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Full text of "Recollections of Adriel Ely and Evelina Foster his wife / [arranged by G.S.E. Knowlton and T.N. Ely]"

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ADRIEL ELY 
1791—1859 









EVELINA FOSTER ELY 



1806-1863 



RECOLLECTIONS 



OF 



Adriel Ely 



and 



Evelina Foster 

HIS WIFE 




MCMXII 



Arranged 

by 

Gertrude Sumner Ely Knowlton 

and 

Theodore Newel Ely 



Privately Printed 



i 



CONTENTS 

114G747 

LETTERS 

Introduction 7 

Harriette Foster Ely Richardson 9 

Frances Sterling Massey 19 

Cornelia S. Hungerford 21 

Sumner Stow Ely 27 

Augustus Goodale 31 

Pamela B. Wright 35 

James DeLong 37 

Foster Ely 41 

Jeannette Huntington Riley 49 

Frederick Gustavus Ely 57 

Milton H. Merwin 61 

Theodore Newel Ely 63 

Mary S. Treadwell 75 

Gertrude Sumner Ely Knowlton 79 

Genealogical Chart 105 

Appendix 107 

Obituaries 121 



: 






ILLUSTRATIONS 
Adriel Ely 



Frontispiece 
Evelina Foster Ely . 

Harriette Foster Ely Richardson 9 

Residence of Adriel Ely 19 

Residence of Jabez Foster 21 

Jabez Foster 31 

Hannah Hungerford Foster 35 

Evelina Ely 37 

Foster Ely 41 

Frederick Gustavus Ely 57 

Theodore Newel Ely 63 

Store and Office of Adriel Ely 75 

Evelina Foster Ely 

Theodore Newel Ely ....}• 79 

Gertrude Sumner Ely Knowlton 



INTRODUCTION 

IN the following pages no attempt has been made 
to write a consecutive history, nor even a sketch, 
of those whose names are mentioned herein. A 
collection has been made of various letters with 
the idea of preserving for the younger generation a 
knowledge of some of the traits of their ancestors, 
and of recording a few happenings in their lives and 
in the lives of those closely associated with them. 
Incidentally, also, there is a hint of the times in which 
they lived — the first half of the nineteenth century. 

In the years which elapsed between the births of 
the first and last child many changes occurred in the 
home life and in prevailing customs. Realizing this, 
the eldest was asked to write down some of the 
things she remembered which had not come within 
the ken of the younger children. In her last days, 
therefore, she wrote the opening paper, leaving it as 
"her legacy to the family" — her "Recollections" she 
called it ; and it is this name which has been adopted 
for the title-page. 

To supplement her narrative, others were asked 
to write, in an informal way, of things which might 
occur to them. The material came to me mainly 
in the shape in which it is here presented, although, 



to avoid too much repetition, some cutting out and 
rearranging were necessary. 

The local data I have endeavored to verify by 
comparison with all the histories of Jefferson County 
now extant. 

The illustrations are copies of old paintings and 

daguerreotypes, and it is hoped that they will add 

interest to this story of the two who "crossed the 

bar" well-nigh fifty years ago. 

G.S.E.K. 

Watertown, New York, 1912. 



HARRIETTS FOSTER ELY RICHARDSON 



Harriette Foster Ely Richardson 

LETTER 

My father, Adriel Ely, was born in Lyme, 
Connecticut, February 9, 1791. His parents were 
Adriel Ely and Sarah Stow. He was the youngest 
of five children and was only five years old when 
his mother died. His father made an unhappy 
second marriage, so that his home life was unpleas- 
ant. When quite young he taught school, and I do 
not know how old he was when he left home to seek 
his fortune in the West (as New York State was 
then considered), nor what led him to Watertown; 
but when there he entered the store of Jabez Fos- 
ter as clerk, where he remained until he went into 
partnership with Orville Hungerford. How long 
that partnership lasted I do not know, but from 
my earliest remembrance he had a store of his own. 
Though a merchant, he did many other things — he 
was always a manufacturer of potash and, for 
many years, was occupied with the business of pen- 
sions. His great cleverness in tracing records 
enabled him to get pensions for the widows of Revo- 
lutionary soldiers and others which, otherwise, they 
never would have had. How well I remember the 
fourth of March and the fourth of September when 
the old people would gather in the store! Grand- 

9 



father used to entertain them, and glasses of wine 
were given to them. 

Father was a bank director and, in one instance 
that I know of, he saved the bank from great loss. 
He was a friend of the widow and helped settle 
many estates. He had a fine legal mind, far-seeing 
and of quick perceptions, and was often called on 
to act as referee. He was so often successful in 
lawsuits that a man who had been beaten said: 
"Give Adriel Ely Dry Hill for his army and he 
would conquer Napoleon and all his soldiers." 

He certainly had a fine head and a large heart. 
As, with my maturer eyes, I look back I think he 
was a remarkable man. I do not remember his ever 
exhibiting a selfish trait. If every one around him 
was happy, so was he, no matter how sick he felt. 
He would often say: "Never mind me, go on with 
your fun," and pleasant noises never seemed to 
annoy. 

He was married December 28, 1826, to Evelina 
Foster, fifteen years his junior — a little girl when he 
entered her father's store. They had seven children, 
— Harriette Foster, Evelina, Elvira, Foster, Fred- 
erick Gustavus, Gertrude Sumner, and Theodore 
Newel. 

A great sufferer for many years, he bore the sup- 
port of his expensive family uncomplainingly and, 

10 



with many provocations, he always kept his temper. 
Many a man would have been on his sick-bed when 
he kept up and went to business. 

Father was reserved and quiet in manner, and 
whatever of calmness, even temper, or good judg- 
ment any of us have, we inherit from him. 

A member and supporter of the Presbyterian 
Church, he lived his religion instead of talking it. 
After weeks of the most dreadful suffering, borne 
with heroic patience, he died April 20, 1859, aged 
sixty-eight years. He was buried on Friday, April 
22, in Brookside Cemetery, Watertown, New York. 

Evelina Foster, second daughter of Jabez Foster 
and Hannah Hungerford, was born July 1, 1806, in 
Burrville, a little village about five miles from 
Watertown. When she was two years old her 
father moved into a house in Watertown, which he 
had built on Washington Street near the Public 
Square. In after-years it was owned by Mr. 
Loveland Paddock. There she lived until she was 
married, and in all her life she knew only the two 
homes. She must have been a very interesting girl 
for, though so young when she married, she had 
many suitors. 

She was one of the pupils of Mrs. Emma Willard 
at the Troy Female Seminary in 1824 and 1825, 
when that famous school was in its infancy, and in 

11 



later years she entertained Mrs. Willard in her home. 

She was so bright and full of fun that she made 
every place pleasant where she went, and old and 
young welcomed her to their circles. No company 
was too heavy for her to dissipate the dulness. She 
once said to me, "You don't know the meaning of 
the word fun." Her ambition and energy were 
wonderful, and the amount of work she accomplished 
was amazing. She was always a ready helper to all 
about her. At births, marriages, and deaths she was 
a most efficient assistant. She was an excellent nurse, 
and, although neither she nor father had any ear for 
music, her voice was particularly sweet in a sick- 
room. This was natural to her, for in childhood she 
went out among the sick — when only twelve she and 
another girl sat up with a poor woman who died 
during the night. I have been told tales of her 
going with old Diane, grandfather's slavewoman, to 
draw wood on her sled to poor people. It did not 
matter to either of them that grandfather's woodpile 
grew smaller — very likely not to him, either. She 
was always guided by her impulse and feeling rather 
than by reasoning, and an appeal to her heart always 
met with an instant response. 

I am not sure whether Diane was a slave when 
grandfather had her, but she was spoken of as such, 
and I think slavery had not been abolished at that 
time in the state and that a few were held there then. 

12 



The four years that mother lived after father's 
death had much of suffering in them, and towards the 
last it was too great to bear recording. She had such 
a fine constitution that death did not get an easy 
prey. The release came August 14, 1863, at the age 
of fifty-seven years. 

The old stone house on Washington Street, 
Watertown, was built by our father in 1826.* He 
went into it immediately after his marriage and there 
lived all the rest of his life. 

The house was first built three rooms deep, 
besides a hall and a bedroom at the end. Soon after, 
a kitchen was added, which was afterwards replaced 
by a better one with various outhouses attached. In 
the kitchen was a brick oven, where the baking was 
done, and also a large open fireplace with andirons 
and a crane for hanging kettles. I do not remember 
much about this mode of cooking, because we had a 
stove at an early date. 

In that kitchen the amount of work done was 
amazing and never could have been accomplished 
but for mother's great energy and good management. 
There the great pieces of beef were corned, ready to 
be packed in barrels, and when the pigs, which we 
raised, were killed, the hams were cured and made 
ready for the smoke-house, where also hung the 
dried beef. Sausages, souse, and head-cheese were 

*Sold to E. Q. Sewall in 1866. 

13 



made, and the pork was cut for salting. There 
the great tubs of mince-meat were made, apples 
pared and cut for drying, and the best fruit that 
could be had made into the choicest preserves. 
There the tallow, after being tried out, was run into 
moulds for candles, and there the lard was carefully 
tried, ready for the great pans of doughnuts so 
much used in winter. 

All the white sugar in those days came in pyram- 
idal loaves, wrapped in heavy blue paper, and it 
was no trifle to cut, pound, and prepare it for use. 
Spices had to be pounded or ground, and the mortar 
was in frequent demand. All coffee came green and 
had to be carefully browned before being made into 
the delicious beverage. 

Father was a liberal provider, and quantities of 
fresh meat and poultry were packed away in snow, 
for winter consumption. Then if a January thaw 
came great anxiety was felt. In summer father 
prided himself on his large vegetable gardens, where 
he raised the choicest kinds. In those days canned 
goods were unknown. 

In 1843 a wing was added to the house, and in 
1853 the dining-room was enlarged and upper rooms 
built and gas introduced. 

Hospitality might have been inscribed on the 
walls of this dear old home. If they could talk they 

14 



would tell many a tale of welcome as well as of joy 
and sorrow. 

The house seemed to be a rendezvous for relatives 
and friends the country round, when business or 
pleasure called them to town. A basket of rich fruit- 
cake, baked twice a year in the brick oven, supple- 
mented by old-fashioned pound-cake and sponge- 
cake, with a fine cut-glass decanter of choice wine, 
used to be kept ready to refresh the visitors. Guests 
in the house were numerous and I remember at one 
time there were twenty-four in the family. Of all 
the guests I cannot recall many who became distin- 
guished; but the society of Watertown has always 
been high-toned. 

Any notice of the old house would be incomplete 
without mention of Theodore and Newel Ely, who 
were for so many years active members of our house- 
hold. Theodore was the son of father's brother, Dr. 
Sumner Ely, and Newel, the son of William, another 
brother. Theodore came first and was for many 
years a clerk in father's store. Afterwards he went 
into the bank. He always lived in our house until 
it was closed and was devoted to the interests of the 
store. Newel came later into the store and for a long 
time was father's right-hand man. Both were atten- 
tive nurses at his dying bed, as well as at mother's. 
After father's death they managed the settlement of 
the estate. Both have since died as they lived, bache- 
lors. 

15 



Evelina, second daughter of Adriel and Evelina 
F. Ely, was born November 25, 1829, and died April 
27, 1846, not quite seventeen years old. She was a 
very interesting girl, full of fun, and a born musician 
— so fond of music that only a short time before her 
death, when her voice was gone, she was drawn to the 
piano to play. She had a beautiful alto voice and 
sang in church as long as she could. She was tall, 
erect, with rather light hair and a beautiful complex- 
ion. She was very reserved and uncomplaining, not 
very fond of books, and was in every respect a con- 
trast to me. In the fall of 1845 she went to Michi- 
gan, to spend the winter with our aunt, Elvira Smith. 
She came home in the spring with chills and gradu- 
ally faded away. 

Elvira, the lovely little two-year-old daughter, had 
light curly hair. She was so bright that grandfather 
used to teach her to sing. She died, after a short 
illness, from small-pox. Her last word was "Halle- 
lujah." Her burial was a sad one. Fear of the dis- 
ease was so great that she was carried to the grave at 
4 A.M. and, besides father, only one friend followed 
her, faithful Deacon Horace Hunt. Mother had 
varioloid at the time, contracted from nursing her. 

Jabez Foster, our grandfather, was born in Leb- 
anon, Connecticut, August 1, 1777, and went to Jef- 
ferson County, New York, as one of its earliest set- 
tlers. At what age he went there or what his earliest 

16 



experiences there were I do not know, but I suppose 
he did any pioneer work till he was able to open a 
store of general merchandise. In that he became very 
successful and at one time became what, in those 
days, was considered rich. I have heard him tell of 
his trips to New York to buy goods, when he would 
be a week getting from Albany to New York in a 
sloop, and with only mud wagons and sleighs for the 
rest of the trip. He was afterwards financially 
unfortunate, but saved enough to support him for the 
rest of his life. 

He married Hannah Hungerford (born in 
Farmington, Connecticut, September 13, 1777) and 
had twelve children, only five of whom reached 
maturity. She died suddenly, the year our mother 
was married (1826). He then broke up his home 
and went with a little daughter, Harriet, seven years 
old, to our father's house. She did not live very long. 

He then built the Lansing house, next to father's, 
and lived in it a short time with his daughter Elvira. 
He also built the Dr. Binsse house across the river — 
when, I do not know. It seems to me that from my 
earliest recollection he was a member of our family. 
His must have been a hospitable house, for it was 
spoken of as "the minister's home," and I heard the 
eccentric preacher, Rev. Jedediah Burchard, say in 
one of his characteristic sermons, in which he de- 
lighted in personalities, that "the latch-string of 

17 



Judge Foster's house always hung on the outside." 
He was very fond of music, and sang in the church 
which he had the main credit of building. I thought 
it very funny when he described to me how, when he 
was a young man, he wore his hair braided down his 
back, tied with blue ribbons. He was a very genial, 
social man, and methodical in all his ways. His two 
sons, Gustavus and Morris, living in Cleveland, 
Ohio, he went out to visit them and there met and 
married a rich widow, Mrs. Jane Merwin. It was 
a very unwise and unhappy thing for him to do; 
but she did not live long. She had a child, who 
died from small-pox. I remember seeing her once 
in our house. 

After her death he resumed his seat at our fire- 
side, and there remained until after the death of his 
son-in-law, Major Henry Smith, who, having gone 
to Mexico to fight for his country, fell a victim to 
yellow fever soon after his arrival. 

Grandfather then thought he ought to go to Mon- 
roe, Michigan, where his daughter resided, to comfort 
her in her sorrow. This was a heroic thing for him to 
do because, not long before, he had had something of 
the nature of a heart attack, and he felt the shadow 
of death hanging about him. He bade good-bye 
sadly to the places he loved so well, and, a very short 
time after, another attack suddenly ended his life. 
He died December 10, 1847. 

Renovo, Pennsylvania, July, 1896. 

18 



RESIDENCE 

BUILT AND OCCUPIED 

BY 

ADRIEL ELY 

1826 



Frances Sterling Massey 

LETTER 

Your father was a perfect gentleman of the old 
school, a man who was looked up to for advice in all 
circumstances, and his judgment was correct. In 
his dealings with men he was strictly honorable. He 
was the widows' friend and the orphans' adviser, 
good to the poor, giving them work or money. His 
fondness for his nieces and nephews was noticeable, 
befriending them in all circumstances. Was very 
fond of having your mother admired and, although 
there was so much difference in their ages, there was 
not one particle of jealousy in his disposition. He 
was fond of entertaining his friends and always liked 
a house full of company. I never knew a man who 
would endure so much pain without complaining. 
One day, as he came in from his business, he came up 
to me and took hold of his little finger and said: "If 
this finger were cut off it would not hurt me any 
more." He suffered from neuralgia, as you know. 

I can say that as much as I was in your father's 
family I never saw him the least out of humor. As a 
father and ruler of his family, in my opinion, he had 
no equal. 

Your mother in many respects was a wonderful 
woman. She never spent an idle moment, and was 

19 



greatly beloved by those who served her — was fond 
of entertaining her friends and thought nothing too 
much that she could do to promote their comfort and 
happiness. 

She was stern with her sons but very gentle with 
her daughters. Her love for your father was not of 
that violent, romantic kind which hardly lasts until 
the honeymoon is over, but as she lived on her love 
increased, and the day of his death she honored and 
loved him more than the day of her marriage. As 
children of such parents you may well honor their 
memory and imitate their example. 

I know little of your grandfather Foster, but 
remember him as a most cheerful man and perfectly 
devoted to all of you as children. I was ten years 
old when I parted with our grandfather Ely (in 
1824). The parting between him and my mother I 
can never forget. She was the only daughter he had, 
and she was leaving him to live in far-away northern 
New York. The first day's journey he came from 
Lyme with us in his own carriage, for in those days 
there was no railroad. I do not remember our own 
grandmother. After grandfather Ely married the 
second time his life was not very happy. His wife 
was a maiden lady, and if your father were living he 
could tell you of her peculiar traits. She was from a 
good family but never liked children. 

Brooklyn, New York, January, 1897. 

20 



RESIDENCE 

BUILT AND OCCUPIED 

BY 

JABEZ FOSTER 

1808 



Cornelia S. Hungerford 

LETTER 

Jabez Foster was married July 24, 1800, in 
Paris, New York, to Hannah Hungerford. For a 
short time they resided in Westmoreland, New 
York; also in Turin, New York. About 1804 he 
removed to Burrville, New York, and opened a store 
in company with Mr. Converse. In 1808 he removed 
to Watertown village where, in company with his 
brother-in-law, Orville Hungerford, he transacted 
a large business during the War of 1812-15 — the 
firm of Foster & Hungerford supplying provisions 
to the United States Army at Sackets Harbor. 

About 1811 Sabbath service was held in the 
school-house on the hill, the site of the present Hotel 
LeRay, on the south side of Public Square. Judge 
Foster was chorister. The school-house was built in 
1804, the first one in the village. The old stone 
church on Washington Street was built in 1820 and 
was the first one here. It was built under the super- 
vision of Judge Foster at a cost of $9000 and was 
dedicated June 1, 1821. 

Judge Foster was President of the Jefferson 
County Bank from 1817 to 1819, and again from 
1825 to 1826, and for years was County Judge, 
Supervisor, etc. His first appointment as Judge of 

21 



General Sessions was in 1813, and (to quote from 
Hough's History) , "In every station he acquired the 
esteem of all associated with him by his kindness and 
probity of character." When he removed to Water- 
town, he bought a lot on Washington Street* and 
built the house in which he lived until he sold it to 
Mr. Levi Beebee. 

The first well dug in the village was on this lot. 
It was thirty feet deep and was the best water in the 
village. 

While Mrs. Foster was busy near the well one 
day, her little daughter, Evelina, then only two years 
old, tried to climb up to get hold of the bucket. Her 
four-year-old sister, Elvira, was holding the other 
bucket, and when she released her hold Evelina lost 
her balance and fell head foremost into the well. 
Her mother saw her just as she went down, and, 
giving a scream, with true motherly instinct she went 
into the well to rescue her child, not thinking of the 
danger to herself. Some men working on the roof 
of a house (corner of Clinton Street) heard the 
scream and saw Mrs. Foster disappear. Thinking 
she was trying to drown herself, they wished to save 
her. They found her with the child on her shoulder 
and, by hand-over-hand use of the well-chain and by 
bracing her feet on the side of the well, she had got so 
near the top that they could reach down and help her 
out. The child was neither hurt nor frightened, but 



the shock to the mother's nerves was so great that it 
was months before she recovered. An impression 
left on the little girl's brain was that there was an old 
man and his wife at the bottom of the well, and that 
there was a table set for supper. 

Mrs. Foster was a rare woman, with great execu- 
tive ability. She died, much lamented, at the age of 
forty-nine years. 

In those old times visiting was universal among 
relatives, often to the third generation — also among 
friends and acquaintances. 

The Ely home, which was most hospitable, was 
the nucleus of aristocratic visitors from Oswego, 
Lowville, Brownville, and Sackets Harbor, from the 
"Post." Mrs. Ely was an elegant cook, so her friends 
fared luxuriously, even those who dropped in to din- 
ner or to pass the night quite unexpectedly. Judge 
Foster was very abstemious in eating and drinking — 
always left the table when he could relish more. 
Apple pie and milk was his Sunday-night lunch, 
invariably. 

Adriel Ely was strict in his attendance at church, 
and required the same of his family. 

You have heard, of course, of the Church Sewing 
Society functions, semi-monthly, with a feast of good 
things for supper, — raised biscuit, bread-cake, crul- 
lers, with rich preserves and pickles, and other good 
things. Marietta Hungerford was seldom absent. 

23 



She was a famous quilter; she would leave the quilt 
and pass into another room to thread her needle, as 
a long thread saves time. She was a quaint and 
thrifty soul. Mrs. Wardwell, Mrs. Mary Ely, Mrs. 
Fiske, Mrs. Brainard, and Mrs. William Wood are 
those I recall as constant attendants, with many 
younger ones. 

I must not omit to mention the horse owned for 
a great many years in the Ely family, Dick by 
name, — "Old Dick." He was often driven to Utica 
(eighty miles) one day and back the next, without 
signs of fatigue. He died at the advanced age of 
thirty-three years — that is, advanced for a horse. 

Watertown, New York, December, 1907. 



*I find a statement as to this Washington Street 
property in "The Gazetteer," published in 1890, 
to the effect that he bought the land from Hart 
Massey, but the sale did not include the frame house 
(believed to have been the first of its kind built in 
Watertown) which stood on the lot. It was built 
and occupied by Mr. Massey and was removed by 
him to another location. "Mr. Benedict, who 
bought the adjoining plot, and Judge Foster set 
about building the most spacious and elegant resi- 
dences by far yet undertaken in the village, if not in 

24 



the county. The one built by Judge Foster was 
occupied by him until after the death of his wife, 
when it was sold to Levi Beebee. Later it became 
the property of Loveland Paddock. The well, dug 
on the place during the occupancy of Mr. Massey, 
is still in use." 

G.S.E.K. 



25 



ADRIEL ELY 

1744-1829 



SARAH STOW 

1754-1796 



Portraits unobtainable 



Sumner Stow Ely 

LETTER 

The "Record of Connecticut Men in the War of 
the Revolution" (a book published by authority of 
the State) gives the following concerning our grand- 
father, Adriel Ely. He was Sergeant in the com- 
pany which went from Lyme, Connecticut, at the 
time of the Lexington Alarm in 1775, and served 
twenty-nine days. He was also Second Lieutenant 
in Captain Martin Kirtland's company of Colonel 
Erastus Wolcott's regiment, which was stationed by 
Washington before Boston in January, 1776. He 
was a man of commanding stature, forceful char- 
acter, and of high standing as a citizen. His children 
were all by his first wife, Sarah Stow. The name of 
his second wife was Hepzibah Turner. 

My father, Sumner, graduated at an early age 
from Yale College and located at Clarksville, 
Otsego County, New York, in 1810. As an evidence 
of his popularity with his immediate neighbors is the 
the fact that he was elected supervisor at thirteen 
annual town meetings, eleven of which were in suc- 
cessive years. In 1836 he was elected Member of 
Assembly and in 1840, State Senator for a term of 
four years. At that time the State Senators and the 
Justices of the Supreme Court constituted "The 

27 



Court for the Correction of Errors," which then was 
the highest in the state ; and his duties as a member of 
the Senate and of that Court occupied a large part 
of his time each of the four years served. In 1840 
he was elected President of the New York State 
Medical Society. In 1852 he was sent by that soci- 
ety, as its representative, to the American Medical 
Association. He died February 3, 1857. 

My brother, Theodore D wight, was his mother's 
favorite child, which speaks very loudly for him. To 
make those with whom he associated feel humorous 
and happy was a prominent trait in his nature, and 
that disposition manifested itself in his letters. 

Your father, Adriel, went to Watertown in 1814 
and was then twenty-three years old. On one of 
his visits in Clarksville he taught me to play chess, 
and I shall never forget the patience, kindness, and 
earnestness which he manifested in so doing. 

Your sister, Harriette, and I were cousins not 
only in name, but also in the love which that relation- 
ship justifies. She, in company with Theodore, made 
several summer visits at my father's house, and 
I made several at your father's, so thus in our 
younger days we were much together, and I flatter 
myself when I say that our tastes and dispositions 
were much alike. These visits are the red-letter days 
of my life. Simplicity, frankness, and a total absence 
of affectation characterized all her acts, and her devo- 

28 



tion to her friends was equaled only by her devotion 
to her Maker. 

Girard, Pennsylvania, December, 1907. 



As Uncle Sumner was nearer to us than were 
most of our relatives, it is a pleasure to include the 
above sketch of him. In addition, it should be said 
that he was one of the old-time country doctors with 
a large practice, scattered over a district of high 
hills and poor roads, involving long and fatiguing 
horseback rides and great exposure ; but his vigorous 
constitution and frugal, temperate habits enabled 
him to withstand the strain and to retain until the last 
his strong mental and physical powers. He died in 
the seventieth year of his age, his death being caused 
by a fall received a few weeks previous. He was 
of large stature, six feet and one inch in height. His 
wife, Hannah Gilbert, on the contrary, was small; 
she was a gentle soul, and the pet of her six men 
(she had five sons). While appreciating, she was 
inclined to deprecate their frequent jokes, and when 
Uncle Sumner would remark to some visitor that her 
biscuits were so light they had to keep the windows 
shut to prevent their flying outdoors, she would say 
in her mild way, "Why, Doctor!" 

One incident in the domestic life of the old 
Clarksville home is worth recording, because it has 

29 



become a proverb with some of us. One day, when 
the buttermaking was finished and the churning im- 
plements were to be put away, as they were about to 
descend into the cellar the big, hearty maid-of-all- 
work, officious in appearing to help, said to dear little 
Aunt Hannah in the most matter-of-course tone, 
"Mis' Ely, you carry the churn and I'll carry the 
candle." And I dare say Aunt Hannah did it. 
There are so many candle bearers in this world! 

G.S.E.K. 



30 



JABEZ FOSTER 

1777—1847 



Augustus Goodale 

LETTER 

My earliest remembrance of your father, Adriel 
Ely, goes back to the time when I was a Sunday 
School scholar and he was my teacher in the old Ses- 
sion house which stood, as near as I can recollect, at 
the northwest corner of what is now Stone and 
Arcade Streets. The Session house was an annex of 
the First Presbyterian Church, though rather remote 
from the old stone structure it then was. That was 
about the year 1834, when Rev. George Boardman 
was pastor. 

My idea is that Mr. Ely was rather a stern man 
with the boys. I know we had to behave in Sunday 
School, and I suppose our lessons were as well 
learned as is the case with the average Sunday School 
boy nowadays. My recollection is that he was my 
teacher until I graduated. When I left Sunday 
School, at the age of twelve or fourteen years, my 
time must have passed pretty much as that of the 
other boys. I knew all the old settlers — Hunger- 
ford, Paddock, Ely, Woodruff, Foster, Sterling, 
Ten Eyck, etc.; but they took very little notice of 
us until we got along to the twenties. 

Mr. Ely appeared to me for a number of years 
as a rather stern, unapproachable man — not more so, 

31 



perhaps, than his contemporaries — until I had 
arrived at more mature years and was, fortunately 
for myself, invited informally to drop in any evening 
and to become intimately acquainted with your fam- 
ily, which consisted of your father and mother, 
Hattie, yourself, Foster, Fred, and Theodore, and 
also of your cousin Theodore. The collateral mem- 
bers were Van Vleck, Story, George Goodale, and 
myself. There might have been one or two others, 
whose names I do not recall. 

Upon that invitation and my acceptance, I found 
your father to be one of the most genial and hospi- 
table hosts and friends it was ever my fortune to 
meet, and the same cordiality was extended to us 
young fellows by your mother. Mr. Ely and his 
wife were in harmony in that respect. Perhaps it 
would not be becoming in me to tell you now, staid 
matron as you are, that after you were sent to bed, 
and the boys (Fred, Foster, and Theodore) safely 
disposed of for the night, and the deacons and min- 
ister of the church — evening callers — had vanished, 
about nine o'clock this stern, unapproachable father 
of yours would draw out the little mahogany table 
and say: "Come, boys, what's trumps?" and that old- 
fashioned whist would occupy the time for two hours 
or longer, and that our repast would be hot mince pie 
and a little "Otard, Dupuy & Co." I sometimes 
think I owe my long and healthy existence to the 

32 



hot mince and its qualifying company, the beverage. 
Your mother would always make up a hand at the 
whist table, and if I owe any one for my early train- 
ing and teaching, which made me a pretty good card- 
player, it is to them. 

There were winters when young ladies appeared 
as guests at your house, — the Misses Smith and, once 
in a while, a Miss Foster. Hattie Smith afterwards 
became Mrs. Fred Story, and Elvira, Mrs. George 
Goodale. 

Thus two or three years of my early life were 
passed in an intimacy with one of the best and most 
genial families in Watertown, and as I look over the 
long past to those times, so full of pleasure to my 
early days, and know there is a direct representative 
here living to whom I can give a slight summary of 
them, it almost seems as if the intervening years 
were blotted out and I might still, of a pleasant win- 
ter night, wander up to the old stone house on Wash- 
ington Street and renew the intimacy of those pleas- 
ant times. 

Watertown, New York, 1903. 



33 



HANNAH HUNGERFORD FOSTER 

1777-1826 



Pamela B. Wright 
letter 

When we look back upon the past, as I am per- 
mitted to (a long way), we often recall events of 
deep interest to ourselves and others, as in this 
instance. I was thinking of your dear mother to-day 
and of the very high esteem in which she was held 
by the community, noted as she was for her genuine 
kindness in countless ways, and of her spending a 
night in lovely care and watchfulness over me during 
a very critical illness, which occurred when we lived 
"over the river" and now dates back in the past over 
fifty-four years. 

At that time every effort was made to procure a 
reliable nurse, which proved unavailing, and your 
dear mother offered her valuable services, with other 
kind friends, who watched over me until permanent 
relief was secured, — a condition which bears quite a 
strong contrast to the present time, as the neces- 
sity for "trained nurses" had not then impressed 
itself upon the public. 

We often referred to the event afterwards with 
much satisfaction, as I ever remembered her tender, 
gentle watchfulness as that of a guardian angel. 

Watertown, New York, November, 1907. 

35 4 



<"»^"Sy 



/S M»y 



EVELINA ELY 



James DeLoxg 

LETTER 

My first work in Watertown was with my brother 
on a masonry "arch" for your father's ashery on Fac- 
tory Street, where the Harmon Shop now stands. 
At that time my brother lived across the road. I, as a 
lad, was learning masonry. I had some dealings later 
with your father and became acquainted also with 
your cousin Theodore. Once, when talking with the 
latter, your father, overhearing the conversation, 
called me in and said my plan was commendable and 
offered to help. He said he would assist and furnish 
whatever money I needed and, when I got ready, I 
could give him a mortgage and he would wait four 
or five years for the payment. 

But he never called for either note or mortgage, 
and it was about four years before I paid up. When 
I came to settle, he said: "You got along as well as 
you expected?" I said: "Yes, and better too, and 
you never called on me for note or mortgage." Then 
he asked if I should like to know the reason why, and 
I told him I should. He said: "You never have been 
to the store to order a full suit of clothes. If you had 
come in and ordered two suits I should have called 
for a mortgage." It was pretty gratifying to me 
to have him think me economical and judicious. 

37 



My recollection of his dealings is that he was 
always benevolent and kind to any one who would be 
reasonable. He used to help many men, and I don't 
know what Luther Scott and others would have done 
without him. He was a prominent merchant and of 
superior judgment, morally and legally. He always 
kept his friends, and I never heard any one speak 
disparagingly of him. 

As a chess-player your father was accounted one 
of the first and best, and I have said many times that 
he was also good at law. They did not have so many 
lawsuits in those days, but in talking them over his 
opinion always proved to be right in the end and in 
accord with the decision rendered. He was like old 
school books; no flights, even in temper, not good- 
natured to-day and cross to-morrow. Your cousin 
Theodore was clerk for your father and afterwards 
teller in the Jefferson County Bank. You wouldn't 
have known he ever had any trouble — always had 
pleasant things to say. He never seemed to have 
thought of marrying. 

Your father's horse, "Old Dick," was known as a 
superior one. Hardly a horse in town could outstep 
him. He was a bay horse, weighing about twelve 
hundred pounds. 

Your house had high ceilings and painted walls. 
I did repairs there and kalsomining. One day your 
mother wanted the walls washed. She had staging 

38 



built, and the girls wouldn't go on it — said it wasn't 
a suitable place for a woman. She said: "Perhaps it 
is not." The next thing I knew I saw her up there, 
with clothes changed, doing it herself. Then the 
girls felt badly, and your mother stepped down and 
they stepped up. I remember her father, Judge 
Foster, but never had any chats with him. He was 
a fair-sized man, with light complexion but dark hair 
— made a good impression. 

Watertown, New York, January, 1908. 









FOSTER ELY 



Foster Ely 

LETTER 

To the fund of "Recollections" I might add a few 
which mainly concern father, and which perhaps have 
not been mentioned elsewhere. They largely concern 
my personal relation to him. He accompanied me 
when I went to Hamilton College, and while I was 
there he was always generous with me. I remember a 
letter written when I had sent to him for quite a large 
sum of money, in which he said: "I gladly comply 
with your request, but hope you will be economical 
for your own sake." Before concluding his letter he 
adds, in reference to this advice: "Do not be mean in 
your expenditures and, while consulting economy, do 
your part as a gentleman should." 

When a mere boy I told him an untruth as to 
where I had been, substituting a debating society for 
a theatre. A few days after he called me into his 
office and said: "In talking with Luther Scott I 
referred to the debate in which you said you took 
part, and, to my astonishment, he said the debate was 
postponed ; so you could not have been present. That 
is all. You wish a new hat — here is the money." 
I keenly felt my punishment. No scolding, simply 
a grieved look. I never again intentionally deceived 
this noble father, who understood so well my peculiar 

41 



disposition. Once, when a little boy, I was evidently 
smoking a cigar in front of the old stone store. A 
neighbor called father to come to the sidewalk and, 
approaching me, said, "See, your son is smoking." 
Thereupon I broke the maple-sugar cigar in pieces 
and gave one to him and one to father. The latter 
then said: "Judge, don't you think it better to look 
after your own son than mine?" 

On one occasion father said to me: "Theatres in 
this place (Watertown) are not those which you 
should attend — when older, I will take you to a first- 
class one in New York." Later (when I was a 
student at the Law School in Poughkeepsie) he did 
take me to New York, to the famous old St. Nicholas 
Hotel on Broadway (not far from Bleecker Street) 
and did what he could to afford me pleasure. 

I have a long letter from him about the pension 
laws. It would do credit to one of our finest lawyers 
and is penned in the purest English and is both 
graceful and condensed. Though very reticent and 
not having enough self-confidence to enjoy speaking 
in public, he was fluent, logical, lucid, and interest- 
ing, when the subject was one with which he was 
familiar. I was present at the meeting of citizens in 
what, I think, was the old Apollo Hall on Court 
Street (since demolished), when the advisability of 
introducing gas into the village was discussed and 

42 



the gas company formed, and I remember that on 
this occasion he clearly and ably stated his views. 

He took a deep personal interest in all public 
affairs, being instrumental in the erection of a new 
county house and, if memory plays me no trick, of 
the county jail also. He was one of the original 
stockholders of the Watertown & Rome Railroad 
and, I think, was a member of the party that made 
the trial trip over the road. 

Strictly speaking, father was not a disciplinarian 
— certainly not as regards punishing his sons. He 
often said that he left that to his wife. Despite his 
reticence, which never suggested taciturnity, he 
possessed habitually a cheerful temperament. No 
matter whether racked with keen neuralgia or 
troubled about business affairs, whenever mother 
spoke to him he responded with a smile and a pleas- 
ant word. At times he was quite the humorist. This 
I infer from his remarks when in the counting-room 
he played chess, especially when he checkmated his 
adversary. I vividly recall the fact that, when at 
home enjoying the collegiate vacation in 1854 or '55, 
he suggested that I be his partner in a game of 
euchre. He did this because of needing another to 
make a second table. As I took the hand dealt to me 
father said he would teach me the game. Unwilling 
that he should know that I had learned to play cards 
at college I played poorly, to his annoyance, until, 

43 



once forgetting to say "Pass," I brought my hand 
down on the table instead ; whereupon, with a twinkle 
of the eye, he said: "Make no more mistakes; you do 
not need a teacher." 

At the beginning of my Junior year at Hamilton 
College father thought best to send me to Michigan 
University in Ann Arbor. Later, I wrote from there 
asking him to allow me to go to Mississippi and to 
send check for my expenses. On his acquiescence, 
in company with a young Mississippian (a nephew 
of Jefferson Davis, who was a fellow student), I 
went to Jackson and Canton. Recalling a remark 
I had heard father make to mother that his "chief 
concern was about Foster's future, as he doubted his 
ever earning money enough to take care of himself" 
and other words which impressed me with the fact 
that, if I earned money, he thought I could not keep 
it — I, mindful of this overheard remark, determined 
to convince him that he was mistaken and so, instead 
of returning to Michigan University, I took a school 
in the country not far from Canton (where, on my 
second visit to Mississippi, I was admitted to the 
bar), receiving one hundred dollars per month and 
free board with a planter, one of the school patrons. 
During the school year I received about nine hundred 
dollars. Despite my unnecessary expenses in going 
to New Orleans and other places, when I reached 
home I poured into father's lap about four hundred 

44 



dollars in twenty-dollar gold pieces. He said to me 
in effect: "I care not so much for this money because 
it is money, but I do care for what it represents on 
your part— the ability to earn and save. Hereafter 
I shall not in these respects be anxious about you. 
This money I shall keep for you and add more to it, 
as you intend to enter the Law School and must meet 
expenses of tuition and board." 

Father was a Knight Templar — "Eminent Com- 
mander" from 1829 to 1831. He owned the regalia 
of his office, but what became of it I do not know. 
He finally withdrew from the Masons, assigning as 
a reason for his action the fact that many men in 
Watertown, being satisfied with its solemn services, 
depended upon Masonry (which, while teaching 
sound morals, ignores religion) for doing the work of 
the churches. He felt that he could serve the church 
better if not a Mason and, therefore, could no longer 
conscientiously support it as an institution. While 
not accepting father's view, I mention the fact as 
showing that he was willing to sever pleasant rela- 
tions because of what he honestly deemed his duty. 

Some of his fine qualities he must have inherited 
from his father, Adriel Ely. Judge George Ely 
of Lyme, Connecticut, who recently died at an 
advanced age, told me that, as a boy, he often saw 
grandfather Ely, and that he was tall, had a fine 
presence and withal much dignity, and that he was 

45 



one of the first citizens of the county, inclusive of 
New London, and held by all in the highest respect. 
His military service consisted in being a Lieutenant, 
and his descendants are entitled to become members 
of the Sons of the Revolution, if they so desire. I 
have a deed of land in Lyme to which are affixed the 
signatures of Adriel Ely and Adriel Ely, Jr. (our 
father). Grandfather was buried in the quaint old 
Ely Burying Ground in that town. 

He was one of those who had a claim against the 
United States Government in the matter of the 
French Spoliation Claims, by reason of the loss of 
the schooner "William" and cargo — Sylvester 
Pratt, master. The petition of George Ely to the 
"Honorable Judges of the Court of Claims" shows 
that this schooner was a duly registered vessel of the 
United States, Adriel Ely and Amos White being 
joint owners of ship and cargo. It sailed from 
Middletown, Connecticut, October 1, 1798, for Dem- 
erara, British Guiana, laden with live stock and mer- 
chandise products of the United States. On said 
voyage she was captured by a French armed vessel, 
acting under the authority of the French Republic, 
and was condemned, confiscated, and sold for the 
benefit of her captors. This capture was in violation 
of the law of nations and treaties between the 
United States and France. That the owners had a 
valid and admitted claim upon the French Republic 

46 



is clearly shown by the ratification, etc., between 
these two countries exchanged July 1, 1801. The 
amount of the indemnity petitioned for by the heirs 
of Adriel Ely was $6575, being one-half of the total 
claim. George Ely, as administrator of Adriel Ely, 
made an affidavit in the county of New London 
(probably in Lyme) , before James Griswold, Notary 
Public, January 17, 1887. George G. Sill of Hart- 
ford signed as attorney. The latter said that he 
represented more than $200,000 of similar Spoliation 
Claims. Both men are now dead. Up to this time 
the money claimed has not been recovered. 

Stamford, Connecticut, November, 1907. 



47 



Jeannette Huntington Riley 

LETTER 

You ask me to go back sixty years and write what 
I can remember of your father and mother and of 
your early life. So many things have happened in 
the interval that I can scarcely think of a thing that 
will be interesting to you or to your children. I 
remember you as a child very much loved and petted 
by all, but more especially by your mother. You 
were, as I remember, rather quiet and painfully par- 
ticular, neat, orderly, and fond of books. *"Bub," 
as we all called him, was a frolicsome boy, hale and 
hearty and loved by every one. When your mother 
called Katy, about five o'clock, to look him up in 
order to wash and dress him for tea, she would tell 
her to wash up all the boys in the street, and when she 
found Bub to bring him in and dress him! It was 
quite unnecessary to wash up all the boys to find 
Bub, for his dancing, laughing eyes would betray 
him. He was one of the good-natured kind, who 
always had an army of friends who depended on him 
as a leader, and, as a rule, he was quite equal to it. I 
can never forget the look on your father's face when 
your mother would tell him of Bub's pranks. He 
was the proudest father, and the cousins, Theodore 
and Newel, were equally proud, and your mother was 

*T. N. E. 

49 



proud also, but she pretended she did not know what 
to do with him. I don't remember either one of you 
ever being punished. Bub made friends with every- 
body — he liked every one and every one liked him — 
he was hail-fellow well met. You were, I think, sort 
of distant, especially to strangers. 

I remember Fred as a great overgrown, good- 
natured, good-hearted boy, in roundabouts — would 
do anything you asked him to do. Foster was more 
distant and used to amuse us very much by going to 
the barn to practise elocution. In summer we could 
hear him in the house. We used to make lots of fun 
of him and, as I think of it now, I don't think it was 
very much to our credit, for he worked so hard to 
accomplish his end and make an orator of himself 
that he should have been encouraged. 

I remember Hattie as being also painfully par- 
ticular and orderly and very exquisite about every- 
thing she did — it must be just so. She married soon 
after I knew you all. I was very fond of her; she 
was a conscientious, good friend. I knew her better 
after her marriage when we both lived in Auburn. I 
was a stranger there and used often to see her and 
became much attached to her and was fond of her 
children, especially the boy, Joe. Your mother, as 
you must know, was one of the most hospitable 
ladies in Watertown — knew every one and was 
justly proud of her ancestors. She never allowed 

50 



the larder to get low and was called about the best 
cook in Watertown in those days — rather rich than 
otherwise — never scrimped anything. She was very 
generous to her friends and gave with a lavish hand 
to those she loved. She was especially fond of 
her niece, Nelly Foster (a daughter of your uncle 
Gustavus), who was there a year or two when I 
was there so much. She was a very lovely girl, 
amiable and so pretty and ladylike, but rather quiet, 
I thought. You may remember her, as I do. She 
died of consumption, and I recall how bitterly your 
mother felt at the time because, after she went back 
to her home in Milwaukee, she employed a home- 
opathist. In those days it was almost a crime to 
employ a homeopathist, and one took his life in his 
hands who did so. 

Nelly's sister, Hannah Maria (Kneeland), I 
thought was the prettiest woman I ever saw, with a 
wonderful complexion and such refined manners that 
to see her was to love her. With her beauty and 
grace, one would almost wonder that she had not been 
spoiled. 

Your mother was a warm-hearted woman, and 
when she loved, she loved with her whole heart. She 
was so fond of her sister (your Auntie Vie, as we all 
called her), and your early life was so interwoven 
with hers, this would hardly be complete without 
bringing her in — she was one whom every one loved. 

51 



Your mother's house was always full. I don't call 
to mind a time when there was not some one there. 
When young men were coming in, even after ten at 
night, there was a friendly light and the latch-string 
was sure to pull and they were always sure of a wel- 
come. There was no regular time for closing the 
house — eleven o'clock was early bedtime. 

I often think how times have changed, and I don't 
believe they begin to have the good times we had in 
those days. There were no old folks — fathers and 
mothers were brothers and sisters to their children — 
and all had a good time. I wish I could pen down 
those things I half remember that flit through my 
mind; but perhaps it is better that I do not recall. 
Those were days when we had resources within our- 
selves ; we were not dependent upon theatres, excur- 
sions, etc., though there were many large parties 
given during the winter. There were no cottages 
in the country for summer — people had homes in 
those days and staid at home, occasionally going a 
trip somewhere; but nowadays they have four or 
five homes and travel most of the time. I only wish 
they knew of the good old times for their own sakes. 

I feel I ought to say something about that faith- 
ful hunchback Katy, who took as much interest in 
every one connected with that household as your 
mother did, and when you or Bub needed correcting 
she took you in hand and, as a rule, I think you both 



obeyed. She loved you as her own, but I think Bub 
was her favorite. She took care of him when he was 
a baby and he learned to love her, for she was always 
on hand when he needed her and she was the first 
one to hear his troubles. I wonder if he remembers 
his dear old nurse of sixty years ago! 

I have said nothing of your father. Well, he was 
one of the grandest men. I was very fond of him. 
Unlike most men with cares, worries, and sickness, 
he never seemed annoyed if I went to his office — I 
was always welcome and could ask him any question, 
no matter how important or foolish, and he would 
always give me a polite and civil answer and care- 
fully explain things so as to make them clear. Al- 
though his health was poor for so many years he 
enjoyed a good joke or a little fun, even if too feeble 
to take part in it. He was so fond of your uncle 
Jabez Foster and spent more time at home when he 
was there; and often, sitting in the wing, I used to 
hear them visit, and also with your aunt Kate (uncle 
Jabez's wife). 

Oh my! how that takes me back! I can see it as 
clear as though it happened yesterday. I love to 
dwell upon those times and cannot realize it is sixty 
years ago, it all comes so fresh to my mind. And 
Auntie Vie and your mother — how they did enjoy 
those annual reunions when your uncle Jabez came 
home from Jacksonville, Florida, where he went 

53 



every winter for his health. Dear me! when we all 
meet in the mansions prepared for us, I wonder if 
we shall renew and review those old times! Your 
dear father was such a good man. I had great rever- 
ence for him. He would come in just gasping for 
breath, and your mother would help him take off 
whatever he needed to remove and give him a little 
wine or whiskey — he would look so white but would 
soon recover so that he could do the carving, which he 
was an expert at. Theodore (D.) used to sit beside 
him and help him, for it meant work to carve for a 
table of ten to eighteen or twenty, as it often was. I 
wish you could remember him as well as I do, for it 
would give you great pleasure, I am sure. 

Dear old aunt Marietta would come with her 
thimble to help us out; she was a very practical 
woman and very blunt and sometimes said things 
that hurt, but she did not mean to and on the whole 
was a dear, kind woman who did a great deal of good. 
I believe everybody's favorite was cousin Melina 
Lee. Not one of the cousins do I remember with 
such reverence — a Christian in every sense of the 
word ; she lived it day by day. If any one spoke ill 
of another to her, she would have an excuse ready in 
her sweet, lovely way. 

There was another, aunt Betsey, the sweetest — 
no other word would express her character. Her 
husband, your mother's uncle, Orville Hunger ford, 

54 



was a dignified and some might have said a cold, stern 
man; but to me, only a young girl, he was always 
exceedingly kind. I am always proud to say I had 
an uncle who went to Congress when it meant some- 
thing! My dear old grandfather, Anson Hunger- 
ford, was his brother ; he was a Colonel in the War of 
1812; a farmer, very quiet, never showing us any 
particular affection; but we loved him and enjoyed 
having him come to our house to visit. 

I am so glad, as I have reviewed the past, that I 
have lived to see and know so many of these people, 
for they were all so good. It seems to me that you 
must remember much that I have referred to, but 
possibly not. There was not much of the "good old 
times" after I left there, and I guess it is sickness, 
death, and sorrow that you can remember best. 

Dexter, New York, July, 1908. 



55 



FREDERICK GUSTAVUS ELY 



Frederick Gustavus Ely 

LETTER 

I remember grandfather Foster, but he died 
when I was quite young. He was one of the early 
settlers and a merchant. Besides having built several 
houses in Watertown he was said to have owned 
much of the land from Washington Street back to 
Massey Street. He also, with others, gave the land 
on which the First Presbyterian Church now stands. 

Father was a merchant all his life and was, as 
well, an attorney for the soldiers who served in the 
Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Mexi- 
can War, prosecuting their claims for pensions from 
the Government. Through his knowledge and ability 
he was enabled to procure many pensions with back 
pay for the widows of soldiers who served during the 
Revolution, and for a number of soldiers them- 
selves whose claims had been rejected by the Govern- 
ment. I remember very well some of these old 
people who came to the store, twice a year, to get 
their money and a little sangaree, which was made 
and kept in a pail in anticipation of their coming. 
He was very successful in obtaining pensions, land 
warrants, etc., for those in the later wars. 

Father had also a very good knowledge of the 
law, drawing many contracts, deeds, mortgages, and 

57 



other legal documents for many of the town and 
country people who had dealings with him. He was 
appointed by different Judges and served in many 
cases as Referee, and I never heard of his findings 
being overruled. I have heard Judge Allen, Judge 
Mullin, and others urge him to obtain a certificate as 
a lawyer, saying he was fully qualified and the ex- 
amination would be a mere form. I do not think he 
ever sought an office, but served as County Treasurer 
and, for several years, as Supervisor from Water- 
town, and it was through his efforts that the present 
County House was built in 1855. I remember writ- 
ing the notices to the other supervisors, calling a 
meeting for that purpose. The old poorhouse, to- 
gether with the manner in which the insane were 
housed and treated, was a disgrace. Father was a 
trustee of the Jefferson County Institute and other 
schools, church trustee also, and Sunday School 
superintendent. He selected the ground and started 
the movement for the new cemetery (Brookside) 
and, in fact, did all the work in the organization and 
completion of the project. It was dedicated in 1854, 
and father wrote to E. H. Chapin, a noted lecturer 
of that time, for an address on the occasion. Mr. 
Chapin replied that a written one would cost one 
hundred dollars and an unwritten one, fifty dollars. 
They took the unwritten ! Father was President of 
the Cemetery Association from 1855 until the time 
of his death, in 1859. 

58 



He was a stockholder and director in the Jeffer- 
son County Bank and was consulted daily as to the 
affairs of the bank. Before I was old enough to take 
much interest in his affairs father was along in years 
and was in poor health. He was very reserved as to 
himself, and I do not remember ever to have heard 
him tell of his early life or of any of his exploits. I 
have had others tell me that he was very powerful 
physically and that they had witnessed him in feats 
of strength, such as throwing barrels of salt, weigh- 
ing 330 pounds, into a wagon without taking out the 
end board. General Sumner told me that, when he 
lived in Watertown, he and father sailed a wagon 
down Washington Street, he looking after the sail 
and father doing the steering, a very difficult thing 
to do, as the General said. This was done on a 
wager, I have understood, and the course was from 
the First Church to the Public Square. 

After father had been in Watertown awhile he 
visited Lyme, Connecticut, going and returning on 
horseback. 

New York City, November, 1907. 



59 



Milton H. Merwin 

LETTER 

I remember that, in my early days, I was sur- 
prised at the readiness with which lawyers were will- 
ing to refer cases in the Supreme Court to the deci- 
sion of your father, Adriel Ely. The reason for this 
I soon discovered. He was an upright, honorable 
man. His business as a merchant made him familiar 
with accounts and business dealings. He was 
possessed of an intelligent and comprehensive judg- 
ment. He had practical common sense to an unusual 
degree, and his standard of right and wrong was 
high. 

He had an unusual ability to determine fairly 
what lawyers call questions of fact. Litigants had 
confidence in the man and his judgment, and there- 
fore his conclusions were apt to be satisfactory. 
Though a layman, his view of the law, founded as it 
is on common sense, was apt to be at least as nearly 
right as the average view of the professional man. 
In the language of the present day, he was a square 
man. 

Utica, New York, April, 1908. 



Judge Merwin lived in Watertown for some 
years but removed to Utica after he was elected 



61 



Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of New 
York. He said once to some one that "Watertown 
had had one man who ought to have been on the 
Bench, for he possessed the qualities which fitted him 
to be a Judge, and that man was Adriel Ely." His 
more recent letter is only an elaboration of the same 
opinion. 

G.S.E.K. 



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THEODORE NEWEL ELY 






Theodore Newel Ely 
letter 

The idea of a book of family reminiscences 
appeals to me strongly, and it is very good of you 
to undertake the not easy task of preparing one. 
I am glad to contribute my mite to these recollections 
although with the consciousness that, inasmuch as 
you were a part of our Watertown home while I 
lived there, and as the difference in our ages is not 
great, I am writing of things you already know. 

It is difficult, too, when one has reached my age 
after an active life in a field calling for constant ser- 
vice, to remember with accuracy the events of one's 
childhood days; this is the more so because I have 
been deprived of close association with you or others 
of the family to keep alive my early recollections. It 
is also hard to differentiate between one's recollection 
and tradition. 

In thinking this matter over I had planned to 
write chronologically, but I soon found that I was 
getting much mixed in my dates and therefore de- 
cided not to attempt an orderly sequence. 

There was, however, one important item of which 
I distinctly remember the date; it was the marriage 
of our sister Harriette to Charles Richardson. I 
was six years old and Harriette was twenty-five. 

63 



Elaborate preparations were made for the wedding 
feast. A long table was set in the dining-room 
and another in the wing, beneath which were good 
hiding-places for one of my size. The luxurious set- 
tings of these tables seemed to have furnished good 
opportunity for an appetite of six. 

I remember that among other things there were 
high pyramids of macaroons festooned with spun 
sugar, fruits, and candies. All of these were fash- 
ioned by Ragg, the confectioner. This man locked 
himself up in the kitchen pantry so that no one could 
learn his methods of working. My recollection is 
that the great round wedding cake was moulded in 
four parts so that it could be baked in the brick oven, 
which was at the right of the cook stove, which latter, 
by the way, had replaced the large fireplace in front 
of which it stood. These four parts were put 
together and frosted, and over the whole was built 
what seemed to be a wonderful temple in white con- 
fection. I think that this temple was preserved for 
several years. This much do I remember in regard 
to the wedding. 

I remember father's nephews, Theodore and 
Newel, whom father had taken to live in our family. 
They came long before my time and were grown 
men when my knowledge of them began. Theodore 
was my particular friend and counselor. He seemed 
to understand what a boy needed and gave me freely 

64 



of his time and sympathy. I learned to copy that 
vertical handwriting of his which, with all my 
attempts, I could not equal in beauty and grace. He 
taught me also free-hand printing from pure Roman 
letters. He showed me how to whittle and, at one 
time, how to sit still for five minutes for a reward! 
The remembrance of this latter episode clings to my 
memory very persistently. He was a fine man and 
we loved him through all his life, and I am glad to 
bear his name. The other nephew, Newel, was a 
strict business man and did not care so much for us 
children. We bothered him, I guess. 

Do you remember that there was a large lot back 
of our stable with a little stream running through it, 
on which I built a miniature flouring mill run by 
an overshot water-wheel, and that you made the 
small sacks for the flour? I think that a grass- 
hopper team did the hauling and that the wagon 
had white button wheels. Then there was a wooden 
rocking-horse whose head and neck "somehow" be- 
came detached from the rest of the body, which made 
it easier to give him a drink than it would have been 
to carry the whole body to the water hydrant! 

My recollections of father and mother are not 
very mature. Father died when I was thirteen and 
mother died four years later. 

For father I have retained an impression of great 
admiration. He was always very attentive to me and 

65 



often took me driving with him about town and far 
into the country. One of the trips — to Perch River 
Farm — was a specially favorite one. John Sharp, 
a burly Englishman, and his wife, Betsey, presided 
over the farm — both were very good to me and never 
forgot to bring out the sugar and cakes. 

Father, himself a fine horseman and admirer of 
good horses, could not resist buying a promising colt 
if he saw one and would bring it home for us to 
train. Father gave me riding lessons when I was 
about six. The inverted V of my little legs did not 
fit the fat ponies very well. The thing that he im- 
pressed most constantly upon me was that I should 
never be afraid. As I grew older he instructed me in 
making out business papers which might be useful 
in after-life. The filling out of pension papers for 
the fourth of March and the fourth of September 
of each year was a great occasion, for the old pen- 
sioners used to gather in father's office to sign them. 
Everything of course had to be written out in long- 
hand, and sand was used for blotting the ink. 

My recollection of father's personal appearance 
is that he was tall and broad-shouldered, rather spare, 
with a strong but kindly face that never showed 
anger no matter how sorely he might be tried. His 
great physical strength was not in evidence in my 
time, but I learned from the conversation of his old 
friends and contemporaries accounts of what it had 

6Q 



been. When he was in his prime he was said to have 
been the strongest man in that part of the country. 
But when I knew him his health had been shattered 
by over-exertion at a large fire where he had worked 
to exhaustion. 

I also recall father's holding me up in his arms 
to see the first train over the R. W. & O. come into 
Watertown. The building of this railroad necessi- 
tated a warning sign over the crossing of the main 
road to Sackets Harbor. It was while going to and 
from the Sand Banks Farm and Ashery that we 
passed under this sign, and from it I learned my first 
long sentence: "Railroad Crossing! Look Out for 
the Cars!!" 

By the way, that farm holds many pleasant recol- 
lections for me. It was a most interesting place. 
The vegetable garden was large and fruitful, and 
supplied our home bountifully. There was an 
ashery where potash was made, the "boiler" being 
a witty Irishman named Pat. He was short and 
stout and his favorite pastime was guying a farmer 
named Luther Scott who spent too much of his time 
talking politics. Once I heard Pat say to Scott: 
"Misther Scott, I hear that England is going to 
war with Great Britain," which so excited Scott 
that he ranted for several minutes and argued that 
there was no danger of that taking place. He never 
saw the joke. 

67 



Along the side road leading into the farm was an 
interesting Irish settlement. Everything Irish was 
there, — wakes and ructions of every description. 
The most important weapons of the women were 
rocks put in long stockings and used as clubs. There 
was a woods of fine maple and ash trees back of the 
farmhouse. I remember how several real but tame 
Indians and their squaws used to come that way with 
bows and arrows and baskets for sale, and how some 
of the smaller baskets were filled with fine granular 
maple sugar. The Indians showed me how to make 
bows and arrows. It was on this farm, when I was 
older, that I learned during my vacation how to mow, 
reap, bind, and plough. 

Father had men of diversified trades working 
for him. I remember Mr. Buck, a bookbinder by 
trade, whose duty it was to look after the gathering 
of vegetables, and I have a very clear recollection of 
his trudging to and from the garden with a market 
basket over his arm. He gave me useful informa- 
tion in regard to bookbinding. 

This recollection of Buck recalls two or three 
other men who worked for father. One of them was 
named Phillips. He was a ship carpenter by trade 
but had taken up house-building. I received very 
careful instruction from him in the use of carpenter 
tools. At that time the carpenter trade was less 
restricted than at present, and a carpenter was sup- 

68 



posed to be a general mechanic. One particular 
trick that Phillips taught me was how to strike a 
curve with a chalk line. Then there was Phillips' 
son who had been a sailor before the mast, who 
showed me all sorts of knots and splices. There was 
also a surveyor for whom I acted as rodman and 
chainman, and from whom I learned much in regard 
to surveying and the parting off of land. The house- 
hold servant I remember best was Katy Reynolds, 
the nurse. She was very efficient and particularly 
careful of my interests as against the rest of the 
family — bless her memory! 

I think it was Squire Sabin whom I used to see 
playing chess with father in his office. General E. V. 
Sumner, who was then Colonel of Cavalry stationed 
on the outpost of Fort Leavenworth, always visited 
father during his furloughs, and his coming was 
looked forward to with excitement because he had so 
many graphic stories to tell of the Indians. 

I have mentioned General Sumner, but I should 
also have mentioned Mrs. Sumner, who was mother's 
dear friend — and, too, the boys Win and Sam Sum- 
ner (afterwards Generals in the United States Army) 
who used to come to see us. Our cousins, Marcellus 
Massey and Frank, his wife, and their sons, Piob, 
Fred, and Morris, used to come to our house in the 
summer from Brooklyn. George Whitney and May 
(afterwards Mrs. Outerbridge) also came from 

69 



Philadelphia. I think that I got more out of Fred 
Massey than any of the others, as he taught me box- 
ing, the use of Indian clubs, baseball and other 
athletic sports. He was at that time the first base 
of the Atlantic Club of Brooklyn. Rob was a good 
musician, and very witty. 

I need not say much about the weather except 
to use the slang expression, "the winters were fierce." 
I remember going out one morning on the side porch 
of the dining-room to look at the thermometer, to 
find that the bulb was broken and the mercury 
frozen, which indicated thirty-nine degrees or more 
below zero. There were other records, however, that 
showed forty-five degrees below. At the same time, 
I remember freezing my ears going two or three 
blocks, and that I came near losing them. 

Father taught us all how to play cards and was 
particularly insistent that we should learn to play 
whist with accuracy and judgment. 

My recollections of mother are very tender. 
She was a good mother and a remarkable woman. 
In her last illness, which occurred when I was six- 
teen, she displayed such patience and fortitude dur- 
ing intense suffering that it has left a deep impres- 
sion on my mind. But there were happy times 
before that. I was the "baby" of the family, for 
even you beat me by almost two years. It would 
take a long letter to tell you all that mother did for 

70 



me and to me. With all her social and charitable 
activities she always seemed to have time to show her 
sympathy or give an encouraging word. But that 
was not all ; she did not hesitate to punish, as well as 
to pet. The punishments, although they were not 
infrequent, have long been forgotten and the com- 
forting words have remained as fresh in my recolleC' 
tion as if it were yesterday rather than almost fifty 
years ago that she left us. 

I have been told that mother was a fearless rider, 
but within my memory she had given up such vigor- 
ous exercise as horseback riding. She was devoted 
to her flower garden, and I remember that I was 
pressed into service to help keep it in order. I 
found it quite a job to make enough long wire pins 
to fasten down the runners of the verbenas that 
roamed over a large round centre bed, and it was hot 
work using them! Mother was always full of fun 
and fond of a good joke. 

Then there was that wonderful silver-plated 
Wheeler & Wilson sewing machine — a great novelty 
that was to do up the family work in no time. Alas ! 
it was never idle, and meant more things, not more 
time. I can remember how full of seamstresses that 
room in the south wing used to be. Mother was 
very skilful in embroidery, and, owing to some taste 
that I had for drawing, I was requisitioned for copy- 
ing and making patterns. 



Before closing, I think as a matter of record 
that reference should be made to the schools in 
Watertown at the time of which I am writing. The 
excellent private schools that we attended used mem- 
ory exercises and restricted the use of text-books. 
These schools prepared scholars for the Jefferson 
County Institute, where a corps of remarkable 
teachers drilled us thoroughly. You remember how 
Mr. Cavert, the Principal, kept us at Latin for six 
solid years. One of the teachers was that mathe- 
matical wonder, Mr. Otis, who made mathematics a 
most interesting study, and long before we had any 
instruction in calculus he showed us how expedi- 
tious we would find it for practical use as compared 
with algebra. He was known far and wide as 
an authority on his subject. Then there was Fitz- 
hugh Ludlow, who had us in French and rhetoric. 
He was a noted man and author, having written 
among other books "The Hasheesh Eater." He was 
very odd in his personal appearance but very bright. 
The course in free-hand drawing was very carefully 
attended to. I recall this course, for during the 
preparation of a study of a plaster bust of Sir 
Walter Scott I knocked it over and smashed it, which 
caused considerable consternation, because such 
models were not easily obtained at that time. 

I am glad to pay this tribute to the methods of 
the Institute, because there seems to have been a 

72 



departure from these strict standards in the require- 
ments of our present schools. When I was seven- 
teen I took and passed the examinations for the 
second year at the R. P. I. without any preparation 
other than that referred to. In fact the work in the 
Jefferson County Institute covered some of that 
done in the third year at the R. P. I. It was these 
splendid and careful teachers that made this possible. 

This letter is already long, but I am conscious 
of having covered only in the most meagre way the 
many interesting events of our home life. There 
were constant happenings which to a boy were big 
things but in the light of after-life seem unim- 
portant. 

Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, June, 1912. 



STORE AND OFFICE 

OF 

ADRIEL ELY 

JEFFERSON COUNTY BANK 



Mary S. Tread well 

LETTER 

Eveline Ely is always associated with all that is 
merry and mirth-provoking. Our home being right 
across the street and a tie of blood, as well as of 
friendship, connecting the two families, of course 
there was frequent communication, and many a 
funny tale was told of incidents in early life as well 
as in later years among that rare circle of friends who 
enjoyed so many pleasures of life together. 

The late John Safford Fiske, in speaking of that 
circle (to which his father and mother belonged, 
together with Judge and Mrs. Mullin, who contrib- 
uted so richly to its attractions, Mrs. Wardwell, with 
her beautiful character, Mrs. Mary Ely, Mrs. Wood, 
and my father and mother), said: "Now that it is 
no more, it seems as if this world held nothing else 
so good." There were the old-time hospitality, the 
reading societies, the oyster suppers, and those re- 
unions where all took tea together at least as often 
as once a week ; the missionary boxes, filled by loving 
hands for those less fortunate in circumstances; the 
long drives together ; the trips to New York in spring 
and fall and to Alexandria Bay in summer, meeting 
at both places the same dear friends from Oswego. 
We often think that life was simpler in those days 



than now, and yet to be such famous housewives and 
mothers was not such a simple matter, after all ; but 
they all set the example of work themselves, and their 
households were willing to follow in their ways. 

My mind goes back to one occasion when the 
Reverend Doctor Brayton and his wife were present, 
among other guests, at our house. The few of us left 
who remember Dr. Brayton think of him as the 
impersonation of all that was dignified, formal, and 
reserved, though not forgetting his many sterling 
virtues, but for this time, at least, he forgot his 
dignity. Mrs. Ely and Mrs. Wood were doing what 
they could to entertain the guests — perhaps to enter- 
tain themselves as well — when some one asked Mrs. 
Wood to sing. Neither she nor Mrs. Ely had any 
powers of musical expression but that did not deter 
them. Mrs. Ely at once went to the piano and 
offered to accompany Mrs. Wood, and she sat and 
executed with all the manner of a very near-sighted 
musician (a neighbor of ours, who played with many 
flourishes), while Mrs. Wood sang, or rather 
attempted, sixty-seven verses of Wordsworth's 
"Simple Child" with high crescendos and tragic low 
tones. The effect upon the audience was remark- 
able. Dr. Brayton walked the floor in what was 
almost an agony of mirth, with tears streaming from 
his eyes, while the other members of the company 
were almost in hysterics. 

76 



Mrs. Ely's powers of story-telling none who knew 
her can ever forget; and a very excellent tale she 
could make of almost any material and, as my father 
used to say, always improved it with each repetition. 
One, which she told with great gusto, was of a sleigh- 
ride taken soon after my father's return from his 
wedding trip. I have an idea they might have been 
going to Canada and were crossing the St. Lawrence 
on the ice but, wherever it was, somehow the sleigh 
upset and all were scattered promiscuously in the 
snow. Mrs. Ely used to tell how she was buried deep 
down in a drift and almost gave herself up for lost, 
when finally a rescuer appeared, who turned out to 
be my father, and began to dig her out. He dusted 
off the snow and began to kiss her, but when he found 
she was not my mother he threw her down in the 
snow again and then went off and left her ! 

I wish I could recall more of the happenings of 
those fair days, but the years are many that have 
passed since these dear ones left us, and time brings 
forgetfulness, and only a few of the sunny memories 
linger. 

Watertown, New York, April, 1908. 



77 






* 





■ Hi 



EVELINA FOSTER ELY 

THEODORE NEWEL ELY 

GERTRUDE SUMNER ELY KNOWLTON 



Gertrude Sumner Ely Knowlton 

LETTER 

Harriette, in writing of our mother, has spoken 
of her energy, her industry, and her fondness for fun 
and frolic. With these she combined great reserve 
as to the things which concerned herself — a reserve 
hardly to be expected in one so full of life and spirit, 
and which few of her acquaintances suspected. Her 
illnesses and her cares were many, but she was always 
uncomplaining, and her energy and dislike of idle- 
ness often kept her moving, when others would have 
succumbed to the pain she was enduring. 

It was not a light thing to have two of her hus- 
band's nephews brought into her home when she had 
young children of her own, and to have them remain 
there permanently — seven children and two nephews 
to be mothered ! But she was a good aunt and friend 
to them and won their undying devotion. Their 
names combined were handed down to her youngest 
boy, because his little two-year-old sister called him 
"Fid Lewie" — her baby names for Theodore and 
Newel. 

Mother had a quick, bright mind and many 
anecdotes were told of her ready repartee — one or 
two of which may be recorded. She was fifteen 
years father's junior and perhaps also looked young 

79 



for her years, so that an acquaintance once expressed 
surprise at her being the mother of one of the older 
children. "Oh," was the instant reply, "that is Mr. 
Ely's daughter by his first wife!" 

In spite of the fact that the journey had to be 
made by carriage, stage, and the slow-going packet 
boats, she sometimes went to Michigan to visit her 
sister, Elvira Smith, and it was during one of these 
visits that she went with a party of friends (one of 
whom was an Episcopal clergyman) to Jackson. 
While there they visited the State Penitentiary, 
happening there at the hour of daily service. After 
leaving, the reverend gentleman remarked that he 
had been greatly impressed by the admirable manner 
in which the prisoners took part in the service, their 
responses, etc. Quick as thought, mother (ardent 
Presbyterian that she was!) said: "Oh! then the con- 
victs are all Episcopalians!" It weighed heavily 
upon his mind all day but towards night a happy 
inspiration came to him, and he said to her in a 
solemn tone: "Mrs. Ely, the Presbyterians were all 
hanged" — a good retort, though a little late! Refer- 
ring to this trait of hers in later years, Mrs. Judge 
Merwin of Utica said: "I used to think Mrs. Ely the 
wittiest woman I knew, and she was also a most 
efficient one, but so jolly withal that she never made 
us younger and less competent ones feel uncomfort- 
able, as happens sometimes." 

80 



An extract from one of mother's letters shows the 
kind and the amount of work done by the old-time 
housekeeper. December 14, 1862, she writes: "We 
have been very busy the past week; Tuesday, we 
made about five gallons of mince-meat, and it is deli- 
cious too; Friday, made sausages, tried lard, made a 
jar of soused pork and Saturday, Mary Ann made 
head-cheese." 

Sewing machines were a new toy at that time and 
she had one of the first instalment brought to Water- 
town — a Wheeler & Wilson. A day's work of sew- 
ing, etc., is mentioned in a letter of February 16, 
1859. "After some clearing up of the house and two 
calls," she says, "I made the skirt of my dress. At 
three o'clock Jeannette Huntington came and the 
dress was finished that night — it fits very nicely. 
( Fancy making a modern dress in one day ! ) We had 
ten calls in the evening, so that I did not work any." 
She speaks of "passing most of an afternoon showing 
Mrs. Mullin how to work the sewing machine," and 
enumerates articles of underclothing she had made 
for different friends who had no machines and adds : 
"I have not finished a garment for myself, nor do I 
much care to." Mrs. Jenkins mentions their work- 
ing on Mary Sumner's wedding outfit in 1860. 
Mrs. Jenkins was General Sumner's oldest daughter, 
and she and her son George once spent nearly a year 
with us and she says: "During all the time I lived in 



81 



your parents' home nothing unpleasant ever 
occurred — all was peace, harmony, and kindness, 
never to be forgotten." She was often with us after 
that, and during father's long last illness she took her 
turn every third night in sitting up with him (the 
trained nurse was not in vogue then) . She was also 
with us when mother died. 

Mother had an intense love for little children — the 
younger and more helpless, the better — and although 
not so demonstrative with them when they grew 
older, the following extract from a letter of Mrs. 
Jenkins of May 14, 1862 shows how one boy, who 
had spent much time under her roof, felt towards 
her. She writes: "A letter from George says he 
would like to stop over one train to see your mother, 
as he does think Mrs. Ely one of the best women he 
ever knew. That same mother of yours has a way 
of her own in winning the hearts of boys, although 
she pretends to despise them so much." 

Mother was a fluent and easy letter-writer — her 
chirography and spelling were also of the very best. 
Of money matters she knew nothing, and of mathe- 
matics, little. I was amazed one day to hear her say, 
in response to a question, that she "liked cube root 
very much." When the visitor had departed I said: 
"Mother, I thought you did not know anything about 
cube root." She said: "I don't; I thought she asked 
me if I liked cubebs!" She was a good card-player, 

82 



and some one says of her: "Mrs. Ely was a rare 
whist-player, keeping track of every card played 
and, at the same time, talking all the time." 

Elsewhere, Cornelia Hungerford has spoken of 
the quilting parties and of the First Church sewing 
societies, held in the few houses large enough to 
accommodate them. I remember the interest I took 
in the opening of the huge covered baskets, rilled with 
the work to be done. After a long, industrious after- 
noon of sewing (and no doubt of gossip) , a bountiful 
supper was served and the baskets were passed on to 
the house of the next entertainer. On the occasion of 
quilting parties I was puzzled to know why my ser- 
vices were so frequently in requisition for threading 
needles (and perhaps none too well pleased, either), 
but I have a more sympathetic understanding now! 
Aunt Marietta (Hungerford) was always a con- 
spicuous figure at quiltings, as well as at other times, 
and equally well known was her son-in-law, Colonel 
Browne. 

He was the bane of us children and, I suspect, of 
our mothers too, sometimes ; yet I dare say we should 
have missed him, for he was friendly and attached, 
though always complaining and hungry ! The temp- 
tation to play tricks on him was ever present with the 
youngsters. 

Mother's closest friend, perhaps, was Mrs. E. V. 
Sumner ; they were friends before marriage and until 



death, having been schoolgirls together in Lowville, 
before mother went to Mrs. Willard's school in Troy. 
Mrs. Suniner's children once said to her that they 
believed she cared more for Mrs. Ely than she did 
for them, and Mrs. Sumner replied that she had 
"known her longer!" 

The same affection existed between father and 
General Sumner, and however great might be the 
separation in point of time or space the friendship 
was not marred. I remember, on one occasion, when 
General Sumner returned after long service in the 
West among the Indians, that he and father (both 
six-footers) fell on each other's necks and embraced 
like women. He was a Boston man coming from 
Montreal to Watertown, where he went into busi- 
ness. He got his commission while there and went 
on General Jacob Brown's staff in 1819. 

To the many early residents in Watertown, whom 
it was "good to know," were added at that time other 
delightful people, living in Brownville. They were 
constant visitors at our house — the Browns, Kirbys, 
Bradleys, Howes, and others. Major General 
Jacob Brown was Commander-in-Chief of the United 
States Army, and his spacious old stone house still 
stands as a reminder of the charming social life of 
the village in those days. There was a large army 
element there then, as well as at Sackets Harbor, 
and our house was a favorite resort. To illustrate 

84 



the free use of it, Harriette used to tell the following 
story. "As a girl," she said, "it was my duty to see 
that there was a fire kept in the front parlor (it was 
an era of wood stoves and open fires ) , but one cold, 
stormy day, when there was no apparent prospect of 
out-of-town visitors, I lazily neglected my task and 
was no less dismayed than provoked when a sleigh 
appeared just before the noon dinner, containing 
Lieutenant Ulysses S. Grant and wife from the 
Harbor, and I was obliged to start up a fire for them. 
He afterwards became the famous General, but his 
name always recalled to me the young man who put 
me to so much trouble!" 

Our principal garden was on the "flats" or "sand- 
banks," where father owned considerable land in 
connection with his Ashery. The garden portion was 
very large and was surrounded by a high picket 
fence, with a padlock on the gate. We children 
enjoyed the unlocking of that gate, after the daily 
morning drive to get vegetables for dinner. Cer- 
tainly no better ones were ever produced than those 
grown in that fertile, sandy soil. A little further 
on were the ducks in the pond near the Ashery, and 
the woods close by where grew the wintergreen ber- 
ries amid their "glossy, aromatic leaves." 

In those days the quotations for "pearl-ash" were 
watched as eagerly as other quotations are watched 
nowadays, for the market price of that commodity 

85 



regulated that of the potash from which it was made. 
Father had several teams in use at the Ashery, and 
they were kept going night and day. Long before 
his time, during the early settlement of the town, "the 
manufacture of potash was an important industry, 
as was the case in all heavily wooded sections of the 
country, and was about the only production of the 
settlements that would pay the expense of trans- 
portation to market and leave a fair margin in favor 
of the producer." 

One of our pleasurable jaunts as children was a 
drive out to father's farm at Perch River where an 
Englishman named John Sharp held sway. But 
better than that was a visit to Uncle Anson Hunger- 
ford's farm near Burrville, especially in the spring 
when they were "sugaring off." The last boiling of 
the sap was done at the house, and Aunt Sally always 
gave us liberally of the maple syrup and sugar. 
Uncle Anson was the father of Cornelia Hunger- 
ford, the writer of one of these letters. 

Aunt Marietta, already mentioned, married his 
brother. She was the daughter of Captain Burr who 
gave his name to Burrville, or Burr's Mills. It was 
the first settlement in that locality, as the falls there 
could be utilized for saw and grist mills — the first 
necessities of the pioneer. Later, when the falls and 
great water power of Black River could be handled, 

86 



Watertown became the centre, and Jabez Foster, 
with others, went there about 1807. 

The First Presbyterian Church was organized 
in Burr's Mills and was removed to Watertown 
when the exodus of the settlers from that point took 
place. Mention having been made of the stone 
church, built in 1820, it is fitting to insert here an 
account of the final service held in it. In a letter of 
May 15, 1850, Harriette writes: "Last Sunday, Mr. 
Brayton preached his last sermon in the old church. 
It was a most beautiful discourse from the text, 
'Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain 
that build it.' (Psalms 127:1.) He gave a very 
interesting history of the church, containing a beauti- 
ful and deserved tribute to my grandfather. It was 
sad, very sad, to say good-bye to the old church with 
so many sacred associations connected with it, and 
there were many tears shed and many hearts ached 
that day. I never realized before how trying it is to 
be deprived of a place of worship. We shall meet 
for the present in the Second Presbyterian Church, 
but the house is not nearly large enough to accommo- 
date both congregations. The work of demolition 
has been going on very rapidly at our church since 
Sunday. The bell was tolled previous to being taken 
down ; we shall miss it very much, though I shall not 
so much as many others because I have a beautiful 
new watch." 

87 



This last paragraph brings vividly to mind an 
almost forgotten fact, that is, the original and logi- 
cal reason for church bells, and shows that even as 
late as 1850 they were more or less a public utility. 
It was the custom to ring a bell at nine o'clock in 
the morning and again at nine o'clock at night. 

Thanksgiving Day was then a state and not a 
national affair and with us, as in New England, it 
was a day not only of family reunion and feasting but 
of religious observance, and it was an invariable cus- 
tom to begin the day with going to church. It was 
one of the big days of the year — perhaps the big day 
— certainly as far as the dinner was concerned. The 
variety of edibles was bewildering, as I recall them. 
Of course the traditional turkeys, one roasted, the 
other stuffed with oysters and boiled, a goose and 
several ducks, a chicken pie, all the proper vegetables 
and pickles and chicken salad. Then came mince 
pie, pumpkin pie, apple pie, rice pudding, Indian 
pudding, cake, preserves, apples, nuts, raisins, etc. 
Dinners were not served in so many courses, nor with 
so much china as at present, but if tables ever 
"groaned," they did it then. At the period of which 
I write our best china was gilt and white — a plain 
band of gold. The old blue china, which collectors 
now prize, had had its day and been relegated to the 
shelves of our kitchen pantry. Cornelia Hungerf ord 
has told me that she remembers dinners at our house 

88 



numbering forty guests, and I find a still larger 
tale in an old letter of mother's, written in the thirties 
to her sister. She says : "We had the largest Thanks- 
giving dinner ever given among our relatives — we 
had sixty in all — the connections on both sides of the 
house, and only wanted yours and Gustavus' family 
to have made it complete. I had not a little anxiety, 
but it went off very well and I was fortunate in my 
cooking. It all came upon me and I was never so 
completely worn out before. It is, I rather think, the 
last one I shall have." But other years brought her 
fresh courage and she extended the same hospitality 
many, many times again. 

One year the dinner was at our house, and the 
alternate year at "Cousin Melina Lee's." When 
there we children went to Park Street directly after 
church, and happy were we if we could find even a 
trace of the snow which we felt was due on that day. 
We wore little red mittens with white specks, with 
which this same dear cousin Melina kept us supplied. 
She was one of mother's dearest cousins — more sister 
than cousin. 

Memory suggests another occasion which to me, 
as a child, was more memorable because of the 
attending festivities than because of its real import. 
It was the first wedding in the family, and took place 
February 10, 1853. On that day Harriette was 
married to Charles Richardson of Auburn, New 

89 



York. Her bridesmaids were her cousin Harriette 
Smith (Story) and Kate Lansing (Boyd), and the 
ceremony was performed by the Reverend Isaac 
Brayton, who, for twenty-seven years, was pastor of 
the First Church. 

The following account of the event is an extract 
from a letter written by Mrs. Robert Lansing. "The 
wedding," she says, "passed off very pleasantly, 
quite to the satisfaction of all. Bride and bridesmaids 
looked well — Harriette, never so well before. It 
was a perfect jam! Mr. Brayton performed the 
ceremony beautifully. The tables were loaded, — 
ten turkeys, ducks, chickens, oysters enough for 
another party; the oysters the finest, and the pickled 
ones brought already prepared from New York. 

"Two tables, one in the wing and one in the din- 
ing-room — a centre pyramid on each of macaroons 
with spun sugar over them — it looked like spun glass. 
Hattie had many handsome gifts, — a splendid pearl 
bracelet from the groom, entirely of pearls strung on 
hair, several rosettes of them, with a light clasp of 
gold. She had a magnificent fan, costing eighteen 
dollars, &c, &c. The wedding party was very ex- 
pensive, at least two hundred dollars." 

I see that Mrs. Lansing was deceived as to those 
pyramids as well as I — we children thought we had 
sampled everything, but discovered next day that one 
was made of cocoanut and we had missed it ! 

90 



The wedding cake was a wonderful creation — 
about thirty inches in diameter. It was baked in four 
sections, in specially constructed tins, as it was too 
large to be baked whole in any existing oven. 
Mother mixed the cake, but it was sent to a confec- 
tioner to be baked. He then joined these four parts 
and covered it all with frosting. In the centre was a 
marvelous structure that resembled a temple, and 
something like a fence around the whole cake, and 
various ornaments everywhere. It was this same 
confectioner, Mr. Ragg, who, upon the day of the 
wedding, shut himself up in our kitchen pantry and 
spun the sugar over the pyramids mentioned. We 
did so want to see how he did it, but our thirst for 
knowledge was not gratified, and to this day the pro- 
cess is unknown to me. 

Mrs. Lansing lived next door in a stone house 
built by grandfather Foster after he parted with his 
former home. Her daughter, Cornelia, was my play- 
mate from babyhood. Together we exploited not 
only our own places, but the fascinating pond back 
of Mr. Paddock's house (grandfather's old place). 
It adjoined her grounds, and we would creep 
through a gap in the fence, with fish-hooks made of 
bent pins, to try our luck. Needless to say we never 
caught anything, and our fear of Mr. Paddock was 
wholly an unnecessary one, but our guilty little "con- 
sciences made cowards" of us, just the same! 

91 



All grounds (or front yards as they were then 
called) were enclosed, and it was while I was trying 
to walk her front fence with her and T. N. E. that 
I received the fall which nearly cost me my life. My 
head struck the stone flags which then formed the 
sidewalk on Washington Street, and I can see those 
two children now as, too young to appreciate the seri- 
ousness of the situation, they stood on the fence 
above laughing at me, while I staggered towards 
home before becoming unconscious — the beginning 
of a long and critical illness. (August 1, 1850.) 

It seems to me that mother's life must have been 
made miserable by the large number of accidents in 
which her children indulged. It was a tragic time 
when Fred walked in, holding his hand over his fore- 
head, and said: "Mother, I am shot." It was the 
proverbial "not loaded" gun which did the mischief. 
He looked into the barrel and the result followed 
naturally. The bullet entered just over the eyebrow 
but, providentially glancing upwards, it missed the 
fatal spot. 

In this connection it may not be out of place to 
give an account of another accident which befell me 
and left a lasting mark. Harriette, in a letter dated 
December 22, 1849, writes: "We had a terrible 
fright last Tuesday evening (18th) . Mother, Gettie, 
Bub, and I were sitting at the tea table; father had 
just gone to the store and the boys had not yet come 

92 



up. Gettie, thinking the water in her tumbler was 
not perfectly clean, got up to empty it on one of the 
plants in the window seat and in some way missed her 
footing and fell, breaking the tumbler and with the 
broken pieces cutting her pretty little chin to the 
bone. It was cut from the right corner of the mouth 
obliquely to the centre of the chin and just under the 
chin was cut both ways. The upper part of the 
wound took almost the form of an S and barely 
escaped cutting the lip in two. The first impression 
was that the whole chin was gone. It did not take 
long to get Dr. William (Trowbridge) here. He 
did it up very nicely (no stitches) , but was obliged to 
lay it entirely open to be sure there was no glass in it. 
"The poor little patient thing sat during the whole 
of it with her hands folded, perfectly still, willing 
that the doctor should do whatever he chose. I think 
I never saw mother more frightened, and there were 
other pale faces here that night. Gettie has been 
prohibited from speaking, smiling, crying, or chew- 
ing, and she is able to eat only such food as she can 
swallow without masticating. She has found it 
rather difficult to keep her little tongue still, but the 
wound is healing nicely. 

"It will probably scar her for life, but, bad as it 
is, we feel that we cannot complain, because it might 
have been so much worse. The doctor says, if it had 
cut a quarter of an inch farther it would have severed 

93 



the facial artery, which might have been difficult to 
secure." 

Faithful Katy Reynolds deserves more than a 
passing notice. She came to live with us when Theo- 
dore was a baby and remained for eleven years. I 
think she received in wages, as did the other house 
servants, one dollar per week. Thereafter, Katy was 
with us as often as our necessities demanded and her 
health permitted. She was a character in her way, 
capable in many directions, and could supply a lack 
anywhere in the house. She was a natural cook — I 
once tried to get a receipt from her and after giving 
me her rule she added: "And if I have an egg in the 
house, I put it in." Eggs or no eggs, the result was 
always good. We were fortunate in having her with 
us during mother's last illness. She assisted in the 
nursing and prepared her meals, coaxing her failing 
appetite as she alone could do; nor was mother un- 
mindful of her long service in the making of her 
bequests. 

Katy was deformed and not strong and was also 
subject to severe headaches, which sometimes made 
her very irritable. She always felt it her privilege 
to scold us whenever she pleased. Mother was 
patient with her, for she appreciated her worth and 
devotion to the interests of the family ; she also knew 
that if Katy fretted at us, she would allow no one else 
to do so. Katy was even inclined to interfere when 

94 



mother thought a little discipline advisable, and many 
a dainty did she smuggle up to the little boy, who had 
been her baby, when he was confined by mother's 
edict in an upper room on short rations. When the 
punishment took a severer form, that same boy's 
little sister's heart was torn, as she stood weeping 
outside the door while chastisement was being admin- 
istered within — her tears were usually more copious 
than his. He would come out and ask: "Do I look 
as though I had been crying?" What Katy was 
doing at such times I do not remember, but she was 
probably raging somewhere ! 

While mother believed in the application of the 
rod and slipper on occasion, no one else, teacher nor 
other, was ever permitted to apply them to her chil- 
dren. She used to harrow my very soul by tales of 
the severe whippings the children of her time received 
from their teachers. Upon reaching home, the par- 
ents often repeated the punishment which some harsh 
teacher had seen fit to inflict. Discipline was not lax 
in those days! Mother said she decided then and 
there that if children were ever given to her no one 
but herself should ever punish them. She begat 
in me a lasting hatred of corporal punishment, and 
I could not see even her administer it to the little boy 
without rebellion and anger, though I dare say he 
deserved all she ga^e him! The bare possibility of 
its ever being applied to myself roused all the evil in 

95 



me, and an unlucky speech of mine, to the effect that 
"I should like to see my father strike me one blow; 
I'd start my boots to the poorhouse if he did," 
brought upon me no end of teasing questions as to 
when I was going, etc. 

We used to speculate sometimes upon the number 
of offers of marriage mother had had. She would 
admit nothing herself but, gleaning from the tales 
of others and from circumstantial evidence, we 
brought our count up to nineteen ! One man offered 
himself to Aunt Elvira first and when refused 
begged her "not to tell Eveline," as he was going to 
ask her next! 

Mother's was a generous nature. She was loyal 
and true in her friendships, and the following extract 
from a letter from Sumner Stow Ely, dated August 
15, 1863, shows that she inspired the same feeling in 
others. He writes: "My attachment to your mother 
deepened and strengthened from year to year, as 
time and opportunity showed me more and more her 
disinterested, self-sacrificing spirit, her genuine kind- 
heartedness, and her deep and abiding affection. As 
long as my memory lasts I shall not forget her 
presence in my father's last sickness. To us sister- 
less men it was an angel's visit indeed." 

I never remember father as a well man, but I 
have been told that he was a man of vigorous health 
until the fire on Beebee's Island, when the cotton 

96 



mills were burned (July 7, 1833). It was a fire of 
sufficient magnitude to require the services of all the 
men available, and father worked hard and long. 
Whether it was due to fatigue, exposure, or the in- 
halation of smoke I do not know, but he was never 
well from that day and developed a cough which 
troubled him always. In a letter of February 24, 
1859, mother foreshadows the nature of his last ill- 
ness and the end — she writes of his trouble in breath- 
ing and of his inability to lie down and of the want 
of action in the lungs. He had intervals of apparent 
improvement after that, riding out and going to busi- 
ness a few times ; then came the long confinement to 
the house. Before this, when in his usual health, he 
was not in the habit of coming to breakfast; but 
about nine o'clock he would go into the pantry, pour 
a little wine into a glass, break an egg in it and 
swallow it whole. Thus fortified, he would go to his 
business, and one of his friends used to say that 
"Adriel Ely was the only man he knew who could 
lie in bed late in the morning and earn a good living." 
He was tall and spare (six feet and one inch), and 
had soft, fine, silky hair — the sort one likes to stroke 
— and as long as I can remember he wore wide linen 
cambric shirt ruffles, with hems rolled and whipped. 

Although he came to Watertown when twenty- 
three years old, the memory of old Lyme was ever 
dear to him, and it was probably the thought of the 

97 



Connecticut River shad of his earlier days which 
made him like to handle and clean any particularly 
fine fish which found its way into our house. 

His store was a general gathering-place as well 
as headquarters for the various things in which he 
was interested — it was an adjunct also of the Ashery. 
The weigh-room was an important place, but the 
counting-room was where he transacted his business 
and where also, in intervals of leisure, many a game 
of chess was played. 

When father made his trips to New York to pur- 
chase goods, he was accustomed to carry the neces- 
sary gold in a belt, which he wore under his clothing. 
Mother went with him usually in the spring and fall, 
and it was more or less of an event to her neighbors, 
as well as to herself, for she executed many commis- 
sions, and the opening of her big trunk was of inter- 
est to them as also to us. She would sometimes bring 
back a packing trunk filled with oranges, as they 
were not plentiful with us at that time. Bananas 
also were a great rarity. Although a purveyor of 
good things for others she was a simple eater herself, 
and it used to disappoint me to hear that, when at the 
St. Nicholas in New York, she would perhaps eat 
a bowl of bread and milk or a plain beefsteak (which 
she could have any day at home!) and thus neglect 
the opportunities which that famous hotel afforded. 

98 



Besides the sand-banks garden we had a good- 
sized one behind our house for flowers, vegetables, 
and small fruits, such as currants, raspberries, and 
back-breaking ( !) strawberries. There was an aspara- 
gus bed, in the midst of which stood a peach tree 
which bore "nothing but leaves," and there were 
apple and pear trees and every variety of plum that 
I know anything about. Over the large ice-house in 
the rear was a trellis where we raised delicious blue 
and white grapes. They were troublesome to cover 
when frosts threatened but well repaid the care, for 
they lasted into the winter, when, with red sealing 
wax on the tips of the stems, they were carefully 
packed away in cotton in the deep drawers of the 
many storerooms and closets in which the house 
abounded; the stone partition walls of the house 
being thick enough to form small closets or cup- 
boards. The large, roomy cellars afforded abundant 
space for the winter stock of provisions. Apropos 
of cellars is a story told of the youngest boy of the 
family who, when a very small child, was missing 
one morning. Mother was out of town, but the 
search was thorough and prolonged both in and 
out of the house. Katy Reynolds upon going into 
the cellar, which seemed a most unlikely and unat- 
tractive hiding-place, heard a happy little voice call- 
ing: "Katy, Katy, come here and see!" Nobody was 
in sight but, following the voice, she found the lost 

99 



child inside a partially emptied barrel of sugar, into 
which he had managed to climb and where he was 
quietly enjoying his fill of sugar while the town 
was being turned upside down for his recovery. 

Mention having been made elsewhere of the ser- 
vice of our grandfather, Adriel Ely, in the War of 
the Revolution, I may insert a similar notice of our 
great-grandfather, Jabez W. Foster, as found in a 
list of the Connecticut Fosters : 

"Corporal Jabez Foster of Lebanon, Connecti- 
cut, was in Captain Tilden's Company at Lexington 
Alarm — at Bunker Hill, in Captain Clark's Com- 
pany, in Colonel Israel Putnam's Regiment. Cor- 
poral of Captain Tilden's Company in 1778." 

In the local history of Lebanon it says: "This 
company, to get to Bunker Hill, marched ninety- 
three miles in three days; arrived in time to fortify 
all night before the battle and see the thing through 
the next day. To have had an ancestor in the battle 
of Bunker Hill is equivalent to a patent of nobility 
in this county." Jabez Foster was in the Conti- 
nental Army three years after the battle of Bunker 
Hill. 

In politics father was an "Old Line, Henry 
Clay" Whig. He died two years before the Civil 
War, so that he was spared the anguish of that time. 
Mother undoubtedly voiced his sentiments in ex- 
pressing her own when she wrote the letters from 

100 



which the following extracts are taken. November 
18, 1860, she writes: "I feel strongly about preserv- 
ing the Union and am willing to wait to see if 
Lincoln will not make a good President." Again she 
says: "I am firmly set against the dissolution of the 
Union. Peace, peace should be the desire of all good 
citizens." "Should there be a separation of the 
states the South would regret it, as the North. It 
seems very hard that so much trouble and ruin should 
be caused by a few wicked, hot-headed men. God 
grant that our Union may be preserved! He can 
save it from its enemies." "This subject lies near my 
heart and I must speak." "What would my sainted 
husband feel, were he living ! He was for preserving 
the loved Union." 

Again on February 17, 1861, she writes: 
"Colonel Sumner is with Lincoln, by invitation, on 
his way to Washington and will remain there until 
after the fourth of March. I can but hope and pray 
that our Union may be preserved. It looks a little 
brighter the past few days, still it is dark enough. I 
do not know that Lincoln is to blame for being 
elected, and he may do better than is expected — we 
cannot tell at present. I despise Abolitionists and 
like the South, still I think they have acted rashly; 
they might at least have waited to see what would 
be done. They have had their President for the last 
twenty-five years, and they ought to be willing the 

101 



North should have one. All I care for is to have our 
Union saved and to live in peace." 

The war followed quickly after this and separated 
her from one she loved.* She died during the war 
and knew neither the fate of her son nor of the 
Union for whose preservation she had so fervently 
prayed. 

I can think of no more fitting close to these 
"Recollections of Adriel Ely and Evelina Foster his 
Wife" than the wife's tribute to her husband, as I 
find it in a letter to one of her sons, written six 
months after his death (October 22, 1859). "My 
prayer is," she writes, "that you may be successful in 
all of your undertakings and that you may, in all 
things, be worthy of the name of your blessed father. 
All I would ask for my children is that they follow in 
his footsteps. He was as nearly perfect as it is pos- 
sible for one to be on this earth." 

"When I allow myself to think of the dreadful 
loss I have sustained I am almost crushed, but I 
strive to divert my thoughts by keeping busy, and, 
as I am quite well now, I am able to do it." 

And so, for the four years that remained before 
her "course was finished," this brave woman "fought 
a good fight and truly kept the faith." 

*F. E. 

Watertown, New York, 1910. 

102 




Chest and Drawers Brought by Richard Ely 
from England to Lyme, Conn., 1660 



103 



Henry Burt 
■ 1702 

EULALIA 



He came from England prior 
to 1640 





Reginald Foster 
1595-1681 

He came from England 1638 


- 




















Isaac Foster 

1630-1692 

Mary Jackson 

1677 




Thomas 

1580 - 

Margare 

He came from 


B M ss 




Henry 


Burt 
- 1702 

640 






England 16.15 


Eulali 

He came from 
to 1 






























John Stow 

1643 

Elizabeth 

He came from England 1634 




Beniamin Foster 
1655-1700 




John 

1640 - 

"*Patien 


Bliss 




•Patience Burt 






ce Burt 
































Samuel Stow 

1622-1704 
Hope Fletcher 




Benjamin Foster 
1699-1763 




Nathaniel Bliss 

1671-1751 

Mary Wright 




























Richard Ely 

1610-1684 

Ioane Phipps 

— 1660 

He came from England 1660 




John 

1650 - 

Mary W 


Stow 




Wooden Foster 
Frances Scott 




Henry Bliss 

1701-1761 

Bethiaii Spafford 




Thomas Hungerford 

He came from England 
prior to 1640 


etmore 






























Judge William Ely 

1647-1717 

Elizabeth Smith 

1662-1750 




Nathaniel Stow 

1675-1728 

Sarah Sumner 




Moses Foster 
Drusilla West 




Pelatiah Bliss 

1725-1808 

Hepzibah Goodwin 




Beniamin Hungerford 

1703-1792 

Jemima Hungerford 

1708-1767 




























Captain Richard Ely 
1690-1767 




Jabez 

1716 

Annah 


Stow 




Jabez W. Foster 

*Esther Bliss 
1755 




*Estiier Bliss 
1755 




Timothy Hungerford 
1747-1827 


Margare 


r Olcott 


Lord 




Hannah 
1749 


Heicox 


































Adriei. Ely 

1744-1829 

""Sarah Stow 

1754-1796 




*Sarah Stow 
1754-1796 




Jabez Foster 

1777-1847 

*Hannah Hungerford 

1777-1826 




•Hannah Hungerford 
1777-1826 
























A Uriel Ely 

1791-1859 

'Evelina Foster 

1806-1863 




^Evelina Foster 
1806-1863 


















CHILDREN 

HaBBIETTE hi' 1 I R 

F M 

Elvira 

i 
t I'KNifM k Gustavus 

1 ,i R1 1" 1,1 'J .r.y „ 
'I HEO0OBE Newel 


ELY-FOSTER 

Genealogical Chart beginning with the ancestors who came to America. 

In the Appendix will be found a few notes relating to some of these 

ancestors prior to that time 



APPENDIX 



APPENDIX 

Ely 
Much of interest concerning the Ely family, 
prior to the coming to America of the Richard Ely 
mentioned in this genealogy, may be found in a 
book entitled "The Ely Ancestry," published in New 
York in the year 1902. The origin of the name, the 
traditions, as well as the facts relating to those who 
bore it, the coat-of-arms, etc., are treated at con- 
siderable length therein. 

Richard Ely left his home in Plymouth, Devon- 
shire County, England, and came to America in 
1660. He resided first in Boston and later settled in 
Lyme, Connecticut, which at that time was a part of 
Saybrook. Mr. Ely was a widower when he came to 
America, his first wife, Joane Phipps, having died 
in Plymouth, January 7, 1660. She is supposed to 
have been a sister of Constantine John Phipps 
(Baron Mulgrave), the great navigator and Com- 
missioner of the Admiralty. A younger brother, 
Viscount Normandy, was an officer of the British 
Army. She had four children, the eldest of whom, 
William (afterwards Judge Ely), was in the line 
here followed. 

Richard Ely's second wife, Elizabeth Cullick, was 
the widow of Captain Cullick, one of the most noted 

107 



men in the colony of Connecticut. She was the sister 
of Colonel Fenwick, a member of Parliament. 

Richard Ely had three thousand acres of land, 
including what is now called Ely's Ferry. Later the 
town of Lyme set off to his sons, William and 
Richard, thirteen hundred acres adjoining their 
father's land for three hundred pounds, making an 
estate of over four thousand acres in the posses- 
sion of the Elys of Lyme. This was spoken of as the 
"Great Meadows" or "Ely Meadows." 

There are two family relics of peculiar interest 
which belonged to Richard Ely — a tankard and a 
ring, both bearing the shield exhibiting the fleur-de- 
lis. There is also a "chest and drawers of oak, carved 
by hand, with ornaments of ebony — of baronial type 
and of massive strength." This was a piece of his 
household furniture, brought from England in 1660. 



The Ely Reunion, held in Lyme, Connecticut, in 
July, 1878, brought together about six hundred of 
the descendants of the original Elys — among them 
some who now bear other names and live, perhaps, 
far removed from the New England homes of their 
ancestors but are still Ely at heart. 



Olcott 
Thomas Olcott of Hartford, Connecticut, an 
original proprietor, whose lot in 1640 is exhibited on 

108 



the ground plan, with his name written Alcock (often 
it appears Alcot), was a merchant who died late in 
1654 or early in 1655 — the inventory of his estate 
(large for that day) being of date of February 13, 
1655. His widow, Abigail, died May 26, 1693, aged 
seventy-two years. 

Thomas (son of Thomas and Abigail Olcott) of 
Hartford, Connecticut: born perhaps in England: 
freeman in 1658. Died in advanced years. His 
widow, Mary, died May 3, 1721. 

Thomas (son of Thomas and Mary Olcott) of 
Hartford, Connecticut: married Sarah Foote of 
Hatfield, Massachusetts. She was the daughter of 
Nathaniel Foote, the third of this name (born Jan- 
uary 10, 1647: died January 12, 1703). Sarah 
Foote's mother was Margaret Bliss (born Novem- 
ber 12, 1649: died April 3, 1745). 

Margaret (daughter of Thomas Olcott and 
Sarah Foote) was born April 12, 1705. Married 
Captain Richard Ely in 1730. 



Stow 
John Stow of Roxbury, Massachusetts, came in 
1634, arriving, says the church record, May 17, in one 
of those six ships that came in, as Governor Win- 
throp tells, in the week of the General Court's meet- 
ing. He brought his wife Elizabeth and six children. 

109 



Was a freeman, September 3, 1634. Was repre- 
sented at two Courts in 1639. Was described as "an 
old Kentish man." His wife died in August, 1638, 
and he died October 26, 1643. 

Samuel (son of John the first and Elizabeth 

) was born in England in 1622. He was 

freeman in 1645, while an undergraduate, but had 
his degree a few weeks after from Harvard College. 
Went to preach at Middletown, Connecticut, about 
1653, where no church was gathered for many years. 
He seems never to have been ordained but was the 
only minister there before 1668 and is referred to 
as the "first preacher of the Word" in that place. 
He married Hope, daughter of William Fletcher 
(spoken of as "one of the Fletchers of Middle- 
town"). He died May 8, 1704. 

John (son of Samuel Stow and Hope Fletcher) 
was born June 16, 1650. He married Mary Wet- 
more, November 13, 1668. 

Nathaniel (son of John Stow and Mary Wet- 
more) was born February 22, 1675. He married 
Sarah Sumner, February 11, 1702 or 1703. 

Jabez (son of Nathaniel Stow and Sarah Sum- 
ner) was born April 13, 1716. He married Annah 
Lord. A sea captain of Saybrook, Connecticut. 

Sarah (daughter of Jabez Stow and Annah 
Lord) was born in Saybrook, Connecticut, in 1754. 

110 



Married Adriel Ely. Died in Lyme, Connecticut, 
February 17, 1796. 

Adriel Ely (son of Adriel Ely and Sarah Stow) 
was born in Lyme, Connecticut, February 9, 1791. 
Died in Watertown, New York, April 20, 1859. 



Foster 

Reginald Foster was the patriarch of the family 
in America. He was descended from an ancient 
and respectable family in England and was born 
there about 1595. He was of Little Badow, County 
Essex, and belonged to the Foster (or Forster) fam- 
ily of Bamborough Castle, County Northumberland, 
fifteen miles from Alnwick. They were distin- 
guished for their exploits against the Scots, men- 
tioned in "The Lay of the Last Minstrel." Reginald 
married in England and came from that country at 
the time so many emigrated to Massachusetts in 
1638, and, with his family, was on board one of the 
vessels embargoed by King Charles I. He settled at 
Ipswich, Massachusetts, with his wife, five sons, and 
two daughters. He died there in 1681. The names 
of his sons (born in England) were Abraham, Regi- 
nald, William, Isaac, and Jacob, ancestors of a 
numerous progeny settled in various parts of the 
United States. One of his daughters, Mary, (or it 
may have been a daughter of his son Isaac) , married 
first a Wood and after his death, Francis Peabody. 

Ill 



His other daughter, Sarah, married a Story, ancestor 
of Dr. Story and of Judge Story. It is remarked 
of this family that they all lived to extreme old age 
— all married and all had large families. 

Isaac (son of Reginald Foster) was born in 
England, 1630. Married May 5, 1658, Mary Jack- 
son, daughter of William of Rowley. She died 
November 27, 1677, having had twelve children. He 
married twice again and had three children by his 
last wife. He died in Ipswich, Massachusetts, Feb- 
ruary 8, 1692. Isaac Foster was a graduate of 
Harvard College in 1671. When a committee of the 
town of Charlestown, Massachusetts, was about 
selecting a successor to Rev. Thomas Shepard in 

1678, the opinions of Rev. John Sherman, Rev. 
Increase Mather and Rev. Pres. Oakes were re- 
quested as to the "fittest person" for their minister, 
and these gentlemen recommended Mr. Foster as 
the "fittest and suitablest person" for the place. 
While at Charlestown he was admitted freeman in 

1679. Soon after he went to Connecticut and 
preached in Hartford. 

Benjamin (son of Isaac Foster and Mary Jack- 
son) was born in Ipswich, Massachusetts, June, 
1665, and died there in 1700. 

Benjamin (son of Benjamin Foster) was born in 
Ipswich, Massachusetts, about 1699, and died in 
Scarboro in 1763. 

112 



Wooden (son of Benjamin Foster) married 
Frances Scott. 

Moses (son of Wooden Foster and Frances 
Scott) married Drusilla West. Lived in Ipswich, 
Massachusetts. 

Jabez W. (son of Moses Foster and Drusilla 
West) of Ipswich, Massachusetts, was born at 
Machias, Maine. Married Esther Bliss in 1776. 

Jabez (son of Jabez W. Foster and Esther 
Bliss) was born in Lebanon, Connecticut, August 1, 
1777. He came from Connecticut to New York 
State, where he married Hannah Hungerford in 
Paris, New York, July 24, 1800. His first son was 
born in Westmoreland, New York, in 1801. In 1804 
his first daughter was born in Turin, New York, and 
about that time he moved to Burrville, New York, 
and opened a store. Orville Hungerford (his 
brother-in-law) was his clerk. He is said to have 
moved to Watertown about June, 1805. His second 
daughter was born in Burrville in 1806, so it is 
probable that, although he had opened a store in 
Watertown, he retained his home in Burrville (five 
miles away) until he had completed the house in 
Watertown into which he moved about 1808. There 
eight more children were born to him. He died in 
Monroe, Michigan, December 10, 1847. 

Evelina (daughter of Jabez Foster and Hannah 
Hungerford) was born in Burrville, New York, 

113 



July 1, 1806. She died in Watertown, New York, 
August 14, 1863. 



Bliss 

Thomas Bliss of Belstone, England, was born 
about 1550 and died about 1640. He was a wealthy 
land-owner: was a Puritan, persecuted by civil and 
religious authorities under Archbishop Laud: im- 
poverished, imprisoned, and ruined. 

Thomas (son of Thomas Bliss) of Belstone Par- 
ish, Devonshire, England — later of Braintree, 
Massachusetts, and of Hartford, Connecticut — was 

born about 1580. He married Margaret , in 

England, about 1612. Owing to religious persecu- 
tion he was compelled to leave England and in the 
autumn of 1635 left Plymouth, England, for Bos- 
ton, Massachusetts. 

John (son of Thomas Bliss and Margaret ) 

of Longmeadow, Massachusetts, was born in Hart- 
ford, Connecticut, about 1640. He married Patience 
Burt, in Springfield, Massachusetts. 

Nathaniel (son of John Bliss and Patience Burt) 
of Springfield, Massachusetts, and of Enfield and 
Lebanon, Connecticut, was born in Longmeadow, 
Massachusetts, January 26, 1671. He married 
Mary Wright in Springfield in 1697 and died in 
1751. 

114 



Henry (son of Nathaniel Bliss and Mary 
Wright) was born in Enfield, Connecticut, October 
25, 1701. He married Bethiah Spafford of Leb- 
anon about 1724 and died in 1761. 

Pelatiah (son of Henry Bliss and Bethiah 
Spafford) of Lebanon, Connecticut, was born May 
6, 1725. He married Hepzibah Goodwin of Leb- 
anon June 19, 1744, and died August 31, 1808. 

Esther (daughter of Pelatiah Bliss and Hep- 
zibah Goodwin) was born December 28, 1755. She 
married Jabez W. Foster in 1776. 

Jabez (son of Jabez W. Foster and Esther Bliss) 
was born in Lebanon, Connecticut, August 1, 1777. 
He married Hannah Hungerford in Paris, New 
York, July 24, 1800. He died in Monroe, Michigan, 
December 10, 1847. 



Burt 
Henry Burt and wife came from England to 
Roxbury, Massachusetts. In 1640 he removed to 
Springfield, Massachusetts, and was there clerk of 
the writs (though record of the birth of his own chil- 
dren is not found). He moved to Northampton, 
Massachusetts, in 1672: was there through the 
famous trial of his sister for witchcraft. Later he 
moved to Longmeadow, Massachusetts, and died 
April 30, 1702. His wife, Eulalia, died August 
29, 1690. A tradition is preserved that she was laid 

115 



out for dead in England and put into the coffin. At 
her funeral, signs of life appeared and she recovered, 
came to New England, settled in Springfield, and 
had nineteen children! What degree of credit may 
be yielded to this account may well be asked. We 
have the names of eleven of her children — three sons 
and eight daughters. The daughters all married 
(and some of them several times) and had large 
families — one of them, Mary, having eight sons and 
eight daughters. 

Patience (fifth daughter of Henry and Eulalia 
Burt) married John Bliss of Longmeadow, Massa- 
chusetts, in Springfield, October 7, 1677. 

HUNGERFORD 

The Hungerford name is one of the oldest in 
Great Britain. It was taken from the town of Hun- 
gerford, Wiltshire, England. The family came over 
from Normandy with William the First and fought 
with him at the battle of Hastings in October, 1066. 
After the Conquest they received large grants of 
land from the king. 

The Hungerfords are descendants of noble an- 
cestors. Sir Thomas Hungerford was Speaker of 
the English Commons in 1398. His son and heir, 
Sir Walter, was summoned to Parliament as Lord 
Hungerford. He fought under Henry V. at Agin- 
court, where he took the Duke of Orleans prisoner. 

116 



He was Lord High Treasurer under Henry VI. 
The family settled in the county of Cork about 1640, 
and had various grants of land. He died August 9, 
1449, leaving two sons, one of whom, Sir Robert, 
succeeded as Lord Hungerford. He was attainted 
of treason for his activity in the Lancastrian cause, 
March 4, 1466, and beheaded. His son and heir, 
the fourth Lord Hungerford, suffered death in the 
same cause. 

The above is taken from Collins' Peerage of 
England and might be brought down further as 
regards the family in England. In this country a 
map of Hartford, Connecticut, in 1640 shows a par- 
cel of land owned by Thomas Hungerford. Later, 
the records of East Haddam show that in 1692 a 
grant of land was made to Thomas Hungerford 
(supposed to be a son of the above Thomas) in 
Machamoodus (now East Haddam) and that in 
1704 deeds were executed to him. This is all the 
information to be obtained from these records, but 
the descendants of the Hungerford family have the 
following tradition: 

Thomas Hungerford was the first settler of that 
name who came from the town of Thetford, England 
(eighty miles northeast of London). He was the 
father of John, Green, Thomas, and Benjamin. 

Benjamin Hungerford was born December 20, 
1703, and died February 1, 1792. He married 

117 



Jemima Hunger ford, who was born January 17, 
1708, and died July 17, 1767. Their children were: 
Prudence, Matthew, Jemima, Rachel, Lydia, Ben- 
jamin, Stephen, Susannah, Timothy, Jacob, and 
Mary. 

Timothy Hunger ford was born in April, 1747, 
and died in August, 1827. He married Hannah 
Heicox,* who was born in Bristol, Connecticut, in 
1749. Their children were Nancy, Hannah, Anson, 
Timothy, Lorraine, Dexter, and Orville. 

Nancy married Josiah Bradner. 
Hannah married Jabez Foster. 
Anson married Sally Coe. 
Timothy married Mary Richardson. 
Lorraine married Daniel Brainard. 
Dexter married Marietta Burr. 
Orville married Betsey Stanley. 

Hannah (daughter of Timothy Hungerford and 
Hannah Heicox) was born in Farmington, Con- 
necticut, September 13, 1777, and died in Water- 
town, New York, October 16, 1826. She married 
Jabez Foster in Paris, New York, July 24, 1800, and 
was the mother of twelve children. 

Their children were: Gustavus Adolphus, 
Ambrose Sylvester, Elvira Lorraine, Evelina, Am- 
brose Sylvester, Jabez Hamilton, Hannah Jenett, 

*The name of Heicox varies in its spelling — is sometimes written Hickocks, or Hickox. 

118 



Asa Montgomery, Morris, Frederick, Hannah Jen- 
ett, and Harriet. 

Evelina (daughter of Jabez Foster and Hannah 
Hungerford) was born in Burrville, New York, 
July 1, 1806. She married Adriel Ely in Water- 
town, New York, December 28, 1826, and died there 
August 14, 1863. 



119 



THE UNION 

WATERTOWN, N. Y., APRIL 28, 1859 
DEATH OF ADRIEL ELY 

In the name that heads this article the business 
men of Northern New York will recognize an old 
and estimable friend and acquaintance. For more 
than forty years he has been intimately and exten- 
sively connected with the business of this county — 
and no man in the county has achieved a more 
marked success as a business operator. 

In every department in which he engaged, in 
all the relations of life in which he was called to act, 
in the discharge of every duty, in the fulfilment of 
every obligation, Mr. Ely was a pattern of imita- 
tion for those who would aim to secure success and 
leave an honored name. It is not sufficient to say of 
him that he lived and died, but that he achieved — 
that he was conqueror in life's conflicts — that human 
life acquired caste from his having been a component 
part — that the world received benefit from his hav- 
ing lived and labored in it. Mr. Ely pursued his 
business with an ardor equalled only by that with 
which he discharged the duties of a christian life — 
for his history is not only a record of temporal tri- 
umph but of christian faith. Adorned with chris- 
tian graces, and clad in the christian armor — he con- 

121 



tended manfully for the mastery here and the con- 
quest hereafter. Having performed all his duties 
faithfully, efficiently, and well, he has entered upon 
an everlasting inheritance — where his work is praise, 
and his enjoyment, the blessed rest of the ransomed. 

We shall not attempt a detailed biography of Mr. 
Ely — only a brief note of the leading events of his 
life. He was born in Lyme, Connecticut, February 
9, 1791 — being the fourth in direct descent from 
Richard Ely, the first of the name who emigrated to 
this country from Plymouth, England, about the 
year 1660. He settled at Lyme where he purchased 
large landed estates — a portion of which is still 
known as the "Ely Meadows." Adriel Ely, Sen., 
the father of our departed friend, was a farmer — 
and the subject of this notice was educated to the 
severe toil of a farmer's life — putting his strong 
hand to the plow, and breaking up the rude soil of 
Connecticut, in the farmer's garb. He was the 
youngest, and the last to leave the world, of a family 
of five children — Hon. Sumner Ely of Otsego, late 
a Senator of this state, and father of Theodore D. 
Ely of this place — William S. Ely, who died long 
since in Brownville, the father of Newel Ely, of this 
place — Horace Ely of Connecticut, father of Rev. 
Zabdiel Rogers Ely who married a daughter of the 
late Orville Hunger ford and died some years ago 

122 



in this village — and a sister, the wife of Erastus 
Sterling, who also died in Brownville. 

Mr. Ely left Lyme on horseback in 1814, came 
to the residence of his brother, Doctor Sumner Ely 
of Otsego, and thence to this place. He has since 
resided here. He commenced as a clerk in the store 
of Olney Pearce — then was partner and afterwards 
purchased the interest of Mr. Pearce and continued 
the business in his own name. At one period he was 
in company with Orville Hungerford, doing busi- 
ness under the firm of "Hungerford & Ely," but 
for a long period he has been doing business princi- 
pally as a merchant in his own individual capacity. 

To all improvements of our village and county, 
Mr. Ely has contributed with a wise counsel and a 
liberal hand. He was one of the early pioneers and 
constituted a strong, bright "link in the chain" that 
connects the present with the past. He has done as 
much as any other one man to bring us up from our 
primitive poverty and weakness, to our present con- 
dition of wealth and power and prosperity. 

In his prime, Mr. Ely was a man of great phys- 
ical strength, a ready and comprehensive intellect 
and extraordinary force of character — resolute in 
purpose, fearless in action, and liberal, independent, 
and honorable in all things. It is no disparagement 
to any man in this intelligent community to say that 

123 



Adriel Ely was his peer. The death of such a man 
is a public loss. He died on Wednesday morning 
the 20th inst. His funeral was attended on Friday, 
at half past one o'clock, by a large concourse of 
people from his late residence to the cemetery. 
"Brookside," is eminently a fitting place for his last 
sleep, for he was one of the early and efficient pro- 
jectors of the laudable enterprise of preparing the 
new cemetery. His mind and hand have been 
engaged from the first, and his great good taste 
evinced in laying out and beautifying that final rest- 
ing place for the dead. 

Mr. Ely leaves a widow — a daughter of the late 
Judge Jabez Foster — and five children, three sons 
and two daughters. 



Death of Adriel Ely, Esq. — At a special 
meeting of the Directors of the Jefferson County 
Bank, held at their Banking House on the 21st 
April, Robert Lansing, Esq., V. P., announced the 
death of Mr. Ely, he having been a Director for 
36 years, last past, and offered the following resolu- 
tions, which were unanimously adopted: 

Resolved, That in the death of Adriel Ely, this 
Bank has been deprived of a strong friend who, for 
many years, has been an efficient member of this 

124 



Board and has enjoyed our highest confidence and 
regard. 

Resolved, That, as a manifestation of our esteem 
and respect for the deceased, we will attend his 
funeral in a body. 

Resolved, That a record of these proceedings be 
entered upon the minutes and published, and that a 
copy be transmitted to the family by the Cashier. 

O. V. Brainard, Chairman. 



At a meeting of the Trustees of the Brookside 
Cemetery, held on the 25th inst., Judge Hubbard in 
the Chair — the following resolutions were unani- 
mously adopted: 

Resolved, That the members of the Board of 
Trustees of Brookside Association deeply sorrow 
for the loss of their presiding officer, Adriel Ely, 
Esq., through whose zealous and efficient labors in a 
great degree, the Association has attained its present 
prosperity. 

Resolved, That we tender to the afflicted family 
of the deceased our warmest sympathies in their 
great bereavement. 

Resolved, That the Secretary communicate a 
copy of the above resolutions to the family of the 

125 



deceased and cause a copy of the same to be pub- 
lished in the papers of this village. 

W. C. Brown, Secretary. 



OBITUARY 

August 14, 1863 

In this village Friday evening, the fourteenth August inst. 

Mrs. Evelina Foster Ely, 

Relict of the late Adriel Ely, Esq., aged fifty-seven years 

Mrs. Ely was the second daughter of Judge 
Jabez and Hannah Foster, whose history was lately 
published in the columns of the Reformer. She was 
born in this town and is well remembered by all the 
"old inhabitants," who were her contemporaries, all 
along through her childhood and youth as well as in 
her riper years, on account of that happy combina- 
tion of social virtues which constituted her the life 
and soul of every circle — whether at the village 
school, in the company of the young, in society with 
the middle-aged, or, in later times, with the old and 
grey-headed. 

Her name was the synonym of all that is hearty 
and exuberant in happy childhood — cheerful in 
youth, and genial and matronly in age. 

126 



But it is in the sacred precincts of the family 
circle, where she was the presiding genius and where 
she was best known and appreciated, that her loss 
will be most severely felt and where the sympathy of 
friends and the consolations of our holy religion are 
most needed, for there it was that her characteristic 
traits did most culminate. 

Watertown, New York. 




The Ely Tankard 



127 



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