The will of William Stickney of Edmeston, Otsego County, New York, 1790 - 1854

These days I live in Morris, NY. I was trying to trace the land that my house is on back to the time that it was in the hands of the Oneida tribe of the Iroquois and come up with a list of owners from them to me.

In doing that I have been going through the Federal Census records. I took quite a long look at the 1880 Census and saw that the village of Morris had a photographer at that time. His name was Laroy Stickney. My middle name is Laroy and I have never seen the name used anywhere else. Most of the time I see Leroy or Leroi. Stickney is not a common name either so I googled Laroy Stickney and learned a bit about the family. His grandfather was one of the founders of nearby Edmeston.

I have found the graves of a number of Stickneys in the Deming Cemetery in Edmeston. I took some photos and put them at the link below and on the following sites.

I made a trip to the county courthouse in Cooperstown, NY and found the will of William Stickney for some of his relatives who I contacted through

Mr. William Stickney did not think that burial expenses were a wise way to spend money. I quote part of his will below

"Section 9
Having ever been averse to the prevailing and expensive custom of burying the dead as being of no possible benefit to them but on the contrary, imposing a useless and in many instances an oppressive burthen and tax upon the industry of the living it's my desire that my burial be attended with as little expense as shall be consistent with the common decency and propriety but that my remains be placed in a coffin the expense of which shall not exceed the sum of five dollars and that no greater sum that ten dollars shall be expended in erecting a monument to mark the spot where they repose."

In the old days the will would be taken to the court and then hand copied into large books. Many of the documents copied in that way have been digitized. Even Otsego County has started the process. The wills recorded in 1854 have not yet been digitized so they offer to make photocopies for you at the rate of $0.25 per page. The books are large and it is almost a workout for the clerks to wrestle them onto the flatbed scanner.

PDFs of the three pages that it took to record the will of William Stickney are linked below. The clerk doing the recording has very clear handwriting. One part of the will that was pretty interesting was that William felt an expensive burial was a waste and a burden so he asked that the executors of his will keep expenses down.

You can zoom in to 200% and the handwriting becomes very legible, at least to me. The more you read the easier it becomes to decipher.