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Rushford Related Articles

Rushford, N.Y's Semi-Centennial, 1859

The following is excerpted from the book "Rushford and Rushford People", by Helen Josephine White Gilbert, 1910.


 

SEMI-CENTENNIAL. 1859.

 Mr and Mrs Abraham J. Lyon

H. J. W. G.

ARRANGEMENTS for the Semi-Centennial were made by the following:
President, A. J. Lyon ; Vice-Presidents, I. S. White, 2. A. Rose, 3. Wm. L. Gary, 4. E. Perry,
5. L. Benjamin; Committee on Arrangements, 1. J. G. Osborne, 2. E. P. Lyon, 3. S. Hardy, 4. J. Bell, 5. L. C. Kimball, 
6. W. White, 7. S. Root, 8. B. T. Hapgood, 9. W. Young, 10. I. Lathrop, 11. J. T. Wier, 12. J. Holmes, 13. A. K. Allen, 14. J. Griffin ; Corresponding Secretary, S. White.


The last days of December, 1858, men were going to town to buy groceries, women were baking and there was one topic of conversation, the Semi-Centennial. Long, rude tables were being improvised and dishes from the stores were being carried to the basement of the Academy, then the Town Hall. Saturday, January i, 1859. the fiftieth anniversary to the very day of the settlement of the town of Rushford, was cool and pleasant. The Academy, where dinner was served from noon until night, was the center of attraction. It is said that three hundred sat down to the first tables. And such tables! They were loaded with roast turkey (Uncle John Worthington furnished one), chicken pie, beef and pork, baked beans, potatoes and turnips cooked on the spot, rice puddings, twisted doughnuts, apple butter, pies, cakes and what not? Some were made sick. Do you wonder at it? They said it was the chicken pie.

Blooming damsels of sixteen, Lucy Gordon*, Anna Wierf and Amelia Brooks,$ assisted by George Swift and Henry Hyde, were among the waiters. There was strife among them to see which should have the finest table. Other waiters were Sophia Benjamin, Minerva Simpson, Mrs. Thomas White and Mrs. Ellen White Hubbell. The surplus of the feast was given to the poor.

 

 Rev Thomas L. Pratt, Orator

In the chapel of the Academy there was a feast of reason and a flow of soul. Remarks were made by A. J. Lyon, the President. Uncle Tom Pratt was the orator of the day. He, as well as many of his listeners, knew whereof he spoke. Nobody went to sleep that day as he rehearsed the privations and experiences of the early times. "In the spring," said he, "when the last piece of pork dropped into the barrel, it seemed to say, 'Hark from the tombs a doleful sound.' " But enthusiasm rose to its height when he said that they did not forget the scriptural injunction to 'multiply and replenish the earth.' A thrill must have gone through the audience when he said, "Ebenezer Pratt Lyon and Jedediah Buckingham Gordon, stand up on the stove there and let the people see what kind of boys were rocked in sap troughs."

When Dr. Dickinson was called on to give the history of the town he said that what he had to say seemed tame after listening to such a speech. We all regret the loss of his excellent historical narrative as it would be of great value today. Fortunately a part of the paper given by Samuel White has been preserved. The early settlers on the platform were in high glee, one after another jumping up to tell of his hardships in the new country, and of privations while waiting for vegetables to grow and cows to be- come fresh. Aunt Nancy Woods told her experiences in her jolly, good way. There was an exhibition of relics of pioneer days, and a woman dressed in the costume of fifty years before, created much merriment. The attendance was so large that though the chapel was packed many could not get in. The stage was decorated, not with palms and cut flowers, but with links of sausage and strings of dried apples and pumpkins cut in circles and hung on pegs as if to dry. When inspiring strains of martial music were heard, one of the pioneers gave vent to his feelings by dancing on the Academy walk. A young girl who saw him was much shocked to think that he, a Methodist, should dance. What a happy day it must have been ! A number who celebrated that day are now celebrating the Hundredth Anniversary. Who that are here today will be present when the third half century has rolled around?

 

 Samuel White, Speaker at the Rushford Semi-Centennial

A portion of the address given by Samuel White at the Semi-Centennial :

In 1816 there were only two frame buildings in town. Mr. Freeman, one of the first settlers, had a frame addition to his log house, and on the farm where Mr. Morrow now lives there was a frame barn, built by Esq. Gary in 1814. The oldest man in town is Mr. Luther Woodworth, his age is eighty-eight. The oldest woman is Mary Williston at the advanced age of ninety-three. She is the only Revolutionary pensioner in this vicinity. * * * The number of men who have died in Rushford within forty years, to say nothing of women and children, is not far from one hundred and thirty, and the number of men now living who settled in Rushford before the year 1817, is only eighteen. * * * The first match made in Rushford was on the south side of the creek ; the parties were Wm. Rawson and LuanySwift;* I cannot tell the precise time, but probably 1811. * * * Mr. Wm. Gordon's first wife, a daughter of Esq. Gary, was the first person that died in town. A young man by the name of Hubbard was the second, and Mr. Warren, **who was drowned, was the third. In 1816 the only grave near the center of the town was Mr. Warren's. Elder Bannister, a Methodist minister from Vermont, came with his family to Rushford. He was a very good sort of a man, rather eccentric, full of fun for a preacher, and always ready to receive or crack a joke. Soon after the reformation (a revival of which he was probably the cause), he happened to go to Burrow's tavern in Castile. There he found a brother Methodist, with whom he commenced a conversation in relation to the revival in Rushford. A wag who was present wanted to know how the Lord could find the way to Rushford through the woods without a pilot? "Why," said the Elder, "he followed the marked trees, I suppose." Some time after this the old Elder was praying for the people of Rushford. There was in the place a very wicked sort of a chap, Wm. Burns, Jr. The old Elder commenced a prayer in his behalf, and said, "Oh Lord, convert Wm. Burns; we don't mean old Mr. Burns, but Wm. Burns, Jr." He meant to lay it down so the Lord could understand it. At another time when Elder Bannister was interceding and praying for others, he used this expression, "Oh, Lord, convert the whole world; oh! and John Gordon, too!" When I told you about the homespun dresses of the ladies, I should have said something about the patches that ornamented the apparel of the men. Patches were in fashion, and it was not considered a crime or a disgrace to

*Having lost the original paper, I took this name from a copy ; perhaps, the name is Lurany, since Charles Swift had a daughter by that name. — H. J. W. G.

**He was the miller who was drowned while repairing his dam.

 

 

 

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