Friday, July 30, 2010

Great Great Great Grandfather Nathaniel Olney

Some time spent in Avoca, NY, home of my great great great grandfather Nathaniel Olney - birthplace of Henry Cadmus Olney - see link to his 1886 Diary blog to the right. The Historical Society had the old tax record books - see above. They also had an old business directory map of Avoca, NY in the late 1870's, with N. Olney listed as a "custom and merchant miller" and grist mills noted at the end of Mill St. - see below. "Custom and merchant miller" would mean that he bought grain and ground it into flour or animal feed to sell to the locals, and you could bring in your own grain for milling for your own use.
I knew Nathaniel lived in Avoca, but it was really cool to see actual records of his presence in the town, and to wander around the area where his mill and home was located. You can see the location of the town mills along the Cohocton River to the west side of town. The smaller stream to the east of the river was probably the mill race constructed to provide faster moving water to power the mills. The Cohocton is a fairly slow running river along this wide valley, so a mill race would take off water quite a ways up stream, and be constructed with a quicker drop off to provide the power necessary to turn the mill stones. From the map you can see that all the mills are located near the lower end of the mill race. The mills are long gone, and there is a double wide trailer located approximately where Nathaniel Olney's mill probably was. The mill race is gone - taken out when the broom factory was built? The Cohocton River is currently located about 200 yards (?) to the west of the location shown on this map. I have no idea if this is from natural meandering of the river through this wide valley over the years, or it it was relocated in an engineering project of some sort? I find it interesting that the tannery, and the cider mill are located along the Cohocton River (not on the mill race). This was probably for easy disposal of the waste products of these operations?

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