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Clark Harvey's dispute

Updated: Aug 22, 2020

Birth, marriage and death records are important for genealogy, but it's those little black and white newspaper clippings that add life to your family history. (Click here for my go-to places for free historical newspapers).

This find, shown below, pertains to my 3rd great-grandfather, John "Clark" Harvey, who was apparently involved in a dispute with his neighbors, the Tryons, in Harford, Cortland County, New York, in 1877.

Disputes between neighbors are common even to this day. Today people fight over things like curb appeal, parking spots and loud music or noise, but conflicts of the past were caused by other circumstances. In the old days people relied on their own farms and animals for food and income. Chickens, cows, sheep, goats, pigs, etc. were raised and butchered to feed the family throughout the year. Gardens and crops were planted and harvested. People also relied on horses for travel, instead of cars so almost every home had animals of some sort. Until people were able to properly fence off their properties, animals with free range would graze on neighbors lands, sometimes resulting in conflict - like it did for Clark Harvey.

This story was published in the Cortland Standard on June 21, 1877, when Clark was 53 years old and his wife, Betsy (Stowell) was about 45. They lived in Harford with four children who were under the age of 11. Newman Harvey, their youngest, was just a baby of ten months old.

"On Saturday last, Mr. Clark Harvey, of the south-east corner of the town, was arrested at the instigation of Enoch Tryon for assault and battery. The cause of the difficulty was a horse that belonged to Harvey which was feeding on the premises of Tryon. Tryon and his two sons attempted to drive the horse away, and Harvey interfered, and during the affray that followed Orin Tryon was knocked senseless by a piece of board in the hands of Harvey, and his father, Enoch Tryon, was somewhat bruised. The prisoner was tried before Justice Leonard, the jury found him guilty and he was fined $15. On discovering that the poor man could raise but $7, that amount was accepted and the prisoner discharged. his wife, it is stated, on learning that he was fined $15 or commitment to 30 days in jail, as he could not expect to earn 50 cents per day at home, but she was unfortunately too late." - Cortland Standard, June 21, 1877.

Note: With inflation, $15 in 1877 was the equivalent of $360 in today's money (2018) and $7 in 1877 was about $168 in today's money.

1876 map showing approximate location of this incident

A search for Tryons on the census in Harford paints a little more detail. Orin, who was knocked unconscious by Clark, was about 35 years old at the time of the fight. His brothers, Omar and Enoch Jr, one of whom was present, would have been 32 and 24 years old, respectively. Their father, Enoch Tryon Sr, who was bruised in the scuffle, was 70 at the time.

Clark had moved to Harford no earlier than 1875. (He was counted on the census in Richford in June of 1875). We can see on the 1880 census of Harford that they were definitely neighbors. The younger son, Enoch, was listed with his mother directly above Clark Harvey's household on the census.

Hopefully the matter was resolved and no further incidents resulting in loss of consciousness or cash occurred. Other articles from the period show the Harveys were friends with other members of the Tryon family of Cortland County. To the Tryons, I apologize on behalf of my 3rd great-grandfather and his horse.


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