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THE PEOPLE OF THE WINDOWS
AN EXPLORATION INTO THE HISTORIES OF THE PEOPLE MEMORIALIZED IN THE STAINED GLASS WINDOWS OF THE UNITARIAN-UNIVERSALIST CHURCH OF CORTLAND
Authored by Len Ralston
The stained glass windows in the sanctuary, made by the Utica Stained Glass Company, were installed in 1889 when the church was remodeled. According to the records, they cost from $50 to $150 each. Since several of the people memorialized in these windows had passed on by that time, it is assumed that survivors or descendents underwrote the cost.
The window in the southeast corner, just over the stairwell, honors Col. Hezekiah Newcomb. There is very little known of Colonel Newcomb. He was listed in the New York State Census for the town of Truxton in 1835, but other records indicate he died just four years later in 1839, at the age of 45. He must have had descendents who remembered him.
The next window along that south wall memorializes Mr. and Mrs. Lewis V. (Mary) Smith. Mr. Smith operated a grocery at 13 Railroad Ave. and lived at 59 Railroad Ave., now Central Ave. In 1891-2, at the time of the remodeling of the church interior he was Superintendent of the Sunday School and a member of the Board of Trustees. He was then approximately 75 years old. He had a son, Dorr C. Smith, who was a lawyer, an officer of the Water Works, and later, proprietor of the Cortland House, the best hotel in Cortland. The son was also a faithful member of the Universalist Church, and was most likely the one who provided the window.
Jesse M(ason) and Sally Blanchard were active members of the church. Jesse was born September 18, 1808 and died on July 31, 1881. Mrs. Sally Blanchard died in April of 1902. Mr. Blanchard was Treasurer of the church during the late 1870’s and early 1880’s. He was the grandson of Azariel Blanchard, an early settlers in Cortland County[sic]. Jesse and Sally lived in the town of in 1850, but later moved to the village of Cortland. He and Sally had five children, one of whom, Laura Blanchard Parsons, was a longtime member of the church and probably responsible for the window honoring her parents. Mrs. Laura Parsons was the mother of Fay Parsons, who was Moderator of the church in 1937 and responsible for the printing of the Centennial History.
The last window on that wall memorialized Charles Davis. Very little could be found about Charles Davis. Apparently he was born on Long Island on April 15, 1794. He was a veteran of the War of 1812. He died on August 20, 1869. It is believed that he lived in the vicinity of McLean.
Across the sanctuary at the west end of the north wall, the window memorialized Madison Woodruff, who was born October 1, 1809 and died September 4, 1893. He married Hannah Russell in 1830. She survived him by less than a year. He was a potter who was born in Columbia County and settled in Cortland in about 1835. Mr. Woodruff was deeply involved in the affairs of the church from the time he arrived in Cortland until his death at the age of 83, when he was one of the oldest members of the church. He built his own brick pottery building on Groton Ave. in 1855. Mr. Woodruff was responsible for opening Woodruff St. (named for him) and Townley Ave., two streets off Groton Ave. on the west side of town.
Next on the north wall is a window honoring Horace and Deborah C. Bliss. Horace Bliss born in Leyden, MA, in 1805, moved to Truxton in about 1822 and later moved to Cortland [sic]. He was a farmer, carpenter and contractor. Bliss was the prime contractor for the construction of the church in 1837. He was identified in the history of the church as a “leading layman” during the period 1844-1857. He died August: 21, 1883 and his wife Deborah followed him on March 24, 1889. It could have been Mrs. Bliss who underwrote this window.
The next north wall window memorializes Francis Eggleston and his wife Eunice. Born Joseph Francis Eggleston in Windsor, CT on July 3, 1803, son of Joseph Eggleston, he moved with his wife Eunice and two daughters from Madison County to Cortland in about 1822. Later, they had two more daughters. After the death of Eunice during the early 1860s, he married Serepta, who survived him. He was identified in city directories as a farmer and brick maker. Mr. Eggleston, was also identified as a ‘leading layman” during the period 1844-1857, and remained active until his death on January 12, 1876. It is likely that one of the daughters born to him and Eunice was responsible for this memorial.
The last window, in the northeast corner of the sanctuary, was donated by the children of the Sunday School.