March 23, 2004

John C. Lacy

Here's a biography of an early Dryden resident that's quite different from George Goodrich's earlier portrayals of John Southworth or George Robertson. It's also somewhat funny to note that Goodrich earlier cited the Lacy family for its regular fighting at town meetings.

Goodrich makes occasional typos, and I've tried to preserve them, though no doubt I'm adding my own along the way. In this case, he has a date of 1520 that should be 1620.

Chapter L.

John C. Lacy.

The Lacy (or Lacey) family is of ancient English origin, being known as DeLacey when they came with William the Conqueror from Normandy to England. Richard, the grandfather of John C. Lacy, was born in England. Benjamin, his father, was born in Mausfield, Morris county, New Jersey, October 1, 1768, and died in Dryden October 1, 1820. He came to this township, as a pioneer, in the fall of 1801, with his wife, who was a daughter of Captain Cornelius Carhart, of English and German descent, who commanded a company of sixty men in the battle of Monmouth, June 18, 1778. She was a woman of sound mental qualities, as well as of industrious, frugal habits. She survived her husband thirteen years, keeping her family of six children together on their farm in what is now Dryden village, until her decease.

Benjamin was a farmer, a man of sturdy character and one of the most enterprising and public-spirited pioneers of Dryden. He did much for the cause of education, which was then in its infancy in the new community, Daniel Lacy, the son of his brother Richard as we have seen, having been the first school teacher in Dryden in 1804. In 1819 he erected the first clothing works in Dryden, almost on the present site of the Dryden Woolen Mill, and in the next year, which was the last of his life, he and two of his brothers developed the Dryden Mineral Springs, where the Sanitarium is now located. They had discovered the value of these springs while prospecting for salt. If, in their search for salt, they had possessed the modern means for boring deeper, their search would doubtless have been successful, since extensive beds of this mineral are now found in the adjoining towns of Ithaca and Lansing and in other places in the county where great depths have been reached.

John C. Lacy was born on his father's farm in Dryden near the location of the present stone grist mill, October 21, 1808, and was, consequently, only twelve years of age at the time of his father's death. His means of education were very limited and two years later he commenced, with his older brother Garrett as his partner, to carry on the farm and to pay off the incumbrance which existed upon it. Their efforts were successful and enabled them to eventually buy out the interest of the other children. The partnership of the two brothers continued until 1857, when Garrett decided to remove further west, selling out his interest here to the subject of this chapter, who was thus the only representative of the Lacy pioneers of 1801 to remain in Dryden. About that time, or soon after, he married Maria A., daughter of the late Asa M. White, of Candor, N. Y., whose ancestry is also worthy of special notice. She was in the direct line of descent from Peregrine White, who was the first child born in New England of English parentage, being born on board the Mayflower in the harbor of Cape Cod about December 10, 1520.

Mr. Lacy died October 4, 1893, and his wife, July 18, 1895. Their only child, Ada Belle, is the wife of D. F. Van Vleet, of Ithaca, one of the leaders of the Tompkins County bar. Their son, De Forest Lacey Van Vleet, is the only grand-child of Mr. and Mrs. John C. Lacy.

While Mr. Lacy was a man of conservative judgment and thoughtful, prudent disposition, he was always one of the substantial and reliable men in the community in which he resided. The reminiscences which he wrote on his eightieth birthday, from which we quote on page 74 of this volume, illustrate the thoughtfulness of the man, and preserve for our benefit the knowledge of events which would otherwise be lost. His literary taste, for one brought up without educational advantages, was also very commendable, and the writer remembers from his childhood with what skill and enthusiasm Mr. Lacy used to take part in the debates at the old school-house, forty years ago, with J. W. Dwight, T. J. McElheny, Dr. Montgomery, and others. In 1862 he served as president of Dryden village, and was chosen at other times as assessor and as highway commissioner of the town. He belonged to the first temperance organization in Dryden and, in 1861, he joined the First M. E. church of this village, of which he was always, from that time, a stable and constant member, contributing largely of his time and means to its management and support. While others were more headstrong and impetuous in the pursuit of their undertakings, Mr. Lacy was always deliberate and judicious. He was a man who would have commanded success in any sphere of business to which he might have been called, a thorough and persistent reader and thinker, and possessed an accurate estimate of men and things. His natural kindness of heart and his benevolence endeared him to the community in which he lived, and his pure integrity and honesty of purpose in whatever he did has never been questioned.

Mrs. van Vleet has recently given a beautiful tribute to the memory of her father and mother by placing in the tower of the Southworth Library building a clock, which has already been mentioned. The accuracy and precision of Mr. Lacy, in all of his course of life in the past, is well-symbolized by this time-piece, which is so located as to guide and regulate in Dryden village the affairs of men in the future. Mrs. Van Vleet is also devoting some of her thoughts and leisure time to the improvement of the little farm in Dryden village, upon which her father was born ninety years ago, planting it with nut-bearing trees and orchards, and grading and laying out avenues and walks in such a manner as to stimulate and develop the taste for the beautiful, which she is thus disposed to cultivate in connection with the memory of her parents.

Goodrich, George B. The Centennial History of the Town of Dryden, 1797-1897. Dryden: Dryden Herald Steam Printing House, 1898. Reprinted 1993 by the Dryden Historical Society. Pages 218-220.

(The Dryden Historical Society, which sells this book, may be reached at 607-844-9209.)

Posted by simon at March 23, 2004 12:36 PM in ,
Note on photos


Anastasia Navarro said:

I found a can that is very old has a gold handles with carvings that say John C. Lacy Dryden, NY October 21,1808 - October 21, 1888.