Things I can Remember
by Florence Reynolds Cornell

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Florence Reynolds Cornell
written by her daughter
Esther Cornell Bent at "Lazy Acres" 1944
Esther Cornell Bent and Cricket

Text transcribed by Cathy Fahey, spelling and punctuation corrected for readability, from personal scrapbook of personal remembrances of Florence Craig Reynolds, made by Esther Cornell Bent, for Barry Laird Cornell, 1958. All images and drawings included were scanned from the scrapbook.

“I remember! I remember!
The house where I was born
The little kitchen window
The sun came peeping thru morn”
Pines Bridge, Croton River, New York
Drawn by Esther Cornell Bent
Johnathan Reynolds moved into this house at the time of his marriage to Betsy Flewellyn 1812. Elias Reynolds was born here in 1814 (1894 died) and married Jane Purdy Jordan in 1839.

I was born November 25, 1858 at Croton Lake, New York, the youngest of nine children. We lived on a two-hundred-acre farm which had been in our family for five generations. As a baby I slept in an old cradle which was made by my grandfather James Jordan. When this same grandfather came to see me, he said:

Jane, she’s the nicest one yet, thee better not stop.

When I became too large for the cradle, I slept in a trundle bed in mother’s room. The trundle bed was pulled out at night and pushed back under mother’s bed in the day time.

Grandfather Jordan lived on a farm at Croton-on-the-Hudson (In the old days called Collabark). His farm ran down to the Hudson River. Mother used to tell of standing on the bank to watch the first steam boat go by (The Robert Fulton).

Grandfather farmed in summer. In winter, like most farmers, he had a trade. His was making mahogany furniture. Sunday and Wednesday mornings, he used to put on his best suit (with out a collar) and went to Quaker Meeting, where he sat on the facing seat, as he was a minister.

Drawing of Quaker meeting by Esther Cornell Bent
Drawing of Quaker meeting by Esther Cornell Bent

He married Hannah Carpenter, granddaughter of Hackaliah Bailey [Note: not actually her grandfather, he was a first cousin], the owner of the first elephant in the United States. There is a monument of this elephant at Somers, New York. James Jordan and Hannah Carpenter had eleven children (See Jordan family in back of book).

In the early days, sailing vessels came up the Hudson River to get brick from the brick yards at Croton Point. One summer William Gifford and his son David sailed down from New Bedford, Massachusetts through the East River and up the Hudson to Croton Point to get brick. On Sunday, or I should say, First Day, they attended Friends meeting at Croton. The spirit moved Aunt Eliza to speak and William fell in love with her. They later married and Aunt Mary, her younger sister, married the son David. They both lived at West Falmouth, Cape Code, Massachusetts. Aunt Eliza used to write us children letters in poetry.

A Deer
And now I have a story that makes me feel sad.
I’ll tell it to Libby, for its not very bad.
A deer, a pretty red and white deer
Ran away from the forest and lo it became near
To the house, none but we saw the sprightly young creature
I could not help speaking, twas not in my nature.
Uncle William up and took down his gun
I caught him and held him and said pretty deer, run!
Go, go, to thy wood lands most quickly, pray do.
The deer, it ran nimbly, the hunters ran too.
And they brought back the deer all bleeding and dead
And I wept for the life that I had betrayed.

Oh! If Libby and Johnny could come and dig clams
and Anna and Sutton, deep down in the sand
Where we disturb them, they spit in our faces.
Oh! Do come and dig them, just down in the marshes
They are first rate for dinner to boil or to fry
To make into chowder or cook into pie
And then we go fishing to catch the tautog
The flat fish, the silvers(?), the eels and scoppog(?)
I wear a sea jacket buttoned up tight,
We start in the morning just after daylight.
But not in the winter, I then stay at home
And only go fishing when summer time comes.''

Aunt Eliza Eliza took a boy from a home to bring up. The following is a story about him:

Our boy William Edward I’ll tell of him too,
A sad naughty boy, bad things he will do.
He went out one evening, put stones in a bucket (well bucket)
Then let it go down with a thundering racket.
Deep down in the well and then he ran home
Looking as good as a spirit just dropped from the moon.

On my third birthday, Emma Southard (Aunt Harriet’s daughter-in-law) gave me a doll which I named Emma. She was a great joy to me and in spite of much loving she is in good condition. My granddaughter Betty has it in her doll collection.

Pine Bridge District Schoolhouse
Drawn by Esther Cornell Bent
Pine Bridge District Schoolhouse

When I was five years old, I started going to the district school, walking about a mile, passing thru a covered bridge over Croton Lake called Pines Bridge. There were about twenty children in the school. The boys brought in the wood for the fire also a pail of water which was kept in the hall with a tin dipper in it for drinking. Pines Bridge, the one I crossed over on my way to school – When this covered bridge was replaced by an open bridge, mother would say to me “walk in the middle of the bridge so the wind will not blow thee away.”

Pines Bridge covered bridge

In the winter I wore copper toed shoes. A shoemaker came and stayed at our house and made the families shoes. When I was about eight years old, I had a pair of high boughten shoes, these were the pride of my young life!

After I came home from school my work was to fill the wood box (back of the kitchen stove) and hunt the eggs, as our chickens were let run for nests, in the wood shed, hay mow, etc. This done, I could play until supper time. Esther never liked the outdoors things so she helped in the house. I often wished that she would come out and coast, skate and play.

The old kitchen was a large one – one entered from the outside thru a Dutch door with a latch string. There was also an old lock, the key was at least seven or eight inches long – a boot jack hung on the wall near the outside door. The men and boys wore high leather boots in the winter. These they would pull off by putting one foot on the end of jack and the heel of the other between the notched ends.

On one side of the kitchen was a well with a bucket, this we felt was quite a convenience and saved us, most people had to go to the well in the yard for their water. Twice a week a wash tub was brought in, water was heated in a big iron pot then the children all had baths. When we were through, father would say “Now you children are finished, I take mine.”

There was an old knife box which hung on the wall which had come from Maplet Reynolds and Andrew Pawling.

Most of our cooking things were iron but we had a big brass kettle for canning. One of my jobs was to clean it with vinegar and salt. I would run down to the lake and get rushes which were full of sand, these we used for scouring. For an old house, ours was quite convenient. On the side, between the kitchen and dining room, there was a big closet, opening from both the kitchen and dining room. One of the many things that went on in the old kitchen was candle making. Once a year, mother would get out the long sticks, tying the candle wick over them so the ends would hang down the desired length. These she would dip in the warm tallow and hang on larger sticks which had been placed between backs of two chairs. After the tallow had hardened, she would repeat until the candles were the right thickness. Later we used candle molds holding six or eight. Molds sometimes would hold as many as twenty-four.

Our fruit was canned in earthen jars and sealed with wax. One of mother’s specialties was sweet apples cooked down in cider until very rich then put in store crocks. These would keep all winter. Our vegetables were dried or put down in sand. Our hired man ate at the kitchen table with an old woman Bridget, who was our kitchen helper. We always ate in the dining room.

My father was a quiet man but he did have one unpleasant habit. He chewed tobacco! I can see him sitting in a ladder-back chair. Back of the dining room stove (wood), a candle stick hooked on the arm to give him light to read by.

Then, he would lean over, tip back the lid of the stove and spit. I think I rather liked to hear the sizzle! I expect my grandchildren would call this a family skeleton! As I started to say, my father was a quiet man but he always wanted a child about with him for company. I spent a good deal of time with him. Right after supper we’d go to the cellar, I’d hold the candle or pierced lantern for him to see to sort the vegetables, cut up the pigs (in the late fall) etc.

Some nights we'd go to the corn crib and I'd drop the ears of corn in the corn shredder and father would turn the handle. In the cellar, we kept a barrel half filled with wood ashes, which we covered with water. This would run through making lye, which we used in making soap, both hard and soft. I can hear mother call "Florie run down and put a pail of water in the lye barrel."

I think the only time mother ever whipped us was for stealing lumps of sugar out of the sugar bucket. Generally, she'd say "out of my sight thee buzzy thee." I'd stay out back of the barn until she'd forget.

We kept about eight cows. When the hired man (Jasper), who was a Swiss, would be driving the cows home from the pasture, he would make the farm ring with his yodeling. We did not sell our milk but made butter, packing it in crocks for winter use, selling it to neighboring farmers. Our milk house had a cellar where the milk was kept and the churning was done. The churn was kept clean by scrubbing with rushes. A pole from the churn went up through the ceiling into the room on the ground floor. There it was attached to an endless chain machine (like a small thrashing machine). The dog was put on this treadmill to run it for the churning. If the butter took a long time coming and the dog got tired, I would have to take a turn at walking on it. In after years when my children went back to visit, they thought it great fun to go out over the old carriage house and run on the old treadmill.

Our food was kept on the cellar bottom in summer but our meat we would take out to the ice house, pull the straw away and set the covered tin kettle right on the ice with the meat in it and cover with the straw. The kettle had holes punched in the bottom to let the cold come on the meat.

My great grandparents, John Flewellin and Esther Thorn's, only child, Betsy, married Johnathan Reynolds. My father Elias, being their only child, inherited the farm at Croton Lake. Grandfather Johnathan died and grandmother Betsy and father lived together in the big house. The same year father married, grandmother Betsy took a second husband, William Travis. She said "Elias, you stay in the big house and we'll go in the little house by the lake." This was a house on a farm adjoining the home farm that grandfather, John Flewellin bought and willed to Betsy. After grandfather Travis died, Esther and I took turns running down and sleeping with grandmother. On her mantle was an old blue pitcher. She would reach up and take the pitcher down, while we waited expectantly, for we knew she kept pennies in it and we were never disappointed.

Great-grandfather, John did not go to live with Betsy after his second wife, Penina Sands, died, but he came and lived at our house. When he was sick, mother would say, "If thee will sit with thy grandfather, thee may make molasses candy on his stove!" This was a great inducement. His stove was very quaint, it had a stove pipe each end with a hole in the middle. I have by my bed the same bed stand that he used. He slept in a room off the dining room. One evening Guss was entertaining a young man when grandfather came out in his night shirt and said "Jane, I've come to scratch." This caused Guss much embarrassment. After grandfather died, father became postmaster and grandfather's room was used as the post office (it had an outside door). Twice a week some member of our family drove to Mt. Kisco to get the mail. in summer, it was often Esther and my duty. On the same trip we would do the family shipping at George Knapp's general store. I remember the barrel of big soda crackers and how they would take them out and weigh on the big scales. Quite different from the way we buy them today!

About this time the Civil war was going on. We, being Quakers, were not fighting, although great great grandfather Robert Flewellin gave ground for a burying place for the soldiers just north of Pines Bridge. We had a cannon ball found near this cemetery. My brother Sutton was not of age but he ran away and joined the army. Father went after him and brought him home. After a bit he ran away again so father said "Let him go." He was taken prisoner and kept in Andersonville prison. At the end of the war, he came home almost starved. One day, I was out in front of the carriage house with father when Isaiah Flewellin, who had been to Mt. Kisco, called across the lake that Lincoln had been shot. Father went to the house to tell mother and she said "Now we'll all go to pieces!" This made a deep impression on me. I wondered just what going to happen to us.

Just east of grandmother Betsy's, there was a small house which had been used as a home for the toll keeper. (Formerly, there had been a toll gate here). Maggie, a young woman who had lived at our home and helped with the work married and went to live at the gate house. When she moved her things, Esther and I rode on the loaded ox cart. Father always kept a good team of oxen. Once when John had taken them to Mt. Kisco to be shod, on the way back they came opposite our farm. They bolted and ran down to the lake and plunged in as they were yoked together. Father thought they would drown. They swam the lake and then made for the barn where father found them. It saved them nearly a three mile walk!

Croton Valley Meeting House

Our family were Orthodox Quakers. One First Day we all went to the little Croton Valley Meeting. To this same meeting came the Woods from over Mt. Kisco way. It was due to old Stephen Wood that we were Orthodox Quakers. When the other branch of the family (Reynolds) were Hicksites. The story goes that one day after listening to Elias Hick's doctrine, Stephen Wood got up to leave the meeting. On his way out, he stopped at grandfather Jonathan Reynolds's seat and said "Jonathan, thee is not going to stay and listen to that doctrine is thee?" So grandfather got up and followed Stephen out and we became Orthodox in faith. Stephen Wood loved all children and he always had peppermint candies in his waist coat pocket which he would give us to nibble on during meeting.

When we who live in Bedford Town
see maple leaves come drifting down,
we give a thought to Old John Haines
who loved their shade in country lanes.

And when we pass that noble row
of giant spruces crowned with snow,
we see again the little hedge
Friend Wood set out by the highway's edge.

They knew they'd never live to see
this full blown glory of each tree
left heritage of beauty rare
to me, their unknown, grateful heir

Stephen Wood's daughter, Elizabeth Wood Cornell and her little son Stephen came to meeting also. Once they took me home with them for dinner. Afterwards, Steve took me by the hand and we went over to his Uncle John Wood's to see the deer which he had in an exclosure. I had never seen deer before.

Esther Weeks was a minister and when she arose to speak, she would take off her bonnet and hand it to Rebecca Sutton to hold. After Esther Weeks died, Henry Wood became the minister. John Haynes sat on the facing seat with him. John Haynes had a farm just north of Stephen Wood's. He is the one spoken of in the poem.

Today, it is expecting too much of children to stay through one hour of church but we children often sat an hour in silence. As a rule, someone spoke. One hour is a long time to sit! Mother used to say "Thee must be quiet and think good thoughts." When anyone offered prayer, we all stood. The men sat on one side and the women on the other. Once a month we had a business meeting called Monthly meeting. At this time, the shutters through the center of the meeting house were pulled down and the women had their meeting on one side and the men on the other. The meeting house was heated by a wood stove. Near the wood stove were foot warmers which anyone could use by putting some ashes and coals from the stove in the pan inside the warmers. Mother did not wear a plain bonnet but she did wear a bonnet with strings tied under her chin and she wore a shawl. Once she had a brown one with a white flower embroidered in one corner. This was always folded inside. One first day, Esther and I managed to fold the flower side out and sent mother off to meeing, all unsuspecting of her worldliness.

It always took the men folks a long time to tie & untie the horses in the long horse shed. It was their chance to talk politics and many other topics of interest. Quarterly meeting was held four times a year and people came from other meetings within a radius of about fifteen miles. It lasted two days. Our house would be full of company at this time. Punch was served at the meeting house on Saturday (Seventh day). We children called it "Eating Meeting!"

When I was seven years old, mother took me to yearly meeting, which was held at 20th street (facing Gramercy Park) meeting house, New York City. I had a new blue dress with a cape. We stayed at Abram Underhill's, 29th street and Lexington Ave. Father drove us to Mt. Kisco to take the train. The railroad cars were heated with stoves, one in the rear of each car, the stove pipe going up through the roof. When we arrived at 42st, the engine was taken off the train, a team of hourses hitched to each car, drawing them down through 4th avenue tunnel to 26th street, where the station was then located. The station at 42nd stree was not built until I was quite a big girl. The architect's name was Buckout and he once boarded at our house. The street cars in the city were drawn by horses. They also were heated by stoves and often had straw on the floor. Men often carried shawls to put over their laps. How cold the drivers looked in the winter as they stood on the open platform often slapping their arms across their chests to try to keep warm.

I used to feel sorry for the horses as they tried to start the cars in slippery weather. The horses had bells on them to warn pedestrians to get out of the way.

About this time, father built a long wing on the house to be used for summer boarders. We had some interesting people come to stay. Leopole Shepp, the man who invented the shredded coconut, came for a number of summers. He kept a horse and often took me driving, as I was a child, his wife had recently died so he did not want to take out my older sisters. W.H.S. Wood, who later was president of the Bowery Savings Bank and Rabbi ______ were also guests. To furnish the new wing, father went to Sing Sing prison for the furniture, spool beds, wash stands, chairs, etc, all made by the prisoners. The farmers also took cows there to sell. About every so often a tin peddler came around. He would trade tin cooking things for rags. We also had pack peddlers who came with a pack on their back filled with dress goods, towels, handkerchiefs and all sorts of odds and ends. We used to love to watch him take the things out of his pack and spread on the table.

When I had my tenth birthday, mother and father gave me a little cameo ring. I also had a party. I invited five girls, Tilly Clark, Josie Van Kleck, Alice Flewellin, _____ Hyde. I often wonder how father could do so much for us all. We all went away to boarding school, some to Nine Partners at Millbrook, Ella and Lyn to Cary Institute at Po'keepsie. When it came time for Esther and me to go away to school, we went to Chappaqua Mt. Institute, a school the Hicksite Quakers had just built. We were there the 2nd year it started.

Chappaqua Mt. Institute

On Wednesday morning we all marched down to the meeting house for meeting (also Sundays). The girls and women sat on one side, boys and men on the other. This old meeting house was used as a hospital in the Revolutionary War.

Chappaqua Monthly Meetinghouse
Our forbearer (Sutton Reynolds) gave land here for a burying ground. One afternoon school was dismissed early so we could go to the meeting house to hear Horace Greely lecture. he got his papers mixed and had quite a time getting them straightened out. Some of the boys laughed for which they were punished. We had no music at school, we were not allowed even to whistle. After two years we left [Chappaqua Mt. Institute] as mother thought we should not go to school with boys.

About this time, father bought us a piano (I think the boarders wanted it) but when Uncle Sutton Reynolds came to visit we never played on it, we never took him into the parlor where it was, as he was very much against music of any kind.

The year after we left Chappaqua [Mt. Institute], we went to Drew Seminary at Carmel, New York. This was a Methodist school. Drew [school] started in August, then in mid-winter we had six weeks vacation, this was to save the expense of heating. Having the long winter vacation gave us time for parties and good times. One week there was a party at the Methodist church at Croton Lake. Helen, Emma, and Milton Jordan drove over from Croton to go with us. As we entered the room, an old man called out "Here are Elias's gals and the Jordans." After that, the boys called Esther and me "Elias's gals". They had no organ at the Carmel church so they used a tuning fork. The following poem was written by Will Carleton - I once met him when he came to Drew to visit, his aunt Ruth ?athbury, who was a teacher there.

They got a brand new organ
for all their fuss and search.
They've done just what they said
they'd do and fetched it into church.
They're bound the creature shall
be seen and on the preacher's right
They've hoisted up the new machine
in everybody's sight
They've got a cloister and choir
against my voice and vote.
For it was never my desire to
praise the Lord by note.

Elwood Carpenter from Mt. Kisco took me about to parties, picnic etc. and Charlie Mathews took Esther. One fall, we had a pollitical meeting at our house (of course we were all staunch Republicans). Our dining room was so big it made a fine place for meetings of this kind. Steve Cornell came with his uncle, Mott Underhill. Steve was not much interested and neither was I, so we sat out in the back hall and played cat's cradle. After that Steve came to the house quite often. He was now living in Pleasantville with his mother. He had gone in the lumber business with Robert Haviland-Winfield Lane. It was a long cold ride coming to see me. One night he up-set in a snow drift but it didn't seem to cool his ardor.

Stephen Wood Cornell
That winter, I went to visit Kate Underhill in New York City. While I was there, Steve came down and took me to the theater. it ended up by my coming home engaged.
Florence Reynolds about the time of her marriage
I was just eighteen. We were married on the 19th of June 1877. Steve, being a beautiful writer, wrote our wedding invitationis. His mother insisted on his saying "presents not expected". Luckily, a good many did not take this seriously! About fifty people were present at our wedding. We were married with the Quaker [cut off]. [Our marriage] was a happy one. Steve passed away May 21st, 1924 after living together forty seven years. I am now eighty six. I have four children, eight grandchildren and nine great grandchildren.

A story of great grandmother Elizabeth Mosher Jordan. After her husband left her, [she] took her son, James, and went to live at a neighbor's who ran a little store and eating place. She heard that a British soldier had stolen a silver teapot from a friend who lived on Purchase street. One day a British soldier stopped to eat. She went out to where his horse was tied and saw a big lump in his saddle bag. She opened it, found the teapot which she replaced with a cabbage, returning the pot to its owner. The Moshers lived and owned the farm at the left, where King street leaves Kensico(?) road to go up on the hill to Purchase street.

Robert Flewellyn owned a good deal of property around what is now Croton Lake (at that time Croton River). He divided this among his eleven children. He gave the land for a cemetery just north of the bridge. When the lake was enlarged and cemetery taken, Florence Cornell received a share of the money paid when graves of family moved to Mt. Kisco.

Robert Flewellyn

son John Flewellin 5-15-1771 - 2-25-1865
M 11-7-1793 Esther Thorn (1774-1824)
M second wife 12-14-1825 Penina Sands (9-25-1786)
daughter Betsy 3-1-1795 - 8-28-1872
M 12-17-1812 Jonathan Reynolds (2-27-1789 - 12-8-1837)
M second husband William Travis
son Elias Reynolds 11-4-1814
M 1839 Jane Jordan (1-9-1816 - 3-1-1917)
daughter Florence Reynolds
M 6-16-1877 Stephen W Cornell (11-26-1854 - 5-1924
John Flewellin
Betsy Flewellin Reynolds
Taken from old family bible
Taken from old family bible

Jordan Family

John Jordan 5-20-1755 - 2-17-1819
M 2-21-1776 Elizabeth Mosher (2-24-1756 - 5-30-1836)
son James Jordan 2-27-1777 - 7-27-1873
M 3-25-1799 Hannah Carpenter (2-27-1780 - 4-14-1846)
daughter Jane Jordan 1-9-1816 - 3-1-1917
M 1839 Elias Reynolds 11-4-1814
daughter Florence Reynolds
M 6-16-1877 Stephen W Cornell (11-26-1854 - 5-1924

James Jordan
Newspaper article about the Jordan Centennial

Read at the Jordan Centennial on the site of the old house - 1899:
We the descendants of james jordan have met here this day to celebrate the one hundreth or centennial year of his purchase of this place - but owing to the advanced age of his three surviving children we have anticipated the time by a twelfth month.

It was the summer of 1799 that James Jordan, then 22 years of age, in company with his mother and wife, Hannah, age 19 and there but a few months married and out looking for a home first set their feet upon these grounds and cast their eyes over this beautiful scene of hills, river, and mountains - spread out before them and pronounced it good.

He often said in after years that it seemed the ideal country of his many dreams. It had been his highest aspiration from boyhood that when he became a man to own see all place and make a home for himself and mother. Here was a house and 35 acres for sale and within his means to buy. They were so well pleased that he bought it - to have possession the coming spring. The first day of April 1800 he, with his wife and mother, moved here and commenced life in a house of their own with a bood share of common sense, which is often a better start in life than many dollars and cents.

James Jordan was born in the first month of the year 1777 at the home of his maternal grandfather in the town of White Plains on the west side of the Bronx River, a short distance from the historic battle ground on Chatterton Hill. His father, one of the many Loyalists of lower Westchester had chosen to abandon property, home and country before the battle rather than fight against his king. The first eight years of his life was spent in his grandfather's house in the famed neutral ground of the Revolution where he and his mother suffered many privations. His grandfather died in 1784 when the home passed from them and he and his mother went to live in a family of a near friend on a large farm. Here he learned to be a farmer. When 14 years old, he was bound out to a master for seven years to learn the art of making spinining wheels and household furniture. Soon after the expiration of his appreenticeship, he married Hannah Carpenter, one of the nine daughters of Daniel Carpenter of the town of Scarsdale. In due time, settled in this place as before here by industry, economy and living up to the golden rule - be prospered and year by year his worldly goods increased. In another 22 years had rolled away, his house had grown to twice its former size, his farm to 130 acres and he could sit by his wellspread board with his wife, mother and ten children. He was a kind husband and father, much looked up to and esteemed by his neighbors and Gods noblest work "an honest man."

James Jordan was for 60 years a minister in the Society of Friends, a preacher like we read of in the New Testament. What was given him to say, he gave to others without money and without price. A simple hearted Christian, temperate in all things, always read to speak a word in season to those in need or to give a reason for the hope that was in him. A strict attender at all the meetings of his society. Speaking at some length in a public meeting in Po'keepsie on his 90th birthday. This was his home for over 70 years. He passed away to that better land in the summer of 1873 in the 97th year of his life.


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