Under the Cucumber Magnolia
by Lynne Belluscio
A couple of years ago, I received a note from Jay Campbell about an early sampler that was sewn by an eleven-year-old girl in LeRoy in 1833. Jay was headed east and was going to bring the sampler with him. But as time went by, I had no more communication with Jay, and I presumed that the whole deal had fallen through. But then, at the end of June I received an email from Jay, and he was traveling east and would bring the sampler with him if we were still interested. I assured him that indeed we were. On July 28, I received an email that he was in the Fingerlakes and would be stopping by in the morning. Sure enough, he met me at the office with the sampler. He said that he had bought it a long time ago, and figured it needed to come back to the place where it came from. He signed the transfer papers and then he was off for the rest of his trip. He left a couple of written notes about the Rathburn (Rathborn) family which helped to discover more about the young girl, Elizabeth Rathbone who had stitched it.
According to the notes, Elizabeth Rathborn was born on December 22 in 1821. She was 11 when she stitched the sampler. Her parents were Lucy Anderson and Israel Rathburn. (Her mother was the widow of John Ganson.) According to a note in the files, Elizabeth attended school at the Canandaigua Academy and Ingham University. Elizabeth married David Rinaldo Bacon on May 1, 1844. He was born in 1812 in Hamilton, N.Y. In 1831, he headed to Union College and his family moved to a farm on the west side of LeRoy. David studied law in the offices of Joshua A. Spencer of Utica and Judge Gridley and was admitted to the bar in 1835. He was a law partner of LeRoy lawyer, Seth Gates (a noted abolitionist and US Congressman in Washington in 1839-1843.) In 1836, David was involved with procuring the right of way for the N.Y. & E. Railroad between Olean and Dunkirk, and lived in Olean for a few years. He returned to LeRoy and in 1844 married Elizabeth. David’s brother, Lathrop S. Bacon, owned the foundry on Bacon Street. (The Historical Society has a L.S. Bacon parlor stove, and two cast iron waffle irons.) In 1845, Lathrop’s two young children and their nanny died in a tragic fire. Luther was so distraught by the accident, he moved to Rochester, and David assumed control over the foundry until it closed in 1856. A few years later, in 1860, David was appointed postmaster of LeRoy by President Lincoln, and he served in that capacity for five years, and later worked for the Internal Revenue Department. He died in 1890.