Lower Creek Road Site
The Casper Miller household began its occupation of the Lower Creek Road Site just prior to the mid-19th century. From 1828 to 1834 Casper Miller purchased various properties in the northern portion of Lot 52 of the Town of Dryden to establish a farm. The 1853 and 1866 maps show Casper Miller’s property and the presence of a residential structure. The structure is most likely related to the stone foundation intersecting the western boundary of the site. On January 7, 1870, Casper Miller passed away leaving his farm to his wife Deborah (Martin 1995). In the 1890s, Casper and Deborah’s granddaughters, Mary McKinney and Deborah Anna “Anna” McDonald, inherited the property. In 1900, the sisters lost ownership of the property in bankruptcy as the property was auctioned for $900 to Stephen Korts of Ithaca, New York. The 1900 map no longer shows a structure on the property, suggesting that Stephen Korts demolished the residence. The site was most likely used as agricultural or undeveloped fields during the 20th century. In the 1960s, NY 13 was constructed near the project area leading to the intersection of Lower Creek Road and NY 13 northeast of the site. Prior to this, the main transportation was Lower Creek Road running east-west north of the site.
Documentary evidence shows that the Casper Miller household, along with extended members of their family, were living in the residence at different times. Census records suggest that Casper Miller and his family may have been living at the site since the 1820s or 1830s. The 1830 and 1840 US Census enumerations list seven members of the Casper Miller household. The Miller household consisted of Casper, his wife Deborah, and children Newton, Ann, and Eliza.
By the 1850s, it appears that some of Casper and Deborah’s children were living with their spouses in the Miller’s home. The 1850 US census states that Eliza Miller Love, her husband Isaac, and children Deborah Anna and Mary were living in the same household as Casper and Deborah. Newton Miller and his wife Sophrona were also living with the Millers. The Miller farm also made use of hired laborers as two English farmer laborers, William and George Hensley, were listed as living with the Millers.
By 1860, the Casper Miller household began a pattern of decreasing size. The household’s members included only Casper, Deborah, their granddaughter Mary, and George Hensley. The rest of the Millers most likely left to establish their own farmsteads. Isaac Love with his wife Eliza Miller Love established a large farmstead in nearby Ithaca. In 1865, the household included only Casper and Deborah. Casper passed away in 1870. After Casper’s death it appears that Isaac Love managed both his farm and the Miller’s farm. Even with continued production on the farm, Deborah attempted to add to her household income by taking in boarders, such as a teacher, Nattie Somers. Isaac lived with his wife Mary, daughter Anna, son-in-law Benjamin Cornell, and grandchildren Alice and Cora Cornell. Benjamin Cornell was the nephew of Cornell University founder Ezra Cornell. The intermarriage of the Isaac Love family and the Cornell family suggests that the Loves were a wealthy family. Census records support this as the value of Isaac Love’s estate was listed as $11,300 (approximately $200,000 today). The Love family had a high level of economic stability, but the Millers economic standing was diminishing along with the household size. In 1850, the estate’s value was $9000, by 1860 it was $6000, but in 1865 and 1870 it was listed as $1000 (approximately $17,000 today). Such a decrease in value is not surprising. As the household heads aged, they became less able to work the farm and as a result farm income decreased with farm production.
It is unclear who was occupying the Miller farm for much of the 1870s and 1880s. It is uncertain when Deborah Miller died. As there is no listing for a Deborah Miller in the 1880 census enumeration for Dryden, it is probable that she passed away during the 1870s. The 1880 census lists the remaining Millers, Casper and Deborah’s granddaughters- Mary and Anna, as neighbors in Ithaca. In 1900, Casper and Deborah’s granddaughters, Mary McKinney and Anna McDonald lost the property. Based on the 1900 map and 1942 aerial photograph, the property was quickly changed from a residence to agricultural fields after the Miller family’s loss of the property.