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Ruden Wheeler's roots in Cayuga County run very deep. His great grandfather, Capt. Edward Wheeler, one of the first settlers of this county, settled in Fleming in the early 1790's on land which was part of a Revolutionary Grant. Before leaving Salem, NY for Fleming, family lore tells us that Edward had a dream in which he envisioned the land on which he was going to settle. Once he arrived and saw the Ridge and Skillet Roads area of Fleming, he recognized it as the very land in his dream. The home built by the early Wheelers at the junction of Ridge and Skillet Roads still stands today as testament to the fortitude and determination of these early settlers.

Ruden Wheeler came to the attention of our museum only recently when an early photo of the Wheeler home and his baby cap were generously donated to us by museum friend Amy Weaver, who had found both during a clean out of the Wheeler attic. As we do with all donations, we researched for stories which would tell us more about the donation and the history of Ruden Wheeler. and, two of our tried and true resources, told us of Ruden's involvement in a slander law suit against Henry Whitehead which occurred in 1895. Ruden, it was reported, had allegedly stated that Whitehead "would take anything he could lay his hands on." Ruden prevailed when the case was dismissed as it did not constitute cause of action for slander. A comment which seems today to be everyday news was viewed as "fighting words" in 1895.

Both sources also told us of Ruden's service during the Civil War. In 1864 at age 18, Ruden enlisted in the 22nd New York Cavalry, Company 1, as a Private, rising to the rank of Sergeant in one year. He mustered out at Winchester, VA in 1865 eventually receiving a pension for his service. As a member of the 22nd, Wheeler would have seen hard fighting and death at the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor and Shenandoah Valley campaigns.

Finally a Google search of Ruden's name bought us an unexpected treasure - a photo of Ruden's Civil War cap which is posted on Pinterest. The cap had been sold at Heritage Auctions in 2014. Through this research, we were able to add dimension not only to Ruden and his life but also to these two important donated items.

We hope that this story will encourage you to entrust attic and other treasures you may find to the Frontenac. Due to space considerations, we are unable to accept every item offered. We do appreciate the opportunity to consider items related to the Towns of Aurelius, Fleming, Ledyard, Springport and the Village of Union Springs as those are the areas which the NY Department of Education has chartered our museum to serve.

Farley's is a name which means different things to different people. To some, it is merely a road south of the village of Union Springs. To others, it is an area of summer cottages on Cayuga Lake. Indeed it is both, but so much more. To the residents of Farley's, it is years of treasured memories of a summer way of life shared by many generations of their families. While no early records of summer cottages exist, an 1875 map of Springport shows the residence of H. H. Farley as the only building on what we know today as Farley's Point. By 1904 (map above), twenty one "Farley's Cottages" and "Farley's Station", a stop on the Lehigh Valley Railroad, appear on maps.

Who was H. H. Farley, a man whose vision would affect generations of children and their families? Dr. Horace Hills Farley was born in Springwater, Livingston County, New York in 1813. He was the fifth owner of the property now known as Farley's Point which he purchased in 1841. Farley's Point had been part of the bounty land provided to soldiers of the Revolutionary War as payment for service. These properties were often partitioned off and sold by the soldier/owner making it difficult to track their early ownership. Farley traveled the United States in his younger days returning to Springwater where he married Susan Legore in 1847.

In the 1850 Federal Census, Farley is living with his family in Dansville, NY and his occupation is listed as dentist. In the 1860 census, he and his family resided in Springport where his occupation is listed as farmer. It is no wonder that he made a change in occupations as advertisements for his services, which appeared in Auburn newspapers, describe procedures that would make the strongest person long for the out-of-doors life of a farmer.

Dr. Farley became a noted horticulturist traveling over twenty times to Europe buying planting stock not only for himself, but also for nurserymen in Geneva and Rochester. He served as the United States agent for nursery stock and seeds for noted plantsman Edward Dickinson of Chatenay, France. His stock of pears, peaches and grapes were well known throughout the United States. In later years, Henry Sumner Anderson would join Dr. Farley, not only in his business, but also in his family when he married Farley's daughter, Caroline. In 1885, a delivery of Farley's famous pears would bring tragedy to his family as described in this article from the Weekly Auburnian dated September 25, 1885.

Sadly, this was the second railroad related tragedy to occur in this family. In 1880, Charley Farley, the only son of Dr. and Mrs. Farley and a brakeman for the New York Central Railroad, was fatally run over by a train in Buffalo when his foot became caught in a rail.

Despite these tragedies, Mrs. Farley endured remaining in the area until her passing in 1909. The earliest cottages on Farley's eventually were rented, or the structures purchased, from descendants of Dr. Farley. Today, the Farley and related families continue their ownership of Farley's Point, renting out the land on which these cottages were built. They too return each summer, joining their close neighbors in relishing the many summer memories past and present of a magical place, Farley's Point.

The Frontenac Museum is pleased to re-open by appointment. Appointments are available and may be made by calling 315-889-5875. We are looking forward to opening on weekends starting in July - COVID dependent of course! Looking forward to seeing you!