January 1990

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Long-Ago Letters


Helena Howard

In researching your family you may come across many wonderful stories that show how our ancestors lived and some of the terrible ordeals that they endured to start a new life in this country. Here are two excerpts from letters written by two ancestors of mine.

Maude Plaisted Durfey wrote:

"My grandfather Nathaniel Jayne and his father Timothy took the little, legged iron kettle with them when they came to clear the land to build a house in Milo. When they went back in the fall they left it buried in the leaves under a fallen tree. The next spring when they came back to work they found it all right."

Nathaniel was my great-great-grandfather

"Mary Dewitt Jayne's mother Elizabeth (Dewitt) Jayne, "Granny Jaynes" (died 1824) lived on the upper road for Hammondsport through South Pulteney, south of where it comes to Urbana Gully. She was sick and sent to Smithboro to bring Pruie to take care of her. Pruie and her brother Alva traveled with one horse, one riding and the other walking, turn about. When they reached the Inlet of Keuka Lake (the implication is that they came by way of Watkins, Tyrone and North Urbana) they couldn't get the horse across so Pruie walked across the foot bridge, while Alva rode the horse around by way of the ford at Pleasant Valley. Pruie was tired and rested at this place, near the lake, where a crowd of neighbors were helping Colonel Hammond raise the frame of the first framed building in Hammondsport."

—Helena A. Howard

Rock Stream, NY

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