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Cynthia Washburn  was born August 25, 1853 in Macomb, New York, and died January 13, 1943.  Her parents were Sylvester Washburn (1827-1859) and Jane Hurst (1825-1907).  Sylvester’s parents were Rufus Washburn (1790-1828) and Orilla Stevens (1801-before 1870) and his paternal grandparents were Nehemiah Washburn (1763-1855) and Betsey Edwards. Jane Hurst was the daughter of Samuel Hurst and Sarah Ann McCoy (1801-1878) and her maternal great grandparents were John McCoy (1773-1852) and his wife Ann (1773-1863). 


Cynthia was one of seven children.  One brother, James Washburn died of Typhoid in 1874 at the age of 17.  The other five siblings were: Sarah Orilla Washburn Venton (1850-1912), Martha Washburn Bates (1852-after 1920), Alvin (1855-1944), Sylvester (1859-1939) and Calista Washburn Wilson (1863-1931).   The picture below shows the six surviving siblings around 1910 or 1911.



Cynthia married Alfonso LaMartine Downing, son of Orville Downing and Phoebe Montgomery in 1869.  ‘Martine’ was born June 3, 1849.  In 1880, Cynthia and Martine Downing are listed in the census for Macomb.  Martine’s occupation is listed as carpenter and he is shown being 30 years old.  With them in that census are four children: Howard (age 9)  Ahlene (age 6), Lela (age 3), and Raymond (born September 1879).


In 1900, Cynthia (listed as Fanny) is shown with Martine in Macomb.  This time, there are eight children: Howard, Ahlene, Roy, Myrtle, Ralph, David, Earl, and Wilma.  Lela is not listed because she died in 1885.  Martine is still listed as a carpenter.  In addition to being listed with her parents, the daughter Myrtle was also listed as a 17-year old servant with Andrew Rounds and his family.  Andrew was the half-brother of Cynthia’s father Sylvester.


In 1910, Cynthia is listed first in the entry for the family in Macomb, followed by her husband Martine and the two youngest children: Earl and Wilma. They are listed as living on a general farm.


On September 27, 1911 the following article appeared in the Northern Tribune, regarding the death of Martine:



Martin Downing, a well known farmer residing near Pierces Corners in the town of Macomb was found dead early last Saturday morning in a field near his home.  He had been alone in the house a few days and it is thought that he had gone out to drive out the cows for the morning milking and was stricken with heart failure.  His wife had, for a few days, been staying with a neighbor living close by.  That morning shortly after Mr. Downing went after the cows, his wife came home and she too started out to drive up the cows and found the dead body of her husband lying near the pasture bars.


Mr. Downing was a highly respected and esteemed citizen of that section.  He was born in the town 60 years ago and was a carpenter by trade.  He is survived by his widow, 5 children, and a number of brothers.  The funeral was held yesterday from the home.


At the time of LaMartine’s death, another local paper listed his decendents as: three daughters, Mrs. John Damon of Syracuse, Misses Alieen and Wilma, and four sons: Raymond, Ralph, and Earl of Macomb and David of Idaho.  Three brothers: David and Fred of Gouverneur and Eugene of Macomb; one sister, Mrs. Philip Whalen of Brasie Corners.  It appears the Northern Tribute article did not include the two children living out of the local area (one in Syracuse and one in Idaho) which is why it only listed 5 surviving children.


Cynthia frequently helped out the local doctor and served as a mid-wife, delivering many of the babies in the town.


In 1933 an article was written in a local paper about Cynthia Downing’s 80th birthday.  It read:


“Sixteen persons were present at a dinner party held Sunday afternoon at the home of Mr. And Mrs. John Huntley, 133 Grove street, in honor of Mrs. M. L. Downing of Macomb, who was 80 years old Sunday.


Cynthia Washburn Downing

Mrs. Downing, a daughter of one of the pioneer families of Macomb, is in excellent health for a person of her years.  She takes care of the chickens and turkeys and does a large share of the baking at the home of her daughter Ahlene Downing, at Macomb.  Mrs. Downing keeps up with the times by means of the radio and newspapers.  She is especially interested in radio and detective mysteries.


Mrs. Downing was born in a log cabin in Macomb on August 27, 1853, her parents being Mr. and Mrs. Sylvester Downing (sic), old settlers in the town.  She has spent her entire life in this vicinity and is well versed in the history of the region.  Nearly 60 years ago she was married to Martin L. Downing, who died in 1911.  Mrs. Downing had twelve children, six of whom are living.  Throughout her life Mrs. Downing has been active.  She is well known in the vicinity of Macomb for her ability in caring for the sick, and she tells many tales of driving through mud holes and bucking snow drifts to bring assistance to a sick person.  She frequently assisted Dr. D. M. Foss in his work.


At the dinner party Sunday were Mrs. Downing’s six children and six of her grandchildren.  A three layer cake decorated with 80 pink candles was made for the occasion by Mrs. Earl Downing.  Flowers were sent by Mr. and Mrs. Ray Downing and friends from Heuvelton.


Present at the party were: Mrs. Ora Downing, Richville;  Mrs. John Damon, Syracuse;  Mr. And Mrs. Ray Downing, daughter Portia and Jack of Heuvelton;  Miss Ahlene Downing, Macomb;  Mr. And Mrs. Earl Downing and daughter Mary, Gouverneur; and Mr. And Mrs. John Huntley and children, Duane, Phillip and David, all of Gouverneur.”



Five years later, yet another article was written for her 85th birthday celebration:

Macomb Woman, 85, is active poultry farmer: 

Mrs. Cynthia Washburn Downing Honored at Birthday Dinner Saturday - She is lifelong resident of town

Gouverneur Aug 29: Mrs. Cynthia Washburn Downing of Macomb celebrated her 85th birthday Saturday at her farm home on the Macomb-Depeyster road about two miles from Pierce's Corners.  Sixteen relatives and friends, including four of her six children, four of her 13 grandchildren, and two of her five great grandchildren, were present at a birthday dinner in the afternoon.


Mrs. Downing was presented with many gifts including money, cards and flowers.  A large birthday cake was presented to her at the birthday dinner by a son, Ralph Downing of Macomb, while Cynthia and Carol Downing, two of Mrs. Downing’s great grandchildren, sang.


At 85 years of age, Mrs. Downing is an active and energetic poultry farmer.  On her small farm she has 27 hens, 54 chickens, and a flock of 13 turkeys and looks after all these herself.  She prepares all the food for the poultry and sometimes walks up and down hill and through the fields several times a day.


Besides looking after the poultry, Mrs. Downing is active in many other ways.  She arises at 5am each day and according to her daughter, Miss Ahlene Downing who lives at the home, the elderly lady is on the go from morning until night.  She bakes bread, makes butter, does housework and is active generally.  Her health is good and she enjoys working.  She reads her bible and a newspaper each day.


A lifelong resident of the town of Macomb, Mrs. Downing recalls the time when large tracts of the township were virgin forests, when she was a small girl.  The land across from her present home was covered with a dense woods filled with deer, bears, and even panthers, when she was young.


Mrs. Downing was born August 27, 1853 in a small log cabin, a short distance from the present Pierce's Corners, the daughter of Sylvester and Jane Hurst Washburn.  An oil painting of this cabin and landscape near it painted by her son, Ralph now hangs on the wall of the dining room at Mrs. Downing’s home.


At the age of 17, Mrs. Downing was married to Alphonse LaMartine Downing of Gouverneur.  The wedding took place at Little York in the town of Fowler.  For a time the couple resided on a farm a few miles south of Pierce's corners, and then moved to the present location where Mrs. Downing has lived for the past 56 years.  Mr. Downing died 27 years ago.


An active member of the Methodist Episcopal Church at Pierce's Corners all her life, Mrs. Downing formerly walked the two miles from her home to the church every Sunday for the morning service until a few years ago.


Of twelve children born to Mr. and Mrs. Downing, six are living, 3 sons and 3 daughters.  Present at the gathering Saturday afternoon were Mrs. Downing’s 3 sons, Earl and Ralph Downing of Pierce’s Corners and Ray Downing of Heuvelton; and one daughter, Miss Ahlene Downing of Pierces Corners.


The other two daughters, who were unable to attend the Saturday dinner are Mrs. John Huntly of Watertown and Mrs. J. A. Damen of Syracuse.  The grandchildren present were Clinton, Harvey, Betty and Mary Downing; and the two great Grandchildren were Carol Downing 5 and Cynthia Downing 3.  Also present were Mrs. Emma and Ray Downing and Miss Carmen Wood of Heuvelton; Mrs. Clinton Downing, Mrs. Earl Downing and Mrs. Ralph Downing of Macomb .


Cynthia Downing was known as Aunt Tin by the members of the family.



Children of Cynthia Washburn and Alfonso Downing are:

                           i.    Howard Downing, born January 1873 in New York and died May 1908.  He married Ora Reese.

                          ii.    Martha Ahlene Downing, born April 29, 1874.  She died 1966 and is buried in Pierces Corners Cemetery.   She lived with her sister Myrtle in the later years of their life and was blind in later years (probably cataracts).  She was a tall and thin woman.

                         iii.    Lela Maud Downing, born 1878; died March 8, 1885 in New York.

                         iv.    Royal Raymond Downing, born September 19, 1879 in Macomb NY; died December 23, 1948 in Heurvelton NY.  He married Ida Hazelton.

                          v.    Myrtle Jane Downing, born November 3, 1882; died December 28, 1973 in Syracuse.  She married (1) John Damon.  She married (2) Hobart D. Tann (son of George Tann and Minerva Washburn).

Mrs. Mrytle Tann Dies


Ogdensburg – Mrs. Myrtle D. Damon Tann, 90, widow of Hobart Tann, Depeyster, died at 4 am Friday at Hepburn Hospital where she had been a patient for two days.


…. Burial will be in Woodlawn Cemetery, Syracuse.


Mrs. Tann is survived by two stepdaughters, Mrs. Frank (Helen) Durham, Hammond, and Mrs. Orrin (Ethel) Carr, Texas; a sister, Mrs. Wilma Huntley, of Lima Ohio, and several nieces, nephews, and cousins. 


She was born in the town of Macomb, Nov 3, 1883, the daughter of Martine and Cynthia Washburn Downing.  She attended schools in the Town of Macomb and was married to John Damon of Syracuse many years ago.


She later was married to Hobart Tann of Hammond, April 12, 1939, at Brasie Corners.  The couple operated the Hammond hardware store until his death in April 1947.  She then purchased her home in Depeyster where she lived for the past 23 years.


She was a member of the Methodist Church of Depeyster and of Hammond Chapter 285, O.E.S.


                          vi.    Ralph LaMartine Downing, born August 23, 1885; died September 23, 1951 in Gouverneur NY.  He married Maude Lorinda Harvey. 

Ralph Downing dies at home. 

Macomb farmer, 66, had been in failing health for two years.

September 24, 1951 – Ralph L. Downing, 66, resident of Macomb for all but the last two years, died Sunday morning.  He had had a farm at Macomb for the last 39 years.  ….


Mr. Downing was born at Macomb Aug 23, 1885, a son of LaMartine and Cynthia Washburn Downing.  On May 18, 1910 he married the former Miss Maude Harvey at the home of her parents at Macomb, the late Mr.and Mrs. Clinton Harvey.


After their marriage they lived at North Gouverneur for two years and then returned to Macomb.  Surviving are his wife, two sons, Clinton and Harvey of Macomb, two daughter, Mrs. Frank (Ahlene) Scerbo; Mrs. Schuyler Alverson of Postdam, and three sisters, Miss Ahlene Downing, Mrs. Myrtle Tann, and Mrs. John Wilma Huntley.


                         vii.    David Orville Downing, born March 12, 1889.  He died January 10, 1928 and his buried in Pierces Corners Cemetery.   He was living in Idaho in 1911 according to the newspaper article at the time of his father’s death.  The following obituary was printed in the Gouverneur Free Press on January 14, 1928:

David C. Downing -

David C. Downing of Depeyster, veteran of the World War and prominent resident of that section, died at his home on Monday following a protracted illness.  He was about 38 years of age.  Cancer was the cause of his death.  Funeral services will be held form the late home in Depeyster Wednesday afternoon at 1 with burial at Pierce's Corners.  The Legion post of Gouverneur will probably send a firing squad to officiate at the interment.

                        viii.    Earl Downing, born August 14, 1894; died July 13, 1947.  He married Ruby Kathaleen Chapman.

                          ix.    Teresa Wilma Downing, born December 2, 1899.  She married John Ernest Huntley and died February 25, 1990 in Altoona, PA