Wells Family Genealogy

The study of my Family Tree

April 20, 2010 – Alfred, New York April 20, 2010

So today I thought I’d share some pictures and discoveries from my trip to Alfred, NY last fall.  It was truly exciting to walk around places that so many generations of Stillmans and Crandalls have also trodden.

Upon my arrival in Alfred I first visited Alfred University.  Their history/genealogy department in their Library had some information they were holding for me.  I had contacted them in advance to see if they had anything on the Stillmans or Crandalls that I might find interesting.  I was able to get a photograph of my Great Grand Aunt Amelia Esther Stillman in a photograph of the staff of Alfred University.  Amelia was an Art Teacher.  She was a fabulous artist.  We still have some of her paintings in the family.  I’ll post pictures of those at a later date.  I was also able to get a copy of her obituary that ran in The Alfred Sun.   The Univ. had a file on her because she was a teacher.  Here is the front and back of that photo and the obituary.

After I left the Library at Alfred University, I drove down the street to see the house that my Great Great Grandfather, Phineas Crandall Stillman built and lived in with his wife Orpha Crandall located at 26 Church Street, Alfred, NY.  Sadly Phineas’ house is not fairing too well these days.  It is currently occupied with college students from the College and University.  It looks in need of a good restoration. 

Here is an excerpt from my Great Aunt Dot’s memoirs that mentions this home in Alfred:

“Mother’s family lived in a lovely old home in Alfred, New York.  It had a big kitchen with an exit onto a lovely garden above the brook a sloping hill in back on top of which was a sugar bush.  I think her father, Phineas Stillman must have owned the whole section ¼ mile above, for Uncle Albert Stillman lived up there and next to his place was an apple orchard.  Greenings were sent to us from it.  Mother owned that lot and Bill (William Rudiger Wells)  inherited it.  The only property he claimed and sold after mother’s death.  My mother’s father was Phineas, who married Orpha Crandall.  The children of Phineas and Orpha were Amelia (talented artist), she taught art at Alfred for 16 years.  Albert who ran a farm, married Celestia, had two sons, Luin and Clarke.  Eleanor, who went to Kentucky and the age of 16 to teach, met a young Captain in the Northern Army They had been married during, had a military wedding with swords crossed under which the bride and groom walked from or to the alter in the Seventh Day Baptist church in Alfred.  He was a Colonel at the end of the war and she always called him Colonel Ellsworth.    Bill lived with her 1906-1912.  For two years she, Bill and Forest together, for Forest went to Alfred from 1910-1914, she wanted all the children to get a college education and was glad to help the two boys who in turn worked to help her.  She had me come my first year at Alfred, as Forest was there.  We washed and cleaned, did dishes, etc. to help us.  Then my junior year, she had me again as her health was better.”

Here are some pictures of the house that I took on my trip and also a couple of photos of the house out of an old family photo album.  Those old pictures are probably dating back to the 1920’s.

 I next drove up Church Street to 70 Church Street, Alfred, NY.  The 1900 Census puts Albert S, Celestia, A. Clark, Eleanor and Amelia Stillman all living together at 70 church street.  Here is a photo of that house.  It is probably less than a mile up the road from Phineas’ House at 26 Church Street.

 I then drove over to 71 North Main Street to what is now the Alfred Univ. Welcome Center.  This house was lived in by my Great Great Grand Aunt, Amada Melvina Crandall. She was Orpha Crandall’s sister, sister-in-law to Phineas C. Stillman.   She is the Amanda Crandall Prescott mentioned below.  William Clarke Burdick was her second husband.  A picture of the house follows.

The article below (From: http://www.alfred.edu/map/fasano-house.cfm) gives the history of the house.

Alfred University Welcome Center at the Fasano House

The house at 71 N. Main Street in Alfred is an important structure not only for its architecture but also to the history of the village and Alfred University.

Originally constructed as a private home circa 1880 by William Clarke Burdick it’s a two-story, L-shaped frame structure with a cross-gable roof and gabled dormers. Intricate woodwork embellishes the eaves and dormers as well as other features of the house. As a notable example of the Eastlake style, the house is a contributing building to the village’s historic district.

Born in Alfred, William C. Burdick, a man of “sound judgment, of sterling business and Christian integrity” attended the Alfred Academy and was a prominent member of the local Seventh Day Baptist Church. He owned and operated the Allegany Cheese Company, the best known firm in Western New York because of his reliability and honesty. His love and support for Alfred University included generous philanthropic gifts as well as serving on the Board of Trustees for 45 years.

Burdick’s second wife, Amanda Crandall Prescott, was the daughter of Judge Clark Crandall, one of Alfred’s pioneer settlers. She also attended the Alfred Academy and was graduated in 1848; she furthered her studies elsewhere and became a music teacher. When her first husband, E.S. Prescott, died in 1879, she returned to Alfred and eventually married William Burdick in 1885.

In 1893, Amanda invited local women to meet informally in her parlor to establish a reading club. The next year it was officially organized and named the “Amandine Club” to honor Mrs. Burdick for opening her home for their weekly meetings. The club’s activities were, and still are, social and cultural. In 1936, the organization joined with another local group and is currently the Allen Civic – Amandine Club.

Following the death of William Burdick in 1902, Amanda was elected to succeed her husband on the University’s Board of Trustees. She established the Amanda Malvina Burdick Scholarship and gave to the University, with her stepdaughter, Susan M. Burdick, a men’s boarding hall (Burdick Hall) as well as the land currently occupied by Carnegie Hall.

Amanda died in 1920 and has been described as a person with “rare personal charm, broad sympathy, and wise judgment.”

Susan M. Burdick sold the house in 1922 to the Delta Sigma Phi fraternity which owned and operated its organization there until 2003 except for a short period during World War II. The University housed regiments of the Student Army Training Corps on campus and needed the main women’s residence, The Brick, for their barracks. Needing a place to now house the women, the University made agreements with the fraternities to use their quarters. Hence the Burdick/Delta House was turned over to the University and used as a women’s hall. It was there that the nurses corps was established; this corps later led to the formation of the University’s College of Nursing.

Fire twice damaged the house. In 1936 a fire caused by the blow torch of a painter gutted the attic and caused damage estimated at $8,000. A slate roof and the winding stairway made it a very difficult job for the firemen. In 1981 a fire broke out on the third floor, believed to be caused by faulty wiring. The fire and water damage was extensive.

The Burdick/Delta House represents the dedication of Alfred’s pioneers to working hard and succeeding, to be contributing members to their town and strong supporters of education, as well as supporting the education and cultural knowledge of women. As a fraternity house for over 80 years, it contributed to the life of hundreds of the University’s alumni, including a number of members of the Board of Trustees. It will continue to be a focal point for the University in its role as a welcome center as well as a reminder of Alfred’s rich heritage.

Alfred University stopped recognizing all Greek societies (fraternities and sororities) in 2002. Delta Sigma Phi turned its house over to the University. Members of the fraternity that had owned the house for more than 80 years led efforts to raise funds and contributed more than half the total needed to restore and renovate the house for its new life, (Jon Tabor ’55 matched dollar-for-dollar all contributions made to the renovation fund.) as an alumni welcome center and home to the Division of University Relations.

The Welcome Center at Fasano House is dedicated to Joseph, AU class of 1954 and the late Ann Saunders Fasano, class of 1953, and their late son, Patrick, class of 1980. Joe and Pat Fasano were both Delta Sigma Phi members.

Through the efforts of Robert Corbin, a 1956 AU alumnus, the University obtained the services of nationally recognized architect Elizabeth Corbin Murphy of Chambers Murphy & Burge Restoration Architects, Akron, Ohio. She worked with interior designer Vivian Hyde of Alfred to uncover and recreate the original architectural details, including intricately carved woodwork, stained glass and raised plaster decorations on the wall. They scraped through layers of paint and paper to determine original color schemes to make the restoration as historically accurate as possible. As much as possible, the exterior of the building and the first floor have been restored to their original Victorian character.

They called upon several local artisans to help them with the restoration. Artisans Joe Dosch, Leroy Herrick and Joe Fasano ’53 helped to create woodwork. John Gill ’75, professor of ceramic art, made molds so that the raised plaster designs could be replicated. Mary Harris ’91 made stencils used to decorate the downstairs meeting rooms. General contractors were Alan and Jason Burdick of Burdick Building Supplies of Alfred – and descendants of the family that originally owned the house.

 The Alfred Seventh Day Baptist Church is right down the road from Phineas’ house

The photo below was taken out the window of the Alfred State College Library.  You can see the Steeple of the 7th Day Baptist Church.  After the edge of the parking lot there is a steep hill that leads down the Church Street.  Phineas’ house is directly in the center of the photo at the bottom of the hill behind the trees.  Aunt Dot’s memoirs describe the farm up on the hill behind the house.  This was a Dairy Farm and would have been in the photo in the parking lot and Alfred State College Campus. 

Where the church is, is the lowest part of the valley.  Across the main street in town which is just beyond the church, is Alfred University.   Any building you see that is behind the church would be part of the University Campus.

Here is a picture of the main drag in Alfred. 

I also visited Alfred Rural Cemetery.  Boy if you don’t know where this cemetery is, you’re going to have a hard time finding it.  The entrance is marked by the white sign (See Photo below) but unless you trip on it, you won’t see it.  The best way to say it is that the cemetery is hidden behind the Mobil Gas Station.  I was so lost trying to find it that I went inside the Mobil to ask for directions to the cemetery and the first gal I asked said she had no idea where it was.  She then asked the other gal who was working and she said that she thought there might be a cemetery behind the gas station but she wasn’t sure.  Yes, the driveway is right next to this gas station but the cemetery is completely unseen from the street.  Here are some pictures from the cemetery and a map.  All of the stones with pictures here are in the center of the map.  The two boxes that are shaded slightly darker is where they are. 

Here are some pictures of the Stillmans.   Wish I had better pictures of them.  Not sure where the originals are.  I got these copies of copies from my cousin Pauline but even she is not sure who has the originals.   The picture of Pauline and her twin as girls kinda creeps me out.  They look like the twins in The Shining.


Come visit my website at www.FamilyHistoryDetectives.net and let us help you trace your family tree!


3 Responses to “April 20, 2010 – Alfred, New York”

  1. dkaysdays Says:

    My ancestors also graduated and taught at Alfred University in the 1840-1860s: Ira and Serena Crandall White Sayles. I have also done the Alfred tour and found it fascinating. Have you come across any mention of the Sayles in your research?

    • jgeoghan Says:

      No, I haven’t but since I since I wasn’t looking for them, I may have seen it and passed it by. I went to the library at the Univ. and asked to see some papers that I had read that they had on my Aunt who taught there. They had a file on her with all sorts of newspapers clippings. I think they had files on all past teathers there if I recall correctly. The ladies who worked in that archive room at the library were super helpful. I’d give a call to the library and see if you can get a hold of them. I don’t recall their names but they worked up stairs in a room full of racks of old books full of the Local papers. Racks and racks of them. I could have stayed in there all day but it was a restricted area.

      • dkaysdays Says:

        Thanks for the tip and encouragement. I don’t live too far away, and will definitely make plans for a library day!

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