February 1996

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Excerpts from the Journal of

Emma Larison Colwell

1857 - 1950

Transcribed and annotated by

Derick Van Schoonhoven

Letter written by Wm Morgan Updyke to Armelia L. Colwell, September 24, 1902

Dear Madam:

In attending the annual reunion held at Grove Park, Aug. 21, 1912, I was much surprised to see so many of the friends, relatives, and descendants of Theoduris and Elizabeth Updyke Larison present. Thinking, perhaps I am now the oldest and nearest living representative of the Updyke branch of the Larison family, and as myself and wife were the only ones of that branch of the family at the reunion, I thought it might be well for me to sketch at least a few incidents of my recollections. Also that portion of our family history, and records now in my possession that relate to the Larison family, and which might perhaps be of some interest and value to you as secrtetary of the Larison Reunion.

Elizabeth Updyke was my father's only sister, therefore my aunt. She was the daughter of Jacob Updyke who was the son of John, son of Lawrence, son of Johannes, son of Louis.

The Updykes were of Holland ancestry. Prior to 1653 Louis Updyke, came from Holland. [He] sailed up the Hudson river and established a trading post. Also [he] purchased property where the city of Albany is now situated.

The same year he also purchased property on Long Island near Coney Island for his family's home. Here at this place his son Johannes was born, who some years later removed with his family by means of emigrant wagons to near Princeton, New Jersey.

From this time on his descendants multiplied. They all settled in that portion of the state of New Jersey until after the close of the Revolutionary War.

Jacob Updyke was born in 1752 [and] died in Tompkins Co. [in] 1827, aged 75 years. Anna Savidge Updyke was born [in] 1752 [and] also died in Tompkins Co. [before Jacob in] 1822 [at] age 70. Both were buried at the old log meetinghouse just 4 miles south of Trumansburg. Their graves are marked with plain brown slabs and [the] inscriptions are still very plain and visible.

John Updyke (Elizabeth's grandfather) owned a great deal of land in Somerset and Hunterdon counties. [New Jersey]

In 1758 he built a two story stone house which is still in good condition and known as Washington's Headquarters on account of having been occupied by Washington as his headquarters about the time of the battle of Princeton in 1777, and which was only about four miles distant.

John's two sons, Jacob and Abraham [twins], fought in the Revolution. It is stated that when their father and neighbors on that eventful day heard the booming of cannons at Princeton, all were restless through hope and fear of the result of the battle. He mounted his horse saying he was going down to the lines to see how the battle was going. When returning [he] came at full speed swinging his hat, and shouting, "We have gained the day. Victory is ours. Victory is ours."

In the month of May, 1800, Grandfather fitted up four covered emigrant wagons, loading them with household goods, provisions, and farm implements. [Then] driving their cows and other stock along [he] started from Somerset Co. with his family to start a settlement in Tompkins Co. N.Y., which was almost a wilderness county at that time.

After a long, and tedious journey of three weeks they arrived at their destination in the town of Enfield south of Trumansburg in what is still known as the Updyke settlement. At the time of Jacob's settling there, Enfield was part of Ulysses township. It was not until 1821 that Enfield was formed from Ulysses.

An incident of my recollection occured soon after my marriage to my present wife which will be forty nine years ago next New Year's Day. We went to Trumansburg to visit some of her friends and relatives among whom was an aunt who was at that time 80 years old, [and] whose maiden name was Truman, being one of the first settlers. From this family Trumansburg derived its name.

In our conversation referring to my name and family, she stated that she well remembered when my grandfather and family passed their house on their way to Enfield, that one of the wagons was drawn by a span of horses, and the other three were drawn by oxen. She stated that they had lost one of the oxen near there, and [were] obliged to replace it with one of the cows.

The town of Enfield consisted of six miles square, laid out with roads running north and south, east and west one mile apart each way, thus making 36 square miles of 640 acres each.

Grandfather purchased one of these square miles adjoining the town of Ulysses for which he paid $1800.00. This purchase refers to lot 36 of the military lands.

Jacob is the youngest of the family, [he] was at this time 8 years old. Those six sons grew up to be tall, broad-shouldered, strong men. The tallest was John who was 6 ft. 4 in. tall. The shortest was Jacob who was 6 ft. in stocking feet.

The family all married and settled in Tompkins Co., except John who returned to New Jersey, married his cousin, and died [at] Princeton in 1831. Henry who was my father, and Uncle Reuben were soldiers, in [the] War of 1812.

Grandfather gave 100 acres of this land to each of his 6 sons. To Aunt Elizabeth he gave 40 acres, being the southeast corner of [his] purchase. In 1802 she married Theodoris Larison, had four children, and died in 1811, [and] was laid to rest in the family plot near the graves of her parents in Ulysses, Tompkins Co. A letter from John Larison to Dr. George Larison explains that Elizabeth and Theodoris went on 40 acres of land given to Elizabeth by her father. Later they moved across Lake Cayuga where Elizabeth "took the fever" and died.

In 1825 Uncle Dorus (as we called him) and Uncle Foster moved to Daggets Mills, Tioga Co. Pennsylvania. Uncle Abraham moved to Sullivan, Tioga Co. Pa., just previous to that time.

From 1851 to 1864, I also lived at Daggetts Mills, became well acquainted with Uncle Dorus, and helped care for him during his last sickness.

In conclusion [I] will say that Uncle Dorus was a good farmer, a good law- abiding citizen, and always enjoyed the entire respect and confidence of all who knew him, and it would have been well and appropriate had it been inscribed on his tombstone as his epitaph "An Honest Man."


Wm Morgan Updyke

Wm Morgan Updyke died 7 years later.
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