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Looking Backward: The Provenance of a 50-Acre Plot of Land: Part 2

This week's column provides the conclusion to last week's story, "The Provenance of a 50-Acre Plot of Land." As I mentioned last week, if old photographs are windows into the past, then old letters are doors. And, I was fortunate enough a few years ago to find one old letter that opened a door. It was written in 1843 by a young man to his parents in the town of Maryland in Otsego County. I was intrigued by the letter and wanted to know more.

I discovered that the letter was written by Bradford Chase, who was born on Dec. 29, 1809. Bradford had moved to the town of Van Buren in Onondaga County, where he met pioneer Gabriel Tappan, one of the town's first settlers and its very first supervisor. Here Bradford married Gabriel Tappan's daughter, Emeline, before settling down to a life of farming on the outskirts of Baldwinsville. But, I wanted to know where. So, I looked further and found more.

Bradford Chase died on March 30, 1893, after spending the last 50 years of his life on his 50-acre plot of land. Later that year, his third wife, Caroline, sold the farm. The first buyer sold it a short time later to someone else, who didn't keep it very long either. That's why the farm was known thereafter as the "Chase Farm," at least until another family came to stay for 67 years.

On April 2, 1902, Albert Johnson and his wife, Harriet "Hattie" Hay Johnson, bought the farm from Willis Cornell. It apparently kept its former name for at least a few years, because the following year, a classified newspaper ad for a stud boar referred interested parties to "Albert Johnson at Chase Farm." By 1910, Albert and Hattie Johnson's family included children, Walter, Sarah "Delilah," Harriet "Hattie," Mabel and Albert, Jr., who was born on Sept. 7, 1904.

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