ORMISTON FAMILY HISTORIES
Submitted by Alan Davidson and Richard Davidson October 3, 2001
There follows here a trilogy of Ormiston Family Histories. Two
of them were written by my mother's twin brother, Lloyd Boggs
Ormiston; the first was written in 1960 and the second in 1968.
Between them is some thoughts written by his first cousin,
Mary Scott Swan. My first inclination was to go in and edit,
but on second thought it is best that I not impinge on the
the author. So herewith are the three, practically verbatim,
with my comments and corrections in italics.
On the following pages are copies of documents that have been
passed down, related to the genealogy of the Ormiston family. To
these documents have been added the family numbers as used in the
Ormiston family genealogy which follows this introduction, when
it has been fairly well established that this association is correct.
The following few pages contain listings of names in different
groupings, but the ties between those groups is not clearly apparent.
They are presented here in hopes that some of the readers may be
able to furnish further information that will tie them together.
As you study this book, you will find there are numerous
discrepancies in names, spellings, marriages and dates of events.
Again, it is hoped that some readers will be able to furnish
additional information to resolve these discrepancies.
HISTORY OF THE ORMISTON FAMILY
The line of descent from Robert Ormiston and Elizabeth
Rutherford to Robert Ormiston and Marion Hill who both died in 1719
while living as tenants at Boonraco, Hawick, Scotland. (Taken
from a letter written by George (Dod) Ormiston, a wholesale
and retail butcher at 12 Commercial Road, Hawick, in 1952 to Lloyd
Boggs Ormiston at Bovina, New York.
I have serious problems with the foregoing genealogy. The Walter Ormistons on lines five and
seven are one and the same. Geizel Rutherford was his first wife and Janet Turnbull was his
second wife. Robert Ormiston and Marion Hill's firstborn was John born in 1682 (Not our Walter
as stated). Their second child was James born in 1684 and married Barbara Scott and was our
ancestor. They had a son James born in 1719 who married Jean Dunlop, and their fifth child was
our Walter who married Betty Irwin.
| m. Elizabeth Rutherford
| James Ormiston (The Black Laird)
| Walter Ormiston
| m. Geizel Rutherford
| Walter Ormiston
| m. Janet Turnbull
| m. Janet Tennant
| m. Marian Hill
1. Walter Ormiston (GMinus1)
| m. Betty Irvine
| 1. William Ormiston (G000000000)
| | b. 1780
| | d. Mar. 29, 1864
| | m. Jane Graham 1801
| | b. 1784
| | 8 Children (See following
| 2. James Ormiston
2. James Ormiston 1684-1713
| m. Barbara Scott
3. Robert Ormiston 1696-1740
| m. Ellen Leyden
1. Adam Ormiston
| b. 1738
| m. #1 1766 Agnes Turnbull
| No children
| m. #2 1767 Esther Douglass
| 1. Robert Ormiston
| | b. 1769
| | m. 1819 Helen Hall
| | 1. William Ormiston
| | | b. 1818
| | | d. 1864
| | | m. Jane Watson
| | 2. Adam Ormiston
ü | | b. 1820
| | | d. 1865
| | 3. Robert Ormiston
| | | b. 1821
| | 4. Thomas Ormiston
| | | b. 1823
| | | d. 1867
| 2. Isabella Ormiston
| | b. 1770
| | m. 1793 Walker Askirk
| 3. Helen Ormiston
| | b. 1770
| | d. 1771
| 4. Janet Ormiston
| | b. 1773
| | d. 1773
| 5. William Ormiston (1st)
| | b. 1774
| | d. 1775
| 6. George Ormiston
| | b. 1776
| | d. 1776
| 7. William Ormiston (2nd)
| | b. 1778
| | d. 1859
| | m. not married
| 8. Adam Ormiston
| | b. 1780
| | d. 1781
| m. #3 Nellie Scott
| No Children
| m. #4 Isabella Scott
| 9. George Ormiston
| | b. 1799
| | m. Annie Lockie
| | 1. Adam Ormiston
| | | b. 1827
| | | d. 1896
| | | m. Margaret Henderson
| | | 1. George Ormiston
| | | 2. Adam Ormiston
| | | 3. William Ormiston
| | | | d. 1930 at Innerleithen
| | | 4. Elizabeth Ormiston
| | | | d. in Western Australia
| | | 5. Margaret Ormiston
| | | | d. in Western Australia
| | 2. William Ormiston
| | | b. 1828
| | | d. died young
| | 3. Margaret Ormiston
| | | b. 1830
| | 4. Robert Ormiston
| | | b. 1832
| | | d. 1874
| | | m. Margaret Wood at Eckford
| | | 1. George Ormiston
| | | | b. 1861
| | | | d. 1938
| | | 2. William Ormiston
| | | | b. 1863
| | | | d. 1904
| | | 3. Adam Ormiston
| | | | b. 1865
| | | 4. John Ormiston
| | | | b. 1868
| | | | d. 1946
| 10. Janet Ormiston
| | b. 1803
| | d. 1886 at Melrose
The Grandfather of George (Dod) Ormiston had four sons and two
Janet Ormiston (possibly a sister to William Ormiston)
This is not true. Janet (Her headstone in the old UP cemetery in Bovina reads Jannet) is
descended from John Ormiston b.1682. I can't vouch for the following but believe it is
1. Walter Ormiston
| m. Mary Begbie
| 1. John Ormiston
| | m. Mary Wilson
| | No children
| 2. George (Dod) Ormiston
| | m. Catherine Whetlace
| | 1. Helen Ormiston
| | | m. J. Bell
| | | 1. (Son) Bell
| | | 2. (Daughter) Bell
| | 2. Mary Ormiston
| | 3. Walter Ormiston
| | | m. Helen Laied
| | | 1. (Son) Ormiston
| | 4. Kay Ormiston
2. George Ormiston
3. John Ormiston
4. William Ormiston
5. Euphemia Ormiston
6. (Infant Daughter) Ormiston
| d. at birth
Other papers in a collection now in the possession of
William Ormiston (G8313) is a letter from Boonran by James
Ormiston, a brother of William Ormiston, telling of the death of
Thomas Irvin two weeks before. Thomas' brother Gideon has gone to
Newton to follow his trade, and his sister Janet is hired by
James Scott at Worbrig. Silver But Hall has been sold to William
Oliver, a merchant all but horses and stockyard and the height from
town east to Howdianburn which is possessed by Robert Smith.
(11/15/1833). William Turnbull settling the Irvine Estate of between
6,000 and 7,000 L.
m. Walter Stott (born in Scotland 1771
| 1. Walter Stott
| b. 1800
| m. Mary Neish
| 1. Robert Ormiston Stott
| | b. 1843
| | d. 1846
| 2. Alexander Dumond Stott
| | b. 1845
| | d. 1847
| 3. Robert Alexander Stott
| | b. 1850
| | d. 1861
| 4. James George Stott
| | b. 1851
| | d. 1861
| 5. John Neish Stott
| | b. 1855
| | d. 1866
| 6. Samuel Patten Stott
| | b. 1860
| | d. 1861
| 7. Elizabeth Stott
| | m. William McPherson
2. George Stott
| b. 1803
| m. Nellie Storie
| 1. George Stott
| | m. Helen Cowan
| 2. William Stott
| | m. Jannette McNee
| 3. Ellen Jane Stott
| 4. Walter Stott
| | m. Harriet McNee
| 5. Janettee Stott
| | m, Thomas Hilson
| 6. James Stott
| 7. Alexander Stott
| 8. Jane S. Stott
| | b. 1828
| | d. 1829
| 9. Walter Stott
| | b. 1831
| | d. 1833
| 10. Samuel A. Stott
| | b. 1845
| | d. 1873
3. John Elliott Stott
| m.Jane Ormiston (daughter of William Ormiston and Jane
4. Nellie Stott
| m. Robert Patterson
The correct spelling for the old homestead in Scotland is Boonraw. At least that is the
spelling on current maps.
A HISTORY OF THE ORMISTON FAMILY
by LLOYD BOGGS ORMISTON (G834)
This history of the Ormiston family begins with our great-great-
grandfather, Walter Ormiston (GMinus1) at "Bonran",near Hawick,
Roxburghshire, Scotland in the year 1800. (I think that "Bonran" is the
name of the farming estate owned or leased by the Ormiston clan.)
Bonran appears at the head of several old letters we have from Scotland.
It was here that our great grandfather, William Ormiston
(G000000000), was born in 1780, and grew to young manhood.
When he was about 21 years of age, he married Jane Graham, a
daughter of an illiterate Highland shepherd. Father said it was quite
common for the Highland Scotch to be uneducated. The Lowland
Scotch were the educated people, generally speaking. They were the
ministers, teachers, merchants, apothecaries (druggists),doctors,
barristers (lawyers), draftsmen, sailors, fishermen, farmers, etc..
The Ormistons were Lowland Scotch, and have always been
The writer has always pictured our great-grandmother as a tall,
stately woman and I have always heard she was rather good-looking! I
think we got our tall stature from her side of the family.
In the spring of 1802, William set sail for America with his bride.
("He went out not knowing whither he went" Heb. 11:8.)
The Grahams had already gone the year before in 1801. They
arrived in Philadelphia in June and lived with John Miller, an uncle,
who was a stone cutter by trade. They stayed there for a time, and the
first girl, Elizabeth Ormiston (G1), was born there near Philadelphia,
Oct. 26, 1802. (We have some old letters addressed there in 1803.)
In 1804 William traveled to what is now Ithaca, New York to look
over the land there. He probably left his wife and baby with her folks
in what is now Bovina. They didn't like it at Ithaca because it was
one vast swamp at that time.
The Grahams, his wife's folks, had settled near "The Hook", in
Delhi township, Delaware County, so that is probably the reason
why our great-grandfather happened to settle in what is now Bovina.
("The Hook" is now called Lake Delaware.)
The first settlers of Delaware County were mostly Scotch. When
they saw "the rocks and rills and wooded hills" they would say to
themselves, "This is our ain bonnie Scotland in America!"
Our great-grandfather William settled this farm we still live
on at the present time. We have several old letters from Scotland
addressed to him at Brushland in 1804. (Brushland was the name given
to the village which is now Bovina Center until 1885.) Stamford was
the nearest post-office at that time. The mail was brought in to
Brushland on horseback. It should be kept in mind that the country
around here was all forest with no roads, or fences as we know them,
only trails, or footpaths ran from one settlement to another.
The first dwelling on this farm was located over above the highway
almost opposite our present house. It was at the foot of the spring
run where they got their water from a "pump-log", or wooden leader.
In common with all settlers they lived in a log cabin with thatched
roof. They would also have a log shelter for the family cow, or cows.
There used to be a rosebush over on the bank above the road that was
planted by our great-grandmother.
The first field to be cleared on this place was the "barn meadow",
back of our present house. The first barn stood in the center of the
meadow. In those days the basement part was built of field stone. The
cows were kept in that and the hay-loft was overhead. They built with
the materials they had at hand. They would clear a field, then build
a stonewall around it. That served the double purpose of getting
rid of the stone, and providing a fence at the same time.
It was strictly subsistence farming those days. They did well
to even survive those first three years.
We have an old letter dated 1803 in which Walter and family in
Scotland plead with William to come back home again, offering all
sorts of inducements, even part of the farm. The old man didn't
seem to have a very high regard for William's wife's folks, the
Grahams. He advised him to "keep the management of your own money in
your own hands!"
One letter closed with, "My dear son, my heart is broken with
parting with you; for I love you, but if there is any prospect of
your returning it would be some comfort to me. I desire you not to
buy any land, but take as much as will maintain you and your friends,
but if things be not as you wish, return home again, where you will be
received joyfully." The letter was signed by the old father, Walter,
his wife Betty Irvine, and the only brother James, all in their own
I think Walter(GMinus1) had two wives. Betty Irvine was the second
one. We know nothing of the first wife. Perhaps she would be the
mother of William (G000000000) and James (not numbered).
This brother James stayed with his father until he died, about
1818. He then came to America, by way of Canada in 1819. He intended
to join his brother William in Delaware County, but a land agent in
St. Lawrence County offered him such a good proposition, that he
stayed there. The two brothers or their families never met again
that we know of. That was the way in those days. If a family became
separated, the chances were they never saw each other again in this
With this story in mind, I set out in the summer of 1995 to
see what I could find about his disappearance. In the archives
of the St. Lawrence Co. Historical Society in Canton, NY I soon
found a James Ormiston who came to St. Lawrence Co in 1819. The
name fit and the date fit pretty well. Then I literally
stumbled across an Ormiston genealogy that tied in with one my father did, and it told me I had
the wrong James Ormiston. By going back to Robert Ormiston and Marion Hill, both of whom
died in 1719, a little study that this genealogy followed their son John b. 1682, whereas our line
followed his brother James b.1684. What to do??
After my first cousin William Ormiston died, his widow June sent me copies of the old Ormiston
papers that Bill had. Among them was a letter to my grandfather Tom Ormiston, dated April 1901
from Jeannette Ormiston of Philadelphia, Pa filled with lots of genealogical names, dates,
etc. Included was the story about the land agent in St Lawrence Co. with such similarity right
down to the terminology, that I am completely convinced that it was from this letter that
Uncle Lloyd mistakenly believed that Jeanette's grandfather, James was our great-great
grandfather's brother (which he was not!!) And it also accounts for his belief that our Walter
was married twice, for that is what her letter stated. So much for that theory!!
Father used to say that the reason why we got such a rough farm,
was that our great-grandfather was a late comer, and most of the more
desirable farms were already "taken up". The Hastings farm, the next
farm above us, was settled 5 years earlier.
Who but a stubborn Scotchman would tackle such rugged
terrain?! But they were used to rocks and stones in the old country.
Father also said that the Scotchmen cleared the uplands first,
because they were afraid of floods in the lowlands. It seems they
were troubled by terrific floods in the lowlands of Scotland. In one
of the old letters from Scotland it tells of the dikes they built up to
keep the floodwaters off the land.
In the book Beside the Bonnie Briar Bush by MacLaren, he tells
a story of one of those dangerous floods. With the driving rain and
melting snow the water would come rushing down out of the Scottish
We have an old Certificate of Naturalization, which shows that
William Ormiston (G000000000) became a citizen of U. S. A. at
Norristown, Montgomery County, Pa., dated May 17,1809. So that was
where he lived when he first landed in America.
He and his wife were among the first charter members of our church
which was then known as the Associated Presbyterian Church of Delhi.
The first church was located in the center of the old
church-yard, down the road from here about 1 1/4miles. There was quite
a little land in the church lot. The church was organized in 1809.
Our great grandfather built the main part of the house we still
live in. The kitchen wing was added later. We have no way of knowing
what year the house was built. It surely wouldn't be any later than 1812.
The family would be growing fast and they would need more room.
The framing of this house is all hand hewn, even to the rafters.
The frame is all pinned together with hardwood pins. These pins were
cut ahead of time, so they would be well seasoned, then they
wouldn't shrink after being put in place and become loose. The old
nails were made of iron, square and tapered, with heads but not
I have heard that the "barn meadow" was mostly black cherry timber
when cleared. Maybe some of it was built into this house.
The second floor of this house, I think, is about the same as it
was originally. The floor boards are of soft pine, with very few knots,
and extra wide. One board is 23" wide. It would be impossible to find
a pine tree these days that would saw out such wide boards.
The writer has heard Father tell how William Ormiston made trips
to Schoharie County on foot, carrying lime in a sack on his back, for
plastering this house. It must be at least 25 miles one way. He would
be welcome at any settler's cabin along the way. He probably followed
the Indian trail which went through our farm, from Tunis Lake near
Andes to Stamford and Roxbury, and points north.
It isn't much wonder the old plaster is rather crumbly, when it was
so hard to obtain lime. The old plaster was made by mixing sand and
lime with water and a little hair was added to make it "hang together".
Below is a floor plan of this house as it was in our
This farm was taken off of the Montgomery Patent. It was
purchased from the widow of General Montgomery, who was killed at the
Battle of Quebec, Canada. Our great-grandfather didn't obtain the
original deed until 1815. The farm contains 96 acres more or less. It
was provided in the deed that "church rent" should be paid to the
church yearly. So everyone who has owned this farm has always had to
pay the sum of $15 a year to the local United Presbyterian Church.
But just a few years ago, the officers of the church had a "quit claim
deed" made out, so we no longer are obliged to pay rent. Some farms
around used to pay "wheat rent", but I don't know any others but our
farm that ever had "church rent" to pay. This was a custom brought
over from the old country and this was the cause of the "anti-rent" war
in New York State back in 1845.
Our great-grandmother, Jane Graham Ormiston must have been a
remarkable woman. (We don't have a picture of her.) Besides
enduring all the hardships of pioneer life, she produced and
reared eight children. She must have been only 18 years of age when
she came over to America. She lived to the good age of 72 years,
and died in April 1856.
There is some question as to the name of Jane Graham Ormiston. I have seen it as Jane,
Jeanette, Jenet, Janet, Jennette, or Jennett, It all depends on whom you read. All I know is
that her headstone reads "Jennett". So until someone can prove differently, that's what I'll
The family consisted of six girls and two boys, as follows;
Name Date of Birth
Elizabeth (G1) Oct. 26, 1802
Jean (G2) Dec. 17, 1804
John (G3) Jul. 13, 1806
Margaret (G4) Jan. 14, 1808 died age 7
Elinor Murray (G5) Nov. 14, 1809
Nancy (G6) Sep. 2, 1813
Sarah Ann (G7) Dec. 27, 1815
James Graham (G8) Aug. 12, 1818
The youngest boy grew up to become our grandfather.
Question: Where did they put all the children in this house?
Well, they even used the space under the stairs to stow away the
little bairns¡ Also they used "trundle beds" which rolled under the
large double bed.
There wasn't any cellar or kitchen wing at that time either. The
east room was used as everyday living room and kitchen. The little
room off the kitchen was used as a pantry. They kept the food
supplies in bulk in barrels in those days. White flour and white sugar,
as we know them, were unknown at that time. In later years they were
both considered to be luxuries.
They had buckwheat flour made from their own buckwheat grown on
the farm. For sweetening they had their own maple sugar and syrup,
made from the sap of their own maple trees, also honey made by their
own bees. There was plenty of salt pork to go with the pancakes.
Jared VanWagenen of Lawyersville, N. Y. tells that Delaware County
farmers have never been able to raise wheat. I guess the soil is not
right for it. So Delaware County has always imported all its wheat
flour from other parts of the state or from the West.
One of the early means of travel was a yoke of oxen hitched to a
wood-shod sled. They filled the box with straw, and the little bairns
would "cuddle doone" in the straw, and be "as snug as a bug in a rug.!"
I suppose at one time, every farmer around kept at least one yoke
(pair) of oxen.
I don't know whether William Ormiston (G000000000) had a
churn-house or not. They would need some place to set the pans, and
skim the milk and churn the butter. It is doubtful if they ever kept
more than 8 or 10 cows at one time. They didn't do any winter milking
in those days, except maybe one farrow cow, to supply the family. They
did the milking outdoors in a yard, maybe up where our barn is now.
They used a neck-yoke to carry the buckets of milk.
The neck-yoke was made of wood, shaped to fit across a man's
shoulders, and fitted comfortably around the neck from behind. It was
long enough to extend out from the shoulders a few inches. A rawhide
strap was fastened to either end, with a hook tied so it reached to a
man's hips. That was a much easier way to carry two buckets than
carrying them in your hands. The buckets didn't interfere with your
walking. They also used the neck-yoke for gathering the maple sap.
They boiled the sap right in the middle of the sap-bush in those days.
That is probably where the term "sugar camp" came from.
William Ormiston (G000000000), his wife Jane, with their
family must have lived in this house approximately 50 years. What
extremely difficult years they must have been. They hewed a farm out
of the wilderness and built all the stone-walls. I suppose the line
fences would have been the first priority. The neighbors would work
together on the line fences, and it would take many, many years to do
It is doubtful if they had water in the house, They used the
"catch and carry" system¡ Metal pipe was unknown at that time.
Everything was made of wood.
In the course of time the children grew up and went out to work
at an early age. They were all married, except the one daughter
Margaret (G4) who died at the age of 7 years
The oldest daughter Elizabeth (G1) married John Thompson and went
A little confusion here. The oldest daughter Elizabeth married John Hymers and they had a farm
in Meredith. The second girl, Jane married John Elliott Stott and moved to VA. And Eleanor
married John Thomson and they lived in Bovina.
The second girl, Jean (G2), married Walter Stott and moved to
John (G3), the oldest boy, went out to live at Horseheads, N. Y..
Maybe his father had told him about that country, because he had seen
the place when he had visited what is now Ithaca, N. Y. when he
first came to New York State. We do not know whom he married, but I do
know of a grandson Charles (G311). He came to visit the Bovina
Ormistons when a young man and met and married Margaret Ellen Coulter.
She was a sister of David H. Coulter, a neighbor of the Ormistons.
When she was left a widow at Horseheads, she went to live with
her children at Weedsport, N. Y.. She visited us here about 25 years
ago. She died a few years ago.
Elinor (G5) married John Hymers of Delancy, Delaware County.
Nancy (G6) married John Burns of Upper Bovina. That makes us
related to all the Burns around Bovina.
Sarah (G7) married Alvah Baxter and went with her husband to
Kansas. The middle west was just opening up at that time. They could
get good land cheap by home-steading for the government.
Our grandfather, James Graham Ormiston (G8) was married twice.
His first wife was Jennette Hoy. They were married Oct. 18, 1843. She
died July 22, 1845, only about two months after the first baby was
born. She was laid to rest in the old church-yard. The little girl was
also named Jennette (G81).
In Oct. 1849, our grandfather married Rebecca McFarland, who
Became our grandmother. She came from a large family of 8 children.
She was born Feb. 14, 1824 at the old McFarland farm in Upper Bovina.
That is on the south side of the highway across from the Maynard farm.
Their first child, Mary (G82), was born Jan. 14, 1851. The
second and third babies died in infancy. They were both boys and were
named James and William. (NOTE: These two had not been included in the
genealogy originally. Rather than renumber everyone else, they have
been numbered G82A and G82B and are now included.) They were
buried beside the first wife. I think our grandfather must have lived
here with his father for 13 years after he was married first. His
father would be getting old by that time, and the older children would
all be away from home.
We have the old deed that shows that James G. Ormiston (G8)
purchased the farm over on the hill up the old church-yard road
Jan 6, 1853 from Robert Elliott. That was a larger farm than this farm,
having about 140 acres more or less.
Father (Thomas G83) was born Jan. 31, 1856 and our
great-grandmother died in April 1856. She was laid to rest in the old
So that was a very important year in the Ormiston family. Our
great-grandfather lived the last years of his life with his son James
on the above mentioned farm.
I think also, that this farm was sold to Andrew Archibald about
that time too. We haven't been able to find any record of when Andrew
Archibald bought this farm but we do know when he sold it.
Our great grandfather lived the last years of his life with his
son James over on the hill, known to us as the "old White Home."
The scene now shifts from this farm to the James G. Ormiston (G8)
farm, which was on the left of the side road down by the church-yard.
It is less than 3/4 miles from here, if you go across lots on foot.
We have a picture of "Old Wullie Ormiston" (G000000000)as he was
known locally. It shows him to be a very rugged old Scotchman,
maybe a little less than 6 feet tall. I suppose he was always "as poor
as Job's turkey!".
When the estate was settled over in Scotland in 1860-63, the will
was contested in court, and it took 3 years before it was finally
settled. William Turnbull, tobacconist in Hawick, a cousin of
William Ormiston, looked after his interest over there. We have several
letters from him about the estate business.
Women were not permitted to hold property in Scotland. If
Walter's wife was left with his property it would be held in trust
by a male member of her family. In some cases a woman was pretty nearly
forced to remarry to obtain a decent living. Of course the women of
that day were uneducated and there were very few jobs open to them.
William Ormiston (G000000000) finally received 600 pounds as his
share of the estate. "Old Wullie" died in 1864 at the ripe old age
of 84 years.
He was buried beside his wife in the old church-yard near the west
wall. (Note: The name "Jeanette" appears on his wife's gravestone.
That is surely a mistake. I don't know how it happened, but I have an
idea that "Uncle Will" (Dr. Ormiston) had the stone erected without
asking anyone and got the names mixed. His own father's first
wife was named Jennette.)
This is the biggest head scratcher of all. Here is how the grave
stones actually read:
William Ormiston, Died March 29, 1864, Age 84 yrs
Jennett, Wife of William Ormiston, Died Sept 12, 1856 A.72 years, and in small letters on
bottom right corner "SH White Walton"
Janet C. Hoy, Consort of James Ormiston, Died July 22, 1845,
A. 22 years and 5 mo (This was James Graham Ormiston's 1st wife)
I don't know how my uncle made such a blatant mistake when he
lived only a mile from the cemetery.
My research in Munsell's History of Delaware showed me that
S. H. White & Co, was formed in 1864 by Seth H. White and John
Woodburn, and was dissolved in 1873, when "Doc" Ormiston was only seven years old. I think it
highly unlikely that he contracted for the stone at such a tender age. If not Doc Ormiston,
who? Her husband died in March 1864 so he is probably ruled out. How about her own son, James
Graham Ormiston 1818-1883? He would be my bet!
The idea of using the church yard for the burying ground was a
custom brought over from the old country.
The writer feels that he doesn't know too much about our
Grandfather or the James Ormiston farm above-mentioned. I don't remember
that Father ever talked very much about his father. We have a picture
of our grandfather which shows him to be a tall, spare man well over
6 feet in height. His family consisted of 6 children, 3 girls and 3
boys, that is the ones that lived. They are as follows:
Jennette (G81), the half-sister, born 1845
Mary (G82) 1851
Thomas (G83) 1856
Nancy Jane (G84) 1858
James Lee (G85) 1862
William (G86) 1866
(NOTE: The third and fourth children, James and William,
died as infants and were not numbered.)
Here is a remarkable coincidence. The 3 boys were about the same space
apart in age, as the 3 boys in our own family. Also there was a girl
born between the first and second boys.
They were then in the midst of what you might call "the horse
and buggy era". The system of roads, as we know them, had taken shape
by that time.
That farm was always short on water and wood. They had to
supplement the wood supply with coal. The sap-bush was around the edge
of the very meager wood lot. The only spring was lower than the house
so they always had to carry water into the house. In later years
they pumped the water with a pitcher pump into the kitchen. There are
many houses around these parts that are above the spring. They never
thought of such a thing as water running into the house by gravity,
when the house was built.
The churn-house was across the driveway below the house on the
The house was two story height only on the kitchen end, and had a
single story wing next to the road. The kitchen was on the west corner
with a bedroom back of that. The living room was in the middle of the
house, opening on to a built-in porch in front. There were 2 bedrooms
on the end of the wing next to the road. There were also 2 bedrooms
upstairs over the kitchen part.
The barn was located some distance west of the house. It was an
older type of barn than our barn on this farm. There was no high-floor,
and there was no driveway through the cow stable. The manure was thrown
out of the windows on the lower side.
The farm on the hill maintained more cows than this farm. The
Ormistons have always had Jersey, or Alderney breed of cattle.
They were, and are the highest producers of butterfat. The sale of
butter used to be the main source of income of all the farmers in
Bovina and Delaware County. They all kept a lot of hogs to use up the
skim-milk and buttermilk. This milk was also used to raise calves.
Farming in those days was sheer drudgery.
Father's folks always called the place over there "The Old White
Home." It was there they grew up to young manhood and womanhood.
Jennette (G81), the half-sister, married Robert Scott and went
to live at Raymore, Missouri. Father always called her "Aunt Nette."
She would be our aunt. So we have some relatives in Missouri that
we have never seen.
Mary (G82) married Archibald B. Phyffe and lived in the upper
part of the village of Brushland, in Bovina.
Nancy Jane (G84) married Thomas H. Scott and lived in New
Kingston. "Tom" Scott was a first class carpenter and builder and
built several houses and barns around Bovina.
(See the back of the history for more family records.)
I think our grandfather was active in the church. Rev. John
Graham, who was the pastor in Bovina for 20 years in the 1830's and
1840's, tells in his autobiography about James G. Ormiston helping
to take his family and all his goods and chattels on a sleigh to Delhi,
when they left Bovina in March 1856 to go to Iowa.
I don't think that Grandfather was ever nearly as rugged as his
father. I think he was in failing health for several years before he
died. I gather from father's diary that our grandfather was a user of
tobacco. Also Father tells of Grandfather being given the easy jobs,
like "going to the mill with the grist". He only lived 17 years longer
than his father. He died in April 1883 at age 64 and was buried in the
"new" cemetery on Coulter Brook near the east wall.
Father (G83), the oldest son, inherited the farm from his father
and the other members of the family were willed a sum of money. Our
grandmother, Rebecca McFarland Ormiston continued to live with Father
over on the hill until 1897 when our family moved to the State of
Maryland. She then lived with Dr. Ormiston in Delhi. Grandmother died
while visiting us in Glencoe, Maryland in 1901. I can just remember her
holding us little fellows on her lap in the evening and telling us
stories. She had a wonderful way with children, very much like our Aunt
The farm over on the hill was rented to Dave Draffin for two years
or three after we went south. Then it was sold to Champ Worden, a
neighbor over on the Pink Street road. The dairy and other personal
property were sold at public auction.
Andrew Archibald must have taken over this farm we now own
shortly before the Civil War. He was related to Father by marriage.
His wife was Elizabeth McFarland a sister of our grandmother
Ormiston. They lost a little girl, Libbie, in 1852 at the age of 7
years. They also had a daughter, Barbara, born in 1848. Andrew
Archibald's wife died in 1862 at the age of 46 years. Barbara
would be only 14 years of age when her mother died. Sarah McFarland,
another sister came here to keep house for the Archibalds. Father
always called them "Uncle Dick" and "Aunt Sally." Father used to be
over here a lot when a young man. He would help finish haying, or oat
Uncle Dick did a lot of fixing up while he lived here. He had
the kitchen wing built on the house (single story) and put the
cellar under the west half of the house. He also fixed over the
windows and woodwork.
The bay-window was added especially for Barbara's flowers¡ The
McFarland brothers probably did all the carpentry work around the
place. Uncle Dick had a bedroom built into the back corner of the
kitchen so he could have a handy place to lie down. The little
built-in cupboard was where he kept his money and tobacco¡ He probably
put in the first lead pipe to bring water into the sink in the back
room, also into the churn-house.
The McFarland brothers built the barn in 1875. It was very well
built too. They were first class carpenters. "Uncle Arch" Phyfe,
with the help of Robert Currie built the outdoor potato cellar in
1876. Uncle Dick had the milk-house, or churn-house as it would be
called then, built in his later years. He had a water turbine fixed in
the lower west corner for power to run the churn. The water was brought
from a pond just west of the barn.
Uncle Dick was a great believer in saving effort. The story is
told that he had a pigpen built just west of the house, and below
the churn-house, where the road is now. He had a wooden leader fixed
so the milk could run directly into the pig trough. Could you think of
anything more convenient than that? But one of the pigs died, and he
didn't know it until the pig began to stink!
The road originally came up back of the house on the east side.
The bridge would be a few rods further up the brook from where it is
now. I don't know who changed the road to its present location.
"Uncle Arch" Phyfe told me about one time he brought a girl over
here to visit Uncle Dick and Aunt Sally. When he helped her out of
the sleigh out here back of the house, he slipped and fell and the girl
landed on top of him!
Below is a floor plan of this house as it was in the days of "Uncle
This old house has seen "a heap of livin'".
Walter Coulter, who was born and brought up on the next farm below
us, told me he used to come up to visit when a small boy. Uncle Dick
would have him lie down on the floor beside him and stretch out to see
who was the tallest! That would please the boy. He told me that Uncle
Dick tried to raise his own tobacco on the little garden spot between
the house and barn.
I think the McFarlands were responsible for the old cupboard
doors with the tin panels with a floral design punched into them. They
were quite inclined to be artistic.
When the barn wall was built, Uncle Dick had a rock built into it
on the left side of the stable door which projected out about one foot
and just the right height for him to sit down on, when he got up to
the barn. I have heard he had heart trouble during his later years.
We shouldn't be too hard on Uncle Dick, because he had plenty of
trouble in his life time. Barbara, his only surviving daughter had a
baby boy born out of wedlock, and she died in childbirth. That was
Dec. 22, 1877 at the age of 29 years. The baby was named Andrew H.
Archibald but only lived 3 months and 5 days. Aunt Sally took care of
the baby while he lived.
Herman Archibald, a nephew of Uncle Dick, stayed here when a boy
and went to school at the "Butt End", and helped with the work. He
lived here quite a number of years. Uncle Dick always had a hired man. I
have heard the story about Uncle Dick waiting around until he saw
Herman coming down the road from school before he started for the
barn to do the chores. The barn was still up on the hill in the
center of the "barn-meadow" at that time. Uncle Dick was among the
first breeders of purebred registered Jersey cattle in Bovina. Uncle
Dick died in 1882 at the age of 70 years. Herman Archibald and Aunt
Sally continued to live here on this farm for a year. Aunt Sally went
to live with our father and her sister Rebecca over on the hill
until her death Dec. 1, 1889.
Father was executor of the Andrew H. Archibald estate. He sold
this farm to William Liddle. He only stayed a year. Then the farm was
sold to James Liddle, another brother, who stayed here until 1890.
Father then sold the farm to our uncle James L. Ormiston (G85) in
1892. Uncle Jim and family lived here about 8 years but couldn't make a
go of it because the times were very hard during those years. He never
owned property ever after that. He spent most of his life WORKING
at various "rich men's estates", and had the record of having moved
14 times during his lifetime. Uncle Jim lived at Choatsville, Pa.,
Wilmington, Del. and Newark, Delaware, Sparrows Point, Maryland,
Lake Delaware here in Delaware County. He spent the later part of his
life at different places in and around Oneonta, N.Y.
When Uncle Jim lived here on this farm he fixed over the kitchen
in the same arrangement as it is to this day. He also put in window sash
with the large panes in the living room. He built the hen house too.
When the bridge was washed out by the flood following a cloudburst,
June 15, 1894 Uncle Jim built over the abutments and did a very
good job. He drew in some good big rocks. That was the same year
that our sister Ruth (G832) was born on June 15. Uncle Jim sold his
farm to Father in 1900.
The farm was sold or rented to William Liddle and James Liddle
and was rented to Robert A. Thomson while we were in Maryland.
We came back here in the spring of 1908, and have now been
living on this farm 52 years.
- Lloyd Ormiston (G834)
Bovina Center, New York
There is a correction to be made in my history. According to the
assessment rolls William and James Liddle had this farm during the ten
years following the death of "Dick" Archibald. Below are the dates.
96 acres assessed to Andrew Archibald 1862-1880
to Sally McFarland 1882 & 1883
to William A. Liddle 1884
to James A. Liddle 1885-1890
to Thomas Ormiston (G83) 1891
(Executor, Estate of Andrew Archibald)
to James L. Ormiston (G85) 1892-1902
to Thomas Ormiston (G83) 1903
Ormiston farm on side road by the church yard 1st farm on the left.
130 acres assessed to James G. Ormiston (G8) 1862-1882
to Thomas Ormiston (G83) 1883-1887
119 acres assessed to Thomas Ormiston (G83) 1888-1901
I said that Aunt Sally and Herman Archibald lived here in that
period and that William and James Liddle lived here while we were in
Maryland but that is not correct. I don't know whether or not Aunt
Sally died over on the hill or up at her old home, the McFarland place
where Lingg lives now.
Lloyd Ormiston (G834)
Bovina Center, N. Y.
March 16, 1961
The following is an additional Ormiston History Note by Mary Scott Swan
(G843), daughter of Nancy Jane Ormiston Scott (G84), and a first cousin
of Lloyd Boggs Ormiston (G834).
Pawling, New York
My mother (Nancy Ormiston G84) talked about her father a lot and
the life on the Ormiston place in her young days. She remembered her
father walking the floor and reading from Milton's "Paradise Lost".
He had thought of being a minister but to get out a sermon every
week seemed like too much work. Until the Civil War, he was considered
to be fairly well to do, he kept a saddle horse and went hunting. He
always said there was nothing better than a heel (end) of a rye loaf
in his pocket when he went off with his gun.
He went to the Bovina church but he read Tom Paine's "Age of
Reason" and said he wished he had not. He lost money when the house
that the McFarland boys were building, stood unfinished for some time,
because they just disappeared when the draft for men to make up Mr.
Lincoln's army came. The family continued to live in the old house
which was on the place, just back of the new one.
Somehow the present house got finished. Grandfather liked to sit
on the porch and watch the thunderstorms come over the hills but
Grandmother was afraid of them and tried to keep the children with her
in the bedroom on a feather bed (feathers protected from lightning)but
she couldn't keep Jim (G85) and Will (G86) long.
They kept in touch with relatives on the lower farm. In winter
Aunt Sally would come up across the fields walking on the stone walls
to avoid the deep snow. She brought some home remedy, she was noted for
making, for a sick child who felt better as soon as it saw her.
The family grew and went to the Bovina school. Tom (G83), I think
Mother said, went to Hobart to the academy there for a while. One winter
while Mother was in the Bovina school, the teacher was so unfair
and strict that Grandfather took her out and sent her to live at the
McFarlands and she went to school in that district. Those cousins were
older and she had a wonderful time. They had formed an orchestra in
their family, had made their own violins.
Everyone went to "singing school" in those days. The Ormistons
made up a quartet among themselves, Tom (G83) sang tenor, Jim (G85) had
a beautiful bass voice, Mary (G82) was a contralto (her daughter Anna
(G821) had a fine alto voice) and Jane (G84) was the soprano. They sang
about in different towns and at home around the parlor organ, one of
the first in Bovina.
Mother (G84) told of a cousin, Anna Rogers and her mother, who
came summers to visit. They were from Roxbury, Mass. (now a part of
Greater Boston. Cousin Anna was interested in Tom (G83) but they
couldn't think of being married because Anna had a bad back, curvature
of the spine, I think. They wanted Jane (G84), my mother to go back
with them, and study at the Boston Conservatory of Music but Mother did
not want to leave home. She had too good a time at home. My Father and
Mother visited the Rogers on their wedding trip.
Summer and winter there were young people at the house or there
were parties at Andes or the McFarlands. Grandmother always had
something for the groups that came. It might be biscuits hot from the
oven on a cold night.
When my Mother (G84) was married and she left home for her own
home in New Kingston, Tom (G83) gave her a bedroom suit made of native
chestnut. I remember it well. We had the lamp stand here at Rockyrood.
I was at your fathers (Tom G83) wedding. It was Christmas Day 1890
and I was 5 years old. It was the first time I got acquainted with an
"allergy" although it wasn't called by that name then. Someone started
to peel an orange. The oil from the skin, in the air, made Aunt Maggie's
(Uncle Jim's (G85) wife) eyes swell and pain so it had to be stopped.
Uncle Jim (G85) had then been married for two years. Mother said that he
left home and went to work quite young so he didn't have the education
that Tom (G83) and Will (G86) had. At one time, he was "teaming it" as
they say, and he and Aunt Maggie lived in the village. He drove back
and forth from Delhi with supplies for the stores.
I remember being at their house one summer and Aunt Maggie and
Mother were making sunbonnets. I was fascinated to watch the oblong of
doubled cloth being stitched around and around on the machine to stiffen
it for the front of the bonnet. Uncle Jim understood horses and knew how
to handle them.
When we were children in Walton sometimes my father would be off
on a job building a barn, perhaps, so Mother would take us on the train
to Delhi and there Uncle Tom met us with horse and wagon. After we
turned the hill above Delhi and were on the straight road, our first
stop would be at the toll house. That was interesting.
Lloyd (G834) thinks there was no water in the farm house but I
remember a spring. I always rushed out to see in the room beyond the
kitchen. It was about level with the floor, oblong and lined with
large slabs of sandstone with the water about a foot and a half deep
and the wonder of it was, a trout lived in it (it was supposed to keep
the water pure) and it came out from behind the end stone if one kept
very quiet. I don't know where the overflow went.
Spring water was always running in the spring house across the
yard and lane, where the milk and cream pans were kept. Sometimes cakes
and pies were cooling there. Your steps sounded hollow on the stone
floor. Outside, fastened to the siding near the gable end was a bluebird
house, made of a small wooden keg in which oysters had come. A hole was
bored in the bottom for the door. The fishy odor attracted the birds,
they said. It was there for me to see and Mother said it was inhabited
by bluebirds when she was young.
On one of the visits to the old place, I slept upstairs and in
passing through the open attic to the bedroom I saw sap buckets full
of stirred maple sugar for use in the kitchen. Mother remembers when
white granulated sugar from the store was a treat. It was expensive,
As children we always looked forward to Grandmother's visits.
My father was fond of her and they held long discussions on religious
matters. In Walton, one time, she took us to the edge of the woods and
showed us, through a microscope, the beauties of the various mosses.
We were always sorry to have her leave.
It must have been hard for her, a young schoolteacher of 25
years to begin housekeeping for a man with a 4 year old daughter and
both parents living with him. She had a fear that as she got older she
might lose her mind and be a burden but she never did. I've understood
that it did happen to her husbands mother, our great-grandmother.
Mary Scott Swann (G843)
Note by Mary Scott Swann
When Mother lived at home there was no vegetable garden. The men
considered it beneath them to work at such.
Only women used the privy. The men had the barn.
The following is another, later history written by Lloyd Boggs
22 William Street
Walton, New York
To Whom It May Concern:
I will attempt to write the story of the life of our father, Thomas
Ormiston. Maybe the grandchildren will appreciate it in the years to
I happen to know more about it than any of the rest of the family,
because I was with my father more, and he told me more. Then, too, I
have always been at home.
I have gleaned a lot of information about his early life from
his diaries. He had the old-fashioned habit of keeping a diary of
the daily happenings at the home farm.
L. B. O.
Life at the Old White House
Our father and all his family were born and raised there, except
Mary, the oldest, who was born at our great-grandfather's farm, later
known as "Rocky Ranch"
The farm was the first farm on the side road, the first turn to the
left on the main highway, less than a mile above the village of
Brushland (so called until 1890 anyway, now known as Bovina Center.)
They were raised in a Christian home, where they had family worship
every day in the good old "Scotch Presbyterian" tradition. The father or
some member of the family would read from the Bible, then all would
kneel down and the father would lead in prayer.
The Ormiston family were all good at singing. They spent many
enjoyable hours singing around the parlor organ. They had a very good
mixed quartet right in the family. Sister Jane was the soprano; Mary,
alto; "Tom", tenor; "Jim", bass. Father could sing either tenor or bass.
I don't know if "Uncle Will" was a singer or not, probably he was.
The Ormistons received their basic education at the district school
in Brushland. Father took a grammar course at Andes Academy. I suppose
that was to prepare him for teaching school. But beyond that he was
what they call a self-educated man. He joined the "Chautauqua Reading
Circle." We have a large certificate showing that he completed the
course. There were three volumes of "Greek History" included.
(Father used to keep after me to take up a regular reading course
like that. I waded through two volumes of the Greek History, but never
finished the third one.)
Bovina had a "Literary Society" back before 1890. They met every
two weeks on Friday nights. They sponsored a lecture and entertainment
course in the winter months.
Father was very active in that Society. He took part in debates
and became a really good speaker. I have heard his speeches were
full of "points."
One of the lecturers told Father once that he was a born leader
of other men. He later came to believe it himself. He was at his best
when telling other people what to do, but when WORKING for himself, he
lacked confidence. I have heard him say that he would like to work
for some good fore-handed farmer once, so he could learn how to do
things "the right way"! We learn to do things from our fathers and
that is not always the best way.
Father taught school for 10 years before his marriage. He taught
three terms in Gladstone Hollow, Andes. Sometimes in good weather he
would walk over the mountain directly south of the Ormiston farm.
Most of the time he boarded around with the different families in
the district, as was the custom in those days.
He had more than forty pupils in that one room school. They
didn't have compulsory attendance in those days, so the boys and girls
didn't go to school steadily. Some went to school until they were 21
years of age. They went until they knew as much as the teacher, and
that was the end. Some of the boys were as big as the teacher. Father
was 6'2" and weighed 175 lbs., and it was all bone and muscle as he was
never a fleshy man. So the boys didn't put anything over on him.
Father used to say it was harder to deal with the big girls than
with the boys. He said, "If the boys were bad you could lick the tar out
of them. Buy if the girls misbehaved you didn't feel like you could
touch them. so all you could do was to shame them by sending them home."
A girl by the name of Mary Hyser was the "bad girl" at
Gladstone Hollow. He sent her home two or three times. He wrote in his
diary, "Mary and I didn't get along very well today!"
Father also taught three terms at the Butt End district No. 3,
Bovina. A tall, black-eyed girl, "Jen" Archibald was his "thorn in the
flesh" in that school. One of his pupils was Hamilton Hewitt who
became a lawyer in Delhi for many years.
Father also taught in the "Pink Street" school in Bovina. He rode
horseback a great deal in those days. He would ride across the ridge
from the Ormiston farm to the school. He used to tell how cold and
windy it was on that ridge.
Father taught singing school around at the different district
schools on Friday nights. He received $1.00 a night if it was in town
and $2.00 if he went out of town. He kept accounts in his diary; that
is how I know.
He taught singing school at Andes, "Roses Brook," near South
Kortright, and before he got through, he was going as far as Davenport,
He got so much pleasure out of his singing that he didn't care if
he received any pay or not. He would draw the music scale on the
blackboard. Everyone had to learn to sing that first, because that is
basic to all singing.
Father used to tell us that young folks should get their social
life in connection with something in the line of self-improvement, like
going to "singing school." He didn't believe in spending your time with
"foolishness" as he called it.
Father had a "first love affair" when he was young. Maybe that is
the reason he married late in life. There was a young woman, by the
name of Rogers, a graduate of Boston Conservatory of Music. She came to
Bovina to give a series of concerts, and she stayed with the Ormiston
family because they were musical.
Father fell in love with her, but the family persuaded him he'd
better not marry her, because she had a curvature of the spine. The
following quotation was marked in one of Father's books, "Golden Gleams
of Thought." I don't know that it had anything to do with the preceding
case or not, but it is a beautiful piece of writing anyway.
"I had a friend once, and she was to me
What fragrance is to flowers, or songs to birds,
Part of my being; but there came a time --
I cannot tell you how, or where, or when --
A time that severed us. There was no fierce,
Hot trouble at our parting. It was calm,
Because it was so gradual. Ere I knew,
We had grown cold at meeting, colder still
At our good-bye. But looking on it now
After weary days, I marvel at it all,
And weep more tears than I did then by far
Over this strange, sad parting; the blank wreck
Of love and hope, and friendship, and warm trust.
Oh! it is pitiful - this breaking up
Of human sympathy and sweetheart tryst!
Had we so many friends - this friend and I --
That could well afford to give the slip,
Each to the other? drifting thus apart
Like ships that meet upon the tropic sea
For one brief, passing hour, exchange stale news,
Gossip of cargoes, or the last made port,
They sail away, each on its separate course,
And never dream, nor care, to meet again!
I think the heart grows chary of its friends,
As years and death do steal them from our grasp;
I could not let a friend go now, as I
Did her; for I was young then - both were young.
Ah, well! I wonder if she cares, or if
She ever thinks of those old foolish days,
When with her hand in mine, we sat and talked,
And kissed each other t'wixt our happy words,
And vowed eternal friendship, endless trust.
It may be so; and if this idle verse --
Albeit, not so idle as it seems --
Should meet her gaze I would, I would it might
She, too, may give a sigh to those old days,
And wish, with me, that one had been more true.
And both more patient - that the olden time
Had less of bitterness mixed with its sweet,
Making the afterdraught so drugged with pain,
That even now the tears come because of it.
Father spent the first forty years of his life at the "Olde White
Home." I wouldn't have you think that he never did any farm work on the
place. He put in many, many hard days of work there.
I don't know how he found the time to do so much. He was a great
horseman, and he surely knew his horses. He was a good judge of cows,
At one time he had a spotted team of driving horses that took
first prize at the Margaretville Fair. It was really quite a sight to
see such a team perform. They had to be well broken and trained to stop
on the dot when you said "Whoa!"
He had a pair of mares named Ruby and Roxy for the farm work.
He used Ruby as a "brood mare" to raise colts. (I have heard that
the Ormistons always has a mare named Roxy.)
The farm was noted for being good "potato ground." They always
had lots of potatoes for sale, and sent some of them to C. E. Cox, a
commission merchant, at Cornwall-on-the-Hudson.
The large meadow below the barn was inclined to be wet, and very
stony, so that was left in grass most of the time. The potatoes
were raised on the ridge above the barn.
The Ormistons kept a small flock of sheep, part time, in the
orchard back of the house. They also had a pair of oxen for a time.
I think they sold them because Father tells in his diary about
borrowing a yoke of oxen from a neighbor to draw rocks out of the
meadow, also for drawing logs out of the woods. Father always said
that oxen were better for that job than horses, because the
horses were more inclined to get excited than the oxen. Then, if the
oxen broke a leg, you could have good beef.
They did everything by hand in those days, so it took lots of
hands to do the work. They had very little machinery.
Of course, they had a dairy and made butter and took care of the
milk at home, as did all the farmers of that day. This made a lot of
extra work. So nearly everyone kept a hired man and a hired girl.
The girls received $3 or $4 a week and board! This was how many of
the young farmers got their wives; they married the "hired girl"!
Visiting the neighbors was a highly developed art in those days
before the telephone and other means of communication.
I gather from Father's diaries that "Uncle Jim" Ormiston
stayed at home to help with the work until his marriage. He married
Margaret Laing in 1889, and they went on a trip to visit their
relatives in Missouri, for a honeymoon. They lived on a farm in the
town of Meridith near Delhi. Their first girl, Mary, was born there.
"Uncle Will" Ormiston began the study of medicine March 1, 1886.
He studied with a doctor in Delhi for two years, and then went to New
York City to complete his course in medical school. He was a general
practitioner in Delhi for nearly 50 years. He was an old-fashioned
country doctor of the "horse and buggy age." He married Della St. John,
a native of Downsville. She came to Delhi to work in a millinery shop.
Anna and Bertha Phyfe used to come up to "Uncle Tom's" farm a
great deal when they were growing up. Their mother, Mary Ormiston
Phyfe, died of consumption (TB. when the girls were very young. "Aunt
Sate" (Sarah), a sister of "Arch" Phyfe, kept the home.
The Ormistons were interested in astronomy and were the first
to own a telescope in Bovina. I think that came from the McFarland
side of the family.
Our grandmother, Rebecca McFarland Ormiston, used to make a good
many trips to Walton to visit our "Uncle Tom" and Aunt Jane Scott and
family. That was around 1890. They lived in Walton several years,
where "Tom" Scott was a contractor and builder.
Of course, Father and family went to church regularly, and he had
a habit of writing down the text of the sermon in his diary. He would
often make a comment in his diary, "very good sermon," or "a grand
The Ormistons went to midweek prayer meeting regularly. Father
would often remark in his diary, "We had a very good meeting."
Father was a Bible teacher second to none. He always had a class
of middle-aged women. (He used to say that it was easier to talk
religion with women than with men.)
He was elected Elder in the church once, but declined. He found
it hard to agree with all the beliefs and practices of his church. He
did his own thinking. I guess the Ormistons have always been
non-conformists. He was never a narrow denominationalist.
He attended the Reformed Presbyterian church on occasion, also the
"Uncle Jim" Ormiston told me once that our father studied a while
with the intention of becoming a minister. But he gave it up, because
he thought it was quite a job to get up a sermon every week. And
then, too, a minister's life is all planned out for him; he can hardly
afford to do his own thinking.
Father used to speak to the Young People's Society and the
Sabbath School sometimes. He had the reputation of being one of the
best Christian men in Bovina. He surely had the strength of his
convictions. He campaigned for the temperance cause all around
Delaware County. He went with a quartet composed of "Uncle Arch" Phyfe,
James Coulter, his brother James, and himself. They would sing
temperance songs, and then Father would make a temperance speech.
He held that absolute Prohibition was the only remedy for "the
liquor traffic." He was a great believer in keeping families
together, and "beverage alcohol "was the greatest wrecker of homes.
He and "Uncle Arch" Phyfe were sued for slander once, because
they said something they couldn't prove about "Pete" McNair, a
"wet" political boss in Bovina. So it cost them $50 apiece. Father
played no small part in making Bovina a "dry" town, more than 75
years ago. He fought the liquor business with all the strength he had.
One of Father's girl friends was "Kit" Kennedy, the daughter of
the pastor of the Reformed Presbyterian Church. He took her to a picnic
at the church one day, and when they drove out with the horse and
buggy, someone had shut the gate on him! (The church had a picket
fence out front at that time.)
One of Father's friends drew a picture of the episode in his
autograph album, showing the horse on the outside of the gate and the
buggy on the other side!
Father was a very eligible bachelor by that time. He would be
in his late twenties.
Father took a trip to Missouri in the fall of 1885 to visit his
half-sister "Nette" and the other relatives in the Middle West. He
arrived at Raymore, Missouri about Sept. 1st and returned late
in Feb. 1886 in time for the maple sap season. He helped with the
farm work while in the west, so he got well acquainted with his
relatives. He visited relatives at Winfield, Kansas also and went to
see the John Brown home in Kansas. He came back talking of prairies
and ranches. He also brought home a real buffalo hide. We used it for
a lap-robe for many years. It was unlined but was very warm.
Father was the leader and drum-major of the Bovina Band in 1890.
I gather from his diaries that the romance of our parents began
at the "singing school" at the Maynard schoolhouse in uptown Bovina.
That was in the spring of 1889. Father was the teacher, and there was
a very good looking girl pupil by the name of "Maggie" Boggs. So that is
how it all began!
Our mother worked at "Arch" Maynard's at the time. One night Father
went up to see her, riding horseback as he often did. Some boys thought
they would have some fun, so they took the saddle off the horse and
put it on the bull! So Father had to go home bare-back on his horse
that night. The bull came in with the cows next morning with the saddle
still on his back!
Father was a frequent visitor at the Boggs home through 1889-90.
Sometimes he enjoyed singing with the Boggs girls. He told in his
diary of going up to see Maggie and taking her for a ride (with
horse and buggy of course.) He remarked, "we had a good time!"
It seems it took a long time to get her to say "Yes." They were
married on Christmas day in 1890. Father was 34 going on 35 years, and
Mother was 24 years of age. There were 100 guests at the wedding.
They held a reception at the Ormiston home afterwards. I have
heard Walter Coulter tell about that. It was a very snowy time, and a
neighbor hitched a pair of oxen to a sled and brought a lot of folks
up from the village.
I guess there wasn't any "honeymoon" at that time.
One year later the first boy was born on December 24. He was named
Wendell, after Wendell Phillips, a famous preacher in Boston at
that time. Father greatly admired him.
On June 15 in 1894 our sister Ruth was born. That is a Bible name,
of course. There was a terrible cloud-burst in upper Bovina that day!
On September 19, 1896, a pair of twins were born, a boy and girl.
They named them Lloyd and Lois. (I have always heard that my twin
sister was born a half hour before I was and has been ahead of me
Rev. W. L. C. Simpson was pastor in Bovina at that time. His
second name was Lloyd, so the baby boy was named after him. The little
girl was named Lois; that is a Bible name also.
I have heard the story about Mother showing off the twins to a
woman. She lifted up first one end of the blanket, then the other. The
woman was first struck with the idea that the baby had two heads, one
on either end!!
In the year 1898 the farmers were having a very hard time making
ends meet. The price of butter was down to 14 cents a pound. Father
became worried about making a living for his family. He saw an
advertisement in the "Country Gentleman" of Filston Farms at Glencoe,
Maryland, wanting an assistant herdsman. Father never liked the
long, cold winters of Delaware County, anyway.
So in Oct.1898, he moved his family and all their goods and
chattels, to Maryland. What an undertaking that was! Grandmother
Ormiston went to live with her son, Dr. William Ormiston, in Delhi,
New York. The Old White Home was rented to David Draffen and his wife,
including the stock and tools. The wife, Agnes Burns Draffen, was a
relative of the Ormistons.
This arrangement didn't work out; they got into trouble about the
cows and T. B. Father then held a public auction to sell off the
stock and tools. Then he sold the farm to "Champ" Worden over on the
Pink Street road. So that was the end of life at that farm.
Memories of Maryland
"Filston Farms" was composed of four farms all under one
management, very much like Meridale Farms near Delhi, N.Y. They kept
pure-bred Jersey cows and pure-bred Berkshire swine. The milk was
sold retail in Baltimore, twenty miles from Glencoe.
About all I remember of our stay at Glencoe was a "railroad" my
older brother Wendell built along a gully in the pasture back of our
house. Also I remember about Mrs. Gardner's pet coon, which bit me
on the back of my leg when I was going up the steps into the house.
I suppose I was more scared than hurt. I would be only 4 years old at
I have heard my father tell about Mr. Gardener, his boss,
taking him to his Episcopal church one time. Father told him he
wouldn't know how to act in that church, so Mr. Gardener told him,
"Oh, just rise and fall with the tide!'
Our brother Edwin was the only one born in Maryland, on February
28, 1902. He was a puny little fellow at the start.
Grandmother Ormiston visited us at Glencoe, and she died there
of heart trouble in 1901. I suppose the trip was too much for her.
I can just remember her holding us little fellows on her lap in
the evening and telling us stories. She was especially good with
children, very much like our Aunt Jane Scott.
I think it was in 1902 that we moved again to Sparrows Point,
Maryland. Father's first job there was at the "Hog Farm" at Edgemere,
so called because it was on the edge of a large meadow. Edgemere
was a mile out the North Point Road from Sparrows Point. It was
a small place, with only a few houses, a store, and a small Methodist
We lived in a house on the Pitzell Farm, a large vegetable farm
at the same place. They shipped vegetables to Baltimore by boat.
About the only thing I remember about that place was that Lois
had whooping cough there as a small girl. She would go out on the
porch and put her arms around a post and throw up her breakfast!
A job soon opened up for Father as manager of the Transfer and
Dairy Dept. of the Maryland Steel Company at Sparrows Point. That was
what they call a "company town." The steel company owned the whole town,
everything but the churches and schools. There were the Catholic,
Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, and Episcopal churches.
The Negroes had their own churches, Methodist and Baptist, and
lived in a separate section of the town, across the creek, connected
by a long wooden bridge. That was the favorite gathering place
on warm summer evenings. There were a lot of boats tied up by the
bridge. There was a boat powered by a gasoline engine that would go
at the tremendous speed of 15 miles per hour! The internal combustion
engine was a very new thing at that time.
There was a large department store at the center of the "white
section" of the town. The Negroes also had a store, called the "North
Side Store." The store bill was withheld from the pay envelope every
The houses in that town were all double houses for greatest
economy. The streets were named by the letters of the alphabet. The
"tony-bugs" lived on C street. The churches and school were on D street.
D, E, F, and G were the white section of town, H, I, J, and K streets
were the negro section. There were some white folks on H street.
We lived on K street on the edge of the negro part. The Negro
Baptist church was just over our back fence, and there was one Negro
house on that street. The Negro Methodist church was located next to
the North Side Store.
We children used to go over to peek in the windows of the Negro
Baptist church when they were having revival services. The Negroes
could get very excited. Some of the fat women would even get down and
roll around on the floor and shout, "Hallelujah, praise the Lord,
I'se got religion." It seems they had to "get religion" at least once
We children also watched the baptisms of the Negroes over beyond
the town dump. The Negro preacher would wade out in the water until
it was nearly up to his armpits. The young girls would scream and
shout "Hallelujah, praise de Lord!" They had special black robes for
There was a large family of Negro children just across the road
from our house, so we played with them a lot. I used to play "In and out
the winder" with Ugie, a little girl. She used to get a lot of
whippings. Father would stand it so long and then interfere in
behalf of the children.
We really lived on a dairy farm at the edge of town. The house
was a double house like all the rest. There was a combination
wood and coal building, an outdoor privy at the back of the lot at
There was a large barn and a small one for the cows. They had
a dairy building where they took care of the milk, cooling and
bottling it. They used artificial ice that was shipped from Baltimore.
The farm furnished all the milk for the town of 7,000 population. They
kept 140 head of stock and had to have around 60 cows milking at all
times. They bought some milk outside. They had mostly Guernsey and
Ayrshire cattle and quite a few Jerseys. Father made several trips
to Delaware County, New York to buy Jersey cows.
There was also a large horse barn and blacksmith shop. They kept
40 horses and 15 mules. There was also a wood WORKING shop for
repairing wagons. Mr. Knapp was in charge there. He also did the other
carpenter work around the place. He was a master workman and could make
almost anything. He built a rowboat for Wendell and a sled for me,
which we brought back to Bovina with us.
Father "imported" John Cunningham and family from Delhi, N.Y.
to do the blacksmithing and horseshoeing at the farm.
Father had from 40 to 50 men, both black and white, on the
payroll in his department. The office was upstairs in the front of the
dairy building. The help were paid off every Saturday night. Father
did all his own bookwork. He was around the horse barn every morning
to see that the drivers were all on hand to go to work. The hauling
around the steel works and the town was all done with one-horse dump
carts. They used heavy horses for that. They had some light wagons for
taking the bosses around the steel works and the shipyards. They had
four milk wagons for delivering milk.
The shipyards were out on the extreme point of Sparrows Point,
in a separate section of the town. We used to go over there to watch
the launchings of the ships. That was a very interesting process to
watch. They built four ferry-boats for the New York City harbor there.
The Admiral Dewey was also built there in a dry-dock. That was a great
event when we saw that launched. It was towed all around Cape Horn
off South America to the Philippine Islands, to be used for the
warships stationed over there.
That was after the Spanish-American War. The steel railroad rails
were shipped all over the world. We could hear the clanging of the
rail-mill all night long.
The farm there purchased all the hay used for both cows and horses.
A lot of hay was shipped from New York State. The land was used to
raise corn and other green feed for the cows. There was only a little
pasture around the woods and swamp, so the cows were fed in the barn
the year-round. The pasture was mostly for exercise.
The trees in the woods were oak, cedar, and holly. There were
wild grapevines growing in some of the trees. We boys used to cut them
loose and swing on them, away out into space!
Maryland is a great corn country. There is plenty of heat and a
good rainfall. That is what makes good corn. The corn grew to 16 ft.
in height. Of course, they had a larger kind of corn than in New York
State. The season is much longer down there, so the corn has lots of
time to mature. You didn't need to worry about frost until Election
time in November.
When Father managed the farm, they planted a crop of green feed
in March, and when that was used up. they planted ensilage corn on the
same land about July 4, so they had two crops a year. They had two
large silos on the farm next to the cow barn. The farmers started
plowing soon after March 1st. The winter season is a whole month
shorter on either end. One drawback to Maryland was the cold,
penetrating wind off the water. The snow never stayed more than two
days. Only one man, the police chief, had a sleigh. It didn't pay to
The Snavely Farm, out the road near Edgemere, was used to raise
ripening corn for the horses and mules. There is no richer sight than
to see a bin full of those golden ears of corn. They fed the corn to
the horses right on the ear.
We kids used to have a good time playing among the hay bales in the
second floor of the barn.
With so much water around nearby, that was a great source of
pleasure, with boats and boats everywhere. We spent most of the time
in the water during the hot summer weather, and the ice was thick
enough for good skating in the winter. We boys used to dive off the
boat-landing; the water was over our heads at that place, but we didn't
have far to go to get our feet on the sand bottom again. We never
owned a bathing suit! We always went swimming in our "birthday suit."
We usually went up the creek out of sight. The girls never bothered us.
We boys used to fish for crabs on the boat landing down below
the horse farm. We went to the store and got a piece of stale meat,
tied it to a string, and let it down into the water. When the crabs
began to nibble on it, we pulled it up slowly and put a net under the
Wendell named his rowboat Agness after his girlfriend at that time.
Where we live when we are children seems almost like paradise.
The milk retailed for 8 cents per quart, and they made money at
that. Some of the Negroes came over to the dairy to get their milk and
paid 7 cents a quart. There was a young Negro girl by the name of Moon.
She came over to the dairy one day about 4 P. M. to get some milk.
Our brother Wendell thought he would have some fun with her, so he
said, "The Moon is up early tonight!" That made her angry so she said,
"Yo' po' white trash, snaggle toof monkey!" That set him back!
I must tell you about "Old Mayo," an old darky, who had been a
slave on a plantation down near Richmond, Va. He learned the harness
making trade there, and he did the harness repairing at the farm at
Sparrows Point. His shop was upstairs in back of the dairy building.
I used to sit by the hour and watch him mend harness. He always
sang while he worked. He sang the good old Methodist hymns exclusively,
like, "Will there be any stars in my crown, when at evening the sun
goeth down?" "Old Mayo" seemed to like to have me around; I suppose he
He lived alone in a little building back of the blacksmith shop
that had been used for a chicken coop. I visited him there and watched
him prepare his frugal meals. When he got ready to eat he would return
thanks to God for his blessings, and I am telling you, he didn't have
much to be thankful for. He put us white folks to shame.
On Sunday morning, he put on his best clothes and trotted off
to the Negro Methodist Church. That was the only time he ever dressed
up. He had a simple faith, to be sure, but it was real.
Father used to smile when he would stop "Old Mayo" to tell him
about something he wanted done. The old darky would spin around on
his heel, and remove his hat, and stand holding it in his hand while
talking to Father. That was part of his training as a slave on the
plantation. I think he had been married and lost his wife. He had a
son in Baltimore.
We attended the Methodist church all the time we were in
Sparrows Point. Father thought the people in that church were more
like our kind of folks. He considered the Presbyterian church to
be mostly style. Then, too, Father admired Mr. William V. Hummel, his
boss, who was Superintendent of the Sunday School at the M. E. Church.
Father considered him to be a Christian gentleman. Mr. Hummel led
the singing and put all his heart and soul into it. His only
daughter played the piano and also the organ in the church. She was
quite a "style plate." (My sisters admired her from afar, as young
girls do!) Mrs. Hummel was a hopeless invalid, we understood. They
had a son Charles, too.
Mr. Hummel had been very wild in his young days, and as a result,
lost his job as conductor on the Pennsylvania Railroad, on the run
between Philadelphia and Baltimore, by his drinking alcoholic
beverages. But he was converted in a mission in Baltimore. So he
was making up for lost time when we knew him.
They had a very good graded school in Sparrows Point. There was a
separate entrance for boys and girls. The boys went on the left and the
girls on the right in front.
We boys went to a manual training school down the street one day a
week. I took geometric drawing there. We started on mechanical
drawing just before we left down there. That had to do with machines
and was much more difficult. I reached the fifth grade before leaving.
Father used to put a saddle on a horse and ride out to the
Methodist Chapel at Edgemere to conduct services there. I suppose his
sermons were really Bible studies. He taught a class of middle-aged
women in the Methodist Sunday School. So that is where we got our
start as hymn singing Methodists!
The Methodist Sunday School had an annual picnic on July 4th I
think. One time they had a military company from Fort Howard near
by. They put on a sham battle for us, running from tree to tree
shooting at each other. We small boys were scared with the terrible
racket. They used blank cartridges, but we didn't know it!
Father was respected by the Negroes, and he took an interest in
their family troubles.
Gertie Jones, a Negro woman who did our washing on Monday
mornings, got into trouble once. She got to "running around with other
men" as they say. Father took her up in his office and gave her a good
lecture. She had a large family of seven children and had a good,
reliable husband, Charles Jones. Father used him as a foreman over
the other Negroes quite a lot. He was about half white. The oldest
son, Charles Jr., was aged 19 at that time. (I didn't know what the
trouble was then.)
There was another case of a Negro "getting sweet" on another mans
wife. The husband came home one day and found him there and took after
him with a shotgun. The Negro ran past the front of our house,
headed for the cornfield. He could get lost there!
There was an old mare mule on the farm, named Becky. She could
cultivate corn all afternoon, and you didn't have to have a line on
her. When she came to the end of the row, she would turn around
herself and not step on any corn, either. Father said mules were
better than horses for WORKING on the loose, plowed ground. They had
small feet, were fast walkers, stood the heat better, and were tough.
"Benny" Dailey, wife, and three daughters, occupied the other
half of our house in Maryland. Anna, the oldest, was about the age of
our sister, Ruth. Lucy was the age of Lois and me. And Margaret, the
youngest, was one year old, when we left Maryland to come back to
We had two men boarders at our house: John Dailey, a bachelor,
and "Billy" Bayne, a widower. He had an only daughter, named Mary,
who lived at Mt. Washington, a suburb of Baltimore. She died at the
age of sixteen.
I think that happened after we came back to New York State. I
remembered that Father sent "Billy" a letter of condolence. He was
never the same after that. Mary Bayne was a pretty girl. "Billy"
was an Irishman and was always joking. I think he worked in the
John Dailey drove a team of mares, a chestnut and a grey,
named Minnie and Maud. They worked around the farm. John used to go
to Baltimore periodically and would sometimes come home drunk. Mother
didn't like that much. He had some "girl-friends" in Baltimore that
he called by their first names. So I guess he was quite intimate with
them. We used to run across John, standing on a street corner, talking
with a bunch of young girls. He used chocolate candy for bait!
One peculiarity he had was the way he washed his face. He always
lathered his face all over with soap, and when he got through hid
face was very shiny!
John was converted in a Billy Sunday evangelistic campaign in
Baltimore in later years, after a life of sin. I think he was a
half-brother of Benny Dailey.
There was an amusement park down the Bay, called "Bayshore Park."
It was connected with Baltimore by the electric trolley line. We rode
on that when we went to Baltimore to shop, etc. The Park was all
lighted up with electric lights. The incandescent lamp was a very new
thing at that time. That was where we saw our first "moving pictures."
We children have never forgotten the excursion by boat to
Tolchester Beach, a large amusement park directly across the
Chesapeake Bay. I have always heard that the Bay was 7 miles across
from Sparrows Point. You could see houses over there on the east shore
on a clear day. A man entertained us by giving out riddles on the way back.
Father was quite friendly with two young men by the name of
Trowbridge and Charles Woodruff. They were natives of New York State.
They came from out near Syracuse, N. Y. They worked at the department
store, which was a "company store." Lydia Woodruff, their sister,
was a close friend of Mary Ormiston, when "Uncle Jim" Ormiston lived
in Sparrows Point.
I met both of these men when I visited down there 36 years ago.
I sat in church with Charles Woodruff. He was Superintendent of the
M. E. Sunday School. He told me about our father standing up in the
back of the church and feeding it to his Bible Class on Sunday mornings.
The first automobile there was a "Stanley Steamer," powered by
steam, and it was owned by a doctor.
"Uncle Will" and "Aunt Mary" Miller of Bovina visited us in
Sparrows Point, probably in the fall of 1906.
I was very sick with a fever while we lived down there, and I
nearly died. Mother brought me up to Grandfather Boggs' farm in
Bovina to recuperate. We arrived in Delhi, and "Arch" Phyfe got the
message wrong on the telephone, and the folks were told I was dead!
Grandmother Boggs went out and sat down on the bench and cried. But,
as Mark Twain would say: "the report proved to greatly exaggerated!"
I have watched steamships go down the Chesapeake Bay. After a
while you could see only the smoke-stacks sticking up, then the
entire ship would appear to sink out of sight over the horizon.
(That is on account of the curvature of the earth.)
Father got malaria while in Maryland. That ruined his
health, so he couldn't carry on longer. That was around 1906. The
doctors discovered about that time that it was the mosquitoes that
carried the disease. They began spraying the swamps with crude oil
to keep down the mosquitoes just before we left Maryland.
Father had just arrived in a job that he liked and was
successful in: managing other men. I have heard that his
department made a net profit of over $5,000 in one year. That was a lot
of money in those days. His salary was never more than $90 per month.
They raised his pay once when he talked about coming away.
So in the spring of 1908 we packed up and came back to
Bovina to live at Rocky Ranch. The farm had been rented to James Laing,
a brother-in-law of James L. Ormiston, while we were in Maryland. And
just before we came back the farm was rented to Robert A. Thompson.
That same spring, a second pair of twins were born on May 4th,
1908. They were named Marian Rebecca and Marjorie Catherine. When
Father went to the village the next morning, someone
congratulated him. He replied, "I don't know whether I should be
congratulated or pitied!"
Father had T. B. and was an invalid for 11 years before he died.
He helped with the chores at first. Wendell, the oldest boy, stayed
home for 3 years to help with the work. He did all the "team work"
with the horses. He had asthma very bad, so he couldn't stand the
dusty work. He later found out he had to stay away from horses.
Wendell always refused to milk cows! so the rest of us had to take
care of the cows.
We had purebred hogs and chickens, a purebred Collie dog, but
had a "pick-up" dairy of cows. We had some pretty good cows at that.
Father said that the farmers of Bovina experienced the most
prosperous times they ever had for about 15 years following the
establishment of the creameries in 1901.
Father worked at buying and selling eggs and chickens for a few
years. He took them to Fleishmann's and sold them to the boarding
houses. (Remember, that was the day of horses and wagons.) He
wasn't really able to do that work.
He then went to Saranac Lake for a long period of treatment. Miss
Angelica Gerry of Lake Delaware paid the expense. He got that through
Elmer Hastings' wife, who also had T. B. and took treatment at
So it was a long hard struggle to make a living for seven
children. I was obliged to quit school at 17 years to do the farm work
and carry on in my father's place. This meant many hard years for
our mother, too.
Father felt bad because he wasn't able to do more for his family.
Father was much concerned about the education of the children.
He attended a church meeting over in Kortright one time and stayed
with a family there. He noticed how much better the girls of the
family appeared because they were high school graduates. So he came
home determined that his girls should go on to school.
Ruth and Lois attended high school and "Teacher Training Class"
in Walton and later taught a few years. Marian and Marjorie
graduated from high school in Delhi in 1926. Marjorie attended "Teacher
Training Class" at Delhi and taught a few years in the district
schools around Bovina. She later graduated from Muskingum College at
New Concord, Ohio in 1934.
We always had family worship in our home down through the years.
"One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I
may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold
the beauty of the Lord and to enquire in his temple. For in the
time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of
his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock. And
now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me:
therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will
sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord." Psalm 27:4-6
Some of Father's Views and Beliefs
He didn't believe too much in higher education. He used to cite
the cases of four different men who left Bovina to go to college
and lost their religious beliefs, became higher critics, and didn't
believe in the Bible anymore.
Father was elected Elder again soon after we came back to
Bovina. He declined, but Rev. Hugh B. Speer, pastor of Bovina U. P.
church at that time, came up to the farm and persuaded him to accept.
Fathers health wasn't so good then; also. he didn't believe in
some of the practices of his church. He didn't believe in infant
baptism or tithing of income. He had been a student and teacher of
the Bible all his life, but said you couldn't find any support for
the practice of tithing in the New Testament. He didn't believe
that children should be baptized until they were old enough to join
the church. He believed that vows taken before God and the people were
a very serious matter. That was the main objection he had to infant
baptism, because so many parents do not keep their vows.
He said the Baptists were the most orthodox, because they
stick close to the Bible. He said the mode of baptism didn't
Father conducted services at the New Kingston church two or three
times. I can remember him sitting in the sun up back of the barn and
studying his Bible.
He said that any man who could get up and speak without
preparation usually didn't have much to say that was worth
He was very strongly against the Roman Catholics. But when he
was taking treatment at Saranac Lake, part of the treatment was
sitting outside on the porch, even in the coldest weather. He sat
beside a woman who was a devout Roman Catholic, and they had many long
talks together. He said she was one of the finest women he had ever
met, being a good Christian; so after that he was never so rabid on
Father was a pacifist when it came to war. He held that the idea
of war was diametrically opposed to Christianity. He was a
Prohibitionist and a Bryan Democrat. He was for Bryan because he stood
four-square on the Bible and was a Christian gentleman.
He fell out with President Woodrow Wilson when he vetoed the 18th
amendment (Prohibition.) He blamed it on Wilson's second wife,
who was an Episcopalian. (I don't think that was the true view. Wilson
really believed in "local option," being a true Democrat.) He said
in regard to Woodrow Wilson that too much power would ruin any man.
Father was very fond of poetry. He had several books of
He used to talk of high-minded women and low-minded women. He said,
"Let the women do the courting; they know how!"
He was very proud of his Scottish ancestry. I have seen him sit and
read "Beside the Bonnie Briar Bush," and the tears would run down his
face in a stream, he was so affected by what he was reading.
Father would never let his children go to dances. We young folks
went to two or three square dances once, and he got very roused up
about it. He got up in front of the Sunday School and gave all the
young folks a lecture on dancing. He said the modern round dance led
directly to immorality. (Can you see a church elder doing anything
like that these days?)
Father was too old when he was married and didn't have much
patience with children.
He told his boys that they should get a job with a large
corporation and stay by them. Wendell and Edwin did just that; they
made a life career WORKING for the New York Telephone Company.
Father told me once he had always tried to avoid public
office. He couldn't stand criticism or have anyone disagree with him.
However, he had a deep sense of obligation to his community and to his church.
Of course, he was far from perfect and would be the first to admit
it. He was inclined to be an impractical idealist. Maybe he would be
called a perfectionist these days. He considered himself to be a
failure, because he had not been able to reach the height of his
ideals. He told me once that he lacked the power of decision.
(He had no trouble deciding for other people, however.) He said one of
the dangers of this life was following the line of least resistance.
Father said that, properly viewed, this life was a fight from
start to finish; that is, it is a struggle between our higher and
Father passed on to his reward November 22, 1919.
I would like to bring this life story to a close with a tribute
by Mr. E. C. Dean, an old friend of our Father. He said that in the
"Literary Society" they put the hard questions to Tom Ormiston, and
he answered them. He said that he was obliged to "burn the midnight
oil" to be prepared to meet friend Tom in debate.
by Lloyd B. Ormiston
As you can see, my Uncle Lloyd made many references to my grandfather, Tom Ormiston's diaries.
No one knows where they have gone. I hope they are not forever lost. --Allan L. Davidson