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Friday, April 23, 2010


Frances Aikin Bradfield, her niece Harriet McKechnie (Mary Aikin's daughter), Bessie, Mabel



In 1830 Isaac Newton Bradfield was born in Milton, England.  His mother Jemima Bradfield named him after Sir Isaac Newton, famous English philosopher and mathematician.   When he was young, Isaac lost his father. His mother married again and had several children.  Isaac told Hazel, his granddaughter, he was close to his mother and siblings. He spoke respectfully of his stepfather, a miller, and had fond memories of playing around the old Mill with his sisters and brothers. 
Isaac also had another favorite person in his early life. This would be Sarah Bradfield, his grandmother (widow) who use to take him by the hand and walk about her home and the surrounding land with cottages and told him that when she died it would all be his.  Whether this happened or not we cannot be certain. What he did say however, there was a terrible fire and all the cottages were burned to the ground. Sarah's home remained standing because there wasn't a thatched roof.  Isaac said Sarah wrote this in a letter  after his emigration to the United States. He also told Hazel he did not write back and did not know when she died.  It is difficult to tell what his emotions were since Hazel did not write whether he was happy, sad, or angry while relating these stories. 
Isaac was between 17 and 19 when he came to America. The age shows up differently on the paperwork he needed for the voyage. Also his birth year is not consistent so we cannot be sure except we know he was young.  It is reported he came over with an Aunt, Mrs. Turck on a sailing vessel known as a packet ship, taking six weeks to make the trip. After landing, Mrs. Turck set out for Windsor, Ontario, Canada and Isaac headed for Canandaigua.  He never said why he came to this beautiful place or if he knew the family that took him in.   

Sample picture of the Margaret Evans Packet Sailing Ship

Packet (sea transport): A Packet service is a regular, scheduled service, carrying freight and passengers. The ships used for this service are called Packet ships or Packet boats, the seamen Packetmen and the business is called Packet trade.

Checking the ship's passenger list, Mrs. Turck's name is not listed. There could have been a mistake or Mrs. Turck did not make the trip.  We will never know.  He said he had several letters from Mrs. Turck but Hazel reports he never answered them. His mother also kept in contact with him and we understand he threw out all his personal mail. Fan would write to his mother Jemima making sure she knew he was all right and also to let her know about her grandchildren, Ida, Nellie and Joe. Even when Mrs. Turck wrote a card to tell him she received pictures of the old mill, the church and the homestead, he never replied.  Wish we had those pictures.  
There was still another relative, a Bradfield, who was a cousin of his. This cousin was the Superintendent of the New York Central Railroad.  Isaac never contacted him.  He wrote to no one. Perhaps he could read but not write.  He also worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad in the freight office. Before that he worked for a bakery that made Smith Crackers. These crackers were famous throughout the world.  Japan was one of the major importers of them. 

When Isaac came to Canandaigua he lived with none other than John Aikin's sister Betsy Lampman (the spiritualist). The Lampmans took in many young people, probably for the farm.
The 1850 census shows him living there. If you look it up, the name was mistaken for Grace and put on other documentation but on the census it is Isaac.  How he came to Betsy's home is unknown but that is how he met Saphrona.  He spent as much time as he could with the Aikin family and as we said before, he was a constant visitor when Saphrona was dying. Although there is nothing to indicate that he had feelings for Frances, he did promise to marry her.  But first. after Saphrona passed,  he went out West until 1860.  We have no idea why except to see if it was as wild as they say.  It is possible he heard of the terrible uprising of the Sioux Nations beginning in the Dakotas and spreading East. Fan may have written him regarding the horror that had entered the Aikin household.  He returned and the 1860 census shows him at age 27 and Fan at 23. They are married and Charles Aikin is living with them.  Remember none of the Aikin Children were welcome in John and Almira's home except John Jr. and Almira's son Levi Conger.  There are boarders also on the Census form.  We also spoke of Libby running away from the home in Phelps and going to live with Isaac and Fan until she got caught. All indications are Isaac and Fan became the surragate parents for the Aikin children. 

Their home was a happy and welcoming one.  Fan was known to help anyone who expressed a need and some who needed but did not say a word.  She just seemed to know.  There was always something good to eat.  The hobos' had her home marked and they knew they would get a good meal there. 

The first child William died early in his first year. Great Grandmother Ida was born in 1862.  Great Aunt Nellie was born in 1864 and Great Uncle Joseph was born in 1869.  Chances are there were either miscarriages or still borns in the 5 years that separated Nellie and Joseph.  All we have on record are the four mentioned above.  Fan loved her children but it became obvious Joseph was her personal favorite and would do anything for him.  Ida was the smallest of the siblings and had Fan's facial features.  Fan did not have a strong constitution so she relied on Isaac to help with the home and raising the children, tasks he seemed to enjoy.

It seems that Isaac came from a caring, religious, and just plain nice people. He had a thorough knowledge of the Bible and his children and grandchildren remember him telling them Bible stories. This was our indication that Isaac could read but did not write. The children looked forward to this time with him. He made no secret that he adored his little ones, took them out for walks, putting all his love into his family.  When his granddaughter Florence was a tiny baby Isaac would put her in a doll carriage and push her up and down the street.

It appears that the marriage was a good one. Fan and Isaac looked after one another and the children. They were family oriented not only with their own but with their extended family. It was said that Isaac missed his mother terribly and found comfort in knowing Saphrona and Fan.  It is written that Fan and Isaac made a good looking couple. They were approximately the same height but Fan was thin and stood erect so with that and her notable beautiful hats, she always looked the taller of the two. Fan was a wonderful cook and excelled at sewing. There was a matter of her not being very healthy. Isaac would sweep and clean up the house, take breakfast to Fan before leaving for work to help her keep up her strength.

Fan and Isaac made sure their children attended Sunday School every week at the Baptist Church. That explains how the Baptists entered into the history of our Family. This development of a spiritual life was etched in stone on both the Catholic and Protestant side of our family.

Fan had a special place in her heart for her son Joseph, the baby of the family. Unfortunately Joe inherited the gene for alcohol addiction. In the early history of Canandaigua we mentioned Phineas Bates clearing the land and being the seventh family who settled the Village.  When he planted his crops and built his house, he built a Tavern.  He went to Buffalo to pick up his inventory.  His plan was to bring it down the Oswego River.  There was a terrible storm and the boat tipped over with all the inventory.  Phineas jumped in the River and found every bottle and keg. Pack them on a cart and took the Indian Path from Buffalo to Canandaigua.  So you can see, there was great importance placed on alcohol from the beginning.

By the time Joe was old enough to drink, the problem had increased in town because of the advent of affluence and too much free time. The following article was in the Canandaigua Messenger:

                   Canandaigua Daily Messenger 1894

Joseph Bradfield, 25 years old, of Canandaigua met with a serious and perhaps fatal accident near the main Street crossing in the latter village yesterday forenoon. He is the son of Issac and Frances (Aikin) Bradfield. It is believed that Bradfield attempted to catch the 11:15 a.m. passenger train at the crossing yet no one can be found who know whether he was attempting to get on or off. The first to notice him was Greeley Cavin, the switchman who says that he fell with great force against the switch. As he did so, Cavin grabbed for him, just as he was rebounding under the cars. When the train had passed Bradfield was picked up and carried into the Miar Laundry. Dr. Beahan made an examination and found that the man's left foot had been crushed below the ankle. All of the bones of the foot were broken and it was swollen with blood. Bradfield's shoulder was also injured. The wounds were dressed and Bradfield was taken to his home on Niagara Street. The foot will probably have to be amputated. Bradfield was considerably intoxicated at the time the accident occurred. He has been employed off and on in the railroad yards in Canandaigua. The doctor pronounced the injury very dangerous, especially in Bradfield's case, he being a hard drinker.

A year later he made news again. Joe was in a truck with a friend, both of them drinking. When the truck left the road and went over into a ditch. Joe was flung out of the truck but could not get up, "again". This also made the Canandaigua Daily Messenger much to Isaac's and Fan's distress.
The drinking continued and he was unable to keep his marriage together. We find no record that he ever left home. It appears he did not find recovery from the alcoholism. You know this had to strike at Fan's heart. She had the reputation for helping everyone but was unable to help her son. Joseph died in 1931 at the age of 62 and is buried with Isaac and Frances in West Avenue Cemetary.

Charles enlisted in the army around 1862. By 1866 Charles had come home from the Civil War. He was welcomed to again live with Frances and Isaac. He is there at the time of the 1870 and 1880 census. He apparently worked as a laborer and in the clothing industry.  It is unknown if he ever married.

Frances Aikin Bradfield was born in 1839 and died at 58 years old in 1897.  Isaac Newton Bradfield was born in 1833 and died in 1911 at 78 years old.  Isaac lived with his daughter Nellie who was the owner of the Boarding House at 84 Pleasant Street. This boarding house plays and important part in the life of Ida E. Bradfield Bates and her three children, Florence, Harry and Will.

Our history continues with the story of the Bradfield/Bates Family.


Thursday, April 22, 2010



Elizabeth Lampman Aikin Wood Langdon Bailey
                                                        Younger Sister of Frances Aikin Bradfield
                                                          Family Historian

 Frances Aikin Bradfield wife of Isaac Newton Bradfield

Hazel Cloyes, Granddaughter of Frances and Isaac Bradfield and Family Historian of the 19th and early 20th Century.


Sunday, April 11, 2010


This is Elizabeth Aikin @ 12 and John Aikin Sr.



CHARLES AIKIN BORN 1833 AND DIED 1885 in Canangaigua, New York buried in West Avenue Cemetary with veterans of the Civil War. (name spelled Aken is obviously wrong)

Charles was the first born and did what all first Born's do. Train their parents how to raise a family. We can say he was a happy child and learned how to please his parents. He was musical and kept the love of music among his siblings. Aunt Libby referred to him as the 'dude'. He was very fastidious and always dressed just so. With so many girls coming up behind him we can imagine he was protective of them and as the family grew, being the eldest , he helped Saphrona keep them in line especially to avoid the wrath of their Father. There had to be a growing anger at how life was changing in their household. He kept to himself and we have no direct quotes from him. It would seem there was a honeymoon period when the sixth child came and it was a boy. He was named John Jr. so you know John Sr. was pleased and relieved that he had another boy. Charles was 27 in 1860. In 1861 there were rumblings of a war and Charles quickly signed up. The war ended on May 26, 1865. We know Charles returned home but he was different and everyone noticed. Some say he never got over his experience in the war. His mother had died in 1855 before he left. John and his second wife had sent all the children except John Jr. to other homes. Charles returned to live at the same home as his sister Frances and Isaac Newton Bradfield. It is safe to say he was not welcome in his childhood home. So far there is no information whether he married or not. We do know he died at age 52, 1885. He is in the West Avenue Cemetary in Canandaigua.

MARY AIKIN BORN 1835 DIED 1919 in Canandaigua, New York

Mary was the first of four girls. No doubt she watched Charles and learned a great many things from him. He taught her music, probably some kind of instrument and just how to live in this strange household. Saphrona taught her the responsibilities of a woman in that society. We are told she had beautiful clothes, and the skills to suit a lady. There is no word if she had outside schooling. Her one best accomplishment was cooking. According to Hazel, she was a wonderful cook and everyone looked forward to the gingerbread and spice cakes. When she was two years old, the next girl arrived, two years after that, the third sister came then there was a span of 7 years of no children, at least ones that lived. We do not know when she first married. Hazel states her husband's name was Canwright. However the census shows her married to a Mr. Comish. They had two children, Charles and Harriet. Charles married and had no children and Harriet married the love of her life, James McKechnie (from the early settlers in Canandaigua). They had two daughters Mabel and Bessie. James took ill and died suddenly, Harriet's two daughters came down two weeks later with scarlet fever and died. Harriet never recovered and died soon after. This would be the most painful memory Mary would have even with what the future held.

Mary married again, this time to a cantankerous, tyrannical old Scot. He was in the Civil War and ended up in a wheelchair. Hazel reports he toppled over on her and everyone thought she was dead but she was just stunned. It was one of very few times Alf showed compassion. When he died, Mary was given the pension awarded to the surviving spouses. This helped keep her independent. When Ida married and had three little ones, Aunt Mary went to live with her. She is described as very sweet looking, her hair was snow white which she wore pulled off her face. She wore black earrings, black dress and a little black cape or shawl. Harry and Will Bates would tie a bell on the back of her shawl and when it rang, Mary would go to the front door. Tsk, tsk, tsk. She never showed anger towards the boys.

There is more about Mary but that will be told when we give Aunt Libby's story.

FRANCES AUGUSTA AIKIN BORN 1839 DIED 1897 in Canandaigua, New York

Frances Augusta Aikin, the second daughter and third child of John and Saphrona unfortunately inherited her father's features which for a girl was not a good thing in a family that was considered very good looking. She was known as Fan to her family. Cousin Hazel referred to her as not very good looking but had a sweet and loving nature (unlike her father). It appears Fan did a lot of the house work and looking after her younger siblings.  It is reported that Saphrona depended on Frances a lot and when Saphrona died whenever her siblings were sad or in trouble, the brothers and sisters always came to her. Chances are she was saved from the ravings of her Father because of her ability to calm her siblings and keep them out of his way. You can be sure she was hurt every time someone pointed out that she was not good looking but through God's Grace she survived it. Her facial bone structure can be seen in pictures of her descendants. Her daughter Ida looked very much like her as did Florence (her granddaughter) in her declining years.  I was familiar with this look after spending many years with Ida and Florence.
We do not know why Fan's marriage was arranged by Saphrona as she lay dying.  Fan appears to have accepted this arrangement with dignity and class. Isaac Newton Bradfield promised Saphrona he would marry Fan. After Saphrona's funeral he went out to the Wild West for about five years. Saphrona died in 1855, Fan and Isaac were married around 1860. Their first child William died soon after he was born. Ida Elizabeth (after Aunt Libby) was born in 1862 followed by Hazel's mother Nellie Augusta in 1864 and then Joseph Harvey in 1869.
We can only imagine how horrible life must have been after Saphrona's death.  There was no one to protect the children and we believe Fan did her very best to keep the home in tact. I would take a risk and say Fan sent a letter off to Isaac to come home that there were plans by John and Almira Aikin to dismantal the family and send everyone out to be what we would consider indentured servants.  Mary left and got married.  When Isaac came home, Fan and he married. Charles planned to follow Fan and live in her new home. Melissa was dead. Elizabeth was only 14 years old when she was told she would be sent to Phelps.  John Jr., Elizabeth's best friend, was to remain in the house with his Father.  He became withdrawn and sullen losing his family so abruptly and this shaped his future. Fan watched helpless and saddened by the conditions on Center Street.
Frances' story continues in the next Chapter.

We continue with Melissa, Libby and John Jr's story.

MELISSA AIKIN BORN 1839 DIED 1855 in Canandaigua, New York

Melissa did not leave us with any specific quotes but we do know something of her looks and her position in the family. She was the third daughter and fourth child in the Aikin sibling lineup. Often the fourth one absorbs the dynamics of the family in silence all the while having an aura of mystery around them. This describes Melissa in what was not written about her by her grand niece Hazel and reported by her sister Libby. Aunt Libby states she was the most beautiful in the family. Her hair was blond and curly. Her eyes were blue and her skin was pink and white. The mystery surrounding Melissa increases when you consider she died at the tender age of 16 the same year her mother Saphrona died, 1855. Even Hazel did not editorialize this fact which surprises me. Perhaps it was too painful to speak of it. We know Isaac Newton Bradfield did everything he could to keep Saphrona alive. We know that John Aikin picked the stepmother from Snow White for his next wife in 1859 which lets us know where he was at through all of this sadness.



We have no information as yet that would describe the Aikin Home in the seven years between Melissa and Libby. Aunt Libby was the youngest daughter, fifth child and surely was welcomed by her Mother and Siblings. I do not know if John Sr. favored her among all the daughters but it would seem so what with the picture of the two of them as seen at the top of this Chapter. Personally, Libby does not look pleased and John Sr. looks mean but I am willing to concede that sitting for a photo in those days was a long drawn out uncomfortable chore.
You can be sure that Saphrona just loved her new daughter. Her dark curly hair and blue eyes attracted attention everywhere she went. Between her sisters and Saphrona she was taught all that she needed to know in order to be a lady. She also was musical and learned a lot from her brother Charles. To say she was spoiled would probably be true. The stories she tells of teasing her Aunt Betsy Lampman on the Main Street of the Town indicates she wasn't afraid of the consequences. When her brother John arrived 13 months after her birth, they were a team, kindred spirits and partners in fun loving trouble. As their older siblings left the home they would be expected to feed the animals such as the chickens, ducks and pigs. There had to be a cow or two for milk. Planting and hoeing and harvesting the garden would be among the chores.
Libby describes her Father as a very stern man, he punished them on the smallest provocation and never thought they were properly chastised unless he saw blood. If this frightened her, she did not show it. Libby was an independent spirit. She no doubt learned early on to stay out of the way of her father's wrath. She had to feel protected because she was the youngest girl, reportedly beautiful and a dynamic personality.
When her mother died, Libby was around 9 in 1855. By 1860, at 14 her Father's new wife insisted that she be shipped off to the Edward and Mary J. Aldrich Family in Phelps, New York as seen in the 1860 census. According to her own report, she was very unhappy there and that makes sense. None of us would want to be placed with strangers in our teens, in a strange town and placed in a strange school. She also had to work to earn her keep. So Libby did what I would have done and ran away to live with her sister Frances (our Great, great grandmother) who was now newly married to Isaac Newton Bradfield. Mary Aldrich got in touch with John Aikin and told him Libby was missing. The longer John looked for Libby, the more angry he became. When he finally found her at Frances's home, he was tyrannical to the point of being brutal. Mary Aldrich was very sympathetic and told Libby that she had no idea she was so unhappy. Mary promised, if Libby returned, she would make it more pleasant for her.  The scene was so dangerous, the offer, I am sure was to save Libby's life. For some reason John would not allow Libby to remain with her sister and Isaac.
Libby lived with the Aldrich couple for the next three years until she was 17. She met Samuel Wood. They fell in love and Sam showered her with gifts of flowers and letters. It was 1863, they decided to get married. There was just one small matter that Sam kept to himself. He had already enlisted to fight in the Civil War. Libby states he was called up the day after their wedding. He left and they never saw each other again. A friend from the town came back and told her he saw them carrying his friend Sam off the field after one of the biggest battles of the war. He was buried under an apple tree in a nearby orchard. Libby was 18 and remained a widow for 10 years.
In 1874 she was 28, met Joseph Langdon and they married. By the time she was 30, in 1876, Joseph died and she was a widow for the second time. The Wood and Langdon families were very kind to her. Both Sam and Joe had but one sister and Libby was a close friend of both. Mrs. Cornelius Andruss(Bailey) whose husband was the leading dentist in Canandaigua was also a close friend and invited Libby to live with her. So she had the sense of safety and love from many people. She also had many beaux during the 10 years of being a widow.
When Libby was in her early 40's, she married Norman Bailey. Norman was a railroad man and Libby often traveled with him. They lived in Chicago for awhile and then in Iowa. They also lived with Norman's mother who reportedly was a wonderful, caring person. Mrs. Bailey loved Libby and enjoyed having her there. However, she had to correct the nieces and nephews who always sought Libby out, not to call her 'Aunt Doll' a nick-name that stuck with the little ones. Protocol was everything in those days. Obviously someone lost the protocol book along the way. I don't believe I ever saw it.
Mrs. Bailey died and was soon followed by Norman her youngest son. Libby went to live with her sister Mary. They pooled their Civil War Pensions and invited Norman's brother George Bailey to move in with them adding his pension to the pool. They had a beautiful house on South Main Street and it was a place everyone loved to visit and eat because Mary and Libby were excellent cooks. Even the nieces and nephews made their way to this home to taste the spice cake and gingerbread plus homemade jams and bread. Visiters included my Grandmother Florence Bates Doyle who took her brother Will to get the treats on a regular basis.
Aunt Libby had many amusing stories to tell the children and was remembered for her sense of humor. Later in life she was involved in a car accident at the Whitehorse tavern in Avon, New York. When I saw the newspaper article I was surprised to see who hit the car. None other than my great uncle Frank Doyle, John A.'s older brother. Both cars were going in the direction of Conesus Lake and when I checked the date of the article, it happened on October 31, 1936. My memory flooded with Halloween Decorations and lots of costumes at the annual Doyle Halloween Party at the famous Conesus Lake Doyle Cottage. We were told that these Halloween Parties included members of the FBI and the chief, J. Edgar Hoover. The whole family attended and that is why my sister Lib and I were there.

Aunt Libby moved to Rochester, New York in her later years and lived on Magnolia Street not far from us.  She lived with her nephew William Bates and his mother Ida Bradfield Bates.

The following is the death notice of Elizabeth Lampman Aikin Bailey:

 Soon the Aikin/Bradfield/Bates families will intersect with the McCormick/Doyle families.  So much combined history makes you ponder the Divine Plan in our lives.


John arrived 13 months after Libby. They were a separate family unto themselves. John watched his big sister and learned from her. They were best friends and did everything together. We do not know if John ever went to school. He was, however, intelligent and quick to learn. At 8 years of age, benefiting from what music he learned from Charles and his sisters, he made his first banjo. He took an old fig box, put a handle on it , made frets with nails, strung it up with cord and could get music out of it. As he grew in his teen years he could play five different instruments, but his favorite was the banjo. Aunt Libby reports that if she went to the theater and heard a new song hit, she would come home, hum or whistle it to her brother and he could play it. He gave violin or banjo lessons to all the elite of Canandaigua. There is a story passed down through the generations that one of the most famous banjo players in the United States began as a pupil of John's. In addition to the lessons he gave, he also played in the town orchestra and band. A happy time of his life.
The acute sadness crept in to his life when his beloved mother and dear sister Melissa died in 1855. His family was being torn asunder after his father brought home a local widow who had a 10 year old son in tow. Almira began immediately to dismantle the family. She sent his beloved sister Libby to another town to live with strangers. Frances probably stayed long enough to prepare her wedding to Isaac. Mary was already out of the house and Charles was looking for a place to live and was invited by Fan and Isaac to live with them. He shows up on the 1860 census in their household.
John's fear of what was going to happen to his life must have weighed heavy. He found out that he would be kept in the new family. According to Libby, he was miserable and as soon as he turned 15, he ran away, lied about his age and enlisted in the army. He was given the position of drummer boy. At the battle of Gettysburg he was shot in the knee cap and was sent to a hospital to recuperate. We do not know when he returned to Canandaigua nor do we know if he resumed living in the old homestead or continued teaching music.
John married Gertrude Culver from Waterloo. They did not have any children and John became a stern and warped member of the business community. He and Gertrude bought a house on Center Street not far from his Father and Almira. Gertrude made dresses for the local ladies. When his niece Ida's husband and our Greatgrandfather, Henry W. Bates died in jail, John told his family he would raise Florence (our grandmother) but not the two boys, Will and Harry. Again another family split up. Florence was considered the most popular girl in Canandaigua. She was known for her ability to bend backwards almost touching the floor with her head while doing the Cakewalk. She also became an accomplished banjo player. It would make sense to think her Great Uncle John taught her that. Florence had her eye on the most popular young man in the town. His name was John Albert Doyle, an Irish American and of all things a Catholic. The Aikin family formed a defense line and forbid Florence to see John. She was promised to a Dentist from Naples who later became Chief Dental Surgeon at Strong Memorial Medical Center. Florence would have none of it. Her story will be told, for now we will just say that John who was a high ranking Mason, an elder of the Presbyterian Church, and member of the Grand Army of the Republic soon ended up in the Rochester State Hospital where he died in 1905, a broken man.

No matter what, look around and love your family

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Fashion on left 1825 - Fashion on right 1850


John Aikin 1805 - 1870

John Aikin (this is the spelling recorded on the 1850 Federal Census) was a gentle giant, industrious and reportedly very attractive. He was quite a figure in his black suit and shiney silk top hat. It is easy to see why Saphrona would be attracted to him especially at her young age of 17. John was 25 strong and confident, was a hard worker at being a blacksmith. Saphrona felt her life would be secure. We have no marriage record yet. However, Charles, their oldest son, was born in 1833. That would indicate they were married before that date, my guess is 1831. Hazel Cloyes, a cousin, granddaughter of Fanny and Isaac Newton Bradfield, our early historian puts the dates of their arrival in Canandaigua between 1800 and 1820. Quite impossible since Saphrona was born in 1813 therefore would be only 7 years old in 1820. So, adding 10 years we have her at 17 in 1830. Makes sense to me. Girls did get married young in those days. John, I am sure had dreams and plans for his young family and thought the happiness would last forever. His son Charles' name gives us a clue as to the name of John's father or Saphrona's. My hunch is, he was named after his maternal grandfather, the one who fought in the American Revolutionary War.
That means many of us are direct decendents of a soldier who helped forge our County. He would be my great x 5 Grandfather. It is possible we found him but we need to check out more sources . It was handed down to our family that he played the fife and there is a Charles White who did play the fife during that war.

As the children arrive one after the other and grew big enough to say "NO", a dark side entered John. It is important to introduce you to Betsy Lampman, John's sister. She was married to Jacob Lampman a wealthy farmer. They lived in Canandaigua. Betsy took on airs as we say on the Irish side of Main Street. Aunt Libby reported Aunt Betsy insisted that the children be clean and dressed in the best fashions if they came to town and if they did not suit her she would not speak to them. Libby reported that she and John Jr. would get all muddied up and race down the street yelling "hello Aunt Betsy". Betsy would shoo them off indignant and denying any relationship.
Betsy did not agree with John when it came to raising the children. She let it be known that they should have better clothes, better schooling, and less severe discipline. John did not agree and continued his tyranical behavior.

On Monday evenings she would take the horse and buggy, pick up John at his house and head for Shortsville, 12 miles from Canandaigua, to attend the meetings of the Spiritualists. I would have to say that if you mess around with malevolent spirits, you slam the door wide open, letting in the "no seeums" that can reek havoc in your home. Rule of thumb, keep clear. John's activity in the Presbyterian church and his involvement in the newly formed spiritualist movement was truly a dichotomy. John's darkside began to permeate his home. He was a tyrant with the children and unsympathetic with Saphrona dying. The children were the ones who lived in fear and with good cause.
Saphrona died in 1855. By 1860, as seen on the Federal Census, John had remarried a woman, Almira Conger, 21 years his junior and she brought with her a 10 year old son Levi Conger.
Libby reported that this woman did not want the Aikin children around so she found homes for them where they could work for their keep. Libby at 14, went to Phelps and lived with Edmond and Mary Aldrich. She told how she ran away and John and Mrs. Aldrich found her at her sister Frances' home. Her father was violent towards her, screaming and yelling. Mrs. Aldrich was kinder and promised to be nicer to her if she would return. Libby went back for three years, her story comes later. You can see how the Aikin home was now in chaos. They say John was not a drinking man so you can surmise that he was spiritually corrupt by age 56. He would be dead by 65. He called in his children as he lay dying and begged them to forgive him for his horrendous behavior. I would like to think they did forgive him. This was John's redemptive moment. I can see Saphrona spurring him on. Keep in mind, their legacy is you and me.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

To Begin It is after the Revolutionary War of 1776


The Granger Homestead in Canandaigua, built in 1816, now a historical museum.When the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783, the thirteen colonies were finally recognized as the independent United States of America. The biggest losers were the Haudenosaunee. Most of their land was confiscated or ceded by treaty to the state. This opened up vast areas for settlement. Land speculation made some millionaires; others bankrupt. A large migration of New England farmers ("Yorker Yankees") moved into Upstate, settling in new villages like Canandaigua, Geneva, Auburn. The fertility of the land in the Finger Lakes and the Genesee Valley was very enticing with one major drawback. How do you get your produce to market? Transportation costs were minimal when the majority of farmers lived along the navigable Hudson. The new hinterland was too far away to participate fully in the expanding economy, without some internal improvements. Until this happened the new western communities were isolated and grew slowly.


Picture yourself involved in the excitement of being part of the Birth of our Nation. After the Declaration of Independence in 1776, it would be 1786 before the matter of total freedom from English rule was assured and secured for the now well planted brave population who fought so brilliantly with a musket and a pitchfork. A post war business boom was well on its way and it was a great opportunity for the new citizens to open the road West for adventure and financial success. It appears the dream entered John and Saphrona Aikin.

Although I do not yet have a date for the birth and marriage of John and Saphrona Aikin, there is enough information written by a family member to give us a timeline when they arrived in Canandaigua, New York. They were probably born sometime early 1800. The Aikins immigrated from Scotland and settled in Connecticut. Saphrona's father fought in the American Revolution and probably moved his young family to New York State. This is where Saphrona White (probably from English settlers) met John Aikin and married him. It was between 1820 and 1830 that this young couple set out with all their worldly possessions to a beautiful town on a lake in New York State. This Lake, Canandaigua, is often called the thumb of the finger lakes. Put your dream cap on and imagine them with a horse or two and a covered wagon approaching Canandaigua after several days of rough travel.

What they saw was a super wide Main Street leading right down to the beautiful lake. You see,
the town was established and designed to be the main hub City in mid-western New York State. (just for the record, Rochester won out because of its postition with a good Port on Lake Ontario).

It would seem this was not a random happening that they came to this beautiful town. Records show other Aikins there. John's sister Betsy Lampman lived there and no doubt encouraged him to come. This was the time of horse and buggies. For some reason horseshoe nails were not made in the area and that was John's special expertise, so he came to be the manufacturer of these special nails and reportedly did very well.

John and Saphrona moved into a large house on Center Street. It is still there and is on the list of historic homes. There were six children in their family: Mary, Charles, Frances my great, great grandmother, Melissa, Elizabeth and John.They were considered a handsome family except for Frances, being the plainest looking of them all. Frances was considered the kindest and sweetest person among all her siblings. Her brothers and sisters turned to her when Saphrona died. Aunt Libby used to say, "Fan was not the oldest but she was like a mother to us all."

Aunt Mary had auburn hair and green eyes. Melissa, who died at sixteen, was considered the beauty of the family and little is known of her. Aunt Libby said, she had light curly hair, blue eyes and a pink and white complexion. Aunt Libby had jet black hair and deep blue eyes and was considered extremely beautiful by the family and folks in town. These remarks were passed down from generation to generation. Aunt Libby lived to be 91 and it is said she was just as beautiful then with perfect features, white hair and those deep blue eyes. There is a picture of her at the Wedding of John and Mary Doyle in 1930. (to be inserted later). She is sitting in the first chair next to her niece Ida Bradfield Bates (my great grandmother) in the very large group picture of the Wedding Party and Guests.

Aunt Libby did most of the talking as seen with the verbal vignettes she handed down.

Charles and John will be discussed later. Right now it is important to get a feel for what life was like on Center Street. The house was large and suited the family. It was an easy walk to "town" and this was a dressup state occasion if the family went to town. There would be the usual horse and carriage to go any distance. The Aiken family had a live-in housekeeper to help Saphrona with all the chores that go with keeping a large family fed and clean. Since it did not take John Sr. long to make a living there were two or three cords of wood available for the cold weather. Food was properly "put up" or dried for the coming months and this included a slain pig and cow all of which were put in the cellar. In those days there were no supermarkets and one did not run to the store for groceries. If you needed something, it would be in the basement fruit and vegetable cellar. Water came from a well and in the winter the well would freeze up so the icicles hanging off the roof would be harvested and melted for drinking, cooking and washing clothes. You have seen the bedroom bowls and pitchers in antique stores. They had their practical purpose for washing all over usually in the morning. In the winter the ice had to be broken in the pitcher in order to wash. The huge tea kettle was always full of hot water. The fire in the stove was stoked and the kitchen was the warmest place in the house. The memories of those days indicated a happy family up to a certain point.


Saphrona White Aikins

Saphrona was a lovely woman, gentle, fun loving, and filled with spirit. She had a strong sense of loyalty to her children and this held true when she forbid John to strike the children when it became obvious he was physically hurting them, drawing blood. This behavior was unacceptable for a wife. Saphrona did not stand on protocol when it came to her family. A female tiger with cubs comes to mind. She taught the children how to sing, dance and play instruments which indicates she came from a home that encouraged family fun. John was slowly changing into a severe, strick, unpleasant person. The happiness in the family eroded and the stories took on an edge of sadness as related by Aunt Libby. It is highly likely that John did not have much of an education. It is questionable whether he even knew how to write. Saphrona on the other hand appears to be more educated and possibly taught the children their basic reading, writing and arithmetic. Sometime in the late 1840's a young man from London, England arrives in the Aikins home. His name is Isaac Newton Bradfield. It is possible he was a grand nephew of Sir Isaac Newton. He simply loved Saphrona and they became very close friends. By 1850 Saphrona developed a long term illness. Although we do not know what it was, Aunt Libby reports that Isaac was at her bedside every day, offering her expensive bite size sweets in hopes she would eat something. No mention of John's presence during this illness. At 42, Saphrona died. Aunt Libby was 9 years old and John Jr. was 8 so the date would be around 1855. Before she died she made Isaac promise he would marry her daughter Frances. He made and kept the promise. Saphrona was a woman of Faith. She, John and all the children were members of the Presbyterian Church. They attended services regularly. A strong Christian Protestant ethic was passed down through the generations along with the usual suspicions of the Catholics especially Irish, something that would tear the family to smithereens by 1901.