History of Leo’s Home
Time inexorably goes on, and early in 1894 the aging Moses Fisk, who turned 81 April 27 that year, decided to sell the old home he and Hannah had known for more than thirty four years. In May he gave the old house a fresh coat of paint, in preparation for the sale, but he became ill with a severe form of salt rheumatism in July. The small 45-acre farm had never made them rich, but they raised a beautiful daughter here, and it had supported them through good years and lean. What more could they have asked for? It was time though for younger muscles to take over.
After Moses had let it be known he wanted to sell his small farm, a young Irishman came along and bought the place from the old couple. The deal was settled and 32-year-old Joseph Walsh became the proud owner on October 1, 1894. The aging but industrious Moses and Hannah had left him with full hay mows for the winter’s cattle feed, as well as canned goods, potatoes, carrots, onions, and many other vegetables in the cellar. Moses, who died April 12, 1898, and Hannah who died February 10, 1900, were laid to rest in the Campbell Cemetery, later to have its name changed to the Flackville Cemetery.
Joseph was single, but he brought his aging mother to the peace and serenity of the small farm in the far north of New York. This was a long way in distance for Alice, as well as in circumstances, from the days of the potato famines when the Irish lass and her husband had left their native Ireland. The 77-year-old Alice Walsh, born in February 1823, was yet able and willing to keep house for her son, while he toiled on the farm. The years slowly passed and in 1910 Joseph was still earning his living on the little farm in the north country of New York. It was during this year that the new barn was built, a 30’ by 40’ structure with room for ten head of cattle with a hay mow over the top, and an additional two mows from ground to roof. His mother had died peacefully in her sleep one winter’s night, so Joseph continued on alone.The bachelor Joseph listed at age 50 on the Federal Census report, although he was actually 48 in 1920, was going through the throes of a weakening national economy, but he continued on with his life as if not too much was happening. His work was always there, so he needed to look for none. His vegetables still grew, and his hogs fattened, the chickens yet laid eggs, the cattle still gave milk, and other animals yet produced, so that he little knew the problems of those living in poorer circumstances.Joseph survived the great stock market crash of 1929 very well. A man earning a living on a small farm had little money to invest in stock. The only stock Joseph believed in was livestock. If you have no money to invest you have none to lose. Let the ones who thought they were so smart worry about such nonsense.
When the enumerator came around in 1930, the 66 year old Joseph was still living in the same home, very little had changed in his life, except, of course he was growing older and the work became a little harder every year. That might make a fellow think about earning a living in some less energetic style, but he continued each year to produce his crops as he had been doing now for 36 years. He continued to operate the farm until he died October 20, 1934 after earning his living there for a full forty years and 20 days. Joseph left a will, and in that document he left all that he owned to his sister Alice Shannon of Watertown, Jefferson County, New York, some sixty miles south of Lisbon. The old house remained empty, void of any remnants of laughter, tears, aches, pains, and other emotions and sensations of human occupation, for nearly two years, before Alice got through all the legalese making it possible for her to sell it.
Finally on September 21, 1936 Alice Shannon, sister of Joseph Walsh, sold the little farm to Byron and Anna Havens. I, Leo Lawton, having been born July 19, 1938, started the first grade of school in a one-room schoolhouse about a mile from this home in September 1942, when I was four years old. A boy, a little older than I named Clifford Havens attended the school at the same time I did. He lived in this home and was a son of Byron. There also was a daughter named Theresa. The family remained on the farm earning a decent living for a little more than nine years and three months. On January 9, 1946 Byron and his wife sold the farm to Robert and Arvilla Turner. Bob had no intention of earning a living from the farm. He had spent many years driving huge machinery on construction projects, and continued to do so. He needed a place for his family, which included his father Monroe Turner, to live, which gave the little farm a dual purpose. It provided living space for his family, and it also gave Monroe something to do in his older years. While Monroe tended a few cattle on the farm with the help of Bob’s five sons, Dick, Art, David, George, and Larry, Bob continued working away from the farm. When Monroe Turner died he was interred in the Flackville Cemetery a few hundred yards from the home where he had joyfully spent his last remaining years.
Time passed as another fine family was raised in this old house. Bob and Arvilla, known as Bonnie, sold the farm to Lawrence and Patricia Lawton September 22, 1972, but continued to occupy the home for a short while. Before his death in 1975 Bob and Bonnie had moved out of the home, and it was rented out to a newly wed couple, Donald and Beverly Parmeter. I’m sure the home was a happy place for them to start their life as a young married couple.
In 1976 Lawrence and Patricia Lawton put the farm, as well as about 86 additional acres of land across the road up for sale. My wife Nora and I purchased the 131 acres and farm buildings, along with the home June 15, 1976. Nora and I have raised our four children here, and one by one they have all left this home for lives of their own. Nora and I live on here, after having completed 30 years of occupation May 22, 2006, which is the day we moved here, although we did not officially buy it until June 15, 1976. Our youngest daughter, Donna, along with her husband Benjamin Royce, and two children Megan and Alex, built a home beside this one in 2004.
Nora passed away in April of 2016. In January of 2023, Leo became ill and transferred the property to his granddaughter Megan to be sure it stayed within the family for future generations. On February 2, 2023, Leo passed away.
Another account of the house/property written by Leo Lawton:
THIS OLD HOUSE
When one makes the statement that they own a certain item, whether it be a purchased object for their personal use, or a parcel of real estate, it should be qualified with the caveat emptor that one never owns anything. We merely pass through life using various objects for our convenience, and when we are through with them they pass on to those who follow. Thus this old house was never the Qua’s, the Fisk’s, the Walsh’s, the Haven’s, the Turner’s, or ours, we merely had the use of it.Robert Qua married Peggy Armstrong, each born in Ireland. During 1790 the family lived in Hebron, Washington County, New York. Robert, his wife, three sons all under sixteen, and five daughters all were in the home for that census. With eight children, Robert was between 30 and 40 years old, thus born between 1750 and 1760. In 1800 Robert’s family was yet in Hebron, but they had one son and three daughters under ten, indicating they had been born in the ensuing ten years. In addition, three older sons and three older daughters remained at home. Apparently two of the older girls had left, probably having married, leaving an even dozen occupants in their home.By 1810 Robert had moved a few miles north in Washington County to Hartford. There had been but one new addition to the family in this decade, so it might have been Robert’s wife was beyond childbearing years now, or probably in excess of 50 years old. If Robert were born near 1750, as I had surmised previously, he would now have been around sixty years of age. His wife having had a child within the past ten years was probably four or five years younger, but then so too might Robert have been.Ever advancing into the future, in the year 1820, in an area newly being settled by the great white westward moving horde, in the Town of Lisbon, Saint Lawrence County, way up north near the southeastern bank of the Saint Lawrence River lived the Samuel Qua family. Sam had found a spot on a slight hill overlooking forestland, and decided this was where he wanted to hang his floppy old hat when his work was done each day. He set about clearing a space large enough to build a home, but he excepted several large maples from his axe. In 1976 eight of those maples yet stood in mute testimony to the folks who had come and gone from here. In 2008 five still stand as stately as when Sam first saw them.
Saint Lawrence County had been formed in 1802. Samuel was born January 26, 1787, a son of Robert from Washington County. Samuel and his wife, Mary (Polly) daughter of Joseph Chambers, were the parents of two sons and four daughters, all less than ten years old. Maybe all of the cuddling necessary to keep warm in the cold weather of winter so far north had something to do with the six children in ten years.How time does fly! Another decade down the drain. The 1830 census listed Samuel Qua, as being between 40 and 50 as was his wife. Living in his household at the time were six boys and four girls all less than 20, all of which were presumably Samuel and his wife’s children. Daughter Maria married James McCarter September 16, 1835, while her sister Nancy wed Stephen Moore December 23, 1837.By 1840, with the two oldest girls having vacated the home, there were now seven boys all less than 30, as well as two girls between 5-10 remaining for a total of eleven in the home.
The next to the youngest daughter, born August 2, 1824, was named Hannah Marie. The Reverend J. A. Savage, who had also officiated at her two older sister’s weddings, married her to Moses Fisk on February 23, 1847. Three years later, in 1850, the 26-year-old Hannah lived in Fort Covington, Franklin County, a village some 60 miles northeast of Lisbon, with Moses and her daughter Jane Allen. Moses had been born in the Granite State of New Hampshire on April 27, 1813. By 1860 Moses Fisk age 47, and his wife Hannah Marie age 36, along with their 14-year-old-daughter Jane, were living in the home in Lisbon that I now occupy. The census enumerator in 1870 found the same three living here, with Moses then 56, Hannah 46, and Jennie 22. Jennie’s age is fluctuating a bit each census, but I suppose that is a choice a young lady can make if she so desires. Still another decade passed with the only change being additional years on Moses at age 67, and Hannah at 55. Oh, by the way, Jennie had left her parent’s nest, and no longer appeared as a household member. As her parents bought the small farm between 1830 and 1840, and Hannah was born August 2, 1824, except for her brief sojourn to Fort Covington right after her marriage, Hannah had spent the better part of her life in this home.This is a photo of the house taken in October 2006. The evergreen tree was planted by Leo Lawton in the latter half of the 1970s. The hemlock in the background was there for decades before that. The limbs over the top of the home were a weeping willow planted there by the Turner family while they lived here. It was decimated by a windstorm in 2007, and removed completely in 2008. The barn was torn down about the year 2000. The building in the background was a chicken house, moved and attached to the main barn for calves by Leo Lawton in 1976. The white siding on the house was installed about 2000.Upon the death of Ethel, the young daughter of Mr. And Mrs. James Russell of Fort Covington, New York, Hannah at age 63, wrote the following poem as published in the December 22, 1887 Fort Covington Sun:
think of Ethel
As in that glory land
I tread on golden pavements
With roses in my hand.
And mama, could you see me
All robed in spotless white,
Removed from pain and sorrow
And where there is no night.
For Jesus cooled that fever O, mama do not weep
He hushed your little darling
Into this peaceful sleep.
He was the great physician
That undertook my case,
But it was hard, dear mama,
To go from your embrace.
Please tell my little brother
To think and speak of me,
His little sister Ethel,
In Heaven, so bright and free.
Tell him how I loved him,
And o that I may see
His happy face in GloryTo walk the streets with me.
I left my parents early,
They placed me ‘neath the sod
Just this decaying body
Whose spirit went to God.
So weep no more for Ethel,
For though you longer wait
Yet death will come, and I will run
To meet you at the gate.