The farm that put Plainville on the map

Drive west out of Baldwinsville on Route 370 and you can go pretty far without ever having to stop. In fact, the tiny hamlets of Plainville, Meridian, Cato and Victory are the only spots where you even have to slow down. Eventually, Route 370 collides with Route 104 just west of the Cayuga County line.

Closer to home, you may want to slow down going through Plainville and not just for the caution light at the four corners. The good folks of Plainville have a lot to be proud -- the Christian Church, rural school, Octagon House and Whig Hall are all well-maintained structures whose beauty and history add a great deal of character to this place. These local landmarks make Plainville special, but so, too, does the farm that put Plainville on the map. In fact, things get pretty busy this time of year just south of town on the road to Jack's Reef.

The Thanksgiving holiday has a long history in America. Back in 1863, Abraham Lincoln publicly proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving to correspond with the landing of the Mayflower. It was actually written by Secretary of State and Auburn native, William Seward. It proclaimed that while the civil war tore men from their farms north and south, blessings and bounties continued to abound. In fact, these blessings "are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come; which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart, which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God." Nearly 150 years later, these same words ring true. But, the history of Plainville goes back much further than this.

In 1806 William Wilson chose to settle on a spot that sits atop the north end of a high, narrow peninsula just east of the Cayuga County line. This ridge is bounded on the east by a northward bend in the Seneca River and on the west by a northern bulge in the river known as Cross Lake. The spot was first known as Wilson's Corners and later as Plainville. In 1835, a man named William Ward purchased 72 acres near Plainville, which by this time included a blacksmith, dry goods store, a church and two taverns. William and his wife, Hannah, raised four children and a variety of crops including corn, oats, wheat, hay and potatoes. They also raised cows, horses, hogs and sheep, but no "turkeys," which according to one source were much harder to raise back then. After many days of secret observation, one might "find a wild turkey's nest in the woods, and when she had laid eight or 10 eggs, remove them from the nest and take them to the farm to put them under a setting chicken for hatching." This was harder than it sounds, as the bird was much scarcer in those days. In fact, until a sighting near Hinmansville last year during a trip to Fulton, my 99 year-old grandmother had never seen the elusive wild turkey in its native habitat.

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