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Fayetteville woman connects 97-year-old Manlius native with past

Malcolm Bender, of Fayetteville, and business partner Aaron Bort purchased the house at 303 E. Genesee St. in Aug. 2008 with plans to renovate and restore.

Malcolm Bender, of Fayetteville, and business partner Aaron Bort purchased the house at 303 E. Genesee St. in Aug. 2008 with plans to renovate and restore.

— Malcolm Bender, of Fayetteville, and business partner Aaron Bort purchased the house at 303 E. Genesee St. in Aug. 2008 with plans to renovate and restore.

"[The house] had been in disrepair for many years; what was once a beautiful Stick Victorian built for a young family in 1886 was now a seven-unit apartment house," said Pamela Bender, Malcolm's wife.

One of the first steps in restoring this home was to remove all electric meters and panels in the basement. Upon doing this, Bort found initials chiseled into the limestone foundation that read "L.B.S. '86."

This prompted Pamela to investigate. She knew from reading the abstract that Platt H. Smith and his wife, Katherine, purchased the property in April of 1885 and sold the house to Beach H. Beard in April of 1888.

"I questioned why they only owned it for a short time," Pamela said.

Her search started with the initials. She found a book entitled "Jessie Smith, His Ancestors and Descendants" written by L. Bertrand Smith, and found that the author was indeed the son of Platt and Katherine Smith. L. Bertrand Smith was born in Fayetteville on Dec. 12, 1863. He was named Levi, after his maternal grandfather Levi Snell; he never liked his first name, so he never used it.

L. Bertrand Smith was married to Ladye Love Hall on Feb. 19, 1885, at the First Presbyterian Church of Syracuse. Ladye Love, the daughter of Thomas Jefferson Hall and Fracesca Cleveland, was born July 9, 1864.

"The rest of this story, sadly, can be found in an obituary for Ladye Love Smith," Bender said. Ladye Love died on Sept. 20, 1986.

From the obituary

The funeral services of Mrs. L. Bertrand Smith were held at the residence on Genesee Street at three o'clock last Thursday afternoon. The new and beautiful house, fitted up with so much taste and care, and occupied as a home less than three weeks, was filled to overflowing by a throng of sympathizing relatives and friends.

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