In the early history books and accounts, I’ve learned quite a bit about the men who settled Cortland County. The stories of their wives, mothers, and daughters have been, for the most part, only briefly mentioned. The story of Francis B. Carpenter’s grandparents’ journey to Homer is an example of how perilous the journey was for many women.
By 1800 the pace of settlement in the Military Tract land had picked up. In June 1800 Noah Carpenter and his wife Charlotte left Pomfret, Connecticut for the 300-mile journey to Homer. They traveled with three of their sons in a heavy oxen-drawn wagon and a pair of horses. The travel was slow and rugged, 15 to 20 miles per day. They left Albany and traveled up the Mohawk to an inn 3 miles from Utica. It was here that Charlotte went into premature labor and their son Asaph was born on June 20. Noah left his wife and infant son and proceeded on with his other children. By the time they reached Tully, they had only a sparse Indian trail to follow to a place 9 miles away from where Noah had previously built a crude 16 square foot log cabin.
Four weeks later he went back to Utica to get his wife and son. The family settled on Lot No. 16 in Homer. Charlotte faced setting up a home in a primitive one-room cabin surrounded by unbroken wilderness. Mills, stores, and other conveniences were scarce and far away. By 1811 Noah built a “respectable residence” as part of a 200-acre farm which was passed on to his son Asaph. Asaph married Almira Clark on October 3, 1826. Their oldest son was Frances Bickwell Carpenter, Homer’s famous artist.
The barn pictured is dated 2003 on the Carpenter farm north of the Village of Homer. (From the files of the Cortland County Historical Society)