Looking Back Column

April,1811.  Seaman worked for B.L. Wooley, a commission merchant until 1835 when the business was destroyed by fire. He established the first tea brokerage business in New York City and was considered the best judge of teas in the city,  the first to introduce the revolving tea table used in tea tasting. When his health declined he decided to move to the country. He came to Madison in 1853 and purchased two large farms, one on Convent Road (Park Avenue) and the other at Union Hill (Kings Road). He resided for about a year in the Park Avenue house near South Street while his home on Kings Road was being built.

                                         THE “OLD BOYS OF BOTTLE HILL”

 One of the first associations formed in Bottle Hill was the organization known as the “Old Boys of Bottle Hill.” A group of childhood friends born in the early 1800’s who played in the village and went fishing together, they would gather to tell stories about their experiences
and adventures. As the years went by, grown men with​ different careers, they continued to get together to reminisce over events and happenings in Bottle Hill. The group, all of which attended the old Madison Academy, numbered 18 members and consisted of some of the
oldest families in Madison. Charles C. Force was the leader, the others were; Pierson A. Freeman, Benjamin Warren Burnet, William Jackson Brittin, Louis Beaupland,
Dr. Lewis Sayre, William H. Sayre, and “Uncle” Nelson Samson. They would meet once a year on the birthday of one of the members to have dinner and talk of old times.

   The people of Madison relied on the “Old Boys” to keep memories alive as the town continued to change. Their fascinating stories gave insight to the life inthe 19th and early 20th centuries in Madison. Following are a few of the many stories told by the “Old Boys of
Bottle Hill.”

   Warren Burnet’s father was the postmaster in 1830 and the post office was located in his house. Residents would come to his home on Main Street across from Waverly Place, which today would be in the middle of Central Avenue, and rummage through all the material

in his desk drawer to find their mail. In 1898 “Uncle” Nelson Samson told the story about
the day Charles Force brought a gramophone to their get-together and played a recording of John Philip Sousa and the Marine Band. Samson said he “could not conceive how it was possible.”    
      Another story the “Old Boys” would tell was of the horrific flood at Hillside Cemetery in 1902. Dugald MacDougall was in the cemetery helping to find disinterred bodies, when he heard an eerie sound. He saw a decomposed corpse leaning against a bush; the sound was

made by the wind blowing through the body’s throat. He said, “I never heard a sound like it before or since.”
   In 1903, there was some good-natured criticism of the local officials by the “Old Boys” concerning the state of the sidewalks. Over the years, it seems, sidewalks were always a problem, starting when colonial horseback riders and stagecoach drivers complained about the condition of the dirt roads.

   In an 1895 article written in the Madison Eagle by Thomas Carter, recalling the stories of the “Old Boys,” wrote, “Oh beautiful, beautiful Madison, how much thou hast changed for the better.”               



                                                Researched and written by Staff Assistant Helene Corlett