Cazenovia Republican (1939?)
Editor of the Republican, Cazenovia, NY
I and in my ninety-first year and am the last of seven children all born in the old house on Albany street where I am now living. This house has been occupied by my family for over one hundred years.
Previous to my marriage I had a private school for children in my home. My sister, Mary Murdock, taught drawing and elocution. My sister was an artist of no small merit and I have an oil painting for which she received a prize at the Seminary and which I shall leave to the Library in memory of my sister. She died in 1921, at the age of eighty-eight.
To make the house more convenient for the school we had it modernized as it is today. At the time of the Civil War the house had a roof sloping down to a "lean to" on the east. The front door opened on the street with an old-fashioned latch and brass knocker. The windows had small panes of glass. Inside there was a brick oven and four fire places, two above and two below. I have a dim recollection of pots and kettles hanging in the fireplace near the brick oven. In the yard at the east was an old fashioned well with a "moss covered bucket". I shall never forget how delicious that spring water was on a hot day in summer. In those early days there was no Sullivan (she means Hurd) street or Carpenter street. In the early days the Ledyard field came up to the house. That field was a joy especially when the buttercups and daisies were in blossom. Where the houses are on Carpenter street there was a pond where the frogs sang lustily on summer nights. Every house had a fence as the village cows meandered through the streets getting much of their living from the road side. The roads were dirt roads and very dusty in the summer although the sprinkling wagon went through the streets several times a day. Dress trains were in fashion. How dainty women could drag their skirts over the dusty sidewalks and reconcile it with any idea of neatness is difficult to understand.
In those days the seasons were quite distinct. A delightful fall followed by a very severe winter with a great deal of snow often drifting over the fences, then came a lovely spring with warm showers and followed by a hot summer. People did not go south in those days and remained in their warm houses and enjoyed sleigh riding.
Religion was very real in those early days and people were loyal to God. The Sabbath was not desecrated by movies, ball games, and joy rides as it is today. Most people went to church and spent the day in rest and quiet. The unbelief and spiritual apathy we see on all sides today is ominous. As I approach that mysterious border land of the hereafter I see very clearly and I earnestly urge everyone to make their peace with God before it is too late.
Kathryn Murdock Woodruff
March 13, 1939
The Murdock house stands at 16 Albany Street at the northeast corner of Albany and Willow Place. The house was probably that built by Dr. Jonathan Silsby who lived there from as early as 1817 to 1831 and for a short time by his widow Betsey. I do not know if the Murdocks are related to the Silsbys. In the nearby office where Dr. Silsby had his practice, a newspaper print shop, pharmacy, and cabinet maker's shop were later to be found. This shop may have stood where Willow Place now runs.
The house was probably modified in the 1870s. By Sullivan Street the writer means Hurd Street which was surveyed in 1810 and built shortly thereafter (it ran through the Hurd property to the Presbyterian Church which stood at the head of the street). Sullivan Street was a main road north and was one of the several roads opened in the first years of settlement. By Carpenter Street she means the side street which runs south from Albany Street to Carpenter's Pond and thence along the pond to Forman Street. This street was built about 1875 and the northern leg, which intersects Albany Street just beside the Murdock house, is now called Willow Place. The southern leg of this street along Carpenter's Pond has retained the name of Carpenter Street. The Ledyard field was a large meadow made in the swampy ground south of Albany Street, to the lake outlet, and between the Murdock house and Forman Street. In the days shortly before the author's birth the area south of the house to the lake outlet was a busy place and occupied by Jabish N.M. Hurd's distillery, ashery, and brickyard, as well as Jacob Ten Eyck's foundry.