Historian’s Corner: The First Cemetery

by Thomas Gray
Guilford Town Historian

       We always buried our dead even if we had no grave or gravestone in a cemetery for them. 

       Many of our first settlers of what would become Guilford Center brought their wives and children with them. It was Daniel Dickinson who made it through the wilderness to find his new land. He brought with him his wife and children.

Historian’s Corner: First Schoolhouse

by Thomas Gray
Guilford Town Historian

       Looking at the early development of the Hamlet  of Guilford in Smith’s History of Chenango County, we find across the road from the Presbyterian Church the first schoolhouse. The original building built in 1828 was an Academy (select school & public meetings) on the top floor and a common school on the bottom floor.

        The building was 36 by 24 feet with a chimney in the rear. John Latham, Dauphin Murray, Rufus Baldwin John Whiting, Daniel S. Dickinson, Calvin Mills and Phineas Atwater were elected trustees. They contracted Horace Dresser to teach in the common school for one year for $75 and board. In 1844 the Academy was discontinued.  The building was then only used as a district schoolhouse. The building was repaired and as you see in the photo the two story building was now only one story.

      But the memories of the Academy persist. Students desirous of  not just getting out of school but to make themselves helpful and caring in the world and wanting to make themselves great. Daniel Dickinson in the Academy was one of them. He wrote,

      “Let’s make ourselves great again.”

Historian’s Corner: The Angel Inn

by Thomas Gray
Guilford Town Historian

       Today, we look at the old and closed “Angel Inn.” that had an amazing history! It was first called Parson’s Inn, then the Pillars and later the Angel Inn.

        The first settlers in the town began to arrive before the end of the Civil War. Two brothers who were the first settlers of Wilford by the name of Mersereau came in 1879. A new town began to grow as the family started the first Saw Mill. Plus, the early dirt roads enabled travel into the interior. By 1809 a stagecoach stop opened in what we call Guilford Center today. It was called Parson’s Inn from the Parson family who built and then opened it. It was in 18— that the Persides Meteor shower occurred and set fires, some in the woods near the inn. The fear of Doomsday filled our early settlers minds. The owner of the inn had a wooden Archangel Gabriel constructed by an itinerant wood carver who arrived on the stagecoach. The angel was hung on top of the entrance way to attract settlers who arrived on the stagecoach to remove the fear of the Lord.

         Today, the angel is one of the most valuable pieces of American Folk in the US. Woodcarvers in the Guilford Historical Society created the first exact replica of the angel. It is now in a glass case in the Guilford Historical Society. The inn is now closed but the angel replica is now in our home for you to say “Hello”

Great Members-Great Projects

We have great individuals in our historical society that take on projects that sometimes could only be dreamed of. For instance a school house that was pretty much a disaster that is now almost completely restored…mostly by Ken and Doug…thanks guys  :-). There were other members who offered their services as well, because this has been an on going project..and thanks to those members too!!
Others have also volunteered for local cemetery clean up and we had covered Victor Sibley previously…Thank you Victor. Speaking of cemeteries, here’s a story that ya’all might find of interest. Way back a lady posted her family tree on Ancestry. She was unaware of the death of one of our Guilford men and how he died. Long story short..I replied to her and as a result the story of the disaster of the Jenny Lind steamboat boiler explosion has been researched including the people of the times and how they were connected to Guilford. John Bradbury and Caleb Winsor went to San Francisco back in 1853 to seek their fortune. They may not have been “gold diggers” as there were expanding businesses and money to be made when employed by them. The two men were on that ship and killed. Their bodies were buried there but, a widow lady of Guilford wanted her husbands body returned to Guilford…Ben Twitchell was shot in a land dispute..(that’s another story). She paid to have all 3 bodies returned to Guilford, according to a newspaper clipping. So there you have the background in a very short version.
This is where they were removed from in California:

 John Bradbury
 John’s monument in Sunset Hill Cemetery
Where the stone for Caleb Winsor could be placed.
So much is happening with this now: Kurt has offered a stone that may be made into a marker for Caleb as none exists and we believe he should have a marker next to his parents in Gospel Hill..thanks to Kurt for taking on this project. 
A very large project has been taken on by Claire to see a memorial being placed to all those who perished in the explosion in California. This a a photo of the site where the memorial may be placed by April of 2013 and is close to the site of the explosion..Claire has gone to many organizations to obtain funding to make this come true. This also a big project undertaken by one lady. Thank you Claire.
We have the best members. Many volunteers which includes our officers and those who volunteer on our committees. There are members that do not live nearby, such as Claire and Bruce. Bruce thank you too! Thanks to everyone who contributes to GHS and helps us grow and preserve Guilford history!!

Had a wonderful 3 day vacation attending the Association of Public Historians of NY State conference in Elmira. Tom was recognized by the many historians of different counties and townships of the state for his work on projects and publications. So the Guilford Township Historian was surprised with the award and thanks to APHNYS and the hosts in Elmira for a great 3 days.

Sibley Family Mysteries

David Ebenezer Sibley
Possibly Reverend Charles Sibley

Sometimes there are mysteries that one is doing everything, including a blog, to solve. I could also do Facebook but, this is better and we’re linked anyway. The Sibley family in Guilford begins with David Ebenezer Sibley who lived in Rockdale, Town of Guilford. He was born in Jamaica, W.I. His father was Charles Sibley born in England. He went to Jamaica and became a preacher. Reverend Charles Sibley was married three times and had 2 children by the first wife and had 9 by the second and 7 by the third. He outlived the first two wives. The older children were David E., Robert and Agnes. Charles also had a son William Peto Sibley. Also his children were Mrs.Barron (Emma Isabel), and Mrs Hannah Elizabeth Turner. He had a sister that was the first wife of Rev. George Richard Henderson (Emma Elizabeth Sibley). Charles went with them to Jamaica. His son William Peto was also a minister and died in Jamaica. Is there anyone out there that may have more information on the Sibley families? We now have some of the answers to some questions written above. Who were the parents of Charles has been answered (Robert and Elizabeth Sibley)but what was Elizabeth’s maiden name?. They were still in England. Maybe this blog will reach Jamaica and England and someone there has the answers. By the way, they were Baptists and I know from “The Annual Report of the Jamaican Baptist Union for 1901” that the Reverend Charles Sibley died in Jamaica April 11th, 1901 leaving a wife and 6 little children.

The Civil War

For 2011 GHS would like to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War. One of our members, Bruce (last name with held) has spent hours researching the Albany Library for men who were born in Guilford, NY, or lived here, or enlisted her, or died here or buried here. These men with those connections will be honored in some way within the four years commemoration. It does not matter what regiment they served in. In fact we had one man who went to Georgia on business and was conscripted by the Confederates. he bought his way out and the Confederates conscripted him again. With no money left, he served. In fact a piece in the local paper years later talked about a clothes line where two uniforms were airing out hanging side by side, one blue and one gray. His Uncle wore the Blue. If anyone has information of the families of these men or pictures we would love to scan the pictures and include some family information on the sheets we are making for each one. I should say our member Bruce is doing. 

Comments please!!

Everyone has a story, so they say. We know you have one too! I have the GHS stories here for you to read and it is linked to Facebook so you get a shot one way or another. What I am wondering is, don’t any of you have a comment to add? It would be nice to know if you are enjoying what you read and maybe you have some suggestions of what you would like to see on the blog. You may even have something to share that I can put on here. “This blog’s for you”. Just click on the comment box at the bottom of each article and a box will open for you to type in. It’s free and easy.

Going the Extra Mile

Family history has it rewards, not only the research one does that brings to light an ancestor of your own, but helping someone else find theirs is just as rewarding. I recently had the experience of helping a family find a fellow who had been killed in an explosion of a steam boat, Jenny Lind,  in California in 1853. His body had been returned to Guilford a few years later. John Bradbury, Caleb Winsor and Benjamin Twitchell were all out there and had been buried out there. Ben’s wife Sophia decided she wanted her husband returned home for burial and paid to have all three brought back. Newspaper articles were a great source of this information. The researcher, I’ll call her Claire, of the Bradbury family had no idea that John had died in that explosion. I just had to let her know and tell her where he ended up. Since then so much more has happened as a result. Claire finds more information everyday as to where they were interred in San Francisco and more articles that describe the explosion. Now one good turn…well Claire was in touch with a Becky. Becky had purchased a musketball 10 years ago on ebay. The musketball had the following attached inscription:
“This iron ball within must be very old – Charlton and a carpenter found it embeded into timber when they were working on the Mickle farm house (upon the hill) from Mt. Upton. They found it years ago.”
Claire gave Becky our email and Becky donated it to the historical society. If this ball could only talk!!

Here’s a photo of the farm from whence it came.