Part II The Centennial Celebration.
MARCH 10, 1897 ... the birthday of Delaware county. A county which has rounded a full century is no infant; there is no poetical license in the phrase "Old Delaware". Naturally, as the hundredth anniversary drew near, there were thoughts of some fitting celebration of the century milestone, but the various suggestions of individuals or the county newspapers did not crystallize into definite action. The Delaware Express, at Delhi, had frequently called up a remembrance of March 10, 1797. Its editor discussed the advisability of a celebration with many of the prominent men of the county but found little interest among the people generally. The project, however, was not to be smothered by any moist blanket of indifference; if the people who should care did not care, latent interest must be aroused. Delaware county had finished a hundred years of honorable history; she had sent out from her borders a host of children who had made history in other counties and other states and had honored their birthplace; her sons and her daughters had ever been and were sturdy, honest and full of the free spirit of the native hills. The century mark of such a county must not pass unnoticed. In the issue of The Delaware Express for March 6, 1897, the following call for a citizens' meeting was printed:
A CENTENNIAL MEETING. On consultation with some of our people regarding the County Centennial it is thought proper to hold a meeting of our citizens' and others who may be in town next Tuesday evening, March 9, at Village Hall at eight o'clock, to consider the advisability of celebrating the event. Come and express your opinion.
When the appointed Tuesday evening came just thirteen patriotic citizens gathered together in the Village Hall. Whatever misfortune is commonly associated with the fateful number thirteen or whatever ill luck comes from a thirteen club, it must hence and hereafter hold its peace in Delaware county. The meeting started on a business basis; from this evening a Centennial Celebration was assured. Mr. William Clark was elected chairman of the meeting, and Mr. R. P. McIntosh, secretary. The practical outcome of the evening was the appointment of a committee to consult with the people at the county seat and to report at a later meeting some final determination. The committee appointed was J. K. Hood, C. S. Woodruff, W. I. Mason,
M. T. Menzie and J. J. Burke. The publication of the appointment of this committee stirred up an immediate interest in other towns and the county press gave every encouragement and called upon the citizens to support the movement. As one paper said: "That the anniversary of so important an event should be fittingly celebrated finds an almost unanimous affirmative response from the citizens of old Delaware. Delhi has taken the initiative toward this end by temporarily organizing and now let the action of the county seat be ratified by every town in the county and at no distant date." This seemed to be the sentiment of the entire county.
The committee began an active campaign at once. It advised with the leaders of different organizations which it thought could aid, notably the various fire departments of the county. In two weeks time nearly all of the fire organizations had agreed to come to the celebration, which the Committee had set for the 9th and 10th of June. So general was the interest and widespread the enthusiasm that no doubt of the Centennial's success was possible at the second public meeting held March 23, just two weeks after the real inception of the movement.
Sub-committees were at once appointed, correspondence was begun with available men in every town in the county, the fire departments were enthused, athletic clubs were stirred up, men versed in the antiquities of their towns were selected as historians and relies of the past were engaged for exhibition. The make-up of the various committees represented the business and professional men of Delhi. In addition to the General Committee the following were selected:
On Finance: M. T. Menzie, S. F. Adee, Jas. E. Harper.
On History: William Clark, Robert P. McIntosh, S. E. Smith.
On Speakers: Hon. A. C. Crosby.
On Relics: Dr. Wm. Ormiston, Charles W. Graham.
Firemen's Committee: The Firemen's Board, J. J. Burke, Chief;
W. A. McIntosh, Secretary.
Bicycle Committee: R. P. McIntosh, F. M. Farrington, C. R. Stilson,
Jas. E. Harper.
Arrangements for the Centennial Parade were made early. Mr. Frank L. Norton of Delhi was made Grand Marshal and the Assistant Marshals chosen from different parts of the county were: George M. Burgin, Walton; George O. Leonard, Stamford; Wm. Brinkman, Franklin; A. B. Evans, Deposit; Arthur S. Meeker, Delhi, Grand Marshal's Aid.
Every arrangement was well planned and executed with thoroughness. When the calendar marked the opening of the festal day, June 9, nothing seemed lacking either in general plan or proper consideration of details. Delhi decked herself in holiday finery as never before. Flags and bunting floated from house and business block, fine arches spanned the streets welcoming the citizens of the county to the capital town; special electric lights illumined the public buildings. Men, women and children were decorators and decorated. Never before had such a gorgeous display been shown in the county. Favorable comment was universal. Although the committees had thus carefully arranged and earnestly labored, one point was forgotten in the mass of detail that had fallen upon them: the clerk of the weather had been overlooked. Old Jupiter Pluvius drew up the floodgates of the heavens and from Tuesday morning the "drops that water the earth" were continually falling.
But so great was the patriotism and enthusiasm of the people of Delaware county that it could not be dampened by the heavy rains. The stuff that won the Delaware hills from wilderness to cultivated and fertile fields could celebrate her birthday under a canopy of uncheckered blue. It seemed that the people had all planned to attend the celebration, promising by far the largest convocation in the annals of the noble history of the county. Interest in the event had entered almost every home, and it was the assemblage was very large.
The Delaware Express in reporting the celebration said: "We are confident that those who could not come were present in spirit. The thoughts crowding about the occasion have brought our people closer together and inspired now feelings of patriotism. Doubtless there is also a newborn purpose in many hearts to labor more earnestly that the now century shall be brighter and better than the one that has passed. If this be one result it is glory enough for two rainy days celebration of the Centennial of the best county of the best state in the grandest country on the face of the earth."
The story of this inspiring and very successful event can only be briefly told in these pages. The program for the first day, June 9, included the town histories, addresses and papers prepared for the occasion. These exercises were held in the courtroom of the courthouse, which was beautifully ornamented for the occasion. It was a fitting place in which to recount the events of a century, with the portraits of such prime actors hanging upon the wall as Erastus Root, Samuel Sherwood, Amasa J. Parker, James A. Hughston, Colonel Amasa Parker, and Samuel Gordon.
Hon. Abram C. Crosby, the president of the day, called the assembly to order and an earnest, appropriate prayer was offered by Rev. L. Willard Minch, the chaplain. Vocal and instrumental music was interspersed with the historical productions giving zest to the exercises. At five o'clock of this day a service of thanksgiving to Almighty God was held in the Second Presbyterian Church, conducted by Rev. F. H. Seeley and Rev. Dr. Robinson of Delhi.
The addresses, papers and letters follow while the town histories constitute Part III.
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PART II. THE CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION.
Address of Welcome, by Hon. Abram C. Crosby, OF DELHI, N.Y.
FELLOW CITIZENS: We meet to celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of the county of Delaware. To the young a century seems a long period of time; to the middle-aged, who realize they have lived nearly half the century the period appears extremely short. Delaware county was organized on the tenth day of March, 1797, only six days after George Washington retired from the duties and responsibilities of the office of President of the United States. Our history commences in the early days of the government when the Revolutionary heroes were actively participating in and directing the affairs of the young republic.
During the one hundred years since the organization of this county the political map of Europe has been greatly altered. A century ago Napoleon was planning his first military movements. He had not won an important battle. His great European wars, greater than the battles of the Roman or Grecian conquests, were subsequently fought. Then all the ports of China were closed to the whole civilized world, then Japan had not learned the ad- vantages of our civilization, or secured the services of one of the honored sons of Delaware county (David Murray, LL. D.) to establish and take charge of her educational institutions and stimulate an intellectual activity which has made her one of the strongest eastern nations in intellect, political economy and military and naval prowess. Then our own country embraced only a narrow belt along the Atlantic coast, scarcely extending beyond the Alleghenies, with a population of less than four millions of people. Michigan and the whole northwestern territory were inhabited by warlike savages; Florida, all the vast territory between the Mississippi river and the Pacific Ocean, Mexico, Central America and nearly the whole of South America were under the control of the Government of Spain.
Now since the acquisition of all that valuable territory and also rich and undeveloped Alaska, like old England, we can boast that the sun never sets upon our possessions.
Fifty years, after the formation of our county, had elapsed before the discovery of the gold producing mines of California; so rich in their resources that they have reduced the value of the precious metal and materially aided in revolutionizing the financial system of the world. Ten years after the county was formed the first steamboat was built and plowed its way through the waters of the Hudson river, making our state the pioneer in steam navigation. During the last half century petroleum has been discovered, the use of which has revolutionized illuminating, heating and propelling; twenty-five years after the formation of our county the first steam railroad was built and a New York capitalist is entitled to the credit of applying and adapting steam power to railroad transportation. Sixty-years ago railroad construction war, in its infancy; there was no banking institution except the United States bank; no stock exchange; no telegraph or telephone liner; no mining stocks; no organized money corporations. And the mail facilities were so limited at the time of the organization of our county that Benjamin Franklin, the Postmaster General, rode over the country in his old sulkey and personally inspected every mail route in the United States.
At the time of the organization of this county the representatives of the people were engaged in bitter dissensions in the national legislature, charges of plots to overthrow the new government were freely made. The treasury was bankrupt, no satisfactory financial system had been developed or put in operation, national debt had been contracted with no means of payment; and citizens of Pennsylvania and Massachusetts were in open rebellion to prevent the collection of the revenues necessary for the ordinary expenses of government.
Surrounded by such embarrassing circumstances and confronted by reasonable doubt regarding the ultimate success of popular government, the patriots who by their wisdom and patriotism had solved the complicated questions that had arisen during the struggle for independence and by the formation and ratification of the constitution of the United States had firmly laid the foundation of American institutions; were successfully enacting laws and adopting policies of government that have developed and made us the greatest nation of the earth.
Then the county of Delaware was almost a primeval forest. The axe had hardly disturbed the solitude. A few inhabitants were living in scattered log huts in the small clearings along the valleys of the streams and upon the slopes of the hills and mountains; but nearly the whole county, in territorial extent almost as large as the state of Rhode Island, was in the simplicity and grandeur of nature. General Root, Samuel Sherwood and a few other grand and able men had established their homes at or near the county seat and were developing the local interests of the new county, while others at the Capital of the nation were maturing plans for the government of the whole people.
Many of the sons and daughters of old Delaware have settled in other localities and, by their industry, energy and ability, have made their names and transactions a part of the history of nearly every state of the union. We recall with pride the records of our ancestors who were prominent in the early history of our county and point with satisfaction to the work of their descendants who have developed its resources and contributed to its present prosperity.
The mixture of races, the intermarriage of inhabitants of different countries and nationalities, especially of the European states, have developed stronger individualities and made better citizens physically and intellectually. Such has been the result among the inhabitants of the county of Delaware. Prior to the Revolution a few of the sons and daughters of Scotland had settled in and become inhabitants of a portion of our county. The descendants of the. Puritans of New England had crossed to the eastern portion of the county, in Roxbury, Stamford and Harpersfield, and had also gone into Franklin and down the Susquehanna into Sidney and formed centers of population, whose citizens loved their homes, liberally supported the church and promoted education under the many disadvantages surrounding them. They have left their good influences behind and a large portion of the county of Delaware has been Americanized and educated by the teachings and examples of the pioneers from New England and their descendants. The Dutch, slow and conservative in their ways, came up from Esopus, traveled across Pine Hill, drifted down the East branch of the Delaware and up the stream into the town of Roxbury and there met and located with the pioneers from New England. The New Englander had his little home and farm to till and in many places had built his factories where the manufactured products needed for the comfort of the people were successfully made. Many of the Dutch were weavers and skilled in other trades and they were all peacefully inclined and lived and worked happily with the Yankees. Many Scotchmen with their families and Bibles came over soon after and located in the interior towns of the county. Their firmly established religious beliefs, home influences, deep interest in educational affairs and love of and obedience to the government of their adopted country has left an impress upon the people of the county of Delaware that will not be effaced for generations hence. The establishment of the church and the school, the hardy industry, pluck, determination and obstinacy of the Scotchmen and their families have contributed largely to the development of the intellectual and material interests of our county.
There is not a nation in Europe from Scandinavia on the north to sunny France and Italy on the south that has not contributed to the population of old Delaware. The habits of the inhabitants, the church, the school, the pure air and water, the mountain scenery and all the surroundings of nature and civilization have tended to develop the manhood of every European who has made this his adopted home; and instead of helping to fill the prisons- and reformatories or drifting down among the criminal classes of the cities he has become a good citizen of our county, adopted our customs and aided in the development of our resources.
During the last century our country has passed through trying ordeals, in which many of the citizens of Delaware county have participated. By the war of 1812 our government asserted its power and authority on the high seas; protected American citizens in their person and property against the arrogant demands of the mother country and by the bravery of her soldiers and sailors on land and on sea, demonstrated to the nations of the earth that we were one nation and people, under a common flag, and that wherever the starry banner floated the rights and interests of American citizens must be recognized and protected.
One hundred years ago our nation was disgraced and humiliated by the accursed institution of human slavery; upon the platform in the public press and the halls of legislation long and bitter discussions were had between the representatives of free labor and slave labor, regarding the rights of the owners of human chattels in free territory. The pernicious doctrine that the rights of the individual state were paramount to the authority of the national government and that there was no power under the constitution to coerce a state and preserve the unity of the nation was strenuously advocated until the slave holders attempted by armed force to disrupt the union. By open rebellion against the general government, and establish an independent confederacy based upon slavery as the foundation and corner stone.
At the call of the chief executive, many brave sons of Delaware county promptly enlisted, and went forth to battle for their country, uphold its flag, preserve the government and maintain the principles of liberty so dear to the heart of every friend of humanity. They fought the battles of the union and established beyond question that henceforth there will be but one country, nation and people united and happy under a common flag and marching on to a higher destiny.
In every part of our county are evidences of the great struggle in which they were engaged. The empty sleeve, the wooden limb, the broken constitution of many of the old veterans show unmistakably that they gave the best years of their early manhood on the southern battle fields, and in the swamps and morasses, and prisons of the south; the thousands of soldiers' graves in the national cemeteries and scattered throughout the land silently testify to their deeds of heroism and great sacrifices made upon the altar of human liberty. When the old soldiers march through our streets tomorrow they should be greeted with uncovered heads showing that we fully recognize the services they have rendered and the sacrifices they have made. And but for the great expenditure of life and treasure and their loyalty and heroism instead of enjoying the great advantages of a united government under the glorious flag of liberty. With a population of over seventy millions of happy and prosperous people, our country would now be broken into forty-five separate and independent states, disputing with and warring against each other like the republics of Central and South America.
Human slavery, existing in our country, protected by law, contradicted the assertion that our government was a haven for the down trodden and oppressed from every country of the earth and its abolition was among the most glorious and important results of the great civil war. Over four millions of enslaved human beings were released from bondage, liberty ceased to be a theory and became an accomplished fact, and now wherever the banner of liberty and freedom floats over American soil every citizen, whatever his race, color or former condition, if obedient to the law, can proudly say I am a free American citizen.
A century ago education was a luxury, enjoyed only by a limited number. About that time Governor George Clinton by his messages to the legislature recommended the establishment of common schools and a board of Regents of the University and, following his suggestions, laws were enacted resulting in the organization of our public school system which, by subsequent legislation, has been developed into the grandest and most liberal educational system in the union. Our schoolhouses, dotting every hillside and nestling in every valley throughout the entire state, are nurseries of liberty and afford to the children of every citizen the facilities for a good common school training, while in the cities and enterprising villages of the state every opportunity is offered for the procurement of a higher and more liberal education. Inventive genius has facilitated and lessened the expense of publication of books, periodicals and newspapers so that the poorest and humblest citizen has within his roach excellent reading matter for himself and his family and the neglect or refusal to furnish intellectual food for their use is absolutely inexcusable. For the price of a cigar or a drink of whiskey a monthly magazine can be purchased replete with information and the best literary productions of modern writers. The money that many of our people daily expend for useless luxuries would soon cover the family tables and fill the shelves of home libraries with the best books of ancient and modern history and literature.
There is no community of people, remote from the cities, on the face of the earth, better housed, clothed, fed and possessing greater educational advantages of instruction by the school, pulpit, platform, books and newspapers than the inhabitants of the county of Delaware.
Throughout the civilized world the higher countries have furnished to the lowlands a constant and unfailing supply of recruits possessed of great physical and mental strength and vigor. The inhabitants of the colder regions are compelled, by the rigorous demands of nature, by industry and frugality, to provide for their physical wants, while the children of the warmer climates rely upon the lavish productions of nature to furnish to them their physical necessities. Located among the spurs of the noble Catskills near the metropolis of the western hemisphere, with rugged soil, bracing atmosphere, long winters and clear streams of sparkling water running along the beautiful valleys toward the sea, Delaware county naturally produces men and women who are well fitted mentally and physically to enter a broader sphere of activity and successfully battle in the struggle of life. From her borders noble, ambitious and promising young men have continually gone forth to engage in the peaceful battles of education, legislation and business and aid in the development of other states throughout the union. There is hardly a constitutional or statutory law of a western state which has been framed without the participation of some son of Delaware county. There is scarcely a great business enterprise in any of the leading cities of the union without a son of Delaware county connected with it in some capacity. They go out to win, and inquire wherever you will you find that where one native born citizen of our county fails whatever business he undertakes ninety-nine others succeed. We are justly proud of the success they have attained within and without their native state and like the Roman mother, we point exultingly to them and exclaim, "These are our jewels."
I heartily extend to you the sincere welcome of the entire county of Delaware and particularly of the village of Delhi. This celebration is not local in its character; it is a gathering of the people from the entire county, in which all classes have shown a great interest and for which they have furnished numerous and valuable contributions. The public property here belongs to the whole people of the county. The citizens of Delhi are only stockholders in it.
I sincerely hope that these anniversary exercises will develop a general feeling of harmony and unity among the people of the whole county. We have a common interest and pride in our local government and institutions and we should labor together without prejudices to promote the best interests of the whole community.
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Letter from Rev. John L. Scott, D. D.,OF PHILADELPHIA, PA.
Allow me to assure you of my keenest regrets at not being able to attend the coming Centennial of Delaware county. I had hoped the pleasure, but fate seems to have ordered otherwise, so I bow to the inevitable. This Centennial, from its very nature, ought to be not only the source of personal pleasure, but also productive of lasting good. Delaware county was a generous mother, and there are many things her sons cannot afford to forget. If I were to be born over again, I would ask the good Angel to let me off in Bovina, on the banks of the Little Delaware, and near the old mill which my grandfather built just ninety-six years ago. It was a good place to be born in, and an equally good place to leave so soon as one was able to toddle away. As two streams unite to form the Delaware river, so two civilizations entered into the early formation of the county. The Puritan and the Scotch. The Puritan was English, and halted long enough in New England to take breath before attempting the ascent of the Catskills. He scattered his marks all along the way. Roxbury, Stamford, Hamden, Meredith and Colchester, were the godsons of New England sponsors. The Scotch on the contrary, were a direct importation. They came straight from old Scotia with their heathery brogue still fresh upon their lips. Andes, Kortright, and Bovina especially were but patches, out from the map of Scotland and pasted on the face of Delaware county. I saw the last of those centennial pioneers as they were passing into the West now forty years ago. They were a race of honest men. With axe in hand they fought their way to the mountain summit, and but for them many a rich, fertile farm had remained the forest of a century ago. These were the Highlanders of Delaware county and formed a distinctive force in its development. In my boyhood the anti-rent war was still fireside history. The line of battle stretched like a stonewall through the towns of Andes and Bovina. The philosophy of this fact few have thought to inquire. It was simply a Scotch sense of injustice, manifesting itself in a strange county. My grandfather spent some money and more time in the log jail at Delhi, because somebody had been shot in an adjoining town. Not long since I learned the reason why he became a part of that hopeless struggle. His father had been a laird or factor, and quarreled with the Earl whom he represented. So he came to America, and took sweet vengeance on the Overings, the Livingstons, and the Kortrights, for what the Earl of Traquair had done at home. They were good haters and true friends. There is a tradition that when the old gentleman was rusticating at Delhi, an officer came and said: "Mr. Scott, we know you did not kill Steele, but think you can name the man who did, tell us and go home!" The old man, sweeping his hand across his throat, and with an expletive which I hope the Recording Angel did not hear, replied; "take my head, sir, take my head." Liberty at the price of dishonor had no quotation in their markets. Those men at the other end of the century were religious after a fashion peculiar to themselves. They generally attended church and those who did not, were always ready with a reason, especially it they did not like the minister. Two neighbors, whose names I withhold out of respect to their descendants, had disagreements, of the most deadly kind. One was a pillar in the church and the other a sleeper outside. The minister Rev. Jas. Douglas, meeting the non-churchgoer, remarked, that his parishioner's conduct was devilish. "Devilish, it is damnable sir, it is damnable." But the minister had done an unconscious missionary work, and the next Sunday his congregation was increased in attendance by one. Not as Mr. A. B. Douglas once said to me, "that he loved Rome less, but he hated his neighbor more." This was but the outside of a kind, poetic nature that few could understand. Somewhere over the hills and out of sight, there was a garden of wild native flowers that best declared their worth. Delaware county owes them a debt which she can never pay. Their life and spirit have survived the century and live in the noblest manhood of the present. There were two forces in the Delaware of my day for which I am profoundly grateful, the, church and village academy. The ministers were men of more than ordinary ability. Forest, Laing, Douglas. Graham and Wilson had bound their sheaves and were going through the gates. Gibson and Lee were the first preachers I ever heard, and in the maturer judgment of all these years, I regard them still as men of exceptional power. The common schools were inferior, but the village academies gave some of us an opportunity which otherwise had never come. Andes, Delhi, Stamford and Roxbury, were educational centres. I as a boy of fifteen, walked twice a week to Andes, a distance of ten miles. For five days instruction it was no easy task, but under the tuition of Wm. Wight and Peter Smeallie it paid a thousand times. There was once a family intercourse among the good people of Delaware, which I suspect has largely become a thing of the past. The old barriers have been swept away and Delaware county has met and absorbed a newer civilization. Our fathers are fast becoming mere names to be talked about.
"Each in his narrow cell forever laid
The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep."
But what they were cannot die. Their accents live in other voices and their footsteps ire the paths by which we walk. The walled mountains are their monuments, and the integrity of their sons their highest eulogy. The absent salute you, and as we stand by this well of common recollection, let us drink deep and long to the honor of old Delaware, and the men of one hundred years ago.
A river dear as life to me,
>From out the mountains finds the sea.
And oft in thought I wander there,
Along the banks of Delaware.
The mountains gaze in sombre face,
Upon the writers in their race,
As if they watched in constant prayer,
The dear old banks of Delaware.
Along those banks on dusty bed,
There sleeps in peace my cherished dead.
Unvexed by toil or troublous care
They rest upon the Delaware.
And when the race of life is run,
One boon I ask and ask but one-
That I with them a grave may share
Upon the banks of Delaware.
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Letter from Rev. A. S. Kedzie.OF GRAND HAVEN, MICH.
While thankful for an invitation to attend the celebration of Delaware county's Centennial, it is too long a journey for one of my age, four score and ten.
I would like to revisit the scenes of my boyhood in Stamford and Delhi. The earliest of these is readily recalled, being the building by my father of a stone milk house in Stamford, eighty years ago this month, to facilitate his dairying.
It must have been about the year of your county organization when my grandmother Kedzie, whose family in 1795 found a home in what soon became Delaware county, found herself in Catskill. Before Landlord Steele established his line of stages to that town, trying on an autumnal Saturday afternoon to persuade a Delhi neighbor to delay his return home till Monday, offering to pay his hotel bill so that she, refusing to travel on the Sabbath day, might ride home with him. He pleaded his business and went home. She went to church, and having bought a supply of tracts, spent Monday and Tuesday in tract distribution while on her way home on foot.
I recall what I suppose was the dedication of the Masonic Temple in Delhi (now the Kingston hotel building) the year forgotten. My brother James and I were permitted to go from our home on the "New Patent" in Delhi township to see the Masonic procession. In doing so we passed the field our father was "summer fallowing" and with amazement admired his industry, when instead of such work he could have a day's fun at the village. In that Masonic procession the thing I most vividly remember was the reverent way Mr. Knapp, familiarly known as Father Knapp, carried the open Bible through the street.
When my father removed his family from Stamford to Delhi, we attended worship in Rev. Mr. Maxwell's church below Delhi.
Gen. Root, Judges Parker and Sherwood, the merchant, Herman D. Gould, the surveyor, Mr. Hathaway, the hatter, Mr. Thurber, Mr. Penfield and his blacksmith shop, Robert Hyde with his trowels, Gurdon Edgerton and Mr. Steele with their hotels, Judge Foote in his home law office are prominent figures in the gallery of my early recollections.
Delaware's anti-rent war and anti-masonic politics came later, awakening discussion and stirring society to its profoundest depths.
Among the traditions of my boyhood is a theological discussion held in "Edgerton's tavern" by Lorenzo Dow with Gen. Root and Mr. Bush. When asked for his idea of Heaven, Mr. Dow promptly replied: "It is a vast ethereal plane in which there is neither a Root nor a Bush, and I fear never will be."
One of my early attractions was the annual meeting of the Delaware County Bible Society, held each winter in the old courthouse, whose two pillars were trimmed with evergreens. In one such meeting Rev. Robert Forrest arose in his stately manner and said: "I have been a member of this society for ten years and am so pleased with its work in distributing the Word of God, that as a thank-offering I give ten dollars to its treasury."
There was a day's fun every autumn for us boys in attending Regimental Training, with its gay sights and appetizing gingerbread; also, with the regiment formed in a "hollow square" in its season of prayer led by Rev. Mr. Maxwell, whose hat was reverently placed upon the bass drum covered with a black cloth; all concluded with inspiring strains of martial music, a grand march up the town's main street and a scurrying home of us boys, tired but well paid by a day's fun.
My early recollections are of the Delaware Gazette, whose columns on or about September 1828, made record of my father's death, written by Rev. Dr. Maxwell. Seventy years ago the Gazette was wont to come to our home in the wilderness of Michigan with the refreshment of "good news from a far country," though its "news by the last ship from Europe" was a. month old; yet the Gazette, even to the advertisements was eagerly read by the whole family.
This hasty recital of a few things of the long-ago times brings to mind the fact that Delaware county in the first century of its history has only and I trust fully shared in the progress, which by invention and discovery through steam and electricity has made this a new world.
"Praise God from whom all blessings flow."
P. S.-The descendants of my grandfather Kedzie have held residence in Delaware county during all the years of its organized history. And those of us, who have strayed far away still hold some claim to such connection with old Delaware, even though we declined the environment of its close abutting hills.
My careless, and as I now recall it, joyous boyhood in Stamford and Delhi, seem almost like a former existence, as all this world will soon seem to be to me. And of the world I hope then to have as pleasant recollections as I now have of your justly proud county, aged one hundred years.
I hope the historian of your celebration will be able to show the steps and recount the toils and troubles by which Delaware, in fields and homes, in schools and churches, in reforms and politics, came, within a century, to, reach its honorable standing among the counties of the Empire state despite all hindrance of hills, which with all their ruggedness are still dear to my recollection.
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Remarks of General Amasa J. Parker, OF ALBANY, N. Y.
MR. PRESIDENT, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: It is a matter of great pleasure to me to be with you here in my native village, upon this occasion, and to join with the sons and daughters of old Delaware in celebrating the Centennial of her life. Such a celebration could not be inaugurated and carried through by .an inert or slothful people. That would be impossible! On the contrary, such a celebration can only have its conception and being among an active and aggressive population, proud of its past history and achievements as well as ambitious for future growth and renown. Not only is a Centennial of this character to be appreciated for reviving the past and for the expression of hopes for the future, but for the social and neighborly intercourse among the people brought together from all parts of the county.
The history of this county which will be laid before you at this time, the facts which will be brought to light, the duties which will be taught, will in a great measure tell upon the character of every one who takes part in this interesting celebration. Those who are here will, returning to their homes, impart newly gained knowledge to others and thus much that was almost forgotten in the land will be revived and stamped upon the memories of a new generation.
While considering the past of this county we cannot overlook the fact that it has contributed its full share toward the building up of our great State and Nation and that her sons have ever loyally fought for the integrity and honor of the country.
Well may we here today renew the memories of our forefathers' days, for our own good and the lessons taught. They were days of trial and want, of courage, devotion and sacrifice. The steadiness, thrift, economy and industry of those days was in strong contrast with these days of luxury, extravagance and speculation. For one, I should hail most heartily much more simplicity and earnestness in every day life, without, in any degree, detracting from the spirit and life of true progress.
I am here from busy surroundings for but a few hours to record myself as present and join in these festivities. Personally I prefer to listen and ponder, rather than talk much upon this occasion. Besides many are here and each one should have an opportunity to speak. Richly cherished memories crowd upon me in these surroundings. Though taken by my parents to Albany when about a year old I was here in this village many times in my boyhood and enjoyed many a ramble or drive among the hills and in the valleys of Delaware county. My few latest trips, say during the last twenty-five years, have been sad ones when dear friends or elders of my kin have been laid at rest.
This county has ever held a warm place in my affections and my parents early inspired me with their love, for its generous, intelligent, cultured, God- fearing and prosperous people. Many of those I prized here in my youth and those who became my friends in later years, beginning with school and college days, from Delaware county, are very dear to my memory and nearly all of them have already passed over the dark river into the life eternal.
May the Great Ruler of all who doeth all things well and who has showered his blessings upon us in the past, continue His protection and direction for all time.
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Remarks of Mayor J. H. Mitchell, OF COHOES, N. Y.
MR. CHAIRMAN, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: It is not without considerable trepidation that I, a physician, respond to your call for a speech on this occasion, especially in the presence of so many lawyers as abound at this county seat and who are presumably better fitted by trade and training for this than I. And it is fair to assume that they are more fitted by natural predilection and training for this task, for I once heard of a father and mother (up here in the hills of Delaware or somewhere) who wished to educate and prepare one of their sons for the greatest influence in life of which he was capable. They thought it necessary to ascertain his natural bent or inclination, believing that they would attain larger and surer success by educating him along this line. So they left him alone in a room in which had been placed an orange, a dollar and a Bible, and they said: "Now if on our return we find that he has taken the orange we will make a farmer, an agriculturist of him. If he has preferred the dollar we will educate him for a business man, a financier. If he has taken to the Bible we will make him a preacher." Returning after a few minutes they opened the door and found Johnnie sitting on the Bible, eating the orange and with the dollar in his pocket. The old farmer exclaimed: "Mary Jane that boy is a hog; we'll make a lawyer of him." I give that to the lawyers just to allay my nervousness. Seriously, ladies and gentlemen, I congratulate you on this occasion which you celebrate, and as I address you my heart fills with pride and pleasure for, Mr. Chairman, I deem it not only a pleasure but a privilege to be with you all today. I am proud that I am a son of old Delaware county and when I look into the faces 6f my old associates many are the recollections of by-gone happy days that flash vividly before my memory, and as these recollections appear before me I feel like repeating poetry and song:
Backward, turn backward, oh time in your flight,
And make me a child again just for to-night.
If it be at all times discreditable to man's character to fail in patriotic love and loyalty to the land of his nativity, how much more inexcusable such recreancy is a son of old Delaware county. Where in all the broad land can we find a locality offering so much to appeal to patriotic love and pride as this county presents to her sons and daughters. Her climate, so salubrious, so varied, always stopping short of uncomfortable extremes in winter or in summer. Her physical geography and landscape, scenery, hills and valleys, a happy medium always between the rugged, rocky and often barren mountains on the one hand, and monotonous levels on the other.
Her pure perennial springs, purling rills and stately rivers, the fertility of her soil; nowhere else do we find the carpeting of the valleys and the drapery of the hillsides more delightfully verdant with grass, or more beautifully bespangled with flowers, and nowhere else do we find more various more beautiful or more stately woods than those which are indigenous to her soil, and which frieze and embroider the landscape on every hand. Agriculturally, a country especially adapted to grazing and dairying, her pastures clothed with flocks, her cattle on a thousand hills, adds interest to the scenes to memory dear. The agricultural products such as milk, butter, eggs and maple sugar are those which will always find a market in the great cities of the east not far away, while the character of the climate, the nature of the soil and the purity of the water are such as make these products the best on the market. Untainted by garlick, ragwood or a thousand other noxious and deleterious weeds which grow in other sections. These advantages afford greater stability in the prices of his products and value of property and a more sure reward for his toil to the farmer of Delaware county than to those of other sections of our great country. Delaware county has not suffered as have other sections of our land from the stringency and depression of the last few years. Then, the people of this generation, as we remember them (and we trust they may always continue to be) were a self-respecting, God-fearing, church-going race who reared their children and sent them forth into all departments of human life in the world. Inspired, athletic, girded and panoplied; and we think we may safely affirm that the children of old Delaware county wherever they may have gone and in the midst of whatever opportunities and responsibilities they may have been tested, they have proven themselves exceptionally true and strong in all that goes to make up a noble and useful manhood or a beautiful and lovely womanhood. And this, after all, Is the highest purpose which a community like old Delaware subserves, to furnish men fresh, pure, strong manhood. Look down the roll of great men who in all departments of human thought and enterprise have attained distinction and have achieved success, especially as heroes and benefactors of the race. Begin with that old history, the Bible, follow down the ages to the present time, trace the biographies of the great men, the successful men, in all walks of life today, and note how large a proportion of them came from the influence and environments of rural and agricultural communities. This can all be explained, but that is not my purpose here nor have I time to do so. Enough it is to note the fact, and remember that there is no more advantageous sphere in which to rear a family of boys and girls and attain the highest results to which any wise parent would aspire than that this county furnishes, viz., character, not wealth, nor fame necessarily, but manhood and womanhood. And never was there greater need and demand for this product so peculiarly indigenous to old Delaware than today.
Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey,
Where wealth accumulates and men decay,
Princes and lords may flourish or may fade,
A breath can make them, as a breath has made.
But a bold peasantry, their country's pride,
When once destroyed, can never be supplied.
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Letter from Hon. David Murray, LL.D., OF NEW BRUNSWICK, N. J.
It is with great regret that I am compelled to abandon my wish to be present at the celebration of the centennial anniversary of the political organization of Delaware county. A century seems like a long period in the history of any civil body; but when at its completion we look back upon its rounded years, it counts for comparatively little. In a certain sense the whole period can be spanned within my own experience. Thus, the political life of General Erastus Root reaches back to the very origin of Delaware county. He was a Member of Assembly, representing the county in 1798 the second year of its organization. And yet when I was a school boy at Delaware Academy, I remember perfectly his venerable figure as he used to sit on the veranda of his house opposite the old Academy building. To us he seemed a most interesting and picturesque old man. He was fond of gathering us about him, and as was his wont, teasing us and telling us stories. He was the President of the Board of Trustees of the Academy, and as such he was a person of great importance, and considerable terror to our little community. He was nearly always present at the examination of our classes, and used to frighten us very much by the learned questions he used to put to us in our Latin and other studies. It was with a kind of awe that it was whispered among us that in his youth he had published an arithmetic, which for a time held its place beside those of Pike and Daboll.
My friend, the late Judge Parker, of Albany, told me a story of General Root which I have never seen in print, and which you will perhaps pardon me if I here insert: In the early days of Delaware county, when General Root was a member of the Legislature, the route from Albany to Delhi was by stage down the west side of the Hudson to Coxsackie, and thence out over the Catskill mountains to the Delaware river. On one of these trips the stage was upset and General Root had his leg broken. He was detained at the poor little village many weeks, while his leg was mending. Judge Parker, who had then taken up his residence at Albany, went down to visit him during his convalescence and found him in a most irritable and impatient frame of mind. It must be understood that at that time very many of the inhabitants of Coxsackie, being descendants of the Dutch settlers, spoke little except Dutch. General Root complained bitterly of his forlorn and wearisome condition. "Think of it," said he, "here I am in this miserable, God-forsaken hole; with nobody to talk to and nobody to drink with; and if I were to die here and be buried among these Dutchmen, when I rise at the resurrection I will not be able to understand a damned word which these Hollanders have to say."
I have referred to the Delaware Academy in connection with General Root; but one cannot recall this venerable institution at that day without bringing to mind its accomplished Principal, Rev. Daniel Shepard. You cannot appropriately celebrate the past century of Delaware county without making mention of him who rendered so great and so valuable a service to this community. His fine scholarship, his apt and attractive methods of teaching, his graceful and attractive personality, and his pure and manly character made him the idol of the students and the pride and honor of the town.
I confess to a kind of gratification in belonging to that interesting section of the people of Delaware county which we may denominate the Scotch contingent. You will agree with me, I am sure, that no part of the settlers of this county has contributed more to its solid growth and prosperity. In reading the annals of Drumtochty, which Ian Maclaren has so inimitably sketched in the Bonnie Brier Bush, I have often thought that here in your very midst was a Scotch element which only needed such a hand of genius to make equally immortal.
Delaware county received its first installment of Scotch immigrants before the richer regions of Western New York, or the still more fertile and attractive territories of Ohio, and the farther West was open to settlement. They came here because the hills, the streams and the valleys reminded them of their dear old homes in Scotland. They brought with them their churches, their schools and their love of political and religious liberty; and they have here helped to build up intelligent, honest and God-fearing communities, which have made this county a synonym for all that is best and most substantial.
There have been three periods of trial through which this county has been called to pass in attaining her present standpoint. The first of these was the Revolutionary period. This was indeed over before the separate history of the county was begun; but the patriotic qualities of the heroes of that day were submitted to a sharp test. The second period was the Anti-Rent episode, which in 1845-6 stirred the county to its angry depths. And yet out of the excitement and tragedies of that time the character of its population has survived unharmed. A third period of trial came when in common with all the North, you were called upon to put down the great Rebellion of 1861-5. Even yet there are hearts in this community which are wrung with pain at the recollection of the sacrifices which they were called upon to make at that time. Of the hundreds of husbands and sons who were given up to join in that terrible conflict, how many are sleeping in unknown graves? And of the thinning ranks who still survive, how many are carrying with them perpetual mementoes of their battles, their marches and their encampments? And yet out of all these heavy trials who does not recognize that this noble and stalwart county has by means of them been chastened to a higher destiny, and today at the end of her first century, stands more conspicuously strong and vigorous than ever before.
As one of her loyal sons, who has enjoyed the high privilege of having been born and fostered within her territory, I desire today to join with others equally loyal, in celebrating her centennial anniversary, and in extending to her our congratulations upon the past century of success, and in wishing to her in the future the same allotment of good fortune and prosperity.
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Remarks of J.I. Goodrich, Esq.,OF DELHI, N.Y.
MR. PRESIDENT AND FELLOW CITIZENS: Ninety-seven years ago my grandfather, Isaac Goodrich, who had been a soldier of the Revolution, with his family and his brother Jared with his family came to Delaware county. He settled in the town of Delhi at a place now called DeLancey, then being a part of Delhi. The town of Hamden not having been formed till twenty-five years afterward. At this time my father, Hiram B. Goodrich, was eight years of age, and when he arrived at the age of twenty-one years he enlisted as a soldier in the war of 1812 and continued in the service until the close of the war.
I was born in Delaware county, have always lived here, and no man has greater reason to cherish feelings of love and gratitude toward this county than myself.
The early settlers, of this part of the county were many of them from New England. They cut loose from civilization; they brought their all with them; they burned their bridges behind them. These brave hardy men with their faithful devoted wives, their strong stalwart sons, their firm-hearted daughters and the little children "homeless except for the mother's arms and couchless except for the mother's breast," plunged into this wilderness and enlisted in a life struggle for its conquest.
Instead of being surrounded by the comforts, conveniences and enjoyments of civilized life, "Bleak nature's desolation wrapped them round, eternal forests and unyielding earth." Instead of the sound of the steam whistle and the church bell they heard the howl of the wolf, the scream of the panther and the war whoop of the Indian.
In those days when a man got up in the morning he had to feel of his scalp to see if, like his country's flag, it was "still there."
This was no "camping out" party, this was no holiday excursion; it meant business. The savage beast and the still more savage man had to be driven out, the forest had to be out down and subdued, and all the hardships, privations and dangers necessarily incident to the conversion of a wilderness had to be encountered and endured. And yet in spite of all these hindrances and obstacles such was the energy and industry of these pioneers that we find by the census of 1825 that they had changed this wilderness into a thriving community with a population of nearly thirty thousand.
Delaware county has always discharged her duties, public and private, faithfully and well has borne her full share of the burdens in war and in peace. In the war of 1812 she furnished her full quota of soldiers, and in the war of the Rebellion no county of its size in this state or any other sent to the front more or better or braver men than Delaware county. Scarcely a battlefield of the war which was not moistened by the blood of Delaware county's boys.
Delaware county being an inland county with no cities, no great commercial or railroad centers, no extensive manufacturing towns or establishments, thousands of our most active, energetic and ambitious young men have gone out from us to build up other localities or to engage in business where quicker and greater returns were promised. The West is full of them, and when you find a Delaware county boy you find a leader.
But in spite of this drain upon our population Delaware county has always had and still has as successful teachers, as eloquent preachers, as skillful physicians, as able lawyers, as up-to-date farmers and mechanics as any similar locality in the State.
Delaware county has reason to be proud of her history, her record, her able men, her noble women, and never more so than today.
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Remarks of Mr. Thomas G. Smith, OF SIDNEY, N.Y.
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: I have been delighted in what I have seen and heard this afternoon at this Centennial celebration of old Delaware county. I have heard a great many things this afternoon that take me back to the days of my boyhood. I can recollect in old Delaware county when there was no such thing as a mile of railroad known, no telegraph, nothing but the old stage coach for a means of conveyance; when it was quite a circumstance to make a journey of a hundred miles; when it took four or five days to got a letter a hundred and fifty miles at a cost of eighteen cents postage. In looking over some of the old relies down in the jury room I was reminded of things in my boyhood days. I well remember when my father used to raise flax, when my mother used to spin it on a little wheel, weave cloth, make the summer garments for the family out of the tow cloth, and the winter garments out of woolen cloth; she would spin the wool, dye it, and make the cloth.
Many of these things remind us that we are getting along in years in the history of Delaware county. We call it "old" Delaware. I think ninety-seven times this afternoon I have heard the expression "old Delaware." But, in another sense of the word, what is "old?" "Old" is not always represented by years. We got a better idea by comparison sometimes. If a man is a hundred years old we call him old. If a country or a government was a hundred years old we might not call it old. I think I heard one speaker this afternoon say that there was a building in Roxbury a hundred and four years old. A few years ago, in that marvelous city in the Adriatic sea, I stood inside of a church building that was built in the sixth century, over thirteen hundred years old. It looked as though it was made for another thousand years. We would call that old In Delaware county.
For all that I am willing to admit that old Delaware, I am ready to allow that term, I am proud of it, I am glad to hear the term applied to it, "old Delaware." I am proud of being a citizen of old Delaware, Delaware does not possess some things that other countries do, I will admit that. She does not have any wonderful Niagara Falls; she does not have such a grand fissure in the earth as the canyon of the Yosemite; she don't have any range of snow capped mountains proteins into the clouds; don't have any sunny climes where the frost king never is known. On the other hand she don't have any miasma, don't have any earthquakes, don't have any tornadoes,don't have any blasting sirocco. But she does have these grand green hills, these beautiful valleys, these pretty villages dotted all over, this pretty Delhi backed by its beautiful green hills. All over the hills of Delaware gushes the sparkling water that is drink for man and beast and rivals the fabled nectar of the gods. All hail, old Delaware! And when the second century of its establishment is celebrated may it have grown better and better with the years in the century.
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Remarks of Hon. T.E. Hancock,OF SYRACUSE, N.Y.
MR. CHAIRMAN, FELLOW CITIZENS, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:
I am proud and pleased to be the salutatorian this evening. Under that arrangement you will soon be out of trouble and so will I.
I congratulate you upon being one hundred years old today, as a county; certainly not as individuals, especially the ladies. Judging from what I heard here this afternoon, if one person should attempt to tell all the good things that could be said concerning this county and its sons and daughters he would speak from now until the dawn of the next centennial day.
I have not armed myself with those deadly weapons, the encyclopedia and the gazetteer, if you have one, but I remember reading in a New York paper, the other day that Delaware county war, celebrated for many things; among others that it was distinguished for its hops. I understand you claim not to raise hops here, but it must be so, if it says so in the paper. You are also noted for your maple sugar, for your tanneries and your temperance Democrats. That is certainly glory enough for one county. I have been in a great many counties that were not distinguished in that way, especially in the latter respect.
One of your fellow citizens who is dead and gone and who has been referred to by your speakers, called Delaware county the Switzerland of America; and with its hills and valleys, its healthful clime and fertile soil, it seems to me that it combines the beauties of Switzerland and of the country about the Rhine.
This same veracious newspaper that I was speaking about devoted some remarks to myself in an adjoining column, of course complimentary, in which it called me, if I remember correctly, a statesman from the Onondaga Reservation. If that be true, I must be related in some way to the tribe of Delawares. I certainly ought to be interested here because, if I remember reading correctly, in 1768 one of my progenitors, a chief by the name of Segareesera joined in a deed of conveyance whereby he sold all his right, title and interest in and to Delaware county and, the surrounding country to king George the Third for fifty thousand dollars. Land was high in Delaware county at that time, comparatively speaking, because I remember before that Manhattan Island was sold for twenty four dollars. A few years after that King George the Third transferred to a free and independent people all his title to the whole country for a much smaller consideration.
I also am interested in this county because I believe I formerly lived in Delaware county, by proxy, at least. I think that Onondaga county, in fact, all the counties between Oswego and Delaware once belonged to Tryon county. You could travel all the way from Delhi to the Onondaga valley without going out of the county, and if a man wanted to visit his neighbor, all he had to do was to get upon his horse, put his wife on behind him, travel three or four weeks and he would find himself in his neighbor's back yard. Those were the days of stagecoaches. These are the days of chain lightning. If you desire to visit with a man in London today, in half an hour you can shake hands across the sea. If you want to talk with a man in Chicago, in five minutes you hear him at the other end of the wire.
We do well to celebrate the deeds of our ancestors. I have been pleased to hear these venerable men speak about the sires of '76, how the good old men of Delaware county fought for their liberty, fought to, achieve independence for this nation, to build up this garden of the gods where you are living today. And I was pleased to hear them tell of the patriots of 1812, who fought to maintain the dignity and self respect of the youngest of the family of nations. And then still later, how the sons of Delaware left their homes and their firesides, kissed their wives and children good-bye, said farewell to father, and mother and went down into the valley of the shadow of death to fight in behalf of home and native land. We do well to praise such deeds and to remember gratefully those who have preceded us.
I have been told since I have been here that Delaware county is surrounded by seven other counties and one State. I would not undertake to tell what those counties are I never was good in geography. I believe that Sullivan is one, and Greene and Ulster, Schoharie, Broome, Otsego and Chenango; and Pennsylvania. Is that right? That is the best recitation I have made in geography in along time. But, judging from the patriotism l have seen man tested here, you are not willing to be bounded by any such narrow confines as that. Sometimes the further a man gets away from home the more patriotic he is, and some of you seem to be feeling about like a man from the wild and woolly West who was celebrating the Fourth of July in Paris. In fact there were three of them; one was from Boston, the other from the South and the other from the West. They were having a Fourth of July celebration all by themselves. And the gentleman from Boston proposed a toast to the United States. With true Bostonian precision, he says: "Here's to the United States; bounded on the North by British America, bounded on the South by the Gulf of Mexico, bounded on the East by the Atlantic Ocean and bounded on the West by the Pacific Ocean." The reconstructed gentleman from the South was not satisfied. He says I think that hardly expresses the idea. I will propose a toast to our native land. Here's to the United States; bounded on the North by the North Pole, bounded on the South by the South Pole, bounded on the East by the rising sun, bounded on the West by the setting sun." The gentleman from the West was not satisfied with that. He says, "I think I can express the idea more clearly; I will propose a toast. Here's to the United States; bounded on the North by the North Star, bounded on the South by the Southern Cross, bounded on the East by chaos, bounded on the
West by eternity." And I suppose that is about the size of Delaware county today. We outsiders, Gentiles, so to speak, are willing to concede that Delaware county is about all there is of it. It was not our fault that we were not born here; we were not consulted, we didn't have our choice.
I am expecting to hear that gavel strike and I do not intend to talk much longer. I have heard some very fine things about Delaware county. I have been told that for sixteen years after you built your first jail the county judge and district attorney and the committing magistrates were discouraged because no one ventured to break the law, and finally they turned the jail into a hotel. And then for about twenty or thirty years after that when a man committed a misdemeanor he walked into the jail and locked himself in; this was, way back in '29. I suppose that explains the temperance Democrats. I am reminded that some of my follow members of the bar (I am supposed to be the titular head of the members of the bar) felt aggrieved at some remarks that were made here this afternoon by a physician concerning the boy who sat on the Bible with the orange in his mouth and the dollar in his pocket. He claimed that the boy became a lawyer. Now, we can all say that, as far as the dollar in his pocket is concerned it is a mistake; but I would call the gentleman's attention to that passage of scripture which reads as follows: "And Asa was sick, and they sent for a physician, and Asa died."
Now, follow citizens, I am somewhat embarrassed. I have had to arrange my speech as I went along. I don't know but what I am trespassing upon the time of someone else who is to follow. But I find it difficult to stop. The theme is fruitful, the occasion suggestive, and your faces and inspiration. You have my good wishes. I congratulate you again. I congratulate you over the. fact that you are citizens of the United States, where every man is a king and every woman a queen. I congratulate you over the fact that you are citizens of the great imperial State of New York, first in wealth, first in strength and first in material resources. I congratulate you that you belong to the good old county of Delaware, and hope that you live long and prosper.
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Extracts from a Letter.
In 1774 my great-grandfather, Alexander Leal, with his wife and six sons, came from Paisley, Scotland, and settled near the centre of Kortright. Last summer, 1896, 1 had a white rose from a bush on the place which has blossomed for over one hundred years. In writing advice to his children Mr. Leal said: "I reproved myself for bringing a family into the wilderness where there was no preaching of the gospel." They soon found ways to have a minister. A Mr. Annan, from New Jersey, came over one hundred miles, and he preached for them and baptized a child. Very soon the way opened for a graduate of Edinburg University, William McCauley, to come among them. There was a desire among the Stamford people (now South Kortright) to have him. Kortright Center prevailed. A church was organized, and for a time Mr. McCauley and the elders walked Sabbath afternoons over to Stamford, a distance of six miles and had service. After a while Mr. Forrest was settled in Stamford.
He was much respected by his people. Both ministers were considered men of ability. I think Mr. McCauley was thought to be the stronger of the two as to intellect, but Mr. Forrest wore the broadcloth and had the more polished manner. One time the Associate Reformed body met at Newburg. Those interested in that assembly felt disheartened when the man who was to preach for them appeared, dressed in a homespun suit, but when Mr. McCauley offered his prayer, all fears vanished; they felt sure they had the right man, and ever afterwards it was a favor to have Mr. McCauley come among them.
In those days, the people came from all directions, eight or ten miles, to church. At communion seasons there would be services beginning with Friday and lasting until Monday afternoon. The different churches came together the houses nearby opened their doors and welcomed all who came. Many a friend stayed over and made a visit of weeks. In reading the story of Chancellor Livingston, I was reminded of those days. It was stated of him that he would have friends visiting him, and when they were too much at home, he would send money to another friend and ask him to send for them to visit; after awhile they would return, improved. The money was not so plenty, but the interchange of friends was quite common.
The Sabbath was sacred; no work that was not absolutely necessary to life was done; the dishes would be left until Monday morning, the wood was brought in Saturday night. If the choice were given to me to have an Academic course without a religious education or a common school education with the old time religious training I would say every time give me the latter, for they who have that, do the clearest thinking and have the strongest will power to overcome difficulties. I am reminded of a time when Dr. Agnew asked me if I knew two ladies who had called on him from Betty's Brook, they appeared very refined and cultured he said. So they were; a family of daughters and two sons, but with a stirring father and a capable quiet mother the Scotch-Irish element was well developed, there was no backwoods people with such training. The mothers of those days were not clamorous for place, but they held the rudder all the same, behind the scenes.
Early in this century the father of the Leals went down below Delhi and bought land for his four sons on the east side of the Delaware, his own farm, now called the Meeker farm, the poor-house lot and the one below; there being no church in the town then, he used to walk to Kortright Center, fourteen miles, every Sabbath. Mrs. Gould told me that she had often seen Grandfather Leal on horseback with Grandmother behind him going to Stamford to church. Judge Bostwick told me that no one dared to fish or hunt until the old man was off; they were sure to be fined if he saw them. It was not long before he had a church near by; it stood on the flat a little below the Little Delaware bridge. Mrs. Thurber told me that he stood on the bridge and saw the last rafter go up; he leaning on his long staff said, "Now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace for mine eyes have seen thy salvation;" thus he had seen three churches organized, and his exhortation to his children was, " be always ready to support the Gospel; be mindful of Mr. McCauley for he has been a faithful minister to ye all."
Mr. Maxwell was settled over the Delhi church, he preaching occasionally in the Courthouse and also at Cabin Hill over the Scotch mountain. A few of the village people went down to the church, but they were not a church going community; they were men of affairs, able lawyers; the first bar in the State outside of the city of New York it was said; there was a true aristocracy; the daughters were sent away to school. In those days Catskill had a superior school, ease of manners and quiet deportment were taught. Mrs. Maxwell (Judge Foote's daughter) was an example of a refined, delicate lady, and a kind, gentle woman, always attentive, to everyone, but never condescending; the young ladies of that time were not street girls, they were protected by their homes.
The Judges of that time seemed to be distributed around the country at a distance of three or four miles apart. Judge Law at Meredith Square; he had hopes of having the county town up there. Why not? The only State road passed over the hills, three stagecoaches a day passed that way, it being the most direct road from Western New York to Catskill en route to New York. But down hill the judges came: Judge Frisbee at the foot of Elk Creek, (the first court was held there), Judge Keeler farther up the river; Judge Leal below the village; Judge Foote two miles further on; later on Judge Bostwick across the river.
Probably the law business would not support them, or perhaps it was proper to be a landholder. Mr. Sherwood, a well-known lawyer lived below the village.
In the thirties there came a great change in the religious feeling all over the country, there were what were called protracted meetings hold in many places. The old churches were holding their places and keeping their children mostly, but the multitude were living careless lives, they cared for none of these things. Then came an evangelist, Mr. Orton, a refined Christian gentleman and with all very zealous, who had a great influence among the people; meetings were held it the Court-house and in the District school-house at Sherwood's bridge. The leading village people began to be interested, many of them came out decided Christians, among them Mr. and Mrs. Gould. Mr. Gould gave largely of his means and was active in working. He used to have a school Sabbath afternoons in our schoolhouse, and meetings during the week. The young people of the Scotch families were interested; I remember hearing my Grandfather say to my Grandmother, "I think I will go over and hear what our young people are getting;" he came back finding no fault. I was too young to go generally, but one evening was there; I was much interested in hearing Deacon Knapp sing alone,
"The year of jubilee has come,
Return ye wandering sinners home."
He was a devout old man; he used to have a prayer meeting in the village; his family thought him foolish to go. When asked who was there he would say, "I was there and the Saviour was there." Who knows but like Cornelius, his prayers were heard and answered? Certainly he lived to see the school house crowded. In a short time a church was organized and a building put up where the Second Presbyterian church now stands.
Mr. Kedzie, Uncle Robert Leal and James Leal (my grandfather), with their families left the Scotch Church and united with the village church. The Episcopal church must have been organized very soon. There was a great change in the village; those who were not churchgoers were the exceptions. The old Presbyterian churches looked upon the "new lights," as they were called, as not quite orthodox; they sang hymns, they had many isms, there was danger of depending upon good works. Time has straightened out these differences so that they are now of one mind, holding the same views essentially, only keeping the different names to help those who are anxious to keep their own individuality. By this time there were churches in all the towns: at Meredith Square a large Congregationalist church; I remember going there when it looked doubtful about getting a seat. The southern towns were all well sustained religiously among the best-known names were Wheeler, Ogden, Mead, Eells and St. John. Delaware county has had many men that she may well be proud of.
Delaware Academy must have been started in the early part of this century; the first teacher was a Mr. Savage, probably from Washington county, New York. I remember my grandmother speaking very respectfully of Uncle and Aunt Savage from that section. General Root was a loyal citizen. Mr. Samuel Sherwood lent his influence for the good of the place. I think we all feet as my brother wrote fifty years ago,
Land of my own green home forever!
Of rugged glen, and cloud-capped hill;
Land of the lake and rolling river-
My childhood's home, I love thee still!
Land where the Catskills rear their heads
Aloft, to mock the storms of Heaven,
Of fairy dell and weird cell,
And mighty oaks by lightning riven:
Home of my youth, though Time and Fate
That alter things, may change thee;
Yet Time nor Fate shall ever drive
Thine image, Delaware, from me.
Stern land of mountain, rock and flood,
Of barren heath and stormy sky,
Thy sons are freemen and thy cliffs
The fortresses of Liberty!
Forever rest that Goddess bright
Thy firm embedded rocks among
While Freedom hath a home on earth,
Or Freedom's chorus shall be sung!
A rugged band are they those men
Who cleave thy iron rocks for food;
Stern zealots of the olden time,
Who live not but in the fear o' God."
Men of the old Douglass line,
Who ne'er was bearded in his den
Who like their fathers for their rights
Would firmly draw the sword again.
Forever be among them there,
The blood they from old Scotia draw;
The firm resolve, the Christian walk,
And meek obedience to the law.
* * * * *
Poem, "1997", by Arthur More, Esq., OF DEPOSIT, N. Y.
One day, sitting in my sanctum,
(The word is quite a good one,)
I somehow got to thinking,
Or, it may be, half-way dreaming,
Over days that long were passed,
Over which the shadows passed,
A very queer illusion,
Or, possibly, delusion,
I chanced upon an old-time book,
It had a mildewed, ancient look,
It's date was 1897.
If I'm not very much mistaken,
It is a rare and novel relic,
In truth a genuine old antique.
I read it o'er with greatest care,
But whence it came I'm not aware.
I trust you'll get the book and read it,
E'en though it's stale to our time critic.
But of the nineteenth century
It's a curious epitome.
That it is old, you'll give it credit,
Because it's not in the "phonetic."
(I simply stop right here to state
You will not find it up to date.)
>From it I gather the impression,
And so will you on careful reading
(That is, of course, providing
You comprehend the spelling),
That in eighteen hundred ninety-seven
Delhi had some sort of celebration-
That many people met up there,
>From every part of Delaware;
They read some scraps of history,
And dilated on their glory,
And how they'd reached the summit
By excellence of wit.
What was its purpose, I don't know,
Because it was so long ago.
Yet 'tis true they held this celebration,
Per se, for mutual admiration.
And I give it to you gratis
They boasted of their "status,"
But what they had to brag about,
Or why they did so jump and shout,
Is what we can't exactly know,
Because it was so long ago.
In nineteen hundred -ninety-seven,
Existing by the grace of Heaven,
We can't conceive as you well know,
Why these old things were ever so.
It seems in those old-fashioned days,
The people had peculiar ways
Of doing things from hand to hand
That we, you know, can't understand.
They had something called a "phone"
By which they talked from home to home;
They had a wire, or some such matter,
They used for lack of something better,
And these were stretched on sticks, they say,
In a peculiar sort of way.
Now these old things we can't conceive,
Nor scarcely in our mind believe.
Why such crude things were e'er in use,
We can't our minds quite disabuse.
Why, now we talk with men in Mars,
They called it then one of the stars;
When, we converse right through the air
We can't see why they used a wire.
As I read backward to that time
I'm quite bewildered in my mind.
They talked of gold and silver,
'Twould any mind bewilder,
They talked about the ratio,
And the consequential value.
Now we're making gold and silver,
As you'll well remember,
By a well-known composition
Of this century's invention.
They talked of the precious metal,
And of the monetary evil.
Gold seemed to them great virtue bear
Because it was so very rare.
But since we've got to making it
At a reasonably fair profit,
We keep the ratio as we want
By the working of the plant.
Our mills are running on full time
And our output of gold is fine;
And our trade's expanding fast
This year greater than the last.
Our commerce with all people far and wide
Exalts our nation's pride.
Our ambassador at North Pole
Reports a good condition as a whole;
We've nothing from that part to fear,
Except an early frost this year.
No doubt that, our reciprocity
Has much advanced us in that country.
The delicacies that they produce,
Exchanged with us for things of use.
As we look back a hundred years
It fills our eyes with scalding tears.
Our fathers in their vain, boasted role,
Did never, never take the "pole,"
And yet, with great solemnity,
On the record placed their own stupidity.
Then they had a long contention
O'er the question of combustion,
By burning wood or coals, 'twould seem,
(Or did I learn it in a dream,)
Why, ever since I can remember,
We made our fuel out of water.
The date of this discovery
Is not now in my memory.
But we have no contention
O'er a coal trust combination.
Why I should reckon not,
When we make the water boil the pot.
To extract the fire from water
Is a very simple matter,
And 'tis queer this thing they didn't know,
Only a hundred years ago.
It didn't even have a mention
At that wondrous celebration.
Yet the fullness of their wisdom
They related with great unction,
And prated of their knowledge
Got in common school and college-
That the summit of their wisdom
Covered all things 'neath the sun.
We extend to them our pity
In the line of Christian duty,
Beyond our wildest imagination
Is the picture of their ignorance.
Things that to them seemed credulous
Are plain as noonday sun to us;
They were not of the twentieth century,
Therefore not as wise as we.
I will not be an unfair critic,
They thought they know things that they didn't,
A common thing, e'en now, we must admit,
So we will not in judgment on them sit.
Our fathers were a fairish class,
Considering they were in the past.
They sermonized on the "world"
As though in that all things were told.
They wisely talked about some planet
And through a spy-glass thought they saw it,
But whether it was land or ocean,
They didn't have the slightest notion;
By the way, I'm just reminded,
And I pause right here to state it,
Our annual coming great event
(See special small bills freely sent)
The vestibuled excursion out to Mars,
On the modern airship "Golden Stars,"
I am not the company's agent,
But I freely recommend it;
The rates are low and very fair.
(No extra charge for best of air);
I was out there in the month of May
Upon the vessel "Windy Way."
The people there are much like us,
This I observed in a town caucus.
It gave me quite a homelike feeling
To mark the quantum of their stealing.
They are very active after spoil
And quite averse to hardy toil.
So we can call the Marsden "brother"
In any sort or kind of weather.
The men of Mar's are peaceably inclined,
And by the name are very much maligned.
They were then holding a convention
To effect an arbitration
With their neighbors in the "Milky Way"
At some early future day.
We came back by way of Jupiter,
But owing to distress of weather-
The wind was blowing south by west
Our captain thought it was not best-
We did not make a landing,
Which was quite disappointing;
But we made the port of Venus
And 'twas there the boys all left us.
They said they'd take the next ship back,
But they didn't, that's a fact.
I think they found an Oklahoma
In the goddess' fair country.
And I'm strong of the opinion
That they settled in that nation.
How little did our fathers know,
Only a hundred years ago.
Address by Hon. Chas. Z. Lincoln, OF ALBANY, N.Y.
MR. PRESIDENT, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: At the outset I want to express my gratitude to your distinguished citizen and my good friend Mr. Crosby, for inviting me to attend this celebration. It was not until yesterday that I felt sure that I could be here, but now I am ready to say that I count this one of the fortunate occasions of my life. As I have sat here today and listened to the histories of your various towns, and the development and growth of this county, my patriotism has been stirred, my love of country has grown, and my respect for American citizenship has increased. I am very glad tonight that I am able to make this visit to Delaware county.
I am not a son of Delaware county. I am not even a brother-in-law. More than that, I am not even a son of New York. I first saw the light of day in old Vermont, and for more than forty years my father and mother have slept beneath her sod. But I came to this State when a child, and I have lived here ever since. This has been my State. I have taken an interest in all her affairs, I have become proud of her history, I have become proud of her station as the Empire State of this great union; and as I have studied her history and watched her development, I have become more and more proud to be a citizen of the State of New York.
There are some things about the State of New York to which it might be well for us to call attention. I recall the fact that back in 1683 a Colonial Assembly was held, and passed what it called a "charter of liberties." In that charter of liberties it declared that the government rested finally with the "people met in general assembly." You who have read that history remember that King James objected to those words, "the people," because, he said, they were a lot in any other constitution in America. So the State of New York, or colony of New York, was first in the declaration of a government by the people. Not from old Massachusetts, not from Delaware, not from Virginia, but from the old Dutch and English settlement of New York, first came into our constitutional history those great words, "the people," the keystone of popular government. It is worth while for us to remember this as we think of the development of our liberty, and of all the free institutions which we so much enjoy.
It seems incongruous that I should be called on to say anything here. This is a family reunion, and I am a stranger to you, this is my first visit to Delaware county, but I had had the pleasure and the honor of being acquainted with a few of your citizens, so that when Mr. Crosby invited me to come I consented, not only to visit with him and other citizens with whom I am acquainted, but that I might take in the full meaning of a great occasion like this in Delaware county. But, after all, it may be proper that I, a stranger to you, should come here and say a few words of greeting. My home is in the county of Cattaraugus. We cannot have a centennial in Cattaraugus in twenty years, but I want to take this occasion to invite you to come and help us celebrate when we do hold it. It makes me feel young, looking at this celebration tonight from the standpoint of Cattaraugus. It was not until the next year after this county was organized, that the first white settlement was made in Cattaraugus county, and then a few Quakers went up the Allegany river and settled just over the line in what is now the southern part of our county. You trace your history back farther than the organization of the county, because you go back with the history of the State itself, and to the colony of New York. I bring to you tonight the greeting of Cattaraugus, greeting you and congratulating you upon this auspicious event, that you have come up through these years, and that Delaware county has developed so grandly that tonight you are able to celebrate with proper pride this great history of yours which we have heard recounted today.
You do not expect me to give any of the history of Delaware county. Your own people will do that. But I count you a part of the State of New York; you belong to the same family of smaller commonwealths to which I belong. Cattaraugus and Delaware are only parts of this great State of New York; smaller divisions, originating from the English habit of dividing the commonwealth into smaller municipalities. We have our county government as you have yours, and our general development has been substantially the same.
The other day I found in the State Library the history of Delaware county, written by Jay Gould, and I found it a very interesting book. One little item in that book attracted my attention; no one has referred to it today, and it seems to me to be of some significance. On the third of October, 1797, the seal of the old Court of Common Pleas was established by an order of that court. The emblem put on that seal was a stream of water issuing from a high mountain. That seal was changed only two or three years afterwards. Mr. Gould remarked of that original seal that it was emblematic of the surface and general features of the county. I find in it a much deeper meaning than that. A stream of water issuing from a high mountain. A mountain indicates strength and stability, and those have been characteristics of Delaware county in all this century. A stream of water represents life, power, progress and influence, and all those characteristics have also marked Delaware county in all these years. It is like that stream which Ezekiel saw in that wonderful vision. When he first measured it, it was only ankle deep; the next time, it, was up to the knees; the next, it was up to the loins;. until now it is so broad and deep that it is immeasurable. You cannot measure the influence which has gone out from Delaware county. We have had some account of it today as we have heard of your great men, of your noble women, of the men who have gone out spreading this influence far and wide, even around the globe, and into remote hemispheres, and upon the islands of the sea. Everywhere this force has gone, illustrating the emblem of water issuing out of a high mountain, carrying with it everywhere influences which shall never stop, and cannot stop, because measured only by eternity. That was a significant suggestion to me, and if I were now a citizen of Delaware county I should regret that that first seat was ever changed. It was of deeper significance than the historian suggested.
Emerson wrote an essay on "The Uses of Great Men," in which he said that the search after a great man was the dream of youth, and the most serious occupation of manhood. We have been going over today, some of us listening, others in fact, the history of Delaware county, and while we have not been purposely searching for great men, we have been finding great men all along this strong line from the earliest days until now. We find men who are great, great in their patriotism, great in their devotion to principle, great in their love of education, great in every department of human effort; great men who established the county of Delaware and made it strong, and firm, and stable, as indicated by that first emblem upon that old county seal, represented by a high mountain and a living, growing stream.
Shortly after I came to the bar an incident occurred in England that made a very profound impression on my mind. It was the expiration of a lease which had been given a thousand years before. Think of it! A lease a thousand years old. And yet, when the lease expired, the people who were entitled to the reversion of the land upon the expiration of the lease were on hand ready to take their property. That incident, more than any human language can convey, illustrated the strength and the stability of English institutions. That incident showed that the England of Alfred, of William the Conqueror, of Elizabeth, and of Cromwell, is also the England of Victoria. It showed also that the England of Hastings, and of Runnymene, and of Marston Moor, is the England of Waterloo. It showed also that the England of Spencer, and of Shakespeare, and of Milton is the England of Tennyson. It showed that the England of those old days had continued practically unchanged, here and there modifying its form of government slightly, but all the while the same grand old England. The Plantagenets, and the Tudors, and the Stuarts, and the Brunswicks, and finally the Hanovers, have occupied the throne of England, but it is old England still. As I have thought of that thousand years lease the question has occurred to me, Will this nation last a thousand years? Why not? We are told that history repeats itself. That is true to a limited degree, but I do not believe it is true of nations. Nations do not repeat them- selves. There was only one Babylon; there was only one Greece, the mother of arts and literature. The Greece of today is not the Greece of Solon and Pericles. There was only one Rome; although it existed for fifteen centuries, the Rome of today is not the Rome of Caesar, and of Cicero, and of Justinian. But the England of today stands as the development of peculiar principles and institutions. What reason is there to suppose that this nation may not last a thousand years, and more than a thousand years? It would depend, of course, upon the people who come after us. First upon what we do, then upon what those do who may follow us.
While that lease was lying in somebody's possession, working out its purpose during those ten centuries, it saw many important events. So, this county, while, only a hundred years old, has seen many important events, and many great changes in the history of the world.
When your county was organized, there were only three cities in the State; New York, Hudson and Albany. Now we have forty-one cities, and we have one city next to the largest on the globe, and one which, long before the expiration of the next century will, I believe, be the first city in the world. Your county today possesses a larger population than there was in the entire State of New York when your county was organized. There are more people in the State of New York today, and Governor Black is Chief Magistrate of a larger population, than there was in the entire union when Thomas Jefferson was elected President. We count our wealth by billions; we count our population by millions. We have become in fact, and we are destined to remain, the Empire State of this great nation. All this development has come about while you have been progressing, and developing, and making this particular part of the State a strong, stalwart, stable county.
This county in its development has seen three complete and revised constitutions adopted; it has had occasion to observe that New York has been the pioneer in great legislation, in great legal reform, and other States have been copying from us all there years. New York stands today, not only in these material respects that I have mentioned, but in other respects, in law, and legal and constitutional reform, the greatest State, and the great example of all the States of the Union. You in Delaware county share all this. You have helped to produce it. We are all together a part of this great comnmonwealth. You had your share in it, and we have all had our share in it, and we have a right to feel tonight proud of our constitution, proud of the results of constitutional government, proud of this material prosperity, proud of the character of our citizens, proud of the condition of our citizenship, and proud of all these things which go to make up this beneficent institution which we call American civilization.
Now, these institutions which we boast so much of have come down to us from our fathers. Webster made the remark that these institutions which we have are ours "to enjoy, to preserve, and to transmit." Ours to enjoy; we enjoy them day by day. Ours to preserve, and Bee that our posterity takes them from us untarnished. Ours to transmit to remotest generations, these institutions which have built up this nation and made us what we are. And Webster made this further remark, that if, under such favorable conditions as had existed and did then exist in his day in this country, for the establishment of a government by the people, and for the people, if a free republican government could not be maintained under those conditions, it could not be maintained at all. We believe it is here to be maintained through the cycles of the ages, with all these institutions of civil and religious liberty which we are so proud of tonight, and which we glory in as we stand here at the close of this first century of your county.
We stand here tonight on the pinnacle of this century. We look down into the past and we see those men struggling through hardships and privations to build this nation, and to establish these institutions; and this generation is responsible not only to the past, to see that we properly preserve and take care of the institutions which we have received from it, but responsible for the future, that we may be able to transmit to our posterity and to generations yet unborn these institutions which we believe are destined to make and to continue to make this American nation the flower of the world in all ages.
But there are people coming after us. We have heard a little tonight of the next century. What shall our greeting be tonight to the men and women of 1997? They will look back upon this occasion; they will read the book which your president has suggested will be printed, containing the speeches and the histories which we have heard here, and they will look into it to see what sort of men and women lived in Delaware county at this time, and what kind of institutions you had. They will look to see what kind of a constitution you had, whether it expressed the very highest form of government, and whether it was calculated to produce the very best citizenship, and whether it was intended to bring about the greatest happiness of the people. They will consider all these institutions, and they will consider us personally to see how much of our personality, and how much personal character we put into these institutions which we are to hand down to them. The responsibility means much as we stand here at the close of one century, and look into another, and look down the aisles of time until we see the end of that century, and in imagination behold that centennial a hundred years from now. What will it be? Imagination is unequal to the task of portraying what that centennial will be, what institutions it will end, what conditions of people will be there found, and what sort of government they will enjoy; and whether they will so modify the government as to lose sight of the cardinal principles upon which our institutions are based. Those things will demand their attention, but it is our duty to see that we hand down to them these institutions in the very best condition possible.
You remember that remarkable oration by Daniel Webster upon the two hundredth anniversary of the landing of the Pilgrims, in which, after going over the ground of the development of the causes which led to the colonization of America, and the formation of this government, he turned his face toward the future, and he wondered what we should be able to say to those people coming after us a century later. And as he dwelt upon that future, and upon those conditions which he could barely describe, he exclaimed: "Advance, then, ye future generations. We welcome you as you rise to take the places which we now fill, and where we are now passing and shall soon have passed our brief human duration. We welcome you to the pleasant land of our fathers; we welcome you to these healthful skies and these verdant fields; we greet your accession to this blessed inheritance which we have enjoyed; we welcome you to the blessings of good government and religious liberty; we welcome you to the treasures of science and the delights of learning; we welcome you to the transcendent bliss of domestic life, the happiness of kindred, of parents, and children; we welcome you to the immeasurable blessings of rational existence, the immortal hope of Christianity, and the light of ever- lasting truth."
Tonight, fellow citizens, let that be the greeting which we send to the men and women of 1997, and let us hand down to them these institutions untarnished, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, and then they will look back upon us and call us blessed, and as they recount in their histories the deeds of 1897 they will thank us that we have preserved for them, as Webster said, and transmitted to them, these institutions without fault and without blemish, so that they could enjoy them, improve them, build upon them, make human life better, and better still; make human life more happy in all its developments, and make themselves the greatest nation which the world has ever seen.
Having now presented the principal addresses, papers and letters prepared for this occasion excepting Dr. Murray's sketch of the Anti-Rent war, which follows, it is in order to give an outline of the other exercises of the celebration.
The efforts of the committee on relies were rewarded by a large and exceedingly interesting collection of articles, implements, utensils, souvenirs and curios gathered during the years of the century. This exhibit was nicely displayed in the grand jury room of the court house, and throngs of people enjoyed a visit to that museum of ancient handiwork and genius. There were many contributions from nearly all parts of the county, but the towns of Bovina, Delhi, Kortright and Roxbury were most numerously represented. The largest individual exhibits were from W. B. Peters of Bloomville, Edmund L. Fish of Fish Eddy, A. M. Warner of Stamford and Admiral Gillis of Delhi.
In the collection of W. B. Peters was an exceptionally good showing of Indian relics all found in the town of Kortright. Among these were stone arrow heads, knives and tools used by the primitive sons of the forest at the beginning of the century, a scalp hook which his grandfather captured with twelve bloody scalps hanging thereon. He also had an admirable collection of rare books, of valuable coins, and musical instruments.
Edmund Fish had a display of flint implements which bad been gathered from various parts of this country. Illustrative of the early struggles of the pioneers, the best collection came from Bovina, which included household articles, carpenters' tools and implements. The collection loaned by Admiral Gillis contained many revolutionary relics and a great variety of interesting things from Peru. A. M. Warner exhibited geological specimens, Indian relics, old firearms and quaint musical instruments.
Some of the other articles of especial interest were a chair used by the Colonial Congress, by W. B. Hanford of Franklin; an old high post bedstead and coverlet 115 years old, by H. W. White of Delhi; tin lanterns, the oldest one shown by Dr. William Ormiston of Delhi; old furniture, horn spoons, guns, pistols, powder horns, crockery, glassware, maps, books, fancy work and crude tools of all sorts.
To the older people a study of these antiquities "turned back time in its flight" and revived memories of their youthful privations and, struggles. To the younger people it was an interesting revelation a source of wonder and even amusement to many. They could not help wondering how their forefathers got along with those imperfect aids to their work. This was really as successful as any part of the celebration, and it is a regret that the exhibits cannot be reproduced in pictures.
When Thursday morning came the rain was still falling and many who had planned to witness the grandest parade ever hold in the county were compelled to forego the pleasure. However, a great company journeyed to the county seat that morning. The firemen were not deterred from their duty in meeting the promises made and all the companies came, accompanied by their friends. Representatives of, the several posts of the Grand Army of the Republic and other veterans of the war of the rebellion also came to join the parade. Visiting organizations were escorted to their headquarters by the Delhi Cornet Band, and accorded a hearty welcome.
At eleven o'clock began the serving of a sumptuous dinner, at the opera house, to the 1,000 invited guests, provided by the citizens of Delhi. The firemen, the veterans, the Thirty-third Separate Company from Walton and the bands were the guests. William D. Smith of Delhi was chief of the commissary department, and the following committee were in charge of the opera house, the hostelry of the occasion: Mrs. L. W. Firth, Mrs. Mary Dann, Mrs. John A. Woodburn, Mrs. E. W. Paul, Mrs. C. G. Maxwell, Mrs. A. J. Franklin and Mrs. J. J. Burke. The young ladies of Delhi volunteered to serve the meals, which they did with thoughtful attention. The visitors were profuse in their praises and thanks for this part of the program.
A patriotic and enthusiastic people were cheered when at noon, the rainstorm abated for a little, so that the grand procession could be formed. The grand marshal, Frank L. Norton, and his assistant arranged the companies on the public square, and when in readiness Prof. Willis D. Graves, president of the day, secured attention. and in a few words introduced Colonel R. P. Cormack of Delhi, who extended a welcome as follows:
"I am directed by the residents of this village, to extend to you, one and all, the most kindly, cordial, and hearty welcome, to a participation in their hospitalities that can be framed in words. To the Veteran Soldiers, I am further instructed to say that they, in common with their follow citizens all over the country, understand and appreciate the sacrifices you made in severing home ties and accepting camp life, the trials of bivouac, the long and weary march, the discomforts of the trenches, fronting the enemy for months in succession, and in the fierce heat of battle, that the Nation might live and the Union of the States remain intact, and to assure you that the patriotism which prompted you to spring to the defense of our country, will never be undervalued. To the Firemen of Delaware county, it is made my duty to say that the people of Delhi, although having been exempt from devastating fires for many years, by reason of the activity of their own firemen, feel very thankful for the singleness of purpose, which prompts you to devote your time tow the protection of your neighbors' property and sometimes their lives. The frequency with which firemen are maimed in the discharge of their duty, and the number who have laid down their lives in efforts to save others, sufficiently attests the danger of your calling, and I here venture, in the name of the people from whom you severally come, to sincerely thank you for your noble work. The people of Delaware county also extend a hearty welcome to the Thirty-third Company of the State National Guard, and desire to congratulate them upon their soldierly appearance, while they recognize in their personnel the same element and characteristics which have made the American soldier famous all over the world, and it is my province to say that your fellow citizens repose the most perfect confidence in your patriotism and love of country, if you should be called into the field for earnest work. This celebration is peculiar in its characteristics. It interests all the people of the county alike. It is at once patriotic, sentimental and historical, and like the century plant, it blossoms only once in an hundred years. We are glad to see so many familiar faces from all parts of the county, and sincerely thank you for your presence and I will close my remarks by quoting the old adage, that brevity is the soul of wit. The town is yours for this auspicious occasion."
When the speaker had concluded, the lines were quickly arranged and the procession moved in the following order:
GRAND MARSHAL-FRANK L. NORTON.
Platoon of Chief Engineers.
Carriages containing speakers and distinguished guests.
MARSHAL, GEORGE M. BURGIN; Sidney Drum Corps; Thirty-third Separate Company, Walton; Sidney Centre Band; Phelps Hose Company, Sidney; Cartwright Hook and Ladder Company, Sidney; Bovina Band; Ben Marvin Post, Walton; John A. Logan Post, Stamford; Eggleston Post, Deposit; Plaskett Post, Hancock; Fleming Post, Downsville; Bryce Post, Hamden; F. T. Hine Post, Franklin; England Post, Delhi.
MARSHAL, WILLIAM BRINKMAN; Brown's Band, Oneonta; Stamford Hose Company; Maynard Hose Company, Stamford; Churchill Hook and Ladder Company, Stamford; Fleischmann's Band; Roxbury Hose Company; Pakatakan Hose Company, Margaretville; Arena Hose Company, Arena; Hine Hose Company, Treadwell.
MARSHAL, GEORGE O. LEONARD; Downsville Band; Shehawken Hose Company, No. 1, Hancock; Hancock Hose Company, No. 2, Hancock; Hancock Hook and Ladder Company, No. 1, Hancock; Andes Band; Dowie Hose Company, Andes; Andes Hook and Ladder Company; Hamden Hose Company; Franklin Band; Edgerton Hose Company, Franklin; Edgerton Hook and Ladder Company, Franklin.
MARSHAL, JOHN P. MATTHEWS; Walton Band; Morrow Hose Company, No. 1, Alert Hose Company, No. 2, Fancher Hook and Ladder Company, No. 3, Townsend Hose Company, No. 4, Walton; Deposit Band; Deposit Hose Company; Bloomville Band; Cascade Hose Company, Hobart; Delhi Band; Coquago Engine Company, No. 1, Youmans Hose Company, No. 2, Graham Hook and Ladder Company, No. 3, Sheldon Hose Company, No. 4, Active Hose Company, No. 5, Athletic Hose Company, No. 6, Delhi.
The line of march included the following streets of the village: Court, Second, Franklin, Woolerton, Clinton and Main. An interesting feature of the parade was the company of "Anti-Renters" from Andes, dressed in the Indian garb of disguise. A picture of this company appears elsewhere.
This parade was one of great interest, representing every part of the county. The many bands discoursed inspiring music. The firemen were resplendent in bright new uniforms, in various colors and shades, representing safety from the ravages of fire. The veterans of '61-'65, now grown gray with years, representing the noble army which saved our country in time of peril an indestructible union. The separate company, in full uniform, representative of the state's defense against invasion by enemies. The past century had not seen the equal of this inspiring spectacle, and it was a proud day for the gathered thousands.
After the parade many watched the game of baseball, while Main street held a crowd of people interested in the hose races and the hook and ladder races by the firemen. Cascade Hose Company of Hobart won first prize, $50, in the hose race and Phelps Hose Company of Sidney second prize, $25. Cartwright Hook and Ladder Company of Sidney was the only one entered for the hook and ladder race, and second prize of $25 was awarded. In the early evening there were band concerts and later a display of fireworks and the celebration of a hundred years existence as a county, by loyal citizens, came to a close. This brief story and pictures therewith give but a faint conception of the important occasion.
* * * * *
The Anti-Rent Episode in the State of New York
By David Murray, LL.D., OF NEW BRUNSWICK, N. J.
THE Anti-Rent agitation which occurred in the state of New York between 1839 and 1846 was in many respects a remarkable movement. It bad its ultimate origin in the leasehold tenure of lands which was introduced into this country from Europe, and which was supposed to carry with it a trail of the feudal system that for centuries had held its sway in almost all the countries of Europe. The communities which became involved in these Anti-Rent troubles, and were led into exhibitions of lawlessness and even bloodshed, were in almost all cases high-toned, industrious and moral. They belonged to the staid and conservative parts of the people, as indeed the agricultural elements of a state are sure to do.
The objects of this paper are to give some account of the Anti-Rent disturbances in Delaware county. To do this intelligently it will be necessary to explain the introduction of European land tenure into America and how out of this unreasonable system arose troubles which involved the best parts of the State for many years.
The first settlements within the present boundaries of New York were made by the Hollanders. The object of the Dutch West India Company in its American policy was a profitable trade. And almost the only article of trade to be derived from the Holland territory in America was the peltry of fur-bearing animals. Hence it was important that permanent and trustworthy settlements should be established at convenient points within this territory. The present state of New York contains within its boundaries at Little Falls the most available route across the Alleghanies to the west, and at the time of the Dutch settlements was the home of the most thrifty, enterprising and war like tribes of Indians. To bring themselves into, contact with these sources of the fur trade, the Dutch West India Company undertook to develop a settlement at Albany. To this end they offered important concessions to such men of wealth as would engage to found colonies on the frontiers of the Indian territories.
Killain Van Rensselaer, a rich pearl merchant of Amsterdam, was the first to undertake this task. He received a grant of land extending twenty-four miles along the Hudson river at Albany, and running back twenty-four miles on each side. This extensive tract covered the chief parts of the two counties of Albany and Rensselaer. The recipient of this grant was denominated a patroon, and. he engaged to plant within seven years a colony on his lands, of at least fifty families.
In 1630 a shipload of emigrants was forwarded from Holland, and in succeeding years others followed. They were chiefly planted on farms in what is now Albany and Rensselaer counties. The lands were leased to them on what are called perpetual leases. The annual rent was at first fixed at ten bushels of wheat for one hundred acres, together with four fat hens and a day's work with a. team. In the later leases the rent was fixed at fourteen bushels of wheat for one hundred acres.
In 1664 the Holland possessions in America were all transferred by treaty to England, and among them the patroonship of the Van Rensselaers. The personal rights of the inhabitants were not disturbed, and the patroonship became the manor of Rensselaerwyck, with the rights and usages of an English manor.
The English during their ascendancy created several other great manors. The most important of these was the Livingston manor in what is now Columbia county. It covered 165,240 acres. The object of the English colonial government in thus founding manors was of course to secure the prevalence in America of a landed aristocracy after the pattern of England. The land of the Livingston manor was like that of Rensselaerwyck assigned to settlers on lease, some in perpetuity, some for ninety-nine years, and some for one or more lives. The greater part, however, was leased for two lives. The annual rent varied between fourteen and eighteen bushels of wheat for one hundred acres.
There were other large patents in different eastern counties, whose tenants became involved in the Anti-Rent agitation. The principal of these were in Schoharie county, in Schenectady county, the George Clark tracts in Montgomery, Scoharie, Otsego, Oneida and Delaware counties, in Greene county, in Ulster county and in Sullivan and Delaware counties.
The tract of greatest interest to Delaware county was the Hardenbergh patent. It was granted by Queen Anne in 1708 to Johannes Hardenbergh of Kingston and his associates. It included ten miles square, and was claimed by the grantees to extend to the West branch of the Delaware; but this claim was disputed by the settlers who held that grant only extended to the East branch. The original grant specified that the land extended to the "Main Branch of the Fishkill or Delaware river." Which is the main branch is even yet almost impossible to decide. As the two flow together at Hancock they are so nearly of the same size that we may pardon the disputes of the patentees and the settlers.
The lands of the Hardenbergh patent were nearly always granted to settlers on cases at one shilling an acre. Besides this large patent, there were in Delaware county several other considerable tracts; thus there were the Morgan Lewis tract of 15,000 acres; three tracts of Gulian and Samuel Verplanck originally of 50,000 acres, of which there were 20,000 acres under lease at the time of the Anti- -Rent outbreak. To these tracts must be added those of Robert R. Livingston and Mrs. Montgomery, and the extensive tracts of Hunter, Kortright and Overing.* (* These items are taken from the report of Hon. Samuel T. Tilden in the winter of 1846 to the New York Assembly).
The first Anti-Rent outbreak took place in the lands of the Helderbergs in Albany county in 1839. It arose from the attempt made to enforce the collection of rents which the too great leniency of the patroon Stephen Van Rensselaer had suffered to accumulate in arrears. At the time of his death this accumulation amounted to not less than $400,000. The effort to enforce payment led to violent resistance, and the officers of the law were compelled to call upon the governor, William H. Seward, for military assistance. After the forcible settlement of the questions at issue, at the suggestion of the governor commissioners were appointed to endeavor to make a compromise between the landlord and his tenants. But no satisfactory result came from this conference and the commissioner reported their failure to the next legislature.
Soon after this, the agitation as to the payment of rents spread to the Van Rensselaer leasehold properties on the east side of the Hudson river. Anti-Rent associations began to be formed in all the considerable localities. These associations became affiliated and exerted a wide influence in all the subsequent movements, both in the Van Rensselaer and other leasehold domains. In connection with these associations there appeared a set of professional agitators, who went about descanting upon the evils of the system of rents and encouraging the tenants in the methods of violence which they adopted. Dr. Boughton who was afterward tried and convicted in Columbia county, and Mr. Brisbane who was present at the killing of Steele in Delaware county, were both professional anti-rent lecturers.
It must not be assumed that the aims and purposes of these associations were wholly or even principally wrong. There was a perfectly legitimate object which they did much to promote. In them began that persistent agitation which finally brought, about those reforms which the leasehold system fairly needed.
In the meantime the employment of disguises had been introduced to aid in the resistance to the payment of rent. Where these disreputable disguises were first used we have not been able to ascertain. It the second trial of Dr. Boughton in 1845 Judge Edmonds in pronouncing sentence upon him, charges that he was the first to introduce them; but there is reason to believe that the same disguise was used at a much earlier date. The disguise consisted of a sheepskin cap pulled down over the head and face, out of which had been cut holes for the eyes, ears, mouth and nose. Sometimes the cap was trimmed with ornamental feathers or plumes of horsehair, and with an artificial beard. The disguised persons called themselves Indians, and the commanders assumed such names as Big-Thunder, Little-Thunder, Blue-Beard, White-Chief, etc. Besides the cap, the body of the Indian was disguised by a calico blouse extending a little below the knee, which was confined at the waist by a colored sash. These "Calico-Indians" were armed with pistols and knives, and usually also carried a rifle.
Serious disturbances, accompanied by the appearance of disguised Indians, broke out both in Rensselaer county and upon the Livingston manor in Columbia. These disturbances generally consisted in the resistance to the sheriff in serving papers upon delinquent tenants, or in interfering with sales which the sheriff was called upon to hold for the liquidation of rents. The difficulties reached such a pass that at last the governor was called upon to aid the officials of Columbia, and to send troops to assist them in the performance of their duties. Similar disturbances manifested themselves in Schoharie county, in Ulster county, and a second time in Albany county.
While these events were transpiring in other counties, the affairs in Delaware county were rapidly converging towards a tragical crisis. The parts of the county in which the excitement first began were the towns of Roxbury and Middletown.
The lands here were a part of the *Hardenburgh* patent. (* Transcriber's note: Hardenbergh has been spelled both ways in this book: HARDENBURGH and HARDENBERGH.*) They lay in the disputed section of the patent between the east and west branches of the Delaware river. The tenants had been getting stirred up by the disturbances which occurred in Albany and Columbia counties. Professional agitators had visited them and had advised them to resist the payment of rent. Anti-rent associations had been founded and thousands of tenants had enrolled themselves as members. They paid a certain number of cents for each acre of their farms, and out of the funds thus collected, the expenses of the agitation were paid, such as expenses of meetings, pay of lecturers, equipment of Indians, and their outlay and maintenance when upon any excursion connected with the organization.
In the summer of 1844 John B. Gould, the father of Jay Gould, who resided in Roxbury, was visited by a band of Indians who requested him to cease having his dinner-horn blown for his workmen at dinner time, as was the custom of all farmers of that region. The object of this request of course was that the blowing of Mr. Gould's dinner-horn might not be mistaken for the signal by which the Indians were summoned to a gathering; Mr. Gould however refused to give up the use of his dinner-horn, notwithstanding the insistence of the Indians. They threatened him with violence if he continued the practice, and he finally drove them off with a gun. A few weeks later a larger body of Indians surrounded his house and tried to intimidate him; but he absolutely refused to yield to their demands, and finally as the neighbors began to collect they retired, without having secured their end. On their way home they took revenge by capturing Hiram More and tarring and feathering him. In September of the same year, another outrage was committed in the tarring and feathering of Timothy Corbin, who was engaged as a deputy-sheriff in serving papers on Daniel W. Squires. The official papers which he carried were taken from him and destroyed.
In February, 1845, Under Sheriff O. N. Steele with three assistants arrested Squires, who had been indicted by the Grand Jury for riot, assault and battery, in being engaged in tarring and feathering Mr. Corbin, in compelling the surrender of the sheriff's papers. He was arraigned and admitted to bail. A week later than this, Deputy Sheriff J.A. Berson of Middletown undertook to serve a declaration in a case not connected with Anti-Rent. He was met by nine disguised Indians, who threatened him with tar and feathers, if he came again on a like errand.
For appearing disguised and armed in Roxbury and Middletown the Grand Jury in 1845 indicted Silas Tompkins, Lewis Knapp, Anson K. Burrill and Ezekiel C. Kelly. This indictment was under a law which had been enacted by the legislature during the session of 1845, making it unlawful to appear in disguise and specifying the punishment in two degrees, first when disguised and second when disguised and armed. Of the persons thus indicted Kelly pleaded guilty and was fined $250; the other three were tried, found guilty and sentenced to State Prison for two years.
Under Sheriff Steele with an escort, who had been serving papers on delinquent tenants in the town of Andes, was stopped on his way home by a body of Indians near the little lake now called Lake Delaware. They were taken back to the village of Andes and there confined in a tavern. Steele found means to dispatch a messenger to Delhi, which is distant about thirteen miles. The Sheriff, Green Moore, being warned of the predicament of his assistant, summoned help and started for his rescue. The Indians having learned of his coming immediately scattered and left their prisoners free.
Shortly after this Under Sheriff Steele and Deputy Sheriff Edgerton made an incursion into Roxbury for the purpose of arresting persons who had been engaged in tarring and feathering the sheriff's deputy and in abstracting his papers. They marched in two parties, each composed of thirty to forty men. They made several arrests of persons who were alleged to have been in disguise contrary to law. Two of them, viz. James O. Burrill and Warren W. Scudder (Blue Beard) were committed, and four others were discharged for want of proof. Scudder was admitted to bail.
While these disturbances were thus accumulating, the sheriff became concerned for the safety of the jail and the other public buildings. He summoned a guard from the surrounding towns, which he placed under the command of Colonel Marvin of Walton. Under the authority of a law which had been passed by the legislature at its preceding session, he borrowed from the State a hundred sabres, a hundred pairs of pistols and six hundred ball cartridges. With these preparations he deemed the prisoners under arrest safe from the attempts at rescue which from time to time were threatened.
There is evidence that these attempts at violence and resistance to law were contrary to the moderate and sensible opinions of even the strongest anti-rent communities. Many meetings were held, some of which were meetings of anti-rent associations, in which a disapproval of acts of violence and lawlessness were most strongly and peremptorily expressed. But for the time being the guidance of matters was in the hands of the reckless and irresponsible, The absurd freak of disguises was mainly played by the young and inexperienced, who usually had no property or character of their own at stake. It required the serious and heavy hand of the law to be laid upon them, before they could be awakened to a realizing sense of what they were really doing. The event which was to startle them all back into a full consciousness of the dangerous position in which they stood was now upon them.
On the 7th of August, 1845, Sheriff Green Moore, Under Sheriff Osman N. Steele, Constable Edgerton and their counsel P. P. Wright, Esq., went to the town of Andes to sell property belonging to Moses Earle which had been levied on for the non-payment of rent. His farm was upon the Verplanck tract and subject to an annual rent of $32. It was in arrears for two years, and therefore the Sheriff was to sell property to the value of $64 and enough more to cover the cost of collection. Mr. Wright had been employed by the agent of the Verplanck landlord, and went to the sale prepared to bid on the property offered, if necessary.
Sheriff Moore and Mr. Wright arrived at the premises about ten o'clock. There were present already a considerable number of spectators. Mr. Wright sought an interview with Mr. Earle and proposed a settlement of the matter without a sale. But he declined and replied, "You must go ahead, I shall fight to the hardest." About eleven o'clock, Mr. Wright says in his evidence afterward given, a small body of disguised Indians crossed the road and went through the pasture where the cattle which were to be sold were gathered, and thence entered the woods. Afterwards other bodies of Indians made their appearance, until it was believed that more than two hundred were present disguised and armed.
About 1 o'clock one hundred or more of the Indians marched single file out of their ambuscade and took their place in the pasture. Mr. Wright was near enough to hold some conversation with them. He called out to them that, "they were all there to break the law." They answered, "Damn the law, we are here to break it." He was told by the Indians that if he dared to bid on the property, he would go home to Delhi in a wagon feet foremost. A pail of whiskey was brought out from Mr. Earl's house and carried along the line, from which the Indians drank.
Officers Steele and Edgerton came to the farm about 2 o'clock on horseback. The Sheriff then announced that the sale would be begun, and started with two or three citizens to drive up the cattle which were to be sold. They were driven to a pair of bars opening into the road; but the Indians stopped them from going through. They formed themselves into a hollow square, enclosing the sheriff, the cattle, Mr. Steele and Mr. Edgerton on horseback, and Mr. Wright.
It was at this supreme moment, when all the parties were in a state of the greatest excitement, that an order was heard from the chief of the Indians, "Shoot the horses"; and a moment, later another shout from an uncertain quarter, "Shoot him, shoot him."
A volley was at once fired and blood was seen to flow from Edgerton's horse. A few seconds later another volley was fired, and Steele fell bleeding from his horse. Three balls had pierced him, besides others which had entered his clothing. Both the horses died from their wounds. Sheriff Moore appealed to the Indians, "For God's sake desist, you have done enough." Steele was carried into Mr. Earle's house, and Drs. Peake and Calhoun were summoned to his aid from the village of Andes which is about three miles distant. Three serious wounds were found upon him: One in his arm, another in his breast, and a third which entered at his back and came out through his bowels. He lingered five or six hours in great agony and then died. While lying in his suffering he is said to have told Mr. Earle that if he had agreed to a settlement this morning, he would not have been shot. Earle replied that he would not settle if it cost forty lives.* (*It is fair to state that Dr. Calhoun, who was present at Steele's death, denies the accuracy of this statement. He says that Earle's answer was, "if they will show me their title I will pay every cent of rent; but if they mean to bully me out of it, I will not pay if it costs forty lives.")
There was also a question raised at the trials which followed, whether Steele had fired upon the Indians before he was fired upon. It was understood that upon his deathbed he acknowledged having fired his revolver after he had received the wound in his arm. The pistol was subsequently picked up and was presented at the trials. The condition of the barrels showed that it had not been fired except as stated by Steele. Neither the sheriff, Mr. Edgerton nor Mr. Wright fired their pistols.** (**There can be no doubt that there was a special hatred against Steele among the disguised Indians present at Earle's sale. He had been the most active of the Sheriffs officers in searching for and arresting the disguised men. The fatal shots which were poured into him, and into no others, were unquestionably fixed by some of his victims or their friends.)
The fatal termination of this affair aroused the greatest excitement, not only throughout Delaware county, but throughout the State. Newspapers denounced the mad violence which had resulted in the death of an officer in the performance of his duty. Everywhere meetings were hold by the friends of the anti-rent movement protesting against the injustice of charging this criminal folly against anti-renters. Nothing could have happened which would, tend to deprive a cause, which many deemed a good cause, so completely of the sympathy to which it might be entitled.
Governor Silas Wright at once offered a reward of $500 for the arrest of Warren W. Scudder, who was believed to have been in command of the Indians at Earl's sale. Sheriff Moore also offered a reward of $300 for the apprehension of Scudder, and $200 for the apprehension of William Bartlett. The Sheriff with an armed poise scoured the county, searching for those who could be shown to have been engaged in any way in this fatal affair. On August 27th Governor Wright issued a proclamation, declaring Delaware county in a state of insurrection, and ordering thither a sufficient military force for the preservation of order and the guarding of arrested prisoners. Two companies of volunteers were summoned from the towns in the south and west of the county, where no lease land nor anti-rent sentiment was to be found. Colonel Marvin of Walton commanded these troops, one hundred of whom were mounted and were used to escort the Sheriff and his officers in making the needful arrests. The jail was so filled with prisoners awaiting trial, that the Sheriff was obliged to build a temporary structure in order to provide room for them.
The trial of the persons charged with complicity in the death of Steele was conducted in the Circuit Court held by Judge Amasa J. Parker, beginning August 22, 1845. It was a most trying ordeal through which he was obliged to pass. He had resided for many years in Delhi, and there had begun his brilliant legal career. Many of the persons who now appeared before him for trial were known to him, and their present critical positions must have deeply touched the sensibilities of his nature. It may safely be said that no person in any way connected with these trying events exerted more benign influence than Judge Parker in putting an end forever to the methods of violence which had sprung up in this sober and conservative community. The arraignment and conviction of so many prisoners seem like a barbarous and unnecessary cruelty. But such an experience was necessary to convince them of the danger and futility of trifling with the execution of the laws.
The District Attorney who conducted these trials was Jonas M. Hughston, and he was assisted by John Van Buren then the Attorney General, and by Samuel Sherwood as special counsel. The counsel for the prisoners were Samuel Gordon and Amasa Parker an uncle of the presiding Judge, both residents of Delhi. The results of these trials, which continued into October, may be summarized as follows: No evidence was presented which made it certain that any of the prisoners had fired the fatal shots. The nearest approach to this was in the trial of John Van Steenburg, in regard to whom it was testified that he asked to borrow a ramrod in order to reload his gun. On this evidence he was convicted of murder. In the case of Edward O'Conner it was proved that he was present at Earl's sale, disguised and armed, and that he probably discharged his gun. On the technical ground that he was present disguised, armed and aided as a subordinate Chief of the Indians, he also was convicted of murder. It was proved that the Commander of the disguised Indians at Earl's was Warren W. Scudder of Roxbury. And although a reward was offered for his capture he was not arrested and probably had left the State.
The list of convictions and punishments is as here given:
1. John Van Steenburg and Edward O'Connor, found guilty of murder and sentenced to be hung, November 29, 1845.
2. Daniel W. Squires, Moses Earle, Zera Preston and Daniel Northrup, indicted for murder, pleaded guilty of manslaughter in the first degree, and sentenced to State prison for life.
3. John Phoenix, John Burch; John Latham, William Reside, and Isaac L. Burhans, indicted for murder; pleaded guilty of manslaughter in the first degree and sentenced to State prison for seven years.
4. Caleb Madison, same as above except sentenced to State prison for ten years.
5. William Brisbane, found guilty of manslaughter in the second degree and. sentenced to State prison for seven years. (He was a professional lecturer and was present at the sale undisguised.)
6. Charles T. McCumber, found guilty of robbery in the second degree; sentenced to State prison for seven years.
7. William Jocelyn, found guilty of manslaughter in the second degree; sentenced to State prison for two years.
8. Thirty persons pleaded guilty and were fined sums between $500 and $25.
9. Thirty-nine persons pleaded guilty and their sentences were suspended.
The following is a summary of the punishments meted out to the persons convicted or who pleaded guilty:
2 to be hung.
4 manslaughter, first degree, life imprisonment.
1 manslaughter, first degree, 10 years' imprisonment.
5 manslaughter, first degree, 7 years' imprisonments.
2 manslaughter, second degree, 7 years' imprisonment.
1 manslaughter, fourth degree, 2 years' imprisonment.
30 fined sums varying between $500 and $25.
39 sentences suspended.
84 total sentenced.
This number did not include either the leading chiefs of the Indians, or those who could be proved to have fired upon Steele. These had early escaped from the country or had managed to elude detection.
The sentence of death which had been passed upon Van Steenburg and O'Connor was felt under the circumstances to be unnecessarily severe. Governor Wright therefore promptly commuted their sentences to imprisonment for life.
They as well as the large number of other prisoners were conveyed to the State prison at Sing Sing, where they remained till pardoned.
The excitement in Delaware county after these trials and convictions rapidly subsided; so that on the 18th of the following December the Governor deemed it safe to withdraw the proclamation declaring the county in a state of insurrection. The troops which had been employed to guard the public buildings at Delhi were ordered home; and soon everything resumed its ordinary peaceful routine. For a long time however a very bitter feeling* prevailed as to the harshness and severity with which the Anti-renters had been treated in these trials. (** Years after the period of these trials, a relative of one of the officers who attended Earle's sale, was running for member of Assembly. He belonged to the dominant party in his district and had no doubt about his election. To his amazement he found himself overwhelmed in an ignominious defeat. The cause was subsequently found to be that he had served on the Sheriff's posse in the old anti-rent times and assisted in making some of the arrests.)
The expenses of this insurrection, which were paid by the State and afterwards charged to Delaware county, were $63,689.20. It is said that this sum has never been repaid by the county, and will not probably now be called for.
It is unnecessary to go into the details of the measures which were taken to remedy the evils of which the anti-renters complained. It was plain that the remedies to be hereafter applied must no longer partake of violence and lawlessness. The governor in his message to the legislature made several important, recommendations, and the legislature gave a good degree of attention to measures of amelioration. The chairman of the special committee in the Assembly was Hon. Samuel J. Tilden, and it is to his earnest and liberal efforts that material amendments were made to the laws. Mr. Tilden in an elaborate report gives these weighty conclusions reached by his committee concerning the anti-rent questions:
1. Leasehold tenures have exerted an unfavorable influence wherever they have prevailed.
2. The easy terms at first required seem a great benefit to the tenant, but afterward are often misleading and dangerous.
3. The proprietorship of land is natural and exhilarating to the human mind and has a vast influence in securing the prosperity of growing communities.
4. The restraints inserted in the old leases to the alienation of land are a serious impediment to the development of leasehold properties. The more enterprising settlers are kept out and the steady making of improvements on farms is discouraged.
5. It is reasonable and fair that the interest of the landlord in the farms, of which the annual rent is the measure, should pay its equitable part of the taxes assessed for State and local purposes.
Besides the laws enacted, the constitutional convention of 1846 inserted several important clauses bearing upon the questions of land tenure. Thus Section 14 provides that no lease or grant of agricultural land for a longer period than twelve years, hereafter made, in which shall be reserved any rent or service of any kind shall be valid. Section 15 provides that all fines, quarter sales, or other like restraints upon alienation, reserved in any grant of land hereafter to be made, shall be valid.
In the election which was held in the autumn of 1846 the, anti-rent vote was cast in favor of John Young for governor and in consequence he was elected. In January 1847 a few weeks after he took office, Governor Young issued a proclamation pardoning all the anti-rent prisoners remaining in the State prison. There was some complaint against this wholesale pardon, but the governor in his proclamation made a calm and judicial statement of his reasons; and the consequences which followed his action have seemed to justify his views. Enough had been done to show that the questions at issue were not such as could be settled by violent resistance to law. The period of legislation and of appeal to courts of law had now come and this phase of the question was destined to continue many years. Passing over this legal struggle we have a few words to say about their effects on the natural relation of landlord and tenant.
The agitation which had so long continued over payments of rent, and the laws which had been enacted, usually in the interest of the tenants, rendered the landlords wary of the situation. The Van Rensselaer landlords especially became heartily tired and discouraged over the continual resistance which they met with in the collection of their rents. First they made propositions to sell the fee-simple to the tenants on more liberal terms than had before been offered. Many of the tenants being equally weary of the long contest took advantage of the depression in the value of the landlord's holdings and bought their farms outright. . Finally the Van Rensselaer family, which had been landholders for. more than two hundred years, sold out all the leases which remained and ceased to be the greatest landlords in our country.
In Delaware county where the tenants had received such a severe lesson concerning the payment of rent, they were ready to meet their landlords more than half way in settling this burning question. In some cases the landlords sold their rights to new parties, who were ready to arrange with the tenants for the purchase of the fee-simple. Usually the new purchasers, having acquired their properties at a trifling valuation, were ready to bargain with the tenants at easy rates.
In the report which Mr. Tilden made to the Assembly in 1846 he made an approximate estimate of the amount of land under lease. Thus:
In Albany county there were 1,397 leasehold farms comprising 233,900 acres.
In Rensselaer county there were 1,666 leasehold farms comprising 202,100 acres. In another account referring to the same date the following statement is made: Nearly one-half of Rensselaer county was covered with leases; the greater part of Columbia county; a large part of Delaware county; and about two-thirds of Albany county.
To show what changes had been made in rented farms up to the year 1880, we refer to the U. S. Census as cited in Professor Chemey's pamphlet on Anti-Rent Agitation (Philadelphia 1887).
Albany County.....3,325 farms, 690 on lease.
Columbia County...3,825 farms, 735 on lease.
Delaware County...5,264 farms, 688 on lease.
It appears from these statistics that leases in 1880 covered about 12½ per cent of the farms. This is a proportion not greater than in other counties of New York or in New England. They show that the anti-rent question, which for a time stirred this peaceful county to its very depths, has passed away and become a matter of history, like the Mexican war with which it was contemporaneous.
Sources of Information.
1. Files of the Albany Freeholder.
2. Files of the Delaware Gazette.
3. Records of the Clerk of Delaware County. .
4. Legislative Documents of the State of New York.
5. Session Laws of the State of New York.
6. A. J. Weise's History of Albany.
7. History of Albany County.
8. History of Rensselaer County.
9. History of Columbia County.
10. Jay Gould's History of Delaware County.
11. Brodhead's History of Now York.
12. Hough's Gazetteer of New York, 1872.
13. The Anti-Rent Agitation: By Professor Cheney, Philadelphia 1887.
14. Anti-Rent Disturbances: By D. D. Barnard, American Whig Review, II: 577.
15. Sketch of Anson Bingham: By A. J. Colvin, Albany, 1882.
16. Manor of Rensselaerwyck: By C. Pepper, 1846.
17. Mrs. J. V. L. Pruyn: Memoranda of her father, Hon. A. J. Parker.
18. Mrs. William Youmans: Scrapbook kept by her husband, Hon. William Youmans.
19. Hon. Martin I. Townsend of Troy: Personal Recollections.
20. Hon. Verplanck Colvin: Memoranda of his father, Hon. A. J. Colvin.
21. Professor J. M. Vincent, Johns Hopkins University: Letter of Judge John Martin of Columbia County concerning Anti-Rent disturbances, 1845.
22. John A. Parshall, Esq.: Personal Recollections.
23. Robert Murray, Esq.: Personal Recollections.
24. The Author is also Indebted to Mr. David Murray, Jr. for searches made at the Library of the New York Bar Association in the Session Laws and the Legislative Documents of the State of New York, and in the New York Reports.
The Anti-Rent "Andes Tragedy"
THE following is a sketch of the sale at which Deputy Sheriff Osman N. Steele was shot, as prepared by the late Hon. Richard Morse of Andes, and endorsed by others who were. present. This account is printed here because it is accepted by many as correct, and was written after the bitter feeling of the anti-renters had passed away and by one not directly interested. Mr. Morse says:
"The history of any important event should be a correct narration of the facts and circumstances surrounding the event, so that the student of history may not be misled in his conclusions. History is generally made up of traditions and these are usually colored by the feelings and sympathies of the narrator, and no better proof of the truth of this can be found than in consulting the two published versions of the 'Andes Tragedy,' the first appearing in Jay Gould's history of Delaware county many years ago, and the last published in Munsell's history in 1880, neither of which gave a correct and truthful statement of the facts. It was my fortune to be present at the 'Earle's sale,' and therefore an eye witness of the "tragedy" which way now be very properly called the 'Appomattox' of English feudal tenures in this country, because from that time on the war ceased and peaceful negotiation has since resulted in substantially wiping out that odious system of tenures.
The Earle's sale took place on the 7th day of August, 1845. Both of the histories alluded to assert that Steele and Edgerton were there in their official capacity, which is manifestly incorrect, as was proven by the testimony of Green More, who was then Sheriff of the county, and present at the sale. At the O'Connor trial, he testified that his orders to Steele and Edgerton were not to appear at the sale unless they brought a 'posse' of at least forty men with them. John Allen swore that he agreed to give Steele and Edgerton the sixty-four dollars rent for which 'the distress' was made, if they would attend the sale and bid off the property. The arrangement with Allen, who was the agent of the landlord, shows conclusively that neither of them attended the sale officially, on the contrary their presence there was clearly for the purpose of speculation.
Colin Campbell and myself, who at that time occupied adjoining farms to Mr. Earle, were requested by him to attend the sale and bid in the property for him, saying that he wanted to pay his rent and stop the trouble, and desired to take that course to do it; we consented and it was for that purpose that we attended the sale. When we arrived at Mr. Earle's, he called us to one side and informed us that Northrup, the 'Indian Chief,' had sent word to him from the woods, where they were assembled, that if he procured us to bid off the cattle, the 'Indians' would shoot them, but if he would let P. P. Wright or any other agent of the landlords bid them off, the 'Indians' would shoot them and the anti-renters would pay him all the damages he sustained. We stated to him that under such circumstances we would have nothing to do with the matter, and we remained there after that simply as spectators. When the Sheriff wanted to commence the sale, the 'Indians' and a number of citizens, not in disguise, repaired to the field where the cattle were grazing and drove them into a corner near the road and surrounding them, told the Sheriff to proceed with the sale and they would protect him. About that time Steele and Edgerton rode up, and someone wanted the cows driven into the highway. Mr. William Brisbane objected to that, claiming that the advertisement stated that the sale was to take place on the premises of Moses Earle, and that the highway belonged to the public. At this juncture Steele and Edgerton rode down to the barn where one of the notices of sale was posted, and then rode back to the bars leading into the field where the cattle were surrounded by the 'Indians' and Sheriff. When they same to the bars, P. P,, Wright stepped in between their horses and pulled down the top bar, and seizing the inside stirrup of each horse he vaulted over the bars with them. As the bars were cleared, the horsemen rushed in among the 'Indians' and at this moment Edgerton drew a pistol and flourishing it over and around his head, commanded all persons present to assist in keeping the peace. As he was swinging his pistol it went off, and that was the first reports of fire-arms on the ground that day. I was standing on an elevation where I could see and hear all that transpired. As soon as the report of Edgerton's pistol was heard, the order was given by the Chief to shoot the horses, and I saw an 'Indian' run up to Edgerton's horse and shoot him in the breast. At this time there were many shots fired., The horse when shot reared up and Edgerton jumped off and raised his hand and cried out, 'For God's sake, don't shoot me.' About this time Steele's horse was shot-he having a pistol in his right hand- and the horse turned toward the bars. Then I saw an 'Indian' run up by the side of the rail fence and take aim and fire at Steele, who crouched down.. The horse fell near the bars. Two persons raised Steele up and carried him down toward the house. I then left and the 'Indians' and spectators all dispersed."
Against the Erection of the County
THE following remonstrance is given to show the opposition to establishing Delaware county:
To the Honorable the Legislature of the State of New York, convened at New York, January, 1796: The prayer of your petitioners humbly showeth that whereas your Honors have on the 21st and 24th of March last resolved in both Houses that Daniel Wattles, Joshua L. Beitt and others have liberty to present to either, House of the Legislature at the next session a bill to erect into a new County all those parts of the counties of Ulster and Otsego according to the lines mentioned in a late publication in the public newspapers printed in Kingston and other places.
We, your humble petitioners, inhabitants of New Stamford, viewing with great concern the unhappy situation and circumstances of the country for such an event as the passing said bill and influenced by equal solicitude for the present and future prosperity of our New World, beg leave to exercise our just and constitutional rights of remonstrating against the passing said bill, as it strongly agitates our minds and we presume will deeply affect our interest and the interest of our fellow citizens. The matter has under gone a full discussion and is the fruits of mature deliberation. Our reasons against said bills taking- place is as followeth:
First, We humbly conceived that the petition of Wattles, Beitt and others in favor of passing said bill is no more than the selfish views of designing men to place themselves in posts of honor and profit and thus building themselves up on the ruins of their neighbors, profusely and by deceit and flattery have duped many people to join them without due consideration.
Secondly, The country is rough and uneven, consisting of large uninhabited mountains and narrow valleys, and those mountains extend almost through the country; likewise it abounds with large streams of water and those belching forth in fierce inundations in such a manner as to destroy all communications from one part of the country to another. Those obstructions render it very troublesome and expensive to make and maintain convenient roads and bridges for the use of the inhabitants and the traveler, and in fine it creates a. demand far beyond what we at present are able to supply.
Thirdly, In most parts of our country it is so thinly inhabited that it is out, of our power to maintain common schools of learning for the education of our children, although we have a large sum of money to pay for the benefit of schools, and are not situated so as to enjoy the privilege of the same and we despair of having our country ever settled to, advantage for any social enjoyment, for the now lands are hold up to such a large and extravagant price that the people utterly despair of buying or taking a lease on the hard terms that is offered.
Fourthly, We beg your Honors to take into your serious consideration the propriety of erecting a now county in a place where they are not able to make necessary roads and bridges, nor even to build decent houses for public worship. Moreover the country will not admit of any central place suitable to accommodate a Court of Common Pleas and its attendance. Furthermore, the lines of said now county run in such a form that it cuts several towns in such a sort that it discommodes them very much in doing ordinary town business.
And we your humble petitioners find no kind of inconvenience in doing our county business, as we are obliged to go to the Hudson river once or twice a year and it ever will be our place of trade at Kingston and other places along said river, so that we can dispatch all necessary county business with little trouble and expense.
And we, your petitioners, sensible of the undistinguished favors you have hitherto shown us in guarding against the views of designing men, we still repose our confidence in your deliberation and your petitioners as in duty bound shall ever pray. Signed William Keator, Francis Sumrick, John C, Keator, Joseph Keator and 108 others.