Way Out West

A Collection of Stories written by Mary Kenyon Maxson Babcock,

who lived from 2 June, 1825 to 24 June, 1905

transcribed by her great-great-grandchildren,

G. Douglas Clarke and Carol M. Clarke

1995 & 1996; 

edited 2007 (GDC)
Web article produced by Stephen Sweet



“[Autobiography of Mary Kenyon Maxson in her own hand . . .]”

transcribed by G. Douglas Clarke and Carol M. Clarke

mkmbFrances2"Mary K. Maxson, was born in Richmond Washington Co. R.I. in the year of our Lord 1825, June 2nd daughter of David and Mary Kenyon Maxson.

In the year 1828 her father moved in company with his father (Benjamin Maxson) way out west as it was then termed and settled in Little Genesee Allegany Co. New York State, it then being a wilderness.

After spending two years in our western home, in the spring of 1830, my father travled [sic] with his own conveyance taking his family which consisted of my mother[,] brother David and myself back to the home of my mother's birthplace in the town of Charlestown R.I. on the King Tom [named for Tom Ninigret, the last crowned "King" of the Narragansett Indians] farm to visit her family. 

We remained east three months.  My father had cleared 20 acres of land which was under cultivation and had built a sawmill on a stream of water which run through his farm, it being the means of working up the pine lumber as fast as he cleared the land, preparatory for running it down the river to Pittsburgh or Cincinnati where he found a market.

David and Mary (Kenyon) Maxson, great-great-great-grandparents of G. Douglas Clarke and Carol M. Clarke

He employed a trusty man to take charge of his business, that he might remain during the season with our eastern relatives.

After spending the summer, and the autumn months, began to show signs of approaching winter, we began to talk of returning to our western home.

Consequently the day was set to start westward.

The carriage was drawn up to the door, trunks were made secure; the dinner box which contained our lunch with the best of everything was placed within.

The word ready rang out, which brought a fresh gush of sadness and gloom to all parties concerned, for really we were a homesick family especially my mother, who had not become reconciled to rear her family in the wilderness.

The friends gathered to bid us good by [sic] with a "God protect you" on your journey.

In those days it was considered a great undertaking to travel five hundred miles.

After the lieftaking [sic] we started homeward being fourteen days enroute.

Then came our friends with hearty congratulations for our safe return.

Now came a settling down to business, many men were employed in working up the lumber for market.  The settlers were mostly from the east, and were very appreciative of each other's society.

My father, after his return assisted in building a school house which served as a place of worship.  Previously our homes had been open to school & meeting of the inhabitants for worship.

As the school house was one half of a mile from our residence, my parents taught me at home to read and write and cipher, doing examples in addition and subtraction also spelling.

The house in Little Genesee, NY where Mary lived as a young woman.

Late and early the woodman's axe was heard and the land was fast being cleared.

The wilderness gave way to pleasant meadows and fields of waving grain.

Many were the loging [sic] bees, husking bees and quilting bees, as the inhabitants were all busy in helping themselves or each other.

Three years soon rolled around, when my Grandfather Kenyon my mothers father, requested my father to bring his family back to their R.I. home again and he would defray the expenses.

This time my father hired a man and his wife to come to our house and care for the business in his absence.

My brother David died two months previous from a scroffula swelling on his shoulder, which caused us all great sorrow.

I had another brother who was named after both my grandfathers (James Benjamin).

This time we journeyed back to R.I. and remained two months or more having made the journey in the most pleasant part of the year and at a time in my life when I could appreciate all that was beautiful in nature and art.

On our return I commenced attending school.

My studies were Aulneys[?] geography, Smith's grammar, and Dabold's Arithmetic Spelling & writing.

My teacher giving me what I could learn easily as he did not believe in crowding so  young a pupil.

My father built a large frame house the coming season.  We had lived previously in a log house, which bore the name of "The log Mansion" as my mother had an artistic way of beautifying the most humble abode.

That or the next season following the S[eventh]. D[ay]. Baptist Church was built and a pastor was hired and we began to feel more civilized and more contented with our surroundings.

The first few years, the inhabitants suffered from the depredation made by the wild and ferocious animals which infested the wilderness.

Young pigs were often taken from the sty.  Whole flocks of sheep were wiped out by the howling wolves; and the inhabitants had to be vigilint [sic] both by night and day.  My father had twelve sheep killed and wounded so they were past recovery in one night.

One of the men went to the skid-way to load logs.  As he raised the kant [sic] hook to roll the log on to the sled he heard a growl.  He at once saw a wild cat or panther ready to spring on to him.

He brought the kant hook down on its head which stuned [sic] him, he then killed him at once and brought it home and skinned it and got a bounty, as there was a bounty on Panthers, Bears, Wolves, Wildcats & Foxes at that time.

My father was invited to his brother-in-law's to a logging bee, to come with his hands one day and help prepare some ground for winter wheat.

The foliage had begun to change its color and was in all its  autumn beauty.  The men must have their meals.

My mother went along to assist Aunt, in preparing the meals, so brother and I went along.

A short time before dinner cousin Emeline [Maxson who married Edon Burdick?] and I who was about my age went into the edge of the woods but a few steps from the house to gather moss and leaves.

We sprang upon a log which was covered with beautiful moss and chatted a while gathering the moss.  I noticed an article of my wardrobe was missing, I sprang down from the log and began searching for it.

On looking up within a few steps from where I stood I noticed a black sheep coming toward me.

I ran with all my might with hands extended calling come Nanny come Nanny.  The animal smelled of my hands and as I was about to embrace it he turned and shackled off with speed.

We ran to the house to tell the news, that we had found a black sheep as we believed.

On relating our story to my Aunt, and Mother, they looked at each other very much surprised and said we must not go away from the door to play again that day.

Aunt steped [sic] to the door and blew the dinner horn.  Uncle and Father soon came with the hands.

After hearing the circumstance and asking cousin and I many questions, they decided it was a bear, as there were no sheep within twelve miles.

The men hurried through dinner, and those who had guns went in search of the bear.

After a fruitless search they returned late in the afternoon to enjoy a good supper prepared by my Aunt and Mother.

When on our way home, my parents seemed quite nervous as they took a foot path home and I noticed they held on to my hands, and walked very briskly, and seemed much relieved when they came out into the clearing, and much more so, when safe within the house.  The next day at the setting of the sun, we looked out toward a stream of water which ran through the farm, where a pine tree had fallen lengthwise of the stream and saw as I thought the same black sheep we saw the day previous, and which my mother and hired girl called a bear.

He would walk few steps on the tree then spring into the water, and bring out a fish, and back onto the tree and eat it: then watch for more.  He continued to do so until it was too dark to see him.

The men were late in coming in from work, and my father had gone to one of the neighbors, and did not return until quite late, causing mother great anxiety for fear he would be devoured, by the bear or some other wild animal.

It was too dark to find the bear that night, so after every thing was made secure, we retired for the night.

In the morning father went to see Hiriam [sic] Wilson "father of Forsythe Wilson the Poet", as he was a good marksman, and told him about the bear.

They thought the amimal must be in, or near a ravine, between their houses.

After two or three hours hunt, Mr. Wilson came home with the news, that he had killed the bear; and must have help to bring it home.  So father and two or three of his men went and assisted in bringing in the bear.

Mr. Wilson skined [sic] it, and divided the meat among the neighbors.

It was so oily we failed to relish it; but some liked it.

Horseback riding was one of the best means of conveyance, on account of poor roads.  Mr. Wilson had the skin tanned and used it on his saddle to ride on as long as he remained in this State.

Grandma Hall, as she was famaliarly [sic] called started out one afternoon from one of her sons to go and see her other son, who lived one half a mile distant.

The son where she started from supposed she was safe with her other son's family.

About ten p.m. as we were about retiring for the night we heard a woman's voice, screaming for help in the direction of the sawmill.  Some of the men were quite nervous about going out, as they said Panthers sounded so much like human beings.

Father armed himself with gun, and lanterns and asked how many of his men would go with him; when a number started out, amid a continual scream.

As they neared the Slash, where they crossed over the dam, they could hear the distinct cry for help to get over.

On going across they found, standing near the water's edge, Grandma Hall.

She had lost her way, and had crossed the stream on a pine tree, and had wandered down the stream to find her son Wilfred's.

They helped her across and to the house.

She seemed bewildered.  Mother made her a cup of tea.  After drinking her tea, and eating her supper she retired for the night, much exhausted.

She was not more than comfortably in bed, before the wolves set up the most hideous howls in the direction which she came from.

In the morning some of the men, went across the slash where they found her, and all arround [sic] to the water's edge, the wolves had pawed up the ground.

They came on to her track one fourth of a mile above and had followed her.

My Grandfather Benjamin Maxson went out into the woods one day with his cross-cut saw to saw some logs for the mill.

He set the saw on to the log and commenced when a bear rose up on the other side and commenced hugging the saw with a continuous grip, that GrandPa thought he had better let bruin have his own way, and he got home as fast as his limbs would carry him, as he had no other weapon for defence.

He armed himself and returned to the spot, but found nothing but his saw, which was badly bent and quite bloody.

In a few days a hunter, Mr. Timothy Cowles killed the bear and the skin was mangled terribly with the saw-teeth, showing that the bear had a hard struggle with the saw.

Deer, and fish, were so plenty for a few years, that some of the families depended largely on fresh fish, and venison, for their family supplies.

Jerked venison was considered a rare dish.

In the summer after I was fourteen years old, my Father again started with his family for the east, to visit our relatives.  We remained until quite late in the season then returned.

Father had built another sawmill and was making lumbering and farming a success.  He had bought another farm and built a store, which he set opposite our dwelling house, and in the spring following filled the store with dry goods, and groceries.

For 3 years the business was carried on very successfully.  

Stephen Maxson, M.D of Cuba, N.Y.

His brother Dr. Steven Maxson of Cuba wished to become his partner. With the promise that in a few weeks he would furnish three thousand dollars and give him one-half he could make in his practice, he took him in.

Uncle failed to furnish the money when he agreed to; but still continued to promise and make excuses which seemed plausible.

My father had implicit confidence in his sincirity [sic].

One day Uncle said to my father David, we could make a big strike, to fill a store of goods in Arcade about sixty miles from here as people are all well to do and we would not have to trust as we do here.

We could sell for cash.

Father said, we are doing well here; and I would not think of business so far from home.

It had been decided for Uncle to go to New York that spring for goods on account of my mother's sickness.

The day Uncle started for New York, he brought the subject up again of starting business in Arcade [Centerville was crossed out].

My father, in the presence of a number of witnesses forbade his using his name or any of his means for that purpose.

Uncle seemed satisfied and went to the city and returned.

Goods came and filled the store.  Within this time Father had returns from his lumber, and made the payments on the goods, and were doing well.  Uncle had failed to furnish the money which he promised to make him a partner in the store.

My Father loved him dearly and had faith to believe he would furnish the money as soon as he collected it where he said it was already due, for he continued to make fair promises.

Prof. W.C. Kenyon and my Father were warm friends.

While on a visit to my parents in company with his wife Melissa, it was planned for me to attend school at Alfred Academy the coming term, which was to commence in about three weeks.  On Prof. Kenyon's return to Alfred my board and room was engaged; he wrote that all things were ready.

My wardrobe was ready, and I had begun to pack my trunk as a preparation to go when the time came.

We all retired for the night to rest in peace and quiet.

No one with brighter anticipations for the future than I.  The only drawback for me, was that I was to be seperated [sic] from my family for a few weeks.

No family could be more closely united in bonds of love than my father's family.  As yet I had never been seperated from them but a few days at a time.

The next day's mail brought a letter from a firm in New York, asking the firm of Maxson & Co. to pay a five-thousand dollar note which was past-due; and they could wait no longer.  The note being given for goods which were shiped [sic] to Arcade.

Uncle had been absent more than form[er]ly.

His excuse for being away was that he was attending to his medical profession.

My father answered the letter at once; and took his team suited for the occasion, and went to Arcade, hoping to find Uncle and the goods.

He found the man behind the counter who had been employed in the store by the name of Gillette; but no money and no acc[oun]t. books.

Gillett claimed the goods were sold for cash and the money had been deposited as fast as sold, but played ignorant as to where the money was deposited.

Father cleaned out the store, and brought the goods home, in all, some over five hundred dollars.  In a few days Uncle came home, with all the sanctity imaginable.

"O! David you have had a scare.  I shall fix it all right.  Now don't you worry, I will meet it in a few days."

Few days came, and passed; he did nothing about it.  An action was commenced, not only for the five thousand but for another note nearly as large with Grandfathers name attached to it.

Uncle had business away nearly all the time.

It became evident that he did not intend to do any thing toward Settling up the matter.  All he owned was in his wifes name [Wealthy Ann Champlain, daughter of Dr. Gilbert Champlain].

The law could touch nothing, so my Father and Grandfather faced the debts.

Everything was sold at auction, for less than one third its real value.

We all steped [sic] from Affluence down to the hard realities of a life of burden and care.

Prof Wm. C. Kenyon of Alfred Centre, wrote a beautiful letter full of love and simpathy [sic] with the kindly offer of a home with him and wife for Mary K. until she obtained her education, urging father to come out with her at once.

John T. Wright the Sheriff came in person and offered me a home gratis, if I would be company for his wife in his absence until I obtained my education in the academic school in Angilica.

Uncle James N. Kenyon said I must come to him in R.I. and he would send me to Providence to the high school.

I was the eldest of six children.

My mother had always had help to do her work but now must do without.

Father and Mother called me into their room one day, and said, while the tears streamed down their faces, "Mary if you feel that you would like to go to Prof Kenyon's we can trust him to look after your welfare until we can get on our feet again, as now is the time for you to obtain the education you so much covet and which will be a help to you in future years."  I told them I had decided to remain with them in their struggle, that I could not leave Mother to toil alone.

That I would accept the circumstances as they were and we would try and bear the burdens together.

I would study and read up at home and improve as best I could and help mother.

My father and mother, both cried aloud.

And Father said Mary this is a great sacrafice [sic] for you to make but you may not regret it in the future, as I do not know what your Mother could do without you.

In 2 or 3 weeks a young man by the name of George Clark a distant relative of my fathers, came from Elicottville and offered his heart and hand and the wealth which he possessed if I woud marry him.

While I felt that he was Noble Worthy and True I told him, I was too young to enter into such an engagement and I could not think of leaving my parents in their sorrow.

A friend of fathers, bid in the farm, and gave Father a chance to pay for it or redeem it at what it was bid in at, which he did by getting the lumber off and delivering it to market.

Everything around and about us seemed so strange, it being so changed.

True friends remained faithful, while the butterfly friends fled like dew before the morning sun.

There was a select school started, which I attended the coming fall and winter, giving Mother all the assistance I could under the circumstances.  The teacher's name was Irish, Bro[ther] of the Rev James B Irish.

The school passed off pleasantly and profitably until the latter part of the term, when he made a public announcement, that he had proposed marriage to Mary K. and she had rejected him.

The affair was made so public that he was fast losing his influence as a teacher.

My father being one of the trustees said the affair would sooner die out if I left school.  So I remained at home and studied to keep up with the classes.

My fathers Clerk, Mr. Alfred Brand proposed marriage about that time and he would wait any length of time for the event.

A Clerk in my uncle's store, by the name of O. Leseur [?] wrote a letter proposing marriage and sent if by way of a young couple whom we thought could influence me and he would wait ten years if I said so.

I refused both offers.

Riley Scott a Lawyer and brother of our Pastor Rev J.G. Scott wrote to me hoping I would not refuse him, hoping I would take time to think of it.

The next day he came with his father and made his wishes known to my father and mother.

My father was called out, on rising to go he said " My daughter is old enough to speak for herself."

I said Marriage was a very solemn matter if rightly considered.

When I married it would be with one whom I loved above all others.  I had not found that one yet consequently I could not engage myself to anyone.

This year we all worked very hard outdoor and in.

Mother and I, to wait on the hands who assisted father in getting the lumber off to redeem the farm, and father to make both ends meet.

Dr Wm. M. Truman came from Otselic and settled in Richburgh.  He obtained his medicine at my father's store and was desirous that father would use his influence to assist him in getting established as a practicing physician.  Father employed him in his family.  He proved Skillful, and soon, got into a good practice.

They would quite often drive from Richburgh to Genesee (six miles) to attend church with us, as they liked our preacher.

After some two years acquaintance Mrs Truman's brother came from Scott Courtland Co. where he was born and reared until he was 23 years old, and commenced the study of medicine under his brother-in-law Dr Truman.  His father Paul Babcock having died had caused the home to be broken up.  His mother went to live with her daughter Mrs Jessie Burdick.

Mr Babcock was well versed in the topics of the day, very witty, and popular with all classes in society.  He rode with the Dr to visit his patients and seemed adapted to the profession.

They came quite often to fathers store for medicine and I frequently waited upon them, as was my habit in immirginces [sic]. Mr Babcock drove to Genesee with his sister Mrs Truman nearly every Sabbath and would often remain at my fathers to dinner.

We became quite well acquainted and an attachment sprung up between us.

After a time, we engaged to marry, at the end of the three [?]

years when he should receive his diploma and settle in business as a physician.

After two years study his eyes seemed to give out, and he was advised to quit studying for the time or there would be danger of his becoming blind.

Within this time, he had become restless without a home of his own.

One day my uncle brought a message to me, from Mr Deverauds of Elicottsville who was the only son and had a rich father.

Uncle said I would live in affluence and be idolized if I married him, for his father liked me, and would do all in his power to make us comfortable and happy and young Deveraugh [?] felt he never could be happy without me.  Hoped I would accept.

I told him I had no desire to break my engagement, with Mr Babcock.

Martin Wilcox Babcock and Mary Kenyon (Maxson) Babcock

Nov. 17th 1842 we were married by Eld, Henry P. Greene with the understanding that I should remain at home one year while he finished the course in medicine and received his diploma and became established in business.

My father furnished business for Mr Babcock from Nov 17, 1842 to Aug 28th, 1843 when we moved our things from my fathers onto a farm in Bolivar four miles from home which he had bought.  He had no desire to complete the study of medicine, which really was a great disappointment to me.

Farming and lumbering was his occupation for a number of years.

Matthew Stillman of Friendship vilage [sic] of Nile, urged Mr. Babcock to become his partner, as he needed more means to carry on business.

After some consideration we moved to Nile, and Mr. Babcock and Stillman were partners a number of years and were successful.

They disolved [sic] partnership and we moved back to Genesee.

At times Mr. Babcock seemed despondent.  We all did much to keep him happy and cheerful.

While a partner with Stillmans in the Tan and Courier business, he had learned the trade, and was fully competent to carry on the business alone.

My father assisted him in building a Shop to carry on the business.  Vats were completed, bark was ground, hides were bought, and all ready for business, when Mr. Babcock said he must go down the river for one of the Lumberman.

The house at 33 South Main Street in Alfred, built by Alpheus Burdick Kenyon and his son-in-law, Martin Wilcox Babcock, in 1873 and 1874.

We all thought it very strange as he could make much more to go on with his business at home.

After remaining from home three weeks he returned.  Came home very despondent.  We supposed he would enter heartily into the work, when, to my surprise he told me he could not bear the responsibility, "In short I cannot carry on business.  I have no confidence in my capacity."

I told him he was fully competent and must put his faculties into activity.  "He says, Mary! you cannot change me."

Ever after, he worked for others as he wished.

Six years prior to his death, he assisted Our Son F[orrest]. M. Babcock on the Allegany Stock Farm in caring for their high bred horses.

He seemed well, except times of gloominess, up to three months previous to his death, when he came home sick.

All this gloom was gone never could there have been, a more cheerful sick person.  His trust seemed secure, in the love of God with the Christians hope of future happenings in an eternity of rest.

He died May 8th, 1891."



“Dedicated to my Children and Grandchildren 

that they may know more of my early life”


When I married Mr Babcock he was not a Christian which caused me many doubts about the propriety of uniting with one who might not always see as I did in regard to his duty.  He believed in Religion, and hoped soon to enjoy it, in all its fullness and hoped he would never be the means of hindering me in my christian course.

We were married in 1842, and not until 1849 did he experience the change in his heart which made him feel that he was accepted as a child of God.

In the spring of 1849 he was baptised by Eld James Bailey and united with the church in Little Genesee N.Y.

My struggles to maintain my Christian life were very great.  The society of Christians was my delight.  The prayer & conference meetings, I had faithfully attended ever after uniting with the church, at the age of fourteen.  My husband wished my company to go to other places, and he very seldom wanted to attend the services of God.

I felt my responsibility as a christian; after going to housekeeping I commenced family worship by reading the word of God and a short season of prayer; sometimes he would read and pray with me.  Family worship was always maintand [sic] while our family were together.  When he enjoyed Religion we were a happy family.

I often had my misgivings in regard to my course of family prayer, fearing that by leading in the exercise it might make my husband feel that he did not stand head in his family.

In his last hours, previous to his death, he told me I did right, and that my course had been a strength to him and had influenced him to do right, which now consoled me with the idea, that to do God's bidding is always right.

Mary K.M. Babcock



“My childhood days”


How sweet to reflect upon the days of my youth when care and troubles of various kinds were unknown to my then trusting heart and I was surrounded with fond Parents, Brothers and sisters who were all devoted to me by seeking my happiness with little courtises [sic], kind and affectionate words administering for the benefit of soul and body.  Years have past and brought its changes, the burdens of life are weighing heavily upon me with its cup of sorrows.  Parents who so fondly taught me the way of truth and righteousness Brothers and Sisters whose delight it was to cheer and comfort me are far from my presence.  All are out of the reach of simpathy [sic] and I am alone to struggle with sorrow without a sympathizing friend to cheer me on my pilgrimage to the tomb.  But shall I repine No! O God forbid and forgive my misgivings and make me to fill just such a place as thy will is concerning me of a truth thy ways are not our ways. O give me a reconciled spirit with all meekness that I may do my work well and in order ever saying thy will not mine be done

Jan 31,1864    Mary


transcribed by G. Douglas Clarke and Carol M. Clarke


“Going to a wedding in the early days of our wilderness home"

transcribed by G. Douglas Clarke and Carol M. Clarke

In the fall of the year after my father had moved his family from the East, way out west, in Allegany County, and we were getting used to our wilderness home, with the stately pine, the oak the maple and the beach [sic] laden with nuts when the foliage was changing its color, with all its varied hues of beauty and loveliness and the constant warbling of the birds, the chitter of the black and gray squirrels made up in part for the [lack of the] roaring surge of the great Atlantic Ocean with all the beautiful scenes which we had left behind us.  One day when the inmates of our home were busy laying by in store for winter, a rap was heard, and upon opening the door a young man stood there by the side of his horse, with bridle in hand and presented mother with a written invitation to our family from Capt. B[enjamin] Maxson & wife to attend the marriage of their daughter Fannie the next Thursday at 8 pm, to A.P. Stetson, a young "Tan and Courier by trade".  The young couple were to settle some four miles away in an adjoining town.  We felt that they would be missed from our social circle and were anxious to greet them with our best congratulations for their future welfare.  So we were ready for the occasion.

The settlers had not yet had time to work the roads, but trees and underbrush were felled and cleared away wide enough for teams to pass each other leaving the roots of the trees remaining, making it impossible for any transportation save with oxen and sled or on horseback.

Capt. M. had just completed a commodious two-story frame house and he was one who always made his guests feel at home by his welcome greeting.

My father and mother had invited their next neighbor to join them in the ride on the sled, and the day appointed for the ceremony to take place, our neighbor came with his wife and two children ready to go.  John the hired man was to drive the team.  The hour came for a start.  John's voice was heard, "Haw Buck" and "Gee Bright, Whoa".  The door opened with the word, "Team is ready".

We went out to the sled and found the floor covered with clean hay and a chain extended around the outside of the sled, steaks [sic] to fasten two chairs for mother and her friend to be seated, then the two Buffalo robes that we brought with us from the East were placed one over the ladies laps who were seated in the chairs and the other on the hay for us children, with one half spread over our laps.

The gentlemen were seated or standing as they thought most convenient and safe for the party.  The driver took his stand by the side of the near ox with his ox goad in hand ready to play its part at any event, when Buck and Bright refused to attend to the call of "Haw, Buck" and "Gee, Bright, go 'long there".  Father said "we are ready" and John cracked his whip in the air as a signal for the team to start, whereupon they started with more speed than we expected, making it necessary to hold onto the chain railing which each member of the party continued to do until the end of the ride.  One side of the sled was up on roots, while the other side was down mired in deep mud sometimes up to the poor patient oxen's knees, making it necessary to hold onto the chain and stick to the sled or to land in a puddle of mud and stick there.

We had gone but a few rods when mother and her friend vacated their chairs and seated themselves with the children on the sled bottom thinking it the wiser part of valor to do so.

As we drove up to the door, the Capt. and his lovely wife received us with great cordiality.  O: it was such a relief to get off from the sled and feel that our zig-zag uncomfortable ride was over, that we offered up a silent prayer of gratitude that we were safe from broken limbs and our lives were spared even for the gala occasion.

The guests and the officiating clergyman having arrived, it was announced that all were ready for the ceremony to be performed.  The door opened and the bride and her maid came in and took their stand in front of a recess; the maid at her right and the groom and his man following, the groom taking his place beside the bride, the groomsman at his left.  The minister arose and stood in front of them.  He asked the groom if he would take this woman for his life companion and would forsake all others and cleave to her alone, would nourish and cherish her and support her and let nothing but death seperate [sic] them and would she love, honor and obey him so long as life did last, if so "please join your right hands", which they did.  He then in the sight of God and all these witnesses present pronounced them husband and wife.  While standing he nade an earnest prayer for their temporal and spiritual welfare.  Then taking their hands wished them a happy life as well as a life of usefulness.  Her father and mother came next with congratulations, the guests following.

After the greetings, supper was announced.  O! such a bountiful supper, in this wilderness home, as was this wedding supper.  At one end of the table on a large platter, stood a roasted pig with a ribbon tied around his neck, and an ear of corn in his mouth.  At the other end of the table was a stuffed turkey with a carving knife and fork ready for use.

In the center of the table was a pyramid cake all iced over having the appearance of a mound of snow.

Brown bread, white bread, cream biscuit, fruitcake with dried huckleburys [sic] instead of raisins and other fruit such as we put into cake, doughnuts and cookies, wild plums preserved, and honey from a bee tree, which they had found a short time previously, the find being considered a providential one by the hostess.  A man was seated at each end of the table to carve.  The bride and groom, and the maid and man of honor at the right of the carver of the roasted pig, and on the left of the table opposite were seated the bride's and groom's parents, with brothers and sisters and relatives filling up on either side.

As was the custom, before the company was seated the clergyman returned thanks for the table laden with these bounties and implored a blessing on all present.

After serving the company to the course of meats and vegitables [sic] then came fruitcake, cookies, doughnuts, mince pie, pumpkin pie, and cheese.  Last of all the pyramid cake was placed before the bride and all waited around the table while she dealt out very liberally a piece of cake to each guest to take home with them.

 Supper being over, we spent a social hour and then bade them good night and returned to our homes in much the same way as we went, feeling that life was all the brighter for having spent that social hour in Capt. Maxson's home.   [finis]

When I was a little girl, my father moved his family from the State of Rhode Island, way out west as it was then termed, and settled in Little Genesee Allegany Co. New York State.  A number of families accompanied us enroute.

In those days, it was considered a great undertaking to travel with one's own conveyance five hundred miles.  The country was a dense wilderness infested with many wild and ferocious animals, such as Bears, Wolves, and Panthers.  Deer were so plenty, that many families depended largely on venison for meat, to supply their tables.  Fish were very plenty in the flowing streams, and served as a table luxury.  Land in its wild state, could be obtained for one-dollar-fifty pr acre.  But few men made a purchase of a farm less than one hundred acres.  After purchasing the land, they chopped and cleared a spot large enough to set a log house and barn on.  They felled the trees and asked the neighboring men to come and help roll up the logs for the house and barn.  They sawed pine trees up into shingle bolts, then shaved shingles to cover the buildings.

They were obliged to go twelve miles to Olean Point for floor boards, as there were no sawmills nearer at that time.  On account of poor roads, their mode of conveyance was a sled with a pair of Oxen attached, and on horseback.  Dry goods and groceries could only be obtained by going twelve miles either way.

Maple trees were plenty.  Every family expected to make four or five-hundred pounds of maple sugar for their family supplies.  Crust sugar was kept alone for coffee, chocolate and tea.

Religious services were mantained [sic] from house to house, on the Sabbath.  School was started in the same way by some one of the neighbors giving up one of their rooms in their house.

Early and late, the woodsman's ax was heard, cutting, and felling the timber.  Sawmills were built, and logs suitable for making into boards were taken to a mill and worked up, then rafted into the creek, and run into the Ohio river, and so to Pittsburgh and Cincinnati [sic] where they found a market.  What was not wanted for wood, was rolled up into log-heaps, and fire set to, and burned up.  In a few years, the dense wilderness gave place to green meadows and waving grain.

Good churches and school-houses were built; comfortable and commodious frame houses were built for the comfort of the patient and self-sacraficing [sic] wife and mother, in order that she could make her family more comfortable with less ill-convenience.

Lumbering was the chief occupation while clearing the land.  The wilderness was composed mostly of the stately pine and when taken to market, remunerated the laborer for all his toils.

Quite often, men who were at work in the woods were confronted with some wild animal.  One day Capt Benjamin Maxson went into the edge of the wood with his cross-cut saw to cut the logs, the right length for boards.  When he commenced, a large black bear sprang up on the other side and hugged the saw.  After trying some time to rid the saw of the Bear, the Captain thought the best thing for him to do was to leave the saw in bruins posesion [sic] and go to the house.

He armed himself, and returned with one of his neighbors to the spot, and found the saw all bloody and bent, but the bear had hid away.  The condition of the saw showed he had a hard struggle.

A few days later, Timothy Cowles, a hunter, killed the bear.  The skin was badly mangled where he hugged the saw.

One morning quite early, one of the lumbermen drove his team up to the skid-way to roll the logs on to the sled, as he raised the cant hook to roll the log he heard a growl and at that moment saw a panther in the act of springing on to him, he brought the cant-hook down on to his head and stuned [sic] him, then dispatched him.  He skinned the animal and got a twenty-dollar bounty, as there was a bounty on bears, wolves, and panthers at that time.

My father had given me a black lamb for a pet.  The lamb had one blue eye, I prized it above all my pets.  One night the howling of the wolves seemed very near.  My father and his men went out and salted his sheep between the house and barn, and hung up lights near them, and kept watch until after midnight.  They then left the lights burning and retired for the night.

In the morning he found twelve of his sheep killed and my dear little lamb was one.  My grief for the cruel fate of my pet and fear of the wild beasts I need not relate.



“[Writing her own obituary?]”

 transcribed by G. Douglas Clarke and Carol M. Clarke

 Mary Kenyon Maxson was born in Richmond, Washington County, Rhode Island in the year of our Lord Eighteen Hundred and Twenty-five, June second, daughter of David and Mary Kenyon Maxson.

When three years old, her father moved out west, in company with a number of families, and settled in Little Genesee, Allegany County, New York State, it then being a dense wilderness.  She was reared by Christian parents, in the most tender manner, and taught that each of the ten commandments was equally binding.

Never was a family more closely united in bonds of love than she and her father's family.

At the age of ten she gave her heart to God, and devoted her life to honor the cause of truth and love, as it is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  At the age of fourteen she was baptised by Eld. Henry P. Greene and united with the first church in Little Genesee.

She was the eldest of eleven children, three having died in their infancy.  She was taught at home by her parents in the common branches until she was ten years old.  Her father traveled east quite often using his own conveyance and taking his family to visit her mother's relatives, being fourteen days enroute, and remaining two or three months.  Aside from the time spent with friends and traveling, she attended both common and select school, until she was seventeen.

She aspired for a first class education and was all ready to enter Alfred Academy when her hopes for the future were laid low by the treachery of her father's partner in whom he had implicit confidence, causing a failure in business by the loss of his property.

Being unwilling to leave her mother to struggle alone without help, her attention was turned to alleviating the toils and cares, which must of necessity follow without hired help.  She studied and read, keeping up with the times all that lay in her power.

In eighteen forty-two, she married Martin W. Babcock of Scott, Courtland County, New York State.  She became the mother of three children, DeWane D. Babcock, and Forrest M. Babcock and Mary V. Babcock, wife of Prof. Alpheus B Kenyon of Alfred University.  Mr and Mrs. Babcock [had] lived together nearly forty-eight years when he died.

When she married Mr. Babcock, he was not a professor of religion and not until years after did he experience religion and unite with the Church.  When they went to housekeeping she commenced family worship and it was always maintained so long as their family were together.  She was a sabbath school teacher while they lived at Nile and at Genesee nearly eighteen years.  The prayer and conference meetings were faithfully attended until failing health prevented, which for her was a cross hard to [bear --  she said "forego"]

The afflicted found in her a simpathysing [sic] friend.

The poor ever found a friend in her, and a ready helper.

In her younger days, much of her time was spent relieving the sick.


“When Wits Won”

transcribed by G. Douglas Clarke and Carol M. Clarke

One evening when I was about fifteen hears old, my parents, with the rest of the family except my two little brothers, one six, and the other four, left for prayer meeting.  I remained with them, as they were feeling ill.

A few minutes after they left, a young man came to the door, and wished to have shelter for the night.  I told him the man of the house would be in soon, he could be seated until he came.  He was very talkative to my brothers and soon drew the information from them that "our people have all gone to prayer meeting".  After a few minutes more talk with the boys, he turned his conversation to me, said he had labored under great disadvantages in traveling, as he did not always find combs.  He wished I would do him the kindness to comb his hair for him.  I said very emphatically No! You may step into the kitchen and use the combs and basins all you wish.  His pleasant manners, which he had assumed left him at once, and his face had the look of a fiend.

He asked the boys where they slept?  Childlike, they said "In Papa and Mama's room".  He told them to go to bed at once.  They said they were not going until their folks came home.  He then drew from his pocket a knife, and opened it and ordered them to go at once, or he would cut both of their ears off.  "O, Mary you won't let him cut our ears off will you?"; and they began to cry and scream.  I said "Sir! You put away that knife and stop such talk or I will call Amos the hired man (who was at the church with the rest).  He closed the knife and settled into a sulk with the most devilish smile I ever beheld.  He eyed every move I made, while I trembled from head to foot with fear.

The boys were still sobbing aloud, when we heard footsteps and in came one of the hired men who left the church before the services were out on account of feeling ill.

When my father came, I told what this young man's request was, and how he had acted both toward me and the boys.  Father told him he "never refused shelter to strangers but you are a dangerous young man.  If you stay here I shall make you my prisoner.  I shall lock you in your room, and in the morning let you go".

In the morning he preferred to leave without his breakfast.  




“[A Story of Grandma Hall of Horse Run]”

transcribed by G. Douglas Clarke and Carol M. Clarke

The subject of this story was familliarly called "Grandma Hall", and a resident of Horse Run, a place bordering on the line of Penn.  Tradition says the name was given from the fact that a span of horses were lost in the fall of the year, and found in good order in the spring, so it was named Horse Run.

Her family consisted of her husband and ten children.  They moved from the East, into this wilderness home in the year 1827.  They endured the privations and hardships of a pioneer's life.  They cleared the land, and made a farm which produced the substantials for their family necessities.  One after another of her family were taken sick and died.  Her loneliness and grief bewildered her mind.  It was a general remark that Grandma Hall's mind was not right.

One day Grandma Hall started out for one of the neighbor's and lost her way.  She crossed the stream of water, and wandered along the water's edge, hoping to find her friends, until past nine p.m.

My father's family were preparing to retire for the night [when] they heard the frantic screams of a woman's voice for help in the direction of my father's sawmill.  Father called his men and asked who would go with him.  Some were timid about going out, as they said Panthers sounded so much like a human voice.

They armed themselves with guns and lights, and went directly to where the screams were, and found Grandma Hall just across the slash to the pond, pleading for help to get over the slash.  They assisted her across and to the house.

My mother prepared a cup of tea and coaxed her to eat, and then assisted her to retire for the night.  She was no more than comfortably in bed, before the wolves set up a terrible howl which continued until morning light began to dawn.

In the morning the men found wolves' tracks, and the ground pawed up all around where Grandma Hall stood down to the water's edge, showing what her fate would have been had she remained where she was.

The strain on her nerves, from the effects of getting lost, and the escape from being devoured by wild beasts seemed never to be overcome.



“[WCTU presentation]”

transcribed by G. Douglas Clarke and Carol M. Clarke

When quite young, at one time when my father was traveling with his family on our way to one of the New England States, we called  to stay over night at an Inn, as it was then called in Howard Steu[ben] Co.

As we entered, we noticed a man streched [sic] out upon a long bench, seemingly fast asleep.  After our wraps were lain by and horses cared for, and were preparing for supper, we heard the cry of a woman in great distress begging Tom, as she called him, to get up and go home with her and their little girl who was then asking Ma for something to eat.  After finding she could not rouse her husband from his stupor, she turned to the landlord and said, "Did I not ask you to give my husband no more drink?"  His answer was, "He would have had it at some other place if I had not let him have it".

After sobbing aloud for some time over her drunken husband and desparing [sic] to get him home in his helpless condition she took her child by the hand and said "we must go home but, my darling, we can have no supper".  The landlord, with a sneer, told her he was not to blame for it, and he wished she would not make such a row, but would go home and not come around there any more.

My father, after making some inquiries gave her some money as she was leaving, then called for his horses and carriages, and we left.

 After our visit was made east, and on our return, we made inquiries in regard to this drunkard and his family, and learned he had filled a drunkard's grave and his wife was nearly gone with consumption, caused from privation and exposure.

Later on, in the first years of my married life, I was living in the Village of Nile, town of Friendship.  A man formerly from Auburn NY with his wife and two lovely daughters, rented the Hotel across the way from us.

It was voiced around at once, "what a congenial, gentlemanly landlord we had" and wishing to encourage the keeping of such a house as we anticipated he was directing, we young married people (six couples) called on them for an oyster supper.  After being seated around the table, we found our good landlord incompetent to help his noble wife wait upon the guests.  After he had broken 2 or 3 dishes, and fallen over a chair, Mrs. Rood as that was her name, came to me and said, "O! Mrs. Babcock, what shall I do?  Allen is drunk.  Mr. Babcock and others took the hint and coaxed him off to bed and we remained to try and cheer his poor heartbroken wife until quite late, then retired to our own homes.

Mr. Rood had been a temperance lecturer, was a gentleman, and a scholar.  The one fault, of drinking intoxicants ruined him and kept his family in bondage and oppression.  He was an adept in repeating scripture especially the portion which says "wifes [sic] obey your husbands in all things" which he often used as a means to obtain money from his wife's hard earnings.  His appetite was ungovernable.  His mother, a wealthy widow and he her only child, settled a dowry upon his wife and daughters, as otherwise it would have been squandered.  The last I knew of him, he was still a slave to his appetite.

These two circumstances, with many others impressed me that there was word for the willing hands to do, and no time to lose in doing it, so 3 of us ladies resolved to talk with their men, as Mr. Rood was not the only one, and try to influence them to leave off the habit which seemed to be near ruining both soul and body.

Some called us missionaries.  Well, notwithstanding, we labored on as best we could.  We often had the promise from Mr. Rood, and others, "as the habit was regretted by them most deeply" that they would leave off the habit entirely.  They could keep their promise but for a day, tempted as they were in their every-day surroundings.

I finally became convinced that the evil could be dispensed with only by prohibiting the sale of intoxicants.  The W.C.T.U. as a whole believe Prohibition to be the only true basis to work on.  I am one among the W.C.T.U. for this work, hoping that, as a body more light, and more practical work can be accomplished thereby than to work alone.  I believe as a body we should be vigilant in searching out the evils which degenerate



“[A Tale of Wolves in Belfast]”

transcribed by G. Douglas Clarke and Carol M. Clarke

My father’s hired man, a resident of Belfast, was about twenty one years old when he told this story.  His name was George Davis, and this occurred when he was a young boy, living with his parents, who had just moved into the place, then a dense wilderness.

Their home was a log structure placed on a clearing large enough for the house and barn, which consisted of logs rolled up the same as for the house.

Their stock consisted of one yoke of oxen and two cows and a number of pigs.  A bell was buckled around one of the cow’s neck, in order that they could be more easily found, as they were all turned into the woods to obtain a living.

At milking time, they were sought after and driven to the barn.  Ferocious animals infested the forests.  Bears, wolves and panthers often committed depredations among calves, sheep, and pigs.

One day George’s father left home on business, to remain over night.  It devolved to George to bring up the cows, and attend to the milking.

When the time came to search for the cows, George took his little dog along to track the cattle and went into the forest.  He soon found them and started them for home.  He noticed it was growing dark quite fast.  He urged the cattle along in order to get to the house before night set in.

All at once the wolves set up a hideous howl, which seemed very near.  At the first sound the cattle and dog ran with all their might, leaving him in the rear and to his horror he could see objects moving about, which seemed to be closing around him.

He had been told that wolves could not climb trees.  He assended [sic] the first favorable looking tree not any too soon, for the wolves closed around the tree at once, with terrible and unceasing howls, pawing the ground and bounding their length up the tree bent on having him for their prey.

All night they kept up this howling, snapping of their teeth and pawing the ground.

The atmosphere was so cold and he was so frightened that he often felt that he must give out and fall to the ground.

The thought of his mother in her lonely condition, and her anxiety about him stimulated him, giving him courage to hold on to the tree for dear life.  As the day began to dawn, the wolves ceased their howls, and hid away in the thicket one by one until all had disappeared.

Not until the sun was high up in the heavens did he dare venture down out of the tree and go home.

His mother, with two helpless children, had suffered untold agonies from the first howling of the wolves until he made his appearance late in the morning.  She met him, and clasped him in her arms, while the tears flowed freely for joy, that her loved boy was alive and had escaped a horrible death.

To prevent the depredations of the wild animals, torch lights were kept burning during the night.

At the howling of the wolves the men would go out with I loaded guns to protect their flocks for they were sure to meet with losses if they were not on guard.  The inhabitants formed themselves into hunting-parties during the winter, and by spring there were many less wolves, bears, and panthers, making the employment quite profitable as there was a bounty on each head.



“When Wits Won [again]”

transcribed by G. Douglas Clarke and Carol M. Clarke

Our home after I married was in the suburbs of a little country village.  Our nearest neighbor not being within speaking distances, quite often, I was left alone in the house until quite late in the night.  I usually sat up and [a]waited my husband’s return.

About ten p.m. on this evening I heard the gate open and supposing it was the return of my husband, felt quite secure until the man stumbled on the walk, and began to talk in a scolding mood.

I quickly rose, and bolted the door, when my fathers faithful dog Carlo, who had come to visit me rushed for the door and, with hair standing up showing his teeth making a low growl ready for any imergency [sic].

The man came on, and up the steps to the door.  He made two or three loud raps with his cane, then tried the door, continuing to press on it, until I feared it would give way, all this time talking in an incoherent tone.  I placed my hand on Carlo’s head feeling quite secure.

I finally told the man, I had a big dog who would not let him in, and he must leave.  After some hesitation he left.  I learned the next day, that it was a crazy man who was considered quite harmless, but noisy.


“[A Story of Mary’s two sons]”

 transcribed by G. Douglas Clarke and Carol M. Clarke

De[Wane] and F[orrest] were brothers.  They had one baby sister, of whom they were very fond.  They would often ask their mamma to let them rock babie to sleep, or otherwise entertain her, while she was engaged in her household duties.  They were anxious to help their mamma, so she would not get so tired.

One day F. heard his mamma say she wanted some salaratus from the store, which was across the way.  He asked if he might go and bring it.

He went and asked the merchant for one pound of "Sally Davis".  The merchant sent his clerk to F's home and got the order, and did up the package.  F. took it home not knowing why they all laughed as they did, but feeling that he had been a help to his mamma, and would soon be a man.

His brother, De, was two years older and was attending school.  One day just before the close of school for the day, he took a little red covered ball out of his pocket to look at, which his mamma had made him, and which he prized above his other play-things.

Brothers Forrest and DeWane Babcock, sons of of Martin Wilcox Babcock and Mary Kenyon Maxson Babcock.

In taking it out, he dropped it on the floor and it rolled down the narrow way toward the teacher.  She called him to her, and asked him if he did not know it was naughty to play in school?  He said Yes! he was only going to look at the ball.

She dismissed school, and told him he must stay in the school-house all night alone, and he could not see his Papa or mamma or brother or sister.  She went out and locked him in, as he supposed, to stay for the night.  When he was fully aware of his situation, he became frantic with fear.

When time came for him to be home, his Mamma missed him, and called his Papa from the office.  His Papa went to the school-house to make inquiries of the teacher.  When he found him crying and a prisoner he made some quick moves, found the teacher, took the key from her hand, not waiting for an explaination [sic] which she tried to give.  His Papa took him in his arms, and brought him home, in an exhausted state.  His nerves were so over-taxed that not until nearly morning did he get into a quiet sleep.

De and F. are men now, but have not forgotten the question "Mamma did teacher tell a lie?"  

[Note:  DeWane D. Babcock was a teacher himself, later teaching at Canaseraga School for a time.]



"Should woman be given the Suffrage?"

 transcribed by G. Douglas Clarke and Carol M. Clarke

Yes!  She is a free, moral agent, accountable to God, and not to man.

The only way to dispose of the present evils which exist under the present rule, and is the ruin of our offsprings, is to cast the vote.

To vote, or not to vote, is a question which woman alone should have the right to decide.

We believe it a God-given right and the enacting of laws which refuses this right, is tyranny, and oppression.

In order to suppress these evils, we claim the right to vote our principles.


M.K.M. Babcock

 Alfred, N.Y.

May 20, 1903

Photo Album


Mary Kenyon Maxson Babcock, with her granddaughter, Frances Babcock, whose mother had died in childbirth.

The house in Little Genesee, NY where Mary lived as a young woman.




Our grandmother (Agnes Kenyon Clarke Bond) with her sister (Dora Kenyon Degen Norwood) and their mother (Mary Veola Babcock Kenyon), and HER mother, Mary Kenyon Maxson Babcock.


David and Mary (Kenyon) Maxson, great-great-great-grandparents of G. Douglas Clarke and Carol M. Clarke



Martin Wilcox Babcock and Mary Kenyon (Maxson) Babcock, great-great grandparents of G. Douglas Clarke and Carol M. Clarke







Brothers Forrest and DeWane Babcock, sons of of Martin Wilcox Babcock and Mary Kenyon Maxson Babcock.




Stephen Maxson, M.D.




The house at 33 South Main Street in Alfred, built by Alpheus Burdick Kenyon and his father-in-law, Martin Wilcox Babcock, in 1873 and 1874.



From G. Douglas Clarke- These are Martin Wilcox Babcock's tools.  He is our great-great-grandmother Mary's husband who, along with his son-in-law Alpheus Burdick Kenyon, built the family home at 33 South Main Street in Alfred.  It has been a two-family residence since it was built.  Each tool is stamped with his initials, M.W.B.


Our thanks to G. Douglas Clarke & Carol M. Clarke for providing the photographs & transcriptions for this article.