principle and habit, are not likely ever to be good or useful citizens of this or any other country, came within my enclosed grounds at a time that I was absent, cut a quantity of hay, and to the laborours who I had there employed, used many threats against my person. After I had hauled in the hay which my people had made, together with what they had cut on my land, they came and forceably took it away, still using threats:  Soon after they took from my Laborours a quantity of Indian corn  in the same manner, which circumstances the Depositions of Daniel McDuffee, Sarah Redford, and Dolly McDuffee make appear. It is true the effects which have been violently and unlawfully taken from me are of no great value or magnitude, but if the persons who have flagrantly broke in upon my property escape with Impunity the property of no Pennsylvanian will be safe from their depradations. I have not taken any legal steps to obtain Redress, well knowing the fate of my process in the County of Luzerne, where a Pennsylvanian is a party; of this indeed I have had sufficient experience. I trust, however, that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will do me ample Justice and no longer suffer her laws to be trampled on, her dignity debased, and her citizens injured and abused by a set of people who have ever discovered a disposition obnoxious to the Laws and Government of this State. I have, therefore, made my application to you, as the supreme Magistrate of the State, and from your prompt decision and public spirit, I hope such measures will be taken as to secure me in the enjoyment of my property in the Country, as well as to protect me from the danger which from the constant threats of those people I conceive my life to be in while among them. With every sentiment of respect, I have the honor to be, sir, your most obedient  and very humble servant,   Arthur Erwin

Apparently this was but a few weeks before his death, which was a sad ending to an active and useful career. He had lived, with the great tracts he held in and about Tioga Point, he would have been a notable factor in the town-making. According to Matthias Hollenback, his body was conveyed in a boat down the river and carried over Wilkes-Barre Mountain to Erwina for burial.

That completes my information on Mr Erwin and his friend Daniel McDuffee. It is so unfortunate that so many people were completely affected and in some cases destroyed by the Yankee – Pennamite War era, 1769 – 1794.  The story by Louise Welles Murray is an incredible insight into colonial times in our area and the strife of the common folk. It also shows how the war caused strife in our Town of Chemung and border communities.

As previously stated, Neal (Neil) McDuffee was the first born son of Daniel and Dorothy McDuffee, born in the Emerald Isle. He married a gal by the name of Anna and their children were: Mary, Ferdinand, Daniel, Charles and Sarah.

According to the US Census, he resided in Athens, Bradford Co, PA in 1820. Same was true in the 1830 census. However in the 1840 census Neal’s residence changed to Chemung, New York. So this leaves me wondering, since the property sits on the border of Athens Township, PA and Chemung, NY., is it possible this property is one in the same and because the state borders were not defined well, he thought he was dwelling in Pennsylvania when in fact it was discovered later to be in New York State?  Consistency continued through the 1865 census. It was in the following year, 1866 Neal died and was buried in Wellsburg. Anna died in 1862.

It is also interesting to see another big name show up in the census who is well known in Athens and listed as residing next to Neal McDuffee. That of Julius Tozer. But I will save that information for another story. Another fascinating note of interest on the 1865 census, the following question was asked: Of What Material Built. The answer on the Neal McDuffee Home: LOG.

One last bit of information on the McDuffee Property, a deed dated March 1841. It was never recorded until May 1859, which was not uncommon to be that late in those days, yet a bit curious. McDuffee purchased an additional 16 acres for his farm. It was recorded May 25, 1859 with another 20 acres recorded May 27, 1859. The acreage happened to be in Bradford County, PA and McDuffee resided in Chemung, New York. The deed reads: at a rate of ten pounds per hundred acres, but looking at the recorded information it appears he paid $1.00 per acre. Is it possible this property was already part of his original farmstead and once the boundaries were clarified he was correcting the deeds legally? My guess is yes, that is exactly what he did. With both Neal and his wife gone by 1866 that was not the end of the McDuffee property. I located the name S. McDuffee listed as a surname on the 1869 map. It is possible the youngest daughter, Sarah took over the farmstead.  

Mary Ellen Kunst is the historian for the Town Of Chemung. To see more information, visit her site, https://historicalechoes.weebly.com

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