Rich and William Blakely Peters'
great-granddaughter, Carolyn Flanders McPherson,
writes: "From the beginning, the Leonard
Family (see pictures of Mother, Father, Son, and
Belle Leonard) has been a puzzle.
Hannah Rich's album there are photographs of an
unknown man, a woman, and a boy. A little girl,
however, is labeled Belle Leonard. When I removed
these pictures from the album to scan them, I was
delighted to see that the backs of all four bear
the imprint of the same photographers, Beardsley
Brothers in Ithaca, NY, as well as a tax stamp
which, with magnification and computer
enhancement, reads September 6, 1865. What were
the chances (I said to myself) that four
strangers, two of them children, would go to the
same photographer on the same day to have their
pictures taken? Close to zero, I thought, and
decided they must all be members of the Leonard
there the trail has gotten, if not cold,
certainly complicated. A scan of all the
documents in the Delaware County NY Genealogy and
History Site database has yielded references to a
Leonard homestead built in 1801 by Udney T.
Leonard, as well as a reference to Dr. Rutson Rudolph Leonard of Bloomville, where Hannah
and William Blakely Peters lived after they
married in 1861. Rutson Rudolph Leonard's father,
Dr. Duncan M. Leonard, was born 1837. It didn't
seem possible that the man I labeled "Father
Leonard" was old enough to be Dr. Duncan Leonard, and Dr. Duncan Leonard's
description in the Delaware County Biographical
Review of 1895 mentioned Duncan's children as
Emma, born 1860; Frances A., born 1863; and
Ursula J, born 1866. The other child in our
Leonard Family series of photographs is certainly
a boy, not a girl.
the Delaware County Biographical Review of 1895,
Leonard family members, described as
"physicians by birth," moved to several
locales outside Kortright township, and a William
Leonard is listed in that section of the Review
as being a physician in Otsego County.
"This made me
wonder if the Leonard family in Hannah Rich's
album might not have left Delaware County and
moved closer to the city in which their pictures
were taken, Ithaca, NY. So I began searching in
Tompkins County, NY, for a father last named
Leonard who had a child named Isabel - she would
have been Belle for short - born around 1860. (It
didn't seem to me that our Belle could have been
much older than five.)
thorough and fruitless search through Tompkins
County cemetery lists, I found a useful citation
on the Church of the Latter Day Saints'
FamilySearch site. FamilySearch lists a man in
Tompkins County, William Humphrey Leonard,
married to a Sarah Miller, and a daughter,
Isabel, who was born 21 November 1858. This
information, the FamilySearch site says, was
submitted by a Leonard family relative.
to confirm this information, I returned to
Tompkins County cemetery lists. Central Chapel Cemetery, two miles south of
Brookton, Tompkins County, NY, has also been
known as Leonard Cemetery, and many members of
that family are buried there. Among them are
'LEONARD, William H., Co. G. 15th Reg't N.Y. B.
1844 - 1915' and 'LEONARD, Sarah A. REED,
w[ife]/o[f] William H. LEONARD, 1844 - 1920,'
though neither a Belle Leonard nor a Boy Leonard
of the right age - older than Belle - is buried
difficult to find out more about William Humphrey
Leonard. According to records in Otsego County, William H. Leonard
enlisted in Company I of the 51st Regiment on 1
October 1861 (he was 16 or 17) and served as a
surgeon in the battles of Roanoke Island, the
Second Battle of Bull Run, Chancellorsville,
Kelly's Ford, White Sulphur Springs, South
Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Vicksburg,
and Jackson. He was discharged 14 July 1863.
"So . . .
here was an apparent connection between a William
Leonard in Tompkins County with a person of the
same name in Otsego County, a person furthermore
mentioned in the Delaware County Review dated
1895. As peripatetic as these ancestors were,
there seemed to have been plenty of time for
William to have left Delaware County before or
after serving in the Civil War, to have settled
in Tompkins County, and to have spent his latter
years in Otsego County. I have no proof of this,
called on Patti Davidson-Peters and her superior
genealogical resources, she discovered another
trail that was equally convoluted.
Its a long shot, she wrote me.
And here is how she explained it.
Richs groom was William Blakely Peters. William Blakely
Peters first cousin, Patti said, was John
Peters, born 30 Dec 1824 in Meredith, Delaware
Co., NY. Early on, John, like so many New Yorkers
from Delaware County, moved west, and in 1851 he
married a Sarah Gillet of Hillsdale County,
Michigan. Later census records show this John
Peters as living in Indiana and then, eventually,
returning to Clifton Park, New York.
"John Peters (Patti
further explained) died in 1898, and in 1907 his
widow Sarah married Silas Leonard, who had been
born in Green county, Pennsylvania and according
to his obituary, his
parents died when he was a child and he was
raised by Elder William Leonard. Silas Leonard
was the father of four daughters by his first
wife Mary A. Boles, the eldest being Clara Belle
Leonard, who was born in Pennsylvania in 1864.
After serving in the WV Cavalry during the Civil
War, Silas moved in 1865 to Isabella County -
there are Isabelles all over the place -
Michigan, and settled near Coe, where the three
younger daughters (Flora, Mina, Lucy) were born.
It was after his wife's death that Silas married
the widow Sarah (Gillet) Peters known to most as
Aunt Nettie, at his home in Coe.
case, the long arm of coincidence seems very long
indeed. Ultimately, Carolyn says,
Patti and I have no answers. But we will
post further developments and information on this
site when we find it.
photographers, Beardsley Brothers of Ithaca, New
York: according to John Craig's Daguerreian
the Beardsley Brothers were A J[ulius?] and
Jefferson Beardsley of Ithaca, NY. From 1856 to
1857, A J is listed as working in Dixon,
Illinois; Jefferson can be found in an Ithaca,
NY, business directory dated 1859. Thanks to the
imprint on the back of the Leonard family
photographs, it is clear that the Beardsley
brothers opened a studio together by 1865, when
the Leonard Family photographs were taken.
An Ithaca, NY,
business directory for 1868 - 1869 lists a Jeff
Beardsley as a landscape and portrait painter.
Might this be our Jefferson Beardsley,
photographer? Did he give up photography for
landscape painting? It is another in a long
series of unknowns.