In the spring of 1776, the year that the notorious "Stamp Act" was repealed, Russell Gregory put up the first log house in Colchester, made a small clearing on the east side of the Delaware and planted apple seeds which he took from Connecticut, from which the trees in the apple orchard below Brock's bridge, two miles above Downsville, were raised. The river in those days was the only highway; and the log cabin which Gregory first erected in 1766 stood close by its side, at the end of the second row of trees in that orchard, opposite the middle of an island. The old chimney has now fallen into the river, but the stones of which it was constructed are yet to be seen beneath the waters of the stream.
The names of the heads of the several families settled on the Colchester section of the Delaware before the Revolution , so far as we have been able to ascertain, were Jacob Barnhart, Frederick Miller, Daniel Wilson, William Commins, Silas Parish, Daniel Bowker, Russell Gregory, William Rose and Timothy Gregory; and on the Beaver kill, John Cook, Israel Dodge. -------Herbe, William Kemble and Joel Baxter.
In the period between the first arrival of the settlers and their flight from the Indians, in the time of the Revolutionary war, there were about twenty children born of white parentage within the bounds of Colchester. The first born after the Revolution was Catharine Rose.
INCIDENTS OF THE REVOLUTION.
In 1777 the Indians began to harass the settlers; probably at the instigation of the tories. They constructed a kind of a fort on what is called the middle hill, on the west side of the river, about a mile below Downsville, the remains of which were long afterward known as the Indian and tory house. It was a place of general rendezvous of marauders styled "cow boys," and was a source of great terror to the peaceful inhabitants of the valley, who lay at their mercy.
Most of the pioneers had been here about nine or ten years when the Revolutionary war began, and they were loth to leave the new homes which their own hands had reared, and the fields they had cleared by the still waters of the Delaware. In the second year of the war the farmers west of the Hudson employed two young men named Bowker and Osterhout in the capacity of scouts to watch the movements of the Indians and tories on the outside settlements. Their pay was a bushel of wheat per day, each man. One day in the fall of 1777, while these scouts were standing on the point of land at the junction of the Delaware and Beaver kill, which is now the site of the Baptist church, they saw a party of Indians coming up the river. The scouts staid until they had counted thirteen canoes filled with Indians, and, thinking it imprudent to tarry any longer, lest they might be discovered by the approaching flotilla, they waded up the edge of the Beaver kill for some distance and then crossed the river that the savages might not notice their tracks on the sand; their design being to follow the stream for a while, then to cross the mountain and apprise the inhabitants in the Delaware valley of the advent of their dreaded enemies. But these precautions of the two men were unavailing. Some of the Indians landed on the point of the bank where Bowker and Osterhout had stood, discovered some marks left by them among the bushes, and followed on their track like a pack of bloodhounds. The Indians overtook the two scouts as they were crossing Willawemoc. Osterhout had got over and was putting on this shoes on the opposite bank, but Bowker was yet in the middle of the river when his pursuers emerged from the thickets by the side of the stream behind him. The Indians gave a whoop and called to him to stop. Bowker, who was a very resolute man, replied to the challenge by turning round and discharging his rifle at them; in the action he slipped on the pebbles in the bottom of the stream and fell under the water, his canteen floating down the river. The Indians put six bullets through it. It was fortunate thing for Bowker that he slipped, for had he had the chance to take deliberate aim, in all likelihood he would have killed some of the Indians, and then, undoubtedly, it would have gone hard with the two scouts.
The Indians, with all their faults, had the magnanimity of admiring courage in a man, and they motioned to Bowker and Osterhout to come back and they would give them quarter. Seeing that flight or resistance was useless, they returned and gave up their arms to their captors. The Indians afterward raided on the inhabitants in the settlement for provisions, but injured none of them personally, nor otherwise destroyed any of their property at this time. In a few days they departed, sailing down the river again with their two white captives, whom they designed to take to Canada. It was a tedious journey for them both. Osterhout was taken sick and was scarcely able to travel, and the Indians entertained no fears of him, and gave him little attention. But of Bowker they were exceedingly cautious, watching him closely through the day, and fastening him every night to the ground, on his back, with stakes across his breast, arms and legs, and crotches driven into the earth.
In this manner at last they drew near to the great river of Canada -- the St. Lawrence. One night their captives lay in a wigwam with two Indians and a squaw for their guards. During the night these three slept, and Bowker asked his companion if he would not try to loose him, which after some time he succeeded in doing. Bowker, getting to his feet, seized one of the Indians' rifles and struck the owner a heavy blow on the head with the butt end of the piece. The sleeping man shouted and endeavored to get up, but a second blow laid him motionless. The other Indian awakened by the noise, started up, and before Bowker could hit him he had darted out of the wigwam and was lost in the forest.
There was no time for delay, as the Indian who fled would carry the news to his companions; and the patriots took the two rifles and what ammunition they could find and quickly left, with the hope of finding their way back through the wilderness to the American lines on the Hudson river. Osterhout was still very weak, and his colleague had to help him along. They were afraid to light a fire; or to shoot any game, lest it might attract the attention of the Indians, who they knew were on their track; and they subsisted chiefly by digging roots, and catching fish in the little brooks along their path.
Meantime the Indians had sent an intimation to all the settlements on the Susquehanna, Schoharie and Delaware, that if any harbored or gave the least aid to the two fugitives, they would be tortured three days over a slow fire, and finally consumed, man woman and child.
Bowker and Osterhout, after much suffering, as the sun was sinking in the west arrived on the ridge of the mountain overlooking the Delaware valley west of the present village of Downsville; from thence they saw the log hut of their old friend Timothy Gregory, which then stood on the east bank of the river, at the foot of the hill a little above Radeker's bridge. The remained upon the mountain until after nightfall, as they were suspicious that there might be some tories in the neighborhood, and they did not wish to bring any harm upon those who might succor them, being aware of the proclamation of the Indians, and knowing well their revengeful character. When darkness fell over the valley they waded the river (there was no bridge in those days), and came to the house of Gregory. Rapping at the door that worthy appeared and at once recognized the young soldiers, notwithstanding their forlorn and wretched appearance, and kindly welcomed them, heedless of the danger to himself and family should it be discovered by their enemies. Bowker and Osterhout staid there three days with their host, never leaving the house, and concealing themselves in the chamber if any one approached. For a great while no one but the family, and a young girl who lived with them -- a relative of Mrs. Gregory -- knew anything of the temporary hiding place of the scouts during the three days that they staid in the valley. After they had considerably regained their strength, and recovered from the effects of the ill usage which they had received of their captors, Mr. Gregory one morning before daylight conducted them down the side of the river to what is now known as monument No. 6. This is the west end of a property line where it strikes the Delaware river, six miles below Downsville; it was surveyed by Charles Webb, in 1754, and is the division line between great lots No. 5 and No. 6 of the Hardenbergh patent. It runs south 54 degrees east through the center of Eel pond, and crosses the mountain ranges and valleys of Delaware and Sullivan counties, nearly at right angles, to the valley of the Hudson. This line was marked by blazed trees at short intervals the whole way, and formed an excellent guide through the wilderness to the eastern settlements. Timothy Gregory gave the scouts provisions for their journey, and put them on this line, charging them to tell the military authorities, when they got back to headquarters, of the very precarious condition of the settlers upon the exposed frontier in the valley of the Delaware.
The two scouts arrived safely in a few days at their destination, but Osterhout died shortly afterward from the exposure and fatigue he had undergone. Bowker informed the commandant of the American forces on the Hudson of the danger surrounding the families on the upper Delaware, as Mr. Gregory had desired him to do, and the officer sent a guard of his soldiers to convey them all back to places of more security, within the American lines.
Most of the settlers before they left hid their iron ware, such as chains, kettles, etc., in the ground, and found them seven years afterward when they returned, except such as had been discovered and stolen by the Indians or tories. They all burnt their grain stacks and destroyed everything that they could not carry or drive away, to prevent them from falling into the hands of the enemy.
Many years after that eventful period, old Mrs. Miller, the wife of Frederick Miller, who resided at that time about half a mile above Holiday's bridge, where Shuffle Shaver's house now stands, used to tell how she and some of the neighboring women sat up all the night before they left, repairing clothes and stockings for their children on their journey, by the light of the blazing wheat stacks. By noon the following day all were gone, and the ringing sound of the woodman's ax for seven years ceased to be heard amidst the sylvan hills and valleys of Colchester.
Shortly after the white settlers had left the Colchester section of the Delaware, the Indians who were the allies of the Mohawk chief Brant in his attacks upon Minisink and the other border settlements established their headquarters at Pepacton.
This vicinity had been the center of an Indian union of tribes, according to their traditions, in very remote times. They used to tell the early white settlers of a great battle that was fought between different nations of their race on the plains by the river below Pepacton, which decided the fate of the confederacy adversely. There have been a great many Indian arms -- arrows and spearheads of flint, tomahawks, etc. -- turned up by the plough on these flats, which seem to confirm the legend.
In the early years of the war a large party of Indians had formed an establishment on the Ouleout, from whence they made raids on the settlements in every direction, generally in the interest of the tories or cow boys, who made a business of stealing the people's cattle and selling them to the British to feed their armies. These fellows had taken some offense at a German settler of the name of William Rose, a peaceful and industrious man who lived near where the village of Downsville now is. He probably had revealed something that he knew concerning their nefarious practices. Be that as it may, they sent a crew of redhawks from that nest on the Ouleout to make a foray on this little property. The log cabin of William Rose was situated on the upper side of the road, where stands the grove of butternut trees, just above Rock eddy. One day this humble and lonely dwelling was surrounded by Indians, no one being in the house but Mrs. Rose and three little children; her oldest boy, William, about fourteen years of age, was down by the side of the river making a light canoe to sail on the stream. Some of the band entered the house and inquired for her husband. She told them he had gone away in the morning on a hunting excursion, as she supposed, and she could not tell when he would be back. Then they demanded food for their party, and she made them a dish of corn-meal pudding, and gave it to them to eat, with maple-sugar. They then said that as she was a good woman in making them a breakfast they would not injure anything in her house, but they would take the four cows in the lot, and the boy whom they saw by the river to drive them; and if they found the old man anywhere they would take him also. The Indians when traveling in hilly countries keep the ridge of the mountains, contrary to the habits of white men, who commonly travel through the valleys. The principal Indian path in former days between the two branches of the Delaware was the mountain ridge between the Wilson Hollow and Trout brook; and now, when the Indians departed, after burning Rose's wheat stack, taking his four cows and his boy along with them, they went up the hill behind Liddle's barn, crossing Tub-Mill brook near where Barber's house is, on their way to their lair near the Susquehanna. They had not gone far when one of the cows turned around and ran home, and they sent the little boy to drive her back. Willie did not want to go with the Indians, and pleaded with his mother to let him run away and hide in the woods. But Mrs. Rose was a determined woman, and knew the hellish nature of the savages; so she told her boy that he must go, or they surely would return and kill his little brother and sister. Thus she prevailed with him to return to his captors, and went along with him helping to drive the cow. It was not long before they met a couple of Indians coming back, and they told Mrs. Rose it was well for her family that she had done as the did; and she understood by their talk that the return of the cow was allowed designedly, that they might have an excuse to get the scalps of her children, on account of the premium they could get for them. After bidding what she thought was a final farewell to her boy, she returned to her home.
While the Indians were harrying the home of William Rose, he was quietly grinding corn in a mill he had built at the fall on the brook a little above Downsville. (It was a kind of machine then common in the new settlements, called a tub-mill, and was the first grist-mill and application of water power in the township of Colchester. The little stream called Tub-Mill brook will long perpetuate the memory of the legend concerning William Rose. The marauders crossed the brook higher up, and so Rose escaped; but they took away his boy to their place of rendezvous on the Ouleout, and afterward to Canada, where he was conscripted into the British army. On being discharged, after the peace, he returned to his native place; he afterward married Mary Gregory, and a good many of their descendants are now living in the town of Colchester.
Mr. Louis Williams stated that when a boy he and some of his companions, while fishing in Downs brook, shortly after the Revolutionary war, at a place called Thomsons turn, a little above Downsville, discovered a quantity of pots and cooking utensils which had been hid in a hollow place by the side of the brook and covered over with brushwood. From certain marks upon them it was decided that they had once belonged to families on the Susquehanna, and were doubtless carried higher by some party of savages upon a marauding excursion to the locality.
He also told of a noted tory robber named Reuben Peters, who had his den beside the Indian village near Downsville in 1778. In one of his forays into Schoharie he had got a considerable amount of gold and silver coin, which he hid in the ground on the hill back of the village, marking the place by cutting the letters R. P. on a beech tree in the neighborhood. Peters was mortally wounded in one of his exploits soon afterwards, and he told a comrade of the coin and its place of concealment. Williams had often seen the letters on the tree. The high mountain top north of Downsville called Money Point derived its name from this circumstance. It is hardly necessary to add that although many a search has been made for the treasure it still remains where R. P. placed it.
In the summer of 1778 a company of about twenty-five men had been sent from the East to assist in the defense of the settlements upon the Susquehanna, which were threatened with devastation by the Indians under the noted chief Brant. They crossed the Catskill mountains, and on passing down the east branch of the Delaware they were informed by their scouts of a large encampment of Indians below Pepacton, on what is now known as Early's Flat. Not wishing to encounter this force, they turned up Cole's Clove, and crossing the notch at the height of land descended the valley of Downs brook. Toward evening, as they were looking for a place to bivouac for the night, about half a mile above where Downsville now stands, they came unexpectedly upon a party of Indians, who had a number of wigwams and a considerable clearing on the brook flat. As soon as they entered this opening they received a volley from the Indians, who were probably aware of their approach. One of the white men was killed and several wounded by that discharge. Retreating into the bushes, the company crossed the brook where there is a steep bank on the east side, opposite the old Methodist parsonage, and there they held the Indians at bay. In those days the hillside behind them was covered with a forest of dense hemlock and pine, where they maintained a desultory fight with the Indians for several hours. The battle commenced about five o'clock in the afternoon and lasted until darkness closed over the scene, when all was silence.
The number of Indian warriors engaged in this affair is said to have been about thirty or thirty-five, so that the numerical strength of the opposing parties was not far from equal; but perhaps the superior arms and skill of the white men gave them the victory. They lay on the mountain side all night, intending to renew the fight in the morning, when, making a reconnoisance of the enemy's camp, they found it completely deserted and not a living Indian to be seen. They had lost two or three of their own men in the affray, and they found four dead Indians among the bushes; and probably the red men, as was their custom, had carried some of their fallen friends away. The soldiers buried their dead comrades beneath the greenwood tree, but no one of the present inhabitants of Colchester has any knowledge of the spot where they were laid. The eastern soldiers then pursued their journey unmolested toward the Susquehanna.
To Louis Williams, who died a few years ago at the advanced age of ninety-three, we are indebted for the details of the battle of Williams's Flat. His father, Stephen Williams, settled on the site of the Indian village shortly after the Revolution, and he remembered seeing the remains of the wigwams. They were hollowed about two feet below the general surface of the ground, and part of the burnt wicker work was still standing. An old Indian, who had been engaged in the conflict, and long afterward lingered about the neighborhood, used to tell the story of their defeat and the destruction of their village by the ruthless white men who came upon them form the side of the rising sun, after they thought the last of them had left forever to the red men the hunting and fishing grounds of the Delaware.
REAL ESTATE DIVISIONS.
The first survey of the lands in the Hardenbergh patent, which covers all the territory of the town of Colchester, was made by Ebenezer Wooster in 1749. That was a very dry summer and consequently well adapted for work in the forest. No rain fell that summer for one hundred and eight days in succession. It was the dryest known in America since its settlement by white men, except one which occurred thirteen years later (1762), when no rain fell from the 1st of May to the 10th of September in the region comprising the eastern and middle States.
Wooster, in the employ of the heirs of the Hardenbergh patentees, in 1749 surveyed the east branch of the Delaware, then called the Fishkill, from the forks to its source; and the following year Robert Livingston surveyed the west branch. Many of the monuments made by Wooster in 1749 were lost or could not be identified, and another survey was made by Charles Webb in 1754. Webb divided the lands in the patent into great lots, about five miles wide.
One of the principal landmarks in Colchester made by Webb is monument No. 6. It is situated on Gregory Island, opposite the bend on the river called Tim's turn, five miles below Downsville. The original witnesses were a pile of stones near a beech tree, cornered and marked "R. L. & D. B." i.e., Robert Livingston and Des Brosses. This is the place to which Timothy Gregory in 1777 conducted the American scouts, who had escaped from their Indian captors.
In the spring of 1776 great lot No. 37 was divided into three sections, styled the eastern, middle and western allotments, otherwise the Tremper, the Ellis and the Atkinson tracts. The surveyor was Jacob Tremper. The first of these tracts is in Andes; the second, Ellis, in Colchester, and the third, Atkinson, is partly in Colchester and partly in Hamden and Walton.
After the Revolution, when the industries of the country revived and the material advancement of the new nation made rapid progress, James Cockburn, in 1788, surveyed and subdivided several of the great lots on the west side of the river, viz., the middle allotment or Ellis tract and great lot No. 36. The western allotment or Atkinson tract in great lot No. 37 was subdivided by the surveyor Jonah Smith.
The eastern half of great lot 36 comprises that part of Colchester on the west side of the river lying between the old Gregory homestead (settled in 1806 and now occupied by John Warren) and the house of H. C. Smith, and on which is situated the chief village of the township. Cockburn ran out these lands as follows: The divisions he made were from thirty-four to forty chains wide, and extended all the way from the east to the west branch of the Delaware. The town line between Colchester and Walton crosses these divisions about in the middle, so that nearly one-half of the area is in Colchester.
The following were Cockburn's subdivisions of great lot No. 36, with the names of the persons who received them, and the number of acres in each.
Division 56, Johanna Freir, 2,998; 57, Filkin & Schuyler, 2,914; 58, Jaupie Vankteck, 2,958; 59, Lawrence Vankteck, 2,923; 60, Barent & John Lewis, 3,057-1/4; 61, Thomas Lewis, 3,188-3/4; 62, Bartholomew Cranell, 3,739-1/2; 63, Cornelia Kipp, 3,668-1/2; 64, Gussie Roberts, 2,976-1/2; 65, Sarah Fitzhart, 3,038-3/4; 66, Leonard Lewis, 3,095-3/4.
The land that fell to Leonard Lewis upon the division of the Hardenbergh patent among the patentees contained about one hundred and forty-five thousand seven hundred and ninety-two acres, which he left by will to be divided among his eleven children; and to one of his daughters, Trinitie, fell a considerable part of the present domain of Colchester. This is the reason that a good many of the great lots are subdivided into elevenths, it being in compliance with the will of Leonard Lewis. There is a peculiarity to be observed in all the surveys made by James Cockburn at this time. From some unknown cause the lines on the two sides of this division do not run parallel, in consequence of which the divisions are wider at one end than at the other. In the eleven miles between the east and west branches of the Delaware the departure is about ten rods, the wide end of one division lying next to the narrow end of the adjoining one, which fact has been ascertained by actual measurement of many of the divisions in Delaware, Ulster, and Sullivan counties. In 1792 Cockburn returned and subdivided several of the divisions south of division 64 into farm lots of 160 acres each, numbering them for settlement. The village of Downsville is situated on the east end of division 63. It takes its name from Colonel Downs, whose grave overlooks the valley from the summit of the hill north of the village.
DEVELOPMENT AFTER THE REVOLUTION.
The intermediate period in the annals of Colchester extending over the nine years from the return of the refugees in 1783 to the organization of the town in 1792, is invested with peculiar interest. Most of the former inhabitants came back, and they were soon joined by many more, chiefly young men from New England, who had been soldiers in the Revolutionary war. One of the principal material resources of Colchester in its early days was the magnificent forest of maple, pine and hemlock that clothed the mountains and valleys; and the floating of rafts down the river to Philadelphia had a fascination about it which seemed congenial to the ardent spirits of men who had spent the years of their youthful prime amidst the exciting scenes of war.
An important source of food supply in the earliest times seems to have been the shad fishery in the river. In the investigation of the title to the land between the branches of the Delaware river in 1785, a number of affidavits were submitted. One of these affidavits contains the following: "Joshua Pine, junior, ages twenty-four years, being duly sworn, deposeth and saith that his father having purchased lands in Jno. Walton's patent, on the west side of the west of Cockquago branch of the Delaware river, he, the deponent, went with his father to settle there in the month of May, and in the year 1785; that some time in the month of June in the same year the deponent went down the Pawpacton, or east branch of the Delaware river, with a canoe, from the settlements at Pawpacton to Schehawken, and thence up the west branch to Walton's patent; * * * that shad did not run up the west branch so high as Walton's patent, to the knowledge of any of the settlers, but that the shad came up to about Cookhurse [the 'Cookhouse' -- Deposit]; and also that the people of Pawpacton told the deponent that they had caught thirteen hundred shad the year before, at one haul, in Pawpacton river; that the deponent never heard of any such quantity being caught in the west branch." Another deponent, Petrus Dumond, declares "that during the time he lived on the east branch of Delaware, near Paghkatacan [beginning in 1763], he frequently fished for shad below Papacunk [Pepacton] during their season, as also above the mouth of Beaver kill, or Whelenaughwemack, when he caught large quantities of shad. This deponent remembers the time when the white people settled at Papacunk caught as many shad at one fishing, about three miles below their settlements, as served the whole of their families for that season as this deponent was informed."
The names of those who settled in Colchester in the first decade after the Revolution were Abraham Sprague, Enoch Knapp, Nathan Elwood, Captain Hagar, Joseph Gee, William Horton, James Miller, Nathan Fuller, Sebora G. Stephens, Daniel Parrish, Silas Parrish, Abraham Huntley, Benjamin Cole, Daniel Bowker, Silas Bowker, W. June, --- Denham, Anthony Loyd, Eleazer Conklin, Isaac Wilson, Peter Van Bogart, Henry Sutton, Caleb Sutton, Henry Roff, Gilbert Earley, Thomas Calbreth, Henry Dibbell, Henry Kitt, J. Purvis, Stephen Williams, Nathan Williams, William Firmen, Ebenezer Raymond, Isaac Brainard, Peter Avery, Henry Avery, Nehemiah Avery, William Holliday, Benjamin Pine, Jacob Radeker, John Radeker, Richard Townsend, ---- Scott, James Wright, Cornelius Redcliffe, Samuel Lingley, Joseph Lingley, Reuben Barnes, Lazarus Sprague, Ephraim Sprague, Tho. Baker, Daniel Hunter, Elisha Tanner, ---- Holmes.
Dr. Adam Doll was the first physician in the town. He opened the first store, and built the first bridge over the river on the present site of Brock's bridge.
Abraham Sprague and Daniel Bowker ran the first raft down the Delaware river from Colchester, consisting of spar timber for the shipyards of Philadelphia; and many of the difficult turns, islands, rocky rifts, eddies, etc., still retain the names bestowed upon them by these pioneers in the lumber business.
Sprague was a deadly enemy to the Indians, on account of their savage treatment of his father, whom they captured and put to death under circumstances of great barbarity in the time of the old French war. The name of Abe Sprague, like that of Tom Quick was known far and wide among the Indian tribes. Cobert Wilson used to tell that long after this period, while traveling in the western part of the State, being benighted, he lodged in an Indian's hut. The red man treated him kindly, asking no questions, as is usual in the habits of the race. On taking leave of his host in the morning, offering his hand, Wilson told him if ever he came to Delaware county to be sure and give him a call. The Indian started back, suspecting the dangerous character of the man he had harbored from the title of the locality from which he hailed, and exclaimed, "Naa, Naa! Me no come to Delawa! Big Yankee Sprague would kill Indian!"
The first saw-mill in the town was built by June & Denham; it stood on the binnacle below the house of Orton Shaver, was driven by water from the river, and was used to cut up the pine timber.
William Horton tanned the first leather that ever was manufactured in the county of Delaware. He was elected the first supervisor of Colchester, and seven years afterward the first representative of the new county in the Legislature.
David Phelps was the first lawyer in the town. He came from Connecticut at the same time with General Root, and settled on the east branch of the Delaware, while Root settled on the west branch. He made a great effort to have the capital of the new county established in his section, but Root, who contended for the west branch, finally prevailed, and had it fixed at Delhi, which the general wished to call Mapleton, instead of adopting the Hindoo title.
David Phelps, advanced in years, died at Deposit, and his remains were taken back to Colchester and buried in the neighborhood he loved so well, in the graveyard by Downsville.
The first school in what is now the town of Colchester was established in 1784, by Daniel Parrish; the school-house stood on the upper end of the glacial knoll at the entrance into Cole's Clove, five miles above Downsville. It was a building constructed of squared timber, and the stones that formed its foundation are no longer there. We are indebted for this information to Elisha Conklin, aged eighty-six years, who attended school in his early days in the old school house; he says it was built of pine planks.
Parrish was a professional school master in New England before the Revolution; he had been in the country of the upper Delaware, helping to make the surveys, about 1750, and moved into Colchester from Dutchess county at the conclusion of the Revolutionary war with his family, in which there were three daughters, Betsey, Susan and Mary; they afterward married in the settlement, and from them are descended many of the natives of Colchester.
After a busy and useful life, Daniel Parrish was buried beside others of the early settlers of the valley, on a little plateau on the bank of the river at the foot of the mountain, just below Cole's Clove. In the last decade of the eighteenth century, in the month of October, there was a great flood in the Delaware, when the river rose far above the usual high water mark; it carried away the interesting spot upon which this primitive graveyard lay, and the ashes of many of the first inhabitants of Colchester, who had borne the brunt of the Revolution, were, like those of him who is styled "the morning star of the Reformation," scattered far and wide over the bottom of river and ocean.
The first marriage in the town of Colchester after the Revolution was that of Abraham Sprague and Mary Parrish, which took place on December 14th, 1788. The ceremony was performed by the Rev. Bezaleel Howe, a Baptist minister who conducted the early religious services on the east branch of the Delaware. The bridegroom, Abraham Sprague, was twenty-two years of age. He had been a soldier in the Revolutionary war in the company styled the Washington Guards, and was present in that capacity at the execution of Major Andre. He came to Colchester in 1784, and took up the farm, then all forest, which is now occupied by George Warren, opposite Downsville. The bride, Mary Parrish, was in her twenty-first year. She was of medium height, with blue eyes and auburn hair, and was said by those who knew her in after years to have been a person of a very gentle disposition. Mrs. Sprague survived her husband several years, and died in the house of her grandson, Abraham Sprague, at the extreme age of ninety years, December 30th, 1858. Her remains lie beside those of the partner of her youth, in the burial-ground on the hill by the school-house on Long Flat.
The dates of the earliest deaths recorded in the town are those on the gray stone slabs in the Phelps burial-ground, situated on a hill on the east side of the river two miles below Downsville. Here we read that "Thomas Gregory died December 31st, 1788, aged 20 years." He was among the first whites born in the town. Old Frederick Miller, who died not long ago in Telford Hollow, was then three years old; but he was born in Pennsylvania, and his father moved into the Delaware valley that year, and settled near the north border of the present township, where three daughters were born to him before the family left, during the Revolution. Other inscriptions in this ancient graveyard are: "Josiah Gregory, died Dec. 14th 1796 aged 25 years;" "Timothy Gregory, died Dec. --, 1821, aged 78 years;" therefore he must have been twenty-three years old when he first came to Delaware in 1766.
William Sprague, whose death was the first in the new town of Colchester, died in 1793, aged three years. He was buried beside his grandfather, Daniel Parrish, in the graveyard which was carried away by the river in 1795.
In the fourteen years that elapsed between the close of the Revolutionary war and the organization of Delaware county in 1797, there were five grist-mills erected within the limits of Colchester, viz.,: one at Pepacton, said to be the first, put up by Daniel Wilson; one at Henry Radeker's place, built by William Horton; one on Huntley brook, built by Abraham Huntley; one at the mouth of Fall Clove, built by Anthony Lloyd; and one on Brock's brook, built by Lazarus Sprague. There were also two woolen-mills and two leather factories erected in the same period.
The level lands by the side of the Delaware as it runs through Colchester are naturally very fertile, which fertility is perpetually renewed by the annual overflow of the river. They were very productive of grain when first cleared, as they are to-day of grass. It is stated on good authority that in the mill belonging to William Horton seven thousand bushels of wheat were often ground in one year.
One of the first settlers in the valleys back from the river was Isaac Wilson, who located in 1789 in the hollow that bears his name.
The first framed house in Colchester was built by James I. White. It stood near the center of the present village of Downsville, and was purchased by Abel Downs when he settled in Colchester, in 1797.
The first two framed barns in the town were put up by Timothy Gregory and William Rose. The first is still a good barn, and was shingled anew in the autumn of 1879, after having stood about ninety years. It is at Gregory Town. The other, which stood on Downs Flat, near Rock Eddy, has now disappeared.
One of the most important industrial occupations of the town is cutting and peeling hemlock timber for rafting and tanning purposes. There is a tannery on the Beaver kill side of the town, two miles below the Midland railroad depot at Cook's Falls, owned by B. T. Buckley & Son.
There are thirty-six saw-mills in the town. Three of them are worked by steam power; one at Radeker's bridge, another on Trout brook, and another on Chamberlain's brook in the Beaver kill section. All are engaged in preparing lumber, principally for the Philadelphia and New York markets.
The pastures of Colchester, as in the rest of the county, are sweet and nutritious, abounding with springs of the purest water. The country is well adapted for feeding sheep and cattle, and dairying is the chief business of a great part of the population.
The first Christian preacher in Colchester was Brainard, the Indian missionary.
The first religious organization among the whites was Baptist; one of the earliest ministers was Bezaleel Howe, who conducted the services in the valley shortly after the Revolution. His successors were Rev. Messrs. Wolsey, Hayne and others.
The second religious organization was Methodist; among the earliest preachers of this denomination was James Scofield, who preached in 1795.
The Colchester Presbyterian Church, Downsville, was organized November 15 1825, under the Congregational form of government, by a committee of the Northern Associate Presbytery.
The original number of members was fourteen. A revival in 1831, conducted by evangelists named Wilcox and Littlejohn, added many to the church.
Dr. G. W. Page presented the society a lot, on which a church was built in 1832.
March 18th, 1833, the church united with the Delaware Presbytery, and became strictly Presbyterian.
Its pastors and stated supplies have been: Revs. F. Harrington, Frederick Janes, C. Chapman, Francis Janes, Edward F. B. Orton, Henry Herrick, Isaac N. Hurd, G. W. McMillan, F.A. Hamilton, George Staunburgh and G. M. Janes.
This is the oldest church in Downsville, and throughout its entire history has exerted an influence on the side of right and truth that can never be fully estimated.
At present it has a church edifice with a capacity for seating six hundred, and one of the finest and most commodious parsonages in the southern part of the State.
Its pastor, Rev. G. M. Janes, has been with the church about four years, and in that time the membership has increased over fifty. With steadily increasing numbers, efficient officers and a united congregation, this church bids fair to accomplish a grand work in the future of the town.
The Methodist church of Colchester, having greatly increased in membership and influence as well as the sister churches, erected a commodious place of worship in 1850. The Rev. Mr. Heroy is the present pastor of the congregation.
ORGANIZATION AND CIVIL HISTORY.
The name of Colchester was first given by the Anglo-Saxons to a celebrated city upon the eastern coast of England, the ancient Camaladumum, one of the first Roman stations in Britain, fifty miles north of London.
By some English emigrants from that place in the seventeenth century the title was conferred upon a town in Connecticut, and Joseph Gee, from that locality, suggested the name for the new town formed on the east branch of the Delaware.
The first town. meeting was held April 10th, I792, at the house of Frederick Miller, half a mile above Holliday's bridge, upon the site where Shufelt Shaver's house now is.
William Horton was elected supervisor, and Captain Hagar, Jonas Lakins and John Cook were chosen to other offices.
Colchester was one of the seven original towns composing the county of Delaware at its formation in 1797. William Horton, a citizen of this town, was the first representative of the new county in the Legislature, and Robert Beates, a native of the town, was elected to the same office November 4th, 1879. Thus Colchester still maintains her status among her sister towns.
The political majorities in Colchester have generally been Democratic, except during the civil war, when the town warmly supported the administration of Lincoln, a great part of her young men being in the Union army. When the last call was made for more troops by President Lincoln, there were only twenty-eight men left in the town liable to military duty.
During the last forty five years the population of Colchester has ranged as shown in the following figures from the State census returns: 1835, 1,516; 1840, 1,567; 1845, 1,858; 1850, 2,184; 1855, 2,360; 1860, 2,480; 1865, 2,446; 1870, 2,652; 1875, 2,724; showing constant gain with the exception of a trifling loss during the Rebellion.
The oldest cemetery in the town is the one designated the Early burial-ground, which is said to have been a place of burial of the native Indians long before the arrival of the white men. The first of the latter race buried there was Sarah Miller, who died in 1796, about twenty-three years of age; she was born in Colchester before the Revolution.
The Phelps graveyard is on a hill on the east side of the river near Radeker's bridge. The oldest date among the epitaphs is 1788.
The Gregory burying-ground, four miles below Downsville, on the east side of the river, was laid out in 1855.
In the Wilson cemetery, in Wilson Hollow, the first person buried was the infant child of Peter Wilson, who died in 1841.
The graveyard on the east side of the river opposite Downsville dates back to about seven years before the beginning of this century. The first person buried there was Sally Hill, who died October 12th, 1794, aged two years. The greatest age on any tombstone is that of William Holiday, 104 years.
The Downsville cemetery was !aid out in 1864. The first person buried in it was Edwin H. Elwood, who died aged seventeen, December 21st, 1864, just seventy-one years after the death of William Sprague, the first person who died in the town of Colchester.
The first interment in the burial-ground of Butternut Grove, on the west side of the Beaver kill, was that of Phoebe Francisco, who died in 1828, aged eighteen years.
Half a mile below Downsville, where the river hugs the mountain at Rock Eddy, on the upper side of the road, there stands a remarkable hemlock tree; it springs from two distinct roots, about three feet apart, forming two columns, which, gradually approaching each other, unite between ten and twelve feet from the ground, and from thence constitute a perfect tree, about two feet in diameter and sixty feet high. There are some very old orchards by the river side, said to have been planted by the Indians; but as the trees are set to the cardinal points of the compass it is more likely to have been the work of a race acquainted with that instrument--probably some French settlers from Canada in the early part of the eighteenth century.
There is a hemlock tree over two feet in diameter standing on the line between divisions 63 and 64, upon the north side of the hill opposite the school-house in the Wilson Hollow. While it was a young tree about six inches through it had been marked by some sharp instrument, probably an Indian weapon, in I535. Two hundred and fifty-three concentric rings of annual growth over this mark is a blaze made by James Cockburn in 1788; and over another twenty-eight annual rings is a blaze made by Christopher Tappan in 1816.
The time when the red race first arrived in the valley of the Delaware is very uncertain. They raised no stone above another to remain as their monument: but there are many of their arrow-heads still to be found scattered over the river and brook flats. These are quite familiar to antiquarians in all lands, being constructed of flint of various colors, having a triangular shape, and generally from one to three inches in length, some of them having a projection at the broad end to insert into the shaft of the arrow, some of them square across, and others indented in the shape of a heart. Years ago, while watching his father's cattle on the moors of Scotland, the writer used to find numbers of arrow-heads exactly like these in shape and color. The country people called them elf arrows, and the legend was that they had been used by demons in their infernal depredations upon humanity.
The growth and prosperity of the village of Downsville may be dated from the erection of the tannery put up in 1848 by George Downs. At that time this place became the center of the lumber business in Colchester, giving employment to tradesmen, blacksmiths, carpenters, and those engaged in genera! traffic. The present industries of the village, besides the tannery belonging to the Holmeses, are the grist mill, now owned by the same firm; the cigar manufactory of Rothensies & Mienhold; the meat market, carried on by Lindsley & Flemmings; four blacksmith shops; four carpenter shops; a furniture manufactory owned by Felix Miener; two hardware stores; four dry goods and grocery stores; two millinery shops; one harness shop; two shoemakers' shops; a watchmaker's shop, and a tailor shop, kept by Mr. Bell. The Downsville News is published weekly by A. E. Peck. Of professional men there are Drs. Bassett and Montgomery; Messrs. Holmes, Odwell and White, lawyers, and E. W. Lindsley, land surveyor. The number of children attending the village school during the summer of 1879 was 104. There are twenty-five school districts in the town.
DAVID ANDERSON, who is engaged in farming and in the livery business at Downsville, was born September 3d, 1822, in the town of Bethel, Sullivan county, N.Y. From there he removed to this town in 1847. He married Miss Emily J. Williams, of Hancock. He was supervisor of Colchester in 1878.
G. P. BASSETT. M.D., was born at Colchester in 1837; he was married to Anna Palmer, who died in 1874, leaving one daughter. His present wife was Elizabeth Parker. Dr. Bassett was supervisor of his town in 1874 and 1876; town clerk for two years, a coroner six years, and was two years assistant-surgeon of Finlay hospital. He commenced the practice of medicine at Downsville in 1862, and is the son of an early practitioner there.
ROBERT BEATES was born in Delhi February 25th, 1823, and married Mary Wilson, of Colchester, in 1847. Mr. Beates has filled the offices of justice of the peace and postmaster for many years in his town. His father, James Beates, was born in Scotland in 1781, and came to America in 1801. Mr. Beates is a farmer. Post-office, Downsville.
J. W. BORDEN is a jeweler and watchmaker at Downsville. He was born here in 1847, and was married to Mary A. Barber, of Colchester. They have one child, a son.
JOHN BROCK, a farmer and mechanic, was born in Scotland in 1793, and came here in 1819. He married Rebecca Gilmour, of Scotland, who died in 1878, leaving six children. The post-office of Mr. Brock is Downsville.
DONALD BROCK is of Scotch nativity, and came to America at the age of nineteen, in the year 1819. He married Mary Jackson, also of Scotland, who emigrated in 1840. They are supporters of the Presbyterian church. Mr. Brock is a prominent farmer and dairyman. Post-office, Downsville.
G. D. BROCK is a native of Colchester, and was born in 1852. His father, Donald Brock, emigrated from Scotland, landing here in 1819, and afterward marrying Mary Jackson, of the same country. G. D. Brock is a farmer, and married Antoinette Williams, of Colchester.
WILLIAM BROCK was born in this county in 1833, and was married to Miss E. Christy, also of this county and born in 1838. They have five children. Mr. Brock is a farmer. Post-office, Downsville.
ARCHIBALD CAMPBELL was born on Campbell mountain in 1816; his father, Archibald, being one of the first settlers. He married Charity Voorhees, who was born in Sullivan county in 1821. He is a farmer by occupation, and has a family of one son and nine daughters. The mountain was named from the early settlers of his name.
U. S. CAMPBELL, farmer and lumberman, was born in 1837, being of the third generation from the original settler of the mountain. He married Sarah Francisco, of Colchester. Mr. Campbell entered the United States service in 1862 in Company K, 144th N. Y. volunteer infantry; was discharged in 1863; re-enlisted in 1864 and remained to the close of the war. He has held several offices of trust. His father was Robert Campbell.
RUFUS CHRISTIAN, a farmer by occupation, was born in Greene county in 1840, and was married to Julia Williams, who was a native of this county and a descendant of old settlers. Mr. Christian bought and settled upon his farm in Colchester in the spring of the present year.
HORACE M. COMBS is a farmer in Colchester, born in 1821. He married Orpha Holmes, of this county. His grandfather, John, was a Revolutionary soldier, and the father of Horace, named Joseph, was an early pioneer of the town. The subject of this sketch is largely connected with others of the name throughout the county.
ARCHIBALD CRARY, farmer, was born in this county in 1830. His first wife, whose maiden name was Melinda Fredenburg, died in 1873, leaving him eight children. Mr. Crary married Abby Simonds for his present wife, who was born in Delaware county, and still occupies his farm in Colchester.
JAMES DAVIDSON is a farmer and lumberman of Colchester. He was born in Scotland in 1812, and emigrated in 1819. After a residence in Andes of eighteen months his father settled on the mountain here. In due time James Davidson married Ann Johnson, who was born in 1814; purchased one hundred and thirty-three acres of land, and has brought it to its present state of improvement by his own industry, with the assistance of his five children.
THOMAS DE LANEY, proprietor of a saloon in Downsville, is a native of Orange county, where he was born November 26th 1835. He has been deputy sheriff and constable, and is a blacksmith by occupation. His wife's maiden name was Sarah L. Palmer. He was in the Union service as second Lieutenant.
HENRY W. DIBBLE was formerly a milll-wright, but is now a farmer. He was born in Downsville in 1816, and married Frances Wilson, of Colchester. Post-office, Downsville.
MORRIS DONHUE emigrated to this country from Ireland in 1849; in 1861 he enlisted in the 101st New York volunteers; was married to Miss E. Tehan, of Ireland, who died in 1872; he then married Eliza Atkinson.
CHARLES L. ELWOOD was born in Colchester August 8th, 1855. In 1877 and 1878 he was chosen collector of his native town, and in 1879 supervisor, which position he now fills. He married Jennie M. Wilson, also a native of Colchester.
JOHN T. ELWOOD, a prominent farmer, was born here in 1830, and has been a life-long resident of the town. In 1861 he enlisted in the 8th N. Y. battery, and served over a year. He married Mary Hood, of this county, and has a family of three children. Post-office, Downsville.
WILLIAM H. ELWOOD is a prominent farmer of the town of Colchester. Post-office, Downsville. He was an active Union man during the late civil war; he raised Company I in the 2nd regiment "Excelsior" Brigade in 1861; was wounded at Chancellorsville and honorably discharged in 1864, in July. He was born in Colchester in 1828, and married Sarah D. Sevard, of Hancock, who died in 1870.
JAMES FLYNN was born in Ireland in 1826, and came here in 1828. He is overseer of the poor for the town of Colchester. He married Mary E. Murphy, who was born in Ireland in 1836 and emigrated to this country with her parents in 1853. He enlisted in Company D 2nd N. Y. artillery in 1862, and was honorably discharged in 1865.
JOHN FLYNN, farmer, was born within the county in 1838; he was married to Ida M. Fuller, of Colchester, who was born in 1854. Mr. Flynn's father was named Thomas, and came from Ireland before the birth of John.
JAMES GAGE was one of the first settlers in "Campbell Mountain," in Colchester. Delaware county, N. Y. He was married to Margaret Gregory, a descendant of the pioneer of "Gregory Town." Mr. Gage was born in 1832.
WILLIAM GREGORY was born in Colchester January 15th, 1836, and was married to Mary H. Gregory, of the same town. He is a descendant of one of the first settlers of the town. He enlisted in the 144th N. Y. volunteers in 1864, and was discharged in 1865 from disability. He is a farmer and lumberman. Post-office, Downsville.
AMOS GREGORY is a farmer. He was born in 1811, and was married to Sarah Fuller. He is a son of Daniel Gregory, whose father was Timothy Gregory, one of the first settlers on the Delaware river. He filled prominent places in the old militia. Post-office, Downsville.
DANIEL H. GREGORY is a son of Daniel Gregory, who settled in Colchester in 1772, with his father, Timothy. His grandfather, Timothy, was driven back to Westchester county by the Indians and tories, and returned after eight years. Daniel H. Gregory's father built the first saw-mill on the creek in 1816. He also built the third frame building in the town, in 1789, and the boards were brought ten miles in canoes from Beaver Kill. Daniel H. was born in 1813 in Colchester, and married Maria Sewell, of the same town. He is a pioneer of that town, and has filled many offices of trust.
G. E. GRIFFITH, postmaster at Pepacton, is the adopted son of Edward Griffith. He was appointed postmaster in 1875. He married Miss Abby Terry, Hamden. Edward Griffith was born in 1832. He enlisted in 1861 in Company D, 144th N. Y. infantry, and was promoted through the positions to captain of that company in 1864. He has filled town offices, and was elected sheriff of the county in 1871. He died April 26th, 1879.
C. A. HANFORD was born in Unadilla February 28th, 1843, and married Sarah H. Williams, who was born in 1848. He is the son of William H. Hanford, who was born in Walton in 1813 and who married Charlotte Hanford. He is at this time a blacksmith at Downsville. August 13, 1862, he enlisted in Company B. 144th N. Y. volunteer infantry, and faithfully served to the end of the war.
FRANK W. HARTMAN is the son of Henry Hartman, of Germany. He was born in Colchester in 1858, after his father had been here six years. Frank follows the teacher's profession. His father was a millwright, but is now a tanner. Post-office, Downsville.
ADAM HECKRATH was born in Germany in 1836. His wife was born there in 1838. He is a cigar maker at Downsville. He is a member of the Dutch Reformed Church, and his wife is a Lutheran.
Rev. DAVID HEROY is a native of Ulster, born in 1820. In 1856 he was admitted to the New York Conference, and he is the present pastor of the M. E. Church of Downsville. He married Matilda Crossman, a native of Ulster county. His father, David Heroy, was an early pioneer minister, and married Maria Lounsberry.
WALLACE HILL, proprietor of the "Hill House," Butternut Grove, was born in Sullivan county, N. Y. in 1833. He is the postmaster at Butternut Grove, having been appointed in 1875. He enlisted in 1862 in Company A 144th N. Y. volunteer infantry as private; was made orderly, second lieutenant, first lieutenant, and adjutant successively, and was honorably discharged in 1865. He married Maggie Francisco, of this county.
CHARLES L. HITT was born at Downsville in 1846, and married Emily W. Hood, of the same place. His father, John T. Hitt, who died in 1852, was a native of Westchester county, N. Y., and married Angeline Teed, of Colchester.
W. H. HITT was born in this town in 1849, and is the son of Leonard Hitt, who died in 1862. He married Betsey L. Clauson, also born in 1849. Mr. Hitt was made the supervisor of his town in 1874, and town clerk in 1866, which position he filled creditably. He commenced mercantile business in 1873, and at present is so engaged, also filling the office of notary public.
E. L. HOLMES was born in Delaware county, and in 1869 was admitted to practice law in the State courts. He has been a justice of the peace for twelve years, and assistant marshal. He married Emeline Dann, of Colchester, who for several years was a successful teacher of common schools. John A. Holmes, of Connecticut, was one of the pioneers of the town of Hamden.
WILLIAM E. HOLMES is a native of Hamden. He was born in 1836, and married Frances E. Bassett, also of this county. He enlisted in the 1st N. Y. engineers in 1863, and was honorably discharged at the end of the war. Before this time he served in Company K of the 144th infantry. He is now engaged in a general mercantile business, lumbering and farming, with postoffice at Downsville.
HERSCHEL D. HORTON, a farmer and lumberman of Colchester, was born in the town in 1841, and married Selia Hobbs of this county. Mr. Horton is an active justice of the peace. He enlisted in 1861 in the Excelsior brigade, as corporal, and was honorably discharged in 1862.
E. HOTCHKISS, farmer, was born in Andes in 1817, and was united in marriage with Lucretia Smith, of Sullivan county, N. Y. His three sons, Cyrus, James and William, all enlisted in the 144th N. Y. volunteers during the Rebellion. Cyrus was killed by a sharpshooter, James died at Hilton Head, and only William survives. Mr. Hotchkiss's daughter, Melissa, a teacher, died in 1875.
WILLIS M. HULBERT is a son of A. W. Hulbert, and was born in Colchester in 1851. He married Josephine Hartman, of the same town, and has one child, a son. His father was a prominent man of the town, formerly living on the farm now occupied by Willis M.
REV. GEORGE M. JANES was born in Otsego county, in 1843, and came to this county with his parents when but one year old. His father. Rev. Francis Janes, was the pastor of the Presbyterian church at Downsville for eleven years. Rev. G. M. Janes is the present pastor of the church.
MARSHALL L. JOHNSON, of Colchester, was born there in 1848, and married Antoinette Campbell, of the same place. Edward Johnson, his father, held several offices of trust with ability. In 1878 Marshall L. Johnson commenced the grocery business, which he is diligently pursuing in the village of Downsville.
JANE KNAPP is a native of this county, born in 1813, and is the widow of James W. Knapp, whom she married in 1833. Mr. Knapp, was born in Delaware county in 1796, and was a brother of Charles Knapp, president of the Deposit Bank. He was a capable officer of his town, and a member of Assembly; he also faithfully served his country in 1813 on the lines. He died in 1856, leaving four children.
EPHRAIM KNOX was born in Colchester in 1838, and was married to Miss Mary Gray, of the same town. He is a farmer; post-office, Downsville.
M. C. LANDFIELD, a farmer, was born in Colchester in 1852, and married Ellen E. Baxter, of the same town. His father, Decatur Landfield, was born at Hancock, and married Lydia M. Young, of Walton; he died in 1865. M. C. Landfield's address is Downsville, N. Y.
ROBERT D. LIDDLE is a blacksmith at Downsville, which business he commenced in 1870. He was born April 22nd, 1850, and was married to Mary E. Close, only daughter of Stephen Close. His father, James A. Liddle, who was a blacksmith before him, married Sarah Bramble all of Delaware county.
IRA D. LINDSLEY is a native of Sullivan county. He was born in 1828, and married for his second wife Jerusha Wilson, of Colchester, who was born in 1829. His first wife died in 1854. He is the son of Samuel C. Lindsley, an early settler of Sullivan county, who lived to the age of 84 years. Mr. Lindsley is a dealer in salt and fresh meats at Downsville.
ALEXANDER LOWN came to Delaware county in 1823, at the age of seven years, from Dutchess county. He married Abigail Miller, of Colchester, and they have four children living. Post-office, Downsville.
MRS. MARY MASON is the owner of a fine summer resort on the Delaware river in Colchester. She is a native of this town, and a descendant of early and prominent settlers. Post-office, Colchester.
THOMAS MCCORMICK was born in Ireland in 1844. In 1860 he emigrated to America, and now occupies, in Colchester, the farm settled by his father-in-law in 1845. He married Mary A. Quinn, and has an only daughter.
FIELDS MILLER, born in Hamden in 1833, enlisted in Company F, 101st N. Y. volunteer infantry, in 1861; was wounded in 1862 , but continued in the service till the close of the war. He married Rachel Miller, born here in 1848. His post-office is Downsville.
GIDEON MILLER was born in Scotland in 1823; came to America in 1840, and married Ellen Biggar, who was born in this county in 1827. Walter, one of their five children, is a medical student at Andes, and has been prominent as a teacher. Nettie, a daughter, has also been a teacher. Mr. Miller follows farming and blacksmithing. His residence is on Campbell mountain.
FELIX G. MINER was born in Germany in 1827, emigrated hither in 1853, and settled in Downsville. He married Matilda J. Barber, who was born at Colchester in 1842, and they have a family of three children. He is a cabinet maker and undertaker for his adopted town.
J. A. MONTGOMERY, M.D., is a native of Scotland and was born in 1845. He emigrated with his father, John C. Montgomery, in 1849. Mr. Montgomery, his grandfather, was a Scottish chief of note. Dr. Montgomery graduated in medicine in New York city in 1872, and at once established himself in a successful practice at Downsville. He married Hattie Millspaugh, of Yates county, N. Y.
JOHN T. ODWELL, of Downsville, is a native of Scotland. He was born in 1838, and emigrated to America in 1840 with his parents. August 27th, 1862, he enlisted in Company K of the 144th N. Y. volunteers, and was duly appointed orderly, lieutenant and captain. He served to the close of the war. He began the practice of law in 1865, and is a prominent attorney of the county. His wife was Sarah Terwilliger.
A. PEASTER was born in Dutchess county in 1820. He was appointed to the care of the poorhouse of Delaware county in 1872, and closed his labors in the spring of 1879. He has filled many places of trust in military and civil life. He married Abigail A. Jones, of this county. He is now a farmer at Pepacton, where the first settlement of the town was commenced.
BARNA RADEKER has been supervisor of Colchester for several terms, and filled other offices in the town. He was born here in 1805, and is a life-long resident. He married Elizabeth Fuller, of Colchester, and they have six children living. He is a farmer of prominence. Post-office, Colchester.
H. J. RADEKER is a farmer and a son of Jacob Radeker, who came to America before the Revolution. Mr. Radeker was born in 1813 in Colchester, and has filled many important places of trust in his town. He married Catharine L. Hitt, of the same place. Post-office, Colchester.
E.G. RADEKER, Downsville, was born in Colchester, July 30th 1833, and has filled the office of supervisor and other offices in his town. In 1861 he enlisted in the 71st N. Y. volunteers; was promoted to a captaincy, and honorably discharged in 1864. He married Adelinda Sprague, of Hancock.
J. D. REYNOLDS was formerly a carpenter and joiner, but is now a farmer. He is a direct discendant of early settlers. He was born January 12th , 1835, and married Hannah Bogart, who died in 1865; he then married Catharine Laidlow, who died in 1874; he married for his third wife Mary C. White. Post-office, Pepacton.
JOHN J. REYNOLDS was born in Andes in 1837, and married Sarah E. Gunn, of this county. He is a prominent farmer and drover of the town, carrying on an extensive business.
LORENZO ROWE has been married twice; the second time to Eliza O'Brien. He was born in Greene county, in 1807, and came to Delaware county in 1843. He is a farmer. Post-office, Downsville.
G. S. SACKETT was born in 1848 in Delaware county, and his former occupation was farming and lumbering. He married Julia Bitts, born in 1849. He is the present proprietor of the Downsville saloon.
LIZZIE SCHULTZ is a resident of Colchester, with post-office at Downsville. Her father is a shoemaker by occupation, and came from Germany in 1847, where he was born in 1830. Her mother was Augusta Osterlow before married, and came to America in 1857.
H. C. SEXCMITH was born in 1839, in this county. His business is farming. He married Mary McNally, of Ireland, who came to America with her parents in 1839. Mr. Sexsmith's grandfather, Michael, was the first settler who took to himself a wife in the town of Colchester, and the family have lived there since. The older members were pioneers in the true sense of the term.
HENRY S. SHAVER, farmer, was born in this county in 1814, and was married to Deborah A. Shaver, also born in 1814. Henry Shaver, his father, was an early pioneer, and his grandfather settled in Andes very early, on the George R. Shaver farm.
JAMES M. SHAVER was born in 1826, and was married to Mary A. Radeker, born in 1845 in the county. He is a descendant of Adam Shaver, and she of the Radekers -- all pioneers in the history of the county. Post-office, Downsville.
S. O. SHAVER is a farmer and lumberman of Colchester, where he was born in 1831. His father, John Shaver, was an early settler of the county, and his grandfather was a Revolutionary soldier. S. O. Shaver married J. A. White, of Colchester. Post-office, Pepacton.
T. T SIGNOR is a prominent farmer of the town of Colchester. He was born in 1809, and married Adaline Bogart, of Colchester. He has filled offices of trust in his town. His father, Albert Signor, was born in 1787, and was in the war of 1812.
GEORGE A. SIGNOR, Downsville, was a member of Company C, 144th N.Y. volunteers, and was discharged at the close of the war. He was born in 1831, and married Sarah J. Dann, of Colchester. They have five children living.
WILLIAM STAMM was born in New York city in 1854, and came to Colchester in 1875. His present occupation is cigar making, and he is engaged in an extensive manufactory at Downsville. He married Odetia Shultz in 1879, at Downsville, where she was born. His father was born in Germany, and died after his emigration to America.
GEORGE W. THAYER, farmer and lumberman, was born in Masonville in 1841, and married Anna Jaynes, of the same town. His father, Asa Thayer, was a native of Otsego county. Mr. Thayer's post-office is Colchester.
SMITH TYLER was born in Hancock in 1808, and was married to Miss Polly Baxter, of the same place. He has been a farmer for many years, and is now an extensive lumber dealer. He fills prominent places of trust among his townsmen. The family consists of four children, of whom Margaret is a teacher of music. Post-office, East Branch.
MORTIMER H. C. WARDELL was born in the city of New Yoor, and was married to Sylvia E. Radeker, of Colchester, on the old homestead of the family, who were among the first settlers of the town. They have one daughter, Sylvia J. -- the first of the name born in the town. Post-office, colchester.
G. W. WARREN, a dairyman and farmer, was born in Colchester in 1843. In 1863 he enlisted in Company K, 144th N. Y. volunteers as corporal, and did good service through the war. He married Margaret B. Hitt, born in 1844, who was formerly a teacher of music. Post-office, Downsville.
WILLIAM F. WHITE was born in Franklin, this county, in 1850 and married Maria H. North, of Walton, only daughter of William North. Samuel White, his father, was a minister for thirty-six years. He married Mary A. Finch. William F. White was admitted to the practice of law in the fall of 1874, and in 1875 opened an office at Downsville, where he still resides.
B. J. WHITE, a farmer of Colchester, is a native of the town; born in 1826. His father, P. V. G. White, was an old resident near Pepacton, and a hatter by trade. He stood high in the F. & A. M. fraternity, and instituted several new lodges in the county. B. J. White married Lovina Hurd, who was born in Sullivan county, N. Y., in 1835, and who died in 1874, leaving four children. His present wife was Hannah Houck.
AUSTIN P. WILLIAMS is the proprietor of the popular Central Hotel at Downsville. He was born in Delaware county in 1846, and has been appointed and elected to various offices in town and county. He married Alice Launt, also of this county. His father, Hiram Williams, died in February of the present year, at the age of sixty-two years.
HENRY J. WILLIAMS, Downsville, is the son of Thomas D. Williams, who was a member of the 144th N. Y. volunteers and served his country during the Rebellion, while Henry was but a lad. Henry J. commenced the study of law in 1874 and will follow that profession. His mother's maiden name was Mary Barber. She is from Ulster county.
MRS. ANN E. WILSON conducts her farm in Colchester with satisfactory results. She was born in Walton in 1820, and married Ephraim Wilson, a farmer and lumberman, who died in 1873, October 23d, leaving six children. Post-office, Downsville.
WILLIAM WILSON, Downsville, was born in Colchester in 1817, and has since resided here. In early days he was prominent in the militia, and later held many places of civil trust. He married Cornelia Shaver, who died June 6th, 1879, leaving five children. Jane Wilson is a prominent teacher.
M. D. YOUNG was born in Colchester in 1849, and married Miss Mary A. Sherman, of Schuyler county, New York. His father was born at Walton in 1817, and was a farmer, which occupation Majah D. Young follows. Post-office, Colchester.