VALENTINE GLEASMAN’S HOMESTEAD FARM
In 1828 when Valentine Gleasman was twenty-four years
old he, his wife Johanna and their young daughter Christianna came to America
from Pirmasens, Germany. With them was Johanna’s father Justus
Buttinger. Both men bought land in the Town of Boonville, present-day
Town of Ava, from the Holland Land Company through its representative Attorney
Mann of Utica, N.Y. Justus Buttinger purchased acreage in Lot #128
while Valentine Gleasman purchased acreage in Lot #108 in the area known as
part of Adgate’s Western Patent. Lot #108 was situated along Moose
Creek with its eastern boundary running along present-day Gleasman Road.
Moose Creek was the site of a small settlement prior to Gleasman’s arrival. This site was located at the junction of the West Leyden Road (Route 294) and Gleasman Road along Moose Creek. This pioneer site consisted of several, possibly as many as twelve, log cabins and one sawmill. On Lot #108 there was a cemetery.
Who these earlier settlers were is a cause for speculation. Could they have been the families of the surveyors who, in previous years, mapped out the lot boundaries when Adgate’s Western Patent survey was done by Mr. B. Wright in 1794? Or were they “squatters” who left the land after the surveyors moved in? Possibly these settlers were forced to abandon their land when told it had been sold to immigrants. All that is known of these pioneers is that they were at Moose Creek long enough to erect log cabins, a saw-mill and to have the need for a cemetery.
Valentine and Johanna Gleasman buried two infant children on this same Lot #108 in, approximately, the years 1829 and in 1831. Family history states the infants were buried somewhere behind Valentine’s log cabin and not in the cemetery.
From 1828 on, Valentine worked hard to clear his land to ready it for farming. According to his obituary notice of 1903, he cleared this land from a “virgin forest” and, in the following years, he acquired more acreage by purchasing land in the adjoining Lot #130. Valentine Gleasman was listed in the 1830 Federal Census for Boonville, now Ava, as “Faladen Clafsman”. His early neighbors were Justus Buttinger (Pettinger), Amos Tyler, Moses Freeman, Benjamin Fisk, John Yuel and a Mr. Franklin. This Mr. Franklin owned the northern portion of Lot #108 while Valentine Gleasman owned the southern portion of the same lot. These men cleared their bordering fields of the many large stones to be found there and built a stone fence to act as a boundary for their properties.
In 1836, another group of Gleasmans arrived from Pirmasens, Germany to begin new lives in America. Salome Gleasman, the recently-widowed mother of Valentine, arrived in the Town of Boonville with her sons George, Godfrey (Gottfried) and David. George and Godfrey settled in the Ava-West Leyden area while their brother David lived with his mother near Valentine. George and Godfrey were married men. Godfrey’s wife Henrietta and their children came in this second group of migrants. George’s wife Elizabeth and their eldest children would arrive in America several years later.
On November 11, 1836, Salome Gleasman (deed says “Glaismon”) purchased fifty acres of land on Moose creek in Lot #89 for the sum of $200.00. This lot was north of her son Valentine’s Lot #108, being separated by Mr. Franklin’s land. Again, family history gives a clue about the log cabins as “Salome and Valentine’s brothers were disappointed to see him living in a hut.” These words have been handed down in the Gleasman family for several generations.
In the year 1838 Valentine built a lovely story and a half home on Lot # 130 and it faced on the present-day Gleasman Road. It consisted of five rooms on the main floor and two large bedrooms on the second floor. This farmhouse was home to Valentine, Johanna and their children: Christianna, Louisa, Godfrey, David, Christian, Charles, Benjamin, Caroline and Rosena. It was this house that succeeding Gleasman generations called “the old homestead”.
Valentine continued to expand his land holdings by purchasing more acreage on Lot #109 which was across Gleasman Road from his first purchase, Lot #108. He also purchased land around Moose Creek (part of Lot#74) and in the Village of Boonville.
Salome Gleasman died circa 1851 and her place of burial is uncertain. She may be buried with the two Gleasman infants on Lot #108 or, more likely, she is buried on the Justus Buttinger Lot #128 on Sasenbury Hill near Justus’ grave. Family history says there are “grandparents buried on Sasenbury Hill in a field under a tree”. This describes the location of Justus Buttinger’s land which, in 1995, was owned by Mr. Gilbert Backer.
The Valentine Gleasman farm was quite prosperous at the beginning of the Civil War. It was also a sad time for Valentine as his two brothers, George and Godfrey, died in the infamous cornfield at the Battle of Antietam, September 17, 1862 while serving with the 97th NY Volunteers. In 1864 Valentine lost his son Charles in the same war. Charles had served two years with the 117th NY Vols. before being wounded in the leg. Charles died from the amputation of his leg.
George Gleasman was survived by his wife Elizabeth (she is buried in the Boonville Cemetery) and several children who remained in the Ava area. Godfrey was survived by his wife Henrietta who left Ava with several of her children to settle in Rockton, Illinois. Two of Godfrey’s daughters, Louisa and Catherine, remained in the Ava-Boonville area.
As age advanced upon Valentine Gleasman, he sold his homestead farm to his son Christian in 1868 for the goodly sum of $9000.00. Valentine and his wife Johanna moved to Ava Four Corners to live.
Christian Gleasman and his wife, the former Caroline Senn, raised ten children in the Gleasman Homestead. In 1879 Christian built an addition on the north side of the original house. During this time the Gleasman Homestead was in its heyday as a very busy and prosperous farm.
In 1879 Johanna Gleasman died and Valentine had her buried in the cemetery at West Leyden. Evidently, by this time, the old pioneer cemetery on Lot #108 was no longer in use and was all but forgotten.
In 1903, Valentine Gleasman died, ending a life span of nearly 100 years. He, too, was buried in West Leyden Cemetery.
Valentine’s grandson Elmer Gleasman bought the old homestead farm from his parents Christian and Caroline Gleasman and held it in his possession until the 1960s. It was then sold out of the family and the house itself was torn down. Wood from the house went into the construction of a barn near Boonville.
In the 1990s, the Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority bought several parcels of land in the Town of Ava, including the Gleasman Homestead Farm, for the purpose of constructing a mega-landfill. The pioneer cemetery, the stone wall and the graves of the Gleasman infants were lost to the construction. The Authority, in its generosity, erected a fence along Gleasman Road protecting the area of the old homestead. A sign provided by the Authority marks the site.
Many descendants of Valentine, George and Godfrey Gleasman reside in the Ava-Boonville area to this day. Some early families that have intermarried with the Gleasmans include the Caprons, Cases, Dorns, Franklins, Gebharts, Harts, Millers, Pitchers, Reams, Remps, Sasenburys, Schwenburgs, Traxels and Tuthills. Many trace their roots to the homestead farm family.
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