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Rhoda Beebe

Location #1: NYS Historical Marker at 1 Hooker Avenue, Homer NY
(42.646085, -76.177735)

The year is 1791, and the whole of what would become Cortland County was an entirely wild place. No human called this land home. Even the last remaining Native American tribes had moved on to less hostile lands long ago. It is in this year that Mrs. Rhoda Beebe would become the very definition of a pioneer.

In the fall of 1791 Rhoda, her brother, Amos Todd, and her husband, Joseph Beebe paddled their way up the Tioughnioga River from Windsor to their newly purchased lot, in what would eventually become Homer. Having acquired the lots, sight unseen, they were dismayed to discover two miles of dense, impenetrable forest lying between them and their plot. While hastily erecting a pole cabin for shelter, their team of horses wandered into the ominous woods. Without so much as a roof over her head and only a blanket for a door, the men left Rhoda behind to search for the missing livestock. For three days and three nights, she awaited the men’s return. Her only companion was a hungry wolf whose searching nose appeared under the blanket serving as her door. Having finally found the horses, the menfolk returned and resumed work on the temporary shelter, much to Rhoda’s relief. Little did she know what terrible future these events had foreshadowed.

By the new year, the party found their supplies dwindling dangerously low. Rhoda had given birth to a daughter, Clara, and it was decided it would be safest if the mother and child remained behind while Joseph and Amos paddle back to Binghamton for necessities. What they couldn’t know was that an epic snowstorm was approaching just on their heels.

Location #2: Gravesite Plot 06-04-02 at Glenwood Cemetery at 51 S West St, Homer, NY
(42.632728, -76.192137)

The snow fell deep and hard for days, leaving the men marooned in Binghamton while Rhoda and her daughter faced the bitter cold alone. For weeks they endured, the food slowly running out until Rhoda was forced to subsist on a diet of roots and bark. The screams of a hungry cougar rang out across the snowscape threatening to drive her mad.

Still, she endured.

Six weeks in, during the stillness of pre-dawn she was awoken by the sounds of an approach. Hoping it was the men returning, she quickly dressed and attempted to prepare a meal with what meager staples remained. When after some time the noises faded and the sun rose, she pulled back the blanket still serving as a door, to search for them. Instead, she had found the wolf had returned, his tracks circling menacingly in the snow.

At the end of the sixth week, cold and hunger sapping Rhoda’s strength, she devised a perilous plan. Gathering all her courage, she decided to march by foot, through the oppressive snow, following the riverbanks back to Binghamton, lest she and her daughter starve. Not more than a mile into her journey, from around the river bend, a canoe appeared! Her heart leapt with joy and relief at her brother and husband’s safe return.

That summer Rhoda and her family successfully bushwacked their way to their lot in Homer, where they built their homestead, making her the first, and perhaps bravest, settler in all of Cortland County. Rhoda was remembered by all for her tenacity, grit, and calm demeanor in the face of trials and tribulations.

1. Cemetery, Glenwood et al. “Rhoda Todd Beebe (1765-1832) – Find A Grave…”. Findagrave.Com, 2022,
2. “RHODA BEEBE | William G. Pomeroy Foundation”. William G. Pomeroy Foundation, 2022,
3. Lash, Lynne. “First Settlers: Joseph And Rhode Beebe And Amos Todd : Cortland County Historical Society”. Cortland County Historical Society, 2022,
4. Lash, Lynne. “Moses Hopkins And Johnathan Hubbard – First Settlers In Town Of Cortland : Cortland County Historical Society”. Cortland County Historical Society, 2022,