#7 The Camp Property before there was a Camp

The land was part of Military Tract #7 and in Ovid Military Township No. 16 These military lots were laid out and granted to officers and soldiers of the Revolutionary War as gratuity payment for military service. According to the record of Lot No. 7 in the Seneca County Clerk‘s Office it was granted to Jacob Van Gelder, a soldier in the New York Line. He may have been killed in the war or died soon afterward for he never occupied the land. For reference, see a deed by Reuben Van Gelder, Administrator and heir to the estate of Jacob Van Gelder to one Stephen Thorn date Sept. 13, 1791, filed in the County Clerk‘s Office in Liber F page 504, given to Jacob VanGelder, a Revolutionary War Soldier. The Property was not occupied before this time as, John Seeley was the first pioneer of Ovid Village, not coming until 1792.

The Property did not remain in the name of Stephen Thorn very long, because a very early owner was Jacob Smith and then it remained in the Smith family until 1859. Jacob Smith was the original Smith owner. Rachel Smith was his wife.  In 1811, Peter Smith and Jeremiah deeded 19 acres to Jacob Smith. In 1828, the title was transferred to Peter Smith. In 1832, the Sheriff took part of the farm from John W. Smith for owing $300. On December 18, 1859, Alexander Smith (grandson of Peter Smith) sold the property (147 ¾ acres) to Stephen V.R. Johnson and Lawrence Van Dusen. The Smith Family Cemetery is located on the property off of the Raccoon trail (2012). The remains of the last Smith to occupy the lands can be found there. John W. Smiths tombstone read that he died Feb 27, 1859 before it was removed in 1998. Other tombstones were unreadable as of 1998.

Stephen V.R. Johnson was the owner for many years until at least 1890 as he sold a parcel to the Lehigh Valley Railroad for the construction of the railroad. At some point after this the property was foreclosed upon for taxes.

The property was deeded to the Boy Scouts by two deeds as follows:

1. The bulk of the property was deeded by The First National Bank of Ovid to Finger Lakes Council, Boy Scouts of America, Inc. on February 24, 1939, recorded in Liber 173 at page 475. The cost was reported as $3,000. This parcel was comprised 177 ¾ acres of land.

2. Leonard S. Cole, Fannie L. Cole, his wife and Robert J. Cole and Myra J. Cole his wife to Finger Lakes Council, Boy Scouts of America, Inc. on June 10, 1939, recorded in Liber 173 at page 559 for the very reasonably fee of $1. This parcel was .241 acres of land at the entrance on the Willard-Lodi highway.

Historic Deed transfers from the county clerks office

At the time of the sale there was a cottage located in the ravine between Tuscarora Campsite (2012) and Sunday Night Campfire Area (2012). The stone walls can still be made out as you cross the bridge if you look to your east.

The Johnson family farm house was located just east of the small nature pond as you enter camp, in what is now know as the refrigerator graveyard (2012) but will hopefully soon become the rangers shop complex. As of 2012, one can still make out the basement foundation. At the entrance to the Raccoon trail (2012) near the pond if you look east you can still make out the old road. Here is an aerial photograph from 1936. Take a look back at yesterday’s post for the camp road contracts/map and you can see how it now deviates.

In 1944, there was a boundary line agreement to establish the southerly boundary of the camp property. The agreement was between the Finger Lakes Council, Boy Scouts of America, Inc.; Hanns D. Kniepkamp, the owner to the couth; and the State of New York as a purchaser of the property to the south. This agreement was dated April 7, 1944 and is recorded in Liber 188 at page 540.

The southern portion of the Camp was declared surplus farmland and bought in in 1962. More details on this transaction will be reported on at a latter date.

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