Cover for Cortland County Historical Society
6,736
Cortland County Historical Society

Cortland County Historical Society

Telling Your Stories Since 1925!
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We will be at Holiday in Homer today along with these adorable friends from our gift shop! The museum and research center will be closed. Hope to see you on the Green! ... See MoreSee Less
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Photo of the week!Group of motorcycles in front of the Cortland Conservatory of Music on Court Street, about 1920.#cortlandcountyhistory #cortlandny #centralnyhistory #experiencecortland #cortlandcountyhistoricalsociety #history #historicalphotographs #historicalphotos #photography ... See MoreSee Less
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100 Objects for 100 Years22/100There has been a recent growth of interest in studying, recreating, and wearing historic fashions. Depending on the era, what we know about fashion history can often come from surviving examples of clothing, so collections like what we have at CCHS can be a great source for learning what residents of Cortland County were wearing over the years.This particular object goes even further than that to include the opportunity to look at local industries and the people that they employed. Cortland County was once a commercial hub, sporting several wagon and buggy industries, corset manufacturers, wallpaper companies, box producers, and more.This corset cover, manufactured by the Gillette Skirt Co. that was located along Miller Street in Cortland, provides a peek at the underlayers of an early 1900s lady’s outfit. In this time period, a woman was wearing multiple layers of clothing; chemise, corset, drawers & corset cover, petticoat(s), and then a dress or suit on top.Said to be the first concrete building in Cortland, Noah Horace Gillette had it built for the Gillette Skirt Co. after the original wooden structure that housed the business burnt down in January of 1904. The company received a special machine to produce the rock-faced concrete blocks to be used in the construction of a new nearly fireproof factory, and even produced blocks for other buildings and building foundations in the city.The Gillette Skirt Co. has gone down in infamy as the setting for the blossoming love affair between Chester Gillette, the company owner’s nephew, and Grace Brown in 1906. Their story ends in tragedy with the murder of a pregnant Grace by Chester’s hand. The Gillette Skirt Co. closed in 1917, and the building has been used by the Newton Shirt Co., Cortland Overall Co., LaFacile Corset Co., L. Werninck & Sons, and many others.The fact that a single object can touch upon multiple facets of the past makes it a valuable addition to our collections!In 2025 CCHS is turning one hundred years old! In preparation of our landmark birthday, we are celebrating the unique collections you have entrusted to us over the years.~Sophie, Collections & Research Assistant#cortlandcountyhistory #cortlandny #centralnyhistory #experiencecortland #museum #cortlandcountyhistoricalsociety #history #100objectsfor100years ... See MoreSee Less
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Join us tomorrow, Wednesday at 5:30pm for another HistoryForge transcription session!Help us transcribe the 1910 census to add to our HistoryForge database! By combining historic maps and photos with census records of the people who lived in Cortland County, we can create a unique way to visualize the history of our community in the early 1900s.Didn't attend a training session? Not to worry, we'll get you up to speed!Please bring a laptop or tablet device. ... See MoreSee Less
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Slumbering Souls: Ina Hurlbut BirdOne of the names that pops up often enough at the Cortland County Historical Society is that of Ina Hurlbut Bird. Ina left behind scrapbooks containing a wealth of information as well as items which were utilized by her ancestors on the old Scott Road in the early to mid-1800s. Ina Hurlbut was born in Homer on the old Scott Road on February 13, 1870, to Leslie Lafort Hurlbut and Mary Frances Williams. Her father’s parents were children of early Homer settlers, Samuel Smith Hurlbut and Eliza DeVoe, both of whom arrived in Homer as children. Ina was proud of the fact that her great grandmother Helena Godwin DeVoe was likely the only woman who came to the wilderness of Central New York to claim land granted by New York State to her father, Captain Henry Godwin. Helena’s husband John DeVoe was detained at the Mohawk Settlements, and she arrived in Homer in early 1808 on an ox sled with two young sons driving the oxen and baby Eliza in her arms. The family settled on the Scott Road, as did the Hurlbut family. The DeVoe and Hurlbut families were both used to hard work and self-sufficiency in a sparsely populated terrain, however, Ina’s mother had a far different experience growing up in Missouri.Mary Frances Williams’ father was a slave owner, and the children of the family only did light chores with the bulk of the arduous work of the household being performed by slaves. Mary was the next to the youngest, and her days were spent playing guitar, reading poetry, and riding her pony. She was not accustomed to physical labor, that is, until she met and married Leslie Hurlbut. They were married on November 27, 1865, at her parent’s home in Missouri, and afterward, she packed up her belongings and moved to Homer with her new husband. Her trousseau was woefully inadequate for her new life. Her pretty silk dresses and petticoats were no match for harsh winters in Central New York. Her mother-in-law Eliza was a guiding light for Mary as she learned the skills she needed to survive in a different world than she was accustomed to.Leslie and Mary welcomed three children into their family: Ina Helen, Arthur Ray, and Harold Williams. Both Ina and Arthur became teachers, and Ina began her career in 1888 when she taught in District No. 3, Towns of Scott and Homer. Her salary was $4 per week, and she paid $1.75 for room and board Monday night through Friday noon at the home of one of the school’s trustees. She had to agree to take her salary in a lump sum at the end of the term so that the school could earn interest on the money and reduce the clerical duties of the trustee. In addition to paying for room and board, Ina had to pay her brother 25 cents per week to drive her to and from her lodging each Monday and Friday. She learned that her male counterparts were earning $5.50 per week as teachers. Understandably, Ina was discouraged by her prospects, and her mother suggested she attend the Cortland Normal School to widen her future employment possibilities. Ina did as her mother recommended and received her diploma on June 30, 1891.After graduation, Ina Hurlbut took every opportunity that came her way to expand her teaching resume and her life experiences. She taught in schools, large and small, both public and private, across New York, in New Jersey and in Maryland. She spent about five years as the Principal of the Intermediate and Primary Department of the Rutgers College Preparatory School, and she resigned from that position in 1902 to travel extensively in the western United States. Upon her return home later that year, she secured a position in Buffalo. Ina was not impressed with the harsh winter weather she encountered in Buffalo, and she moved on to a private school in New York City where she taught for several years. In the summer of 1912, she and a group of friends went on a White Star Line vacation with stops in the Azores, Gibraltar, and Algiers. The cruise was followed by a leisurely continental tour and an extended stay in England. The next chapter of Ina’s life was probably the most impactful part of her life, and we know the least about it. In 1917, Ina married Francis Bird, an Englishman and private in the Royal Canadian Dragoons. During WWI, she visited Frank in Quebec while he was training, though he never served outside of Canada. Correspondence documented by Ina in her scrapbooks indicates that Frank was demobilized on July 17, 1919. Tragically, Frank Bird was killed by a fall from a horse in July of 1920. There are two photos of Frank in Ina’s scrapbooks, both photos show him astride a horse. Ina Hurlbut was 47 years old when she married Frank Bird. She was an independent, intelligent, and accomplished woman. It’s hard not to imagine that her relationship with Frank was an epic tale of love and loss simply because she, who documented everything so thoroughly, failed to document her marriage. Was it a happy marriage, or was it a mistake she never wished to speak of?About a year after Frank’s death, Ina came back to live at the family homestead and to allow her mother to return to the home she’d come to love since her marriage in 1865. Ina’s brothers had opened their homes to their mother in her declining years, but she longed to be home, and Ina’s circumstances at that time allowed her to grant her mother’s fondest wish. After Mary’s death in 1922, Ina stayed on at the family home where she followed her passion for genealogy and local history. She wrote widely about family and neighbors on the Scott Road and was one of the founding members of the Cortland County Historical Society in 1925. Ina was a member of the New York State Historical Association and of the Tioughnioga Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Photos of Ina later in life show a wistful look, and she never lost her sweet features. For as well traveled as she was, it seems her heart longed for home, and she enjoyed her life on the old homestead, often writing romantic accounts of the beauty found there. In the end, there was no one to take care of Ina at the home she loved so much, and she went to the Home for Aged Women. She spent her last 17 days at the Cortland Memorial Hospital where she passed quietly away on August 18, 1954. She and Frank Bird are interred at Atwater Cemetery in Homer, along with so many of her family members. While she is not alone there, one does wonder, how long has it been since someone visited her grave and acknowledged her life? ~Tabitha Scoville, Cortland County Historical Society Director#History #CortlandCountyHistory #CortlandCounty #CortlandCountyNY #CNYHistory #NYHistory #HomerNY #Genealogy #HurlbutGenealogy #DeVoeGenealogy #Teacher #Traveler #Historian #Genealogist #CortlandNormalSchool #RoyalCanadianDragoons #TheHomerNews #CortlandCountyHistoricalSociety #SlumberingSouls #ExperienceCortland #AtwaterCemetery ... See MoreSee Less
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