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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

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