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Belle Leonard Photo back of Belle Leonard
Belle Leonard
Hannah 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.

Tax Stamp"In 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 Family.

"But from 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.

"According to 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.)

"After a 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.

"Attempting 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 there.

"It wasn't 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, of course.

“When I called on Patti Davidson-Peters and her superior genealogical resources, she discovered another trail that was equally convoluted. ‘It’s a long shot,’ she wrote me. And here is how she explained it.

“Hannah Rich’s 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.

“In this 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.”

About the photographers, Beardsley Brothers of Ithaca, New York: according to John Craig's Daguerreian Registry, 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.

 
Please Note: In 2005 this album came into the loving care of Hannah Rich Peters’ and William Blakely Peters’ great-granddaughter, Carolyn Flanders McPherson, and is presented here for the first time. For more detailed information on the photo album and its contents you may view the introduction here.

Patricia and Carolyn have attempted to identify all persons in the album and learn more about them through research of various records. If you can help us identify or add further information to this photo, please contact:
Email Carolyn

 

Additional Links

 
Next Photo - Anthony Marvin
Index of Hannah's Photo Album
Leonard homestead
-----An outside link to Delaware County, NY - Genealogy & History Site
Dr. Rutson Rudolph Leonard
-----An outside link to Delaware County, NY - Genealogy & History Site
Description of Dr. Duncan Leonard
-----An outside link to Delaware County, NY - Genealogy & History Site
Family Search
-----An outside link to Church of the Latter Day Saints
Central Chapel Cemetery
-----An outside link to Tompkins Co., New York
Otsego County, New York Military Records (Outside Link)
Photo of William Blakely Peters
John Craig's Daguerreian Registry (Outside Link
Ithaca, NY, Business Directory (Outside Link)
PDP's Roots & Branches Blog
 
 
Updated May 24, 2014
Album photos provided by Carolyn F. McPherson 2005
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