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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

JOHN AIKIN: THE BLACKSMITH

Fashion on left 1825 - Fashion on right 1850

CHAPTER 3


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.









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