PART III. TOWN HISTORIES (section 2)
THE most valuable part of the centennial celebration was the Town Histories which had been prepared for the occasion. To the authors of these histories the readers of this volume are under the deepest obligation. They have been prepared with infinite trouble by busy men and nothing but a sense of the public interest and of the gratitude of their follow citizens can adequately reward them.
Below these histories are given in the alphabetical order of the towns.
By Wm. B. Hanford. ...
FRANKLIN was taken from Harpersfield March 10, 1793, while a part of Otsego county, and four years before Delaware county was organized. But its area has been much reduced by the setting off of Walton, Meredith and Sidney. Its surface is uneven, rising into ridges and low mountains. The soil is mostly red clay loam underlaid by hard pan, from one to two feet below the surface. Along the creeks the subsoil is gravel or clay. There is very little waste land, and nearly all is suitable for agricultural purposes.
The Ouleout creek and its branches flow southwesterly across the northern part of the town, to join the Susquehanna, and forms good drainage and some water powers. The hills on either side of the Ouleout and some of its branches were covered with dense forests of the largest and beat quality of pine. The general forest is beech and maple. In localities there is oak, hickory and chestnut, with scattering varieties. The first town meeting held in Franklin was held at Bartlett Hollow, near Edwin Taylor's, at the house of Sluman Wattles. Sluman Wattles was elected supervisor and Robert North town clerk; Gabriel Smith, David St. John and Samuel Hanford, assessors. The other town officers were also elected, after which resolutions were passed. The eighth was as follows: "Resolved, that the next town meeting be held at the house of Daniel Root, at ten o'clock, forenoon." That place was some five miles from the present village. That meeting was held as appointed. It was the first town meeting called by the town. The meeting held at Sluman Wattles' on the first Tuesday of April, 1793, was not called by the town, but was appointed by the Legislature and was a part of the act of incorporation, because none in the town had the power to call a legal town meeting till they been elected.
The early settlers were men and women accustomed to labor. Their first and main business after building a log house for their families and making them comfortable was to cut the timber, till the land and to bring it into cultivation. They looked at their former homes and the many privileges and comforts they there enjoyed and had sacrificed for their forest homes. That brought no discouragement. They came to this new and wild region to build for themselves homes. They saw clearly that what was needed to restore to them what they had sacrificed was steady, persistent labor and economy. Those thoughts inspired new efforts and energy. So that every tree that was felled, every rod of ground that was cleared brought those comforts and blessings nearer to their homes. They learned that steady and efficient labor was no barrier to mental or social happiness. Most of those early settlers were from Christian homes and church privileges. They soon felt the need, and regretted the absence. This feeling grew and became stronger, till a public meeting was called to consider the necessity and propriety of forming a Baptist church. The meeting was held on the 15th day of January, 1793, and a Baptist church was organized. This was the first church organization in the town. On the 12th day of October, 1793, the Congregational element, influenced by the same anxious desire, came together by appointment and formed a Congregational church. Those two churches were the only ones in town until 1833. The Methodists had some preaching. The earliest records inform us that Rev. Stephen Whitehead is known to have preached here in 1802. Some time after that there was Methodist itinerant preaching, but no church house till 1833. There are now eight churches in the town, viz: Two Congregational, two, Baptist, three Methodist and one Episcopal, each having a good church edifice and stated pastors laboring for the Advancement of the moral and Christian good of all.
In the early days of the town there was much anxiety in regard to the education of the children. The settlers were few and scattered. That made it difficult to establish any system of education. There was then no public school money to be divided among the schools and each parent or guardian was liable for teachers' wages in proportion to the number of children they sent to school. This furnished but very limited means of education. And those wishing higher attainments than the common schools (or grammar and select schools as they were called) could give, had to seek it outside the county. As the population and finances increased common schools grew into more importance. Our state gave large endowment funds and our schools were benefited by its interest. Laws were enacted, school districts formed, school officers elected and teachers required to pass an examination. This brought the district schools up to a much better position; though our schools had been advanced to a better position no effort was made for a higher education than a good common school could give till 1820. In the year 1770 a grant by the King of England was made to a company, of 27,000 acres of land, since known as the Bedlington patent. That patent had fallen to the state by escheat. Gen. Erastus Root, in 1820, being a member of the Legislature, introduced a bill to incorporate the Delaware Academy and also appropriating the sale of those escheated lands for the erection and endowment of said academy. It was strongly opposed, but Gen Root's popularity carried, and the bill was passed and the academy built at Delhi. This awakened a new interest and other academies were talked of. Franklin eventually began seriously to take measures to obtain that object. In 1835 a petition was sent to the Legislature asking for a grant of incorporation for an institution of learning to be called Delaware Literary Institute. On the 23d day of April, 1835, the petition was granted and the Delaware Literary Institute was located at Franklin. Measures were then taken to raise $7,000 for the purchase of fifteen acres of land for a site and to build the Institute. This seemed almost an impossibility. But the public took hold of it with a will and the amount was raised and the first building was built; this was of stone, eighty feet long and forty feet wide and four stories high. The institute was now a permanent institution of learning, fully equipped for business, and gave large promises for the future. And well have those promises been fulfilled. This stone structure stood for twenty-two years, when it was discovered to be on fire. Every effort provided unavailing, and it burned to the ground. The citizens put forth renewed effort, and by voluntary contributions raised sufficient funds and rebuilt the building. While the chapel building was in process of construction it was blown down, necessitating additional expense that was soon raised and paid. The ladies' boarding hall was built, a structure 40x80 feet and three stories high, costing a large sum. And all, amounting to $40,000, has been paid by the citizens of Franklin, without asking the state to contribute a dollar, with the exception of the first $7,000 that was for building the first Institute. At that time there were those out of this town with large liberality whose names are remembered with grateful respect and gratitude. But most of that class are gone to a happier world as we humbly trust and believe. When the Institute was ready for use the public gave their support and patronage in full, until an increased population and new organizations has given to many of the towns union schools with academic departments.
Up to 1819, there was no paper published in Delaware county. All necessary printing had to be done out of this county. There was comparatively little needed. It was not till 1819 that the first newspaper, the Delaware Gazette, was published in Delhi by John J. Lappan. The Ulster County Plebian, published, by Judge Buell, had furnished reading matter for a large proportion of Franklin readers, and the same of the county. There are now twenty-two newspapers published in the county.
The general business of the farmers in the early days was clearing land, raising grain, pork and cattle. The grain and pork found market among the lumbermen along the Delaware. The cattle were mostly bought by drovers and driven to the eastern markets. Manufacturing and rafting lumber down the Delaware to market began very early to attract attention till it became a very general business. Silas Johnson, a young man from Walton, who in after years kept hotel and lived and died in Franklin, steered the first raft of lumber ever run from Walton. Franklin had plenty of pine timber and gradually worked into the lumber business till for many years it was actively engaged in manufacturing lumber and drawing it to the Delaware at Walton and rafting it to Philadelphia. This business continued for some years till a very large proportion of pine had been carried away. But it never proved a lucrative business. The business of the farm changed from grain and stock growing to sheep and wool. The town of Franklin became one of the largest wool growing towns in the county, and for some years Delaware county was the largest wool producing county of the state. A few years later another change came over the business of the farm, changing from wool to dairying. And today this county is one of the largest butter producing counties of the state, and its character for quality stands at the head of the butter market. Franklin has done its share in raising the dairy character of the county to where it now stands, both in quantity and quality.
The town has two villages, Franklin and Treadwell. Treadwell is an enterprising and prosperous village of some four hundred inhabitants and situated midway between Franklin and Delhi, is pleasantly located and a place of considerable business for its size. The village has two churches, a Baptist church and a Methodist church, four stores, and one hotel, but no license. Treadwell does not appear to be of the right soil to grow license plants. They have one of the best, abundant and unfailing water supplies of soft spring water for use and fire purposes. It is brought from a distant hill, many feet above the level of the village.
Franklin village is seventeen miles from Delhi, four from the D. &. H. railroad at Otego and five from the N. Y. O. & W. station. There are four churches in the village, viz: Congregational, Baptist, Methodist, and Episcopal; eight stores, a bank of fifty thousand dollars capital, organized in 1864, which never has passed a dividend, and never has paid less than three per cent dividend every six months, and no depositor has lost a dollar by depositing in that bank, and no stockholder has failed to receive an equivalent more than equaling the interest on his stock. It has a large surplus and always ready to meet legal demands when presented. There is one hotel but no license. There has been no license granted to any one for more than twenty-five consecutive years. And at our last town election, after an experience of twenty-five years of no license, the town gave a majority of 110 against licensing again. There is one newspaper, the Delaware Dairyman, printed in Franklin, a large, eight-page paper, alive and actively dispensing all the dairy and agricultural news and the early general information once each week to a subscription list of 2,500 subscribers, and doing a large amount of job printing. The village has a large and splendid water supply of the softest and purest of water so arranged that no external impurities can reach it. It is from a height that gives a hundred pounds pressure to the square inch on the main pipes in the village. That gives full force to the hydrants so that no other power is needed in case of fire. There is a full and efficient, company of firemen for each of the departments that are well equipped, and take pride in their doings.
The new Ouleout Valley Cemetery is the pride of the town. A good many thousand dollars in money have been expended on it. Improvements are continually being made. The public feeling and interest, and it is continually growing, and is of interest to all. But it needs to be seen to be appreciated.
There is Frank T. Hine Post, G. A. R., men who took the risk of standing in the breach of a divided nation at war, and risking their lives in bringing back the seceding to a happy reunion and to a powerful and undivided nation. They are worthy of the gratitude and respect of the nation; but it is sad to see that number decreasing as they are discharged, and we lay them away in peaceful rest. There is a band of gentlemen that dispenses good music to the village that awakens our drowsy spirits and quickens our sensibilities and gives a cheer after the wearisome business of the day. They are a worthy, happy band, ever ready to render their sweet melody where necessity requires it, or where love of music asks it.
By Henry W. Holmes. ...
THE history of the town of Hamden dates only from the time of its erection by Legislative enactment April 4, 1825. The prior history of the territory comprised within the present boundaries of the town belongs properly to those towns from which the town of Hamden was formed. It may, however, prove interesting to the present and future generations to know that from Nov. 1, 1683, when the first organized government was formed in the colony of New York, until March 10, 1797, when Delaware county was erected, all that part of Hamden lying east of the Delaware river was included in the county of Ulster. That part of the town lying west of the Delaware was in Albany county until March 12, 1772, when it was included in the new county of Tryon, the name of which was changed to Montgomery April 2, 1784. From Montgomery was formed Otsego, February 16, 1791, and in this new county was included the western part of the present town of Hamden. Thus when Delaware county was erected from Otsego and Ulster, that part of Hamden lying east of the river was a part of the town of Middletown, Ulster county, and that part of the town west of the river was a part of the town of Harpersfield, Otsego county. Between the erection of the county in 1797 and the erection of the town in 1825, the number of the towns in the county had been increased from seven to sixteen. Hamden, the seventeenth town, was taken largely from Delhi, and a portion from Walton. The original line between Delhi and Walton was the upper line of the Lupton farm, now owned by James A. Chambers, but in 1812 this line was moved up to the lower line of the farm now owned by Arthur Shaw, therefore prior to April 4, 1825, all that part of Hamden north of this line was a part of the town of Delhi and that portion south of the line was included in Walton.
The boundaries of the town have never been changed. Its area is about 34,000 acres or fifty-three square miles, one twenty-sixth of the area of Delaware county.
The assessed valuation of its real estate was in 1897 $501,000, one-twenty-sixth of the valuation of the county. The personal assessment in the same year was $63,000, or one-thirty-fifth of the county; the population in 1890 was 1,507, or one-thirtieth of the county. More than one-half of the total area, probably 20,000 acres, lies cast of the river, but census returns show fully as many inhabitants on the west side as on the east.
The greatest width of the town is along the east bank of the river, seven miles, the width along the west bank being but five and one-half miles the Delhi line on the east bank being further up the river than on the west. The greatest length of the town is from the point where Hamden, Andes and Colchester corner, near Solomon Signor's, to the Hamden-Franklin line near Edward Howland's, which is thirteen and one-half miles in air-line. We are unable to ascertain what was the population of the town in 1830 when the first census was taken after its erection, but subsequent censuses show that at that period the population was rapidly increasing. Thus, the census of 1835 shows 1,349 inhabitants; 1840, 1,469; 1845, 1,767; 1850, 1,919; since when there was a steady decrease until 1880, when there were 1,497. Under the census of 1890 there were 1,507, and there is reason for the belief that there has since been a small increase. Prior to 1880 the United States censuses were taken by the United States Marshal and his deputies, but since the work has been done by enumerators appointed within the town. The United States census in both 1880 and 1890 were taken by Henry W. Holmes, and the State census of 1875 by Harvey M. Seaman.
In March, 1826, the town was divided into fourteen highway districts, which have since been increased to the number of forty-seven.
In July, 1826, the town was divided into eight school districts, Nos. one, two and three being the river districts and covering a wide expanse of territory on both sides of the river. The first change after the original division was the erection of No. nine, being that part of No. three lying on the west side of the river from DeLancey. The number of districts was gradually increased until in 1845 No. sixteen was erected in Gregory Hollow, being set off from Basin Clove, which remained No. eight.
The number of districts remains at sixteen, all common school districts, there being no graded school within the town. The consolidation of some of the smaller districts or the adoption of the "township system" has already been agitated and it is evident that a positive change will ere long take place in the local school system.
The first known settler within the town of Hamden was David Harrower who came from "down East" with his wife and two sons and a cow, in the summer of 1779 according to the most authentic records, but well established tradition places his advent into the unbroken wilderness at an earlier date. They came down the river from Stamford in a canoe, the cow being driven along the Indian trail, and camped upon the river flat on the farm now owned by Arthur Shaw, where a cabin was built and the pioneer settlement of the town of Hamden was permanently established. For a period of six years this family had no known neighbors nearer than Cannonsville or Stamford. Tradition hath it that in 1785, while Mr. Harrower was catching fish he observed a large fresh chip floating down with the current, which to his alert observation was indisputable evidence of the proximity of other white settlers. Starting at once on a trip of investigation, after going up the river about five miles he came to where Bartholemew Youdes had just settled and begun his clearing. It can well be imagined that the advent of such near neighbors was hailed with great gladness by both families, and that a frequent and mutually beneficial intercourse was thereafter maintained. In 1800 the old "Harrower mansion" was erected upon the knoll near the river, upon what had then become a comparatively well developed and valuable farm. In 1818 this fine estate of 800 acres, comprising the present farms of Arthur Shaw and William Bryce, became the property of Hon. Donald Shaw, and the Harrower house was occupied by him for many years, and was the birth place of his children. It is only within the past ten years that the old "mansion," the oldest in town, was razed.
William Cornell settled in 1787 the farm now owned by Donald Crawford and occupied it until 1814. In 1820 it was purchased by Donald Crawford senior, and has always remained in the Crawford family. The first saw-mill in town was built on this farm by Roswell Peake prior to 1800.
The Howards, several brothers, were among the earliest settlers and occupied a tract of land comprising the present Youmans, Henderson and Stewart farms and much of the village of Hamden. James Howard is accredited as the first inn-keeper of the town, having opened such business as early as 1796, probably earlier, on the lot now occupied by Dr. W. D. Heimer.
Walter Chace first came to town in 1791 and secured employment from Benajah McCall, making shingles. He received $4.00 per month and board, which may be accepted as the regular compensation for skilled labor at that time. About 1800 he purchased of Gershom Howland the farm now owned by his grandson Charles W. Chace, where he resided many years and became one of the leading men of the town, holding the office of justice of the peace seventeen consecutive years from 1828. His son Harry P. Chace succeeded him on the farm and was also a prominent man, holding the office of supervisor in 1835 and 1836, and being the last Democrat ever elected to that office in town.
Gershom Howland came from Rhode Island in 1796 with four sons-Joseph, Job, Phineas and Gershom. Phineas settled on the J. B. Hawley place, Job on the farm now owned by James Kent, and Gershom on the Charles W. Chace farm, which, however, he soon sold to Walter Chace and removed to the Carman farm in Howland Hollow.
James Mason and his son George came from Schoharie county in 1795 and settled upon the farm now owned by his great-grandchildren, John A. and William G. More and their sisters, the children of James M. More, who died about 1864. This farm has therefore remained in the possession of the original settler and his lineal descendants for a period of 103 years. The son, George Mason, soon after settled upon the farm now owned by Henry Loos. The only daughter of James Mason, Jane, married Roswell Peake, who settled in 1798 upon the J. S. Murray lot now owned by R. J. Granlees.
Henry Wagoner came in 1796 and settled on the lower part of the Bagley farm, now owned by Wm. T. Oliver, which soon after passed into the possession of Archibald Church, and is designated to this day as the Church lot.
About 1792 Reuben Ward settled on the farms now owned by E. J. Combs and Andrew Buckham. Soon after Ward sold the Combs lot to Isaac Roberts. John Combs came from New Durham in 1805 and settled on the Brisack farm, now owned by J. H. Turnbull. One son, John, settled on the Raitt farm, now owned by James A. Nichol. Another son, Anson, purchased of Isaac Roberts the farm where his son Edmund J. Combs now lives, and where he was born in 1816; the house in which he was born still standing and forming an annex to his present residence. Here is a man who for eighty-two years has lived on the same farm and practically in the same house.
The Ebenezer Fraser farm now owned by Isaac Scobie was settled in 1797 by Abraham Barber and his sons Simeon, Orbin and Minius, who soon settled the adjoining farms and occupied them many years.
Abraham Bush first came to Hamden in 1810 and settled on the F. M. Keene place opposite DeLancey. In 1818 his son Caspar Bush settled on the farm now owned by Mrs. Rachel Shaw adjoining William Vail's.
Nathaniel Stevens in 1801 settled on the farm in Terry Clove now owned by his grandson Henry M. Stevens. Matthew Tiff was a very early settler on the farm now owned by John A. Salton, which he sold in 1834 to William Lewis, who in turn sold it to Alexander Salton in 1850. Alexander Neish came from Scotland in 1826 and first settled in Andes, but in 1828 removed to Terry Clove to the farm on which his son William Neish now lives and where he has continuously resided since 1828.
Urbana Terry came from Connecticut in 1792 and settled on the farm now occupied by Isaac Belcher. His sons Nathan and Darius soon after settled upon the Louis Robisch farm where they remained many years, after which they emigrated to the West with their families. Another son, Samuel, was the first occupant of the Robert W. Stevens farm. Three sons still reside in town.
Bartholemew Signor on the John D. Salton farm and Thomas Signor on the Alexander McDougall farm were also very early settlers in Terry Clove, and have numerous descendants within the town. The Salton family came from Scotland in 1830. The four brothers, Alexander, David, William, and John, all married and occupied farms, in Terry Clove, and three of them died there within the past few years, William having removed to the west in 1875.
Roswell Belcher has resided upon the farm now occupied by him in Terry Clove since 1819, when his father came there from Connecticut. Roswell had three brothers, Elijah, Isaac, and Alva. They were the first colored family in the town and have always been respected as an intelligent and upright family. Roswell Belcher was the first colored man in Delaware county to serve upon a jury.
James Morrison, Andrew Christie, Jacob Gray, Archie Lawrence and Peter Merritt were the first permanent settlers in Basin Clove. David Nichol entered Gregory Hollow in 1849 when it was an almost unbroken wilderness. He cleared the land and developed the farm now owned by his son-in-law Hugh C. White.
The Coverts were settlers in Covert Hollow at an early date. Underhill Covert on the Philip McFarlane farm and Abraham Covert on the Allen Anderson place. They were among the best men in town and Abraham was one of the three commissioners of highways elected in 1826, at the first town meeting.
No history of Hamden would be complete without mention being made of "lame Peter" Launt and his brothers, Lewis and John. Peter carried the Delaware valley mails on horseback three times a week to Catskill over the old Catskill turnpike. His home is with his brother, Lewis, who married Janette McFarlane. These three brothers, John aged 94, Peter 88, and Lewis 85, are remarkable for their rugged health and activity and the keenness of their mental faculties.
Malcolm McFarlane came from Scotland about 1820 and settled on the farm at the head of Chambers Hollow where his son Gilbert still resides.
Eli Bagley came from Hilsdale, Columbia county, in 1809, and having married Eunice Goodrich bought the Henry Wagoner farm. Here Edward Bagley was born in 1815 and succeeded his father in the ownership of the farm, adding to it the "Goodrich lot," making it one of the most productive and valuable properties in town. He also kept public house and conducted a wagon shop on the site of R. Nichol's shop. The latter business he sold to his son Charles about 1866, continuing his hotel and farm until 1889 when he sold it to William J. Oliver who came from Bovina. Mr. Bagley still lives within a few rods of his birth-place. He married Orril A. Pettis daughter of Joshua Pettis, whose son, Philander B. Pettis, is another native of the town who has for eighty-three years resided within sight of his birth-place. He married Barbara Chace, daughter of Harry P. Chace, and for a time resided with his father in DeLancey, but soon purchased the property now owned by his son, R. R. Pettis, where for many years he combined the business of farming, lumbering and keeping public house.
Allen Stoodley was one of the first settlers in that portion of the town for many years known as Stoodley Hollow, but now known by the name of its post office, North Hamden. The Stoodley family came in 1821, and was speedily followed by the Millers, Russells, Fishes, Howlands, Dennys, Woods, Pomeroys, Ripleys, Bentons and Goldsmiths. The post office was established shortly after 1850 with a weekly mail from Walton. About 1887 another post office was established two miles down the brook from North Hamden under the name Mundale with Hugh C. Munn as postmaster, who was succeeded by J. P. Davidson, Alfred Leseur, and last by Rev. Daniel Harris. The first families in this locality were the Munns, Eassons, Doigs and Darts. A blacksmith shop, cooperage and store comprise the business of the vicinity. A co-operative creamery was conducted for a time about 1890.
Wakeman Andrews was one of the early settlers in school district No. 15 on the farm now owned by Donald Crawford and known as the Mayham place. His son, Andrew Andrews, settled on the farm now owned by George S. Andrews, where he continued to reside until his death in 1896 at the age of 91 years. He accumulated a fine property, and in his prime was one of the prominent men of the town. George S. Andrews held the office of assessor nine years and is one of the most prominent and substantial men in the town.
In 1787 Joseph Fisk came from Bloomville and settled upon the farm now owned by Joseph A. Kelley. Benajah McCall is supposed to have been one of the very early settlers, the date of his occupying the James A. Chambers farm being placed at 1787. In 1808 this property was purchased by William Lupton a wealthy emigrant, who erected the Lupton mansion, the most elegant residence in the Delaware valley, the degree of elegance in those days being in part measured by the smallness of the window panes and the acuteness of the gables. This farm was afterward occupied by Robert Murray, a prominent builder and once Supervisor of the town; and about 1880 it became the property of James A. Chambers, one of the energetic and successful young farmers of the town, who removed the old mansion, erected new buildings and transformed a very much run down estate into a model and productive farm.
The first settlement in DeLancey was made in 1790 by Henry and James Edwards, who settled upon the farm now owned by Captain William Hymers and S. P. Howland, and conducted a sawmill at the mouth of the brook near the river bridge. The first hotel in DeLancey was kept by Isaac Goodrich, who came in 1803 and settled on the "Goodrich" lot, now included in the farm of William J. Oliver.
Jabez Bostwick opened the first store in DeLancey in 1809, but soon after removed to the farm now owned by M. O. McNaught, which, however, remained in the Bostwick family until 1880. Jabez Bostwick was county judge, sheriff, member of assembly and one of the most prominent men of the county in his day. Joshua Pettis was also a very early settler and soon after 1800 opened a grocery business on the lot between the residences of D. M. Murray and Robert Davidson. A depression in the ground still shows the site of his building.
Sheldon Patterson settled on the Solomon Signor farm in 1812, and kept public house.
At the first town meeting held March 7, 1826, Jabez Bostwick was elected supervisor and Daniel Coleman, Jr., town clerk. Since then twenty different men have been elected to the office of supervisor. Besides the present incumbent but four of them survive, viz: Smith M. Titus who served in 1853, and who for many years has resided in Kansas; Robert Murray, now residing in Walton; H. A. Combs and Donald Crawford who served eight years and was chairman of the board of supervisors two years. Two ex-supervisors, Alexander Shaw and Henry Holmes, have died within the past year.
The principal town officers at the present time are as follows: Supervisor, William Bryce; Town Clerk, Joseph Davidson; Justices of the Peace, Henry W. Holmes, Royal J. Elderkin, Donald Crawford, C. S. Hymers; Assessors, James A. Chambers, John A. Ballantine, Robert L. Mein; Commissioner of Highways; Frank M. Keene; Overseer of the Poor, John B. Mable; Collector, John A. Butler.
The removal of the "forest primeval" and its manufacture into lumber was the first great industry of the early settlers, and within a few years of the first settlement nearly every little rivulet had its saw mill, and on each of the larger streams were several. The manufacture of the lumber gave employment the whole year around to all who desired to labor, and the Delaware river was a cheap and rapid thoroughfare for transportation to Philadelphia, the greatest lumber market of the Atlantic coast.
Going "down the river" several trips each spring was looked forward to with joyful anticipation by the lumbermen. Although much hard labor and more or less risk were involved, the pleasures of the voyage and the excitement of seeing the sights in one of the largest cities of the United States, outweighed everything else with the average raftsman. This industry was at its highest point in 1850, and some who can remember claim that to have been the most prosperous era of the town's history. Certainly there was no scarcity of work and money was plenty, but the fact remains that with few exceptions the lumbermen lived a hard life and died poor. The lumber business after 1850 began to decline and by 1870 had substantially ended. But one saw mill remains in the entire town, that of H. M. Seaman at DeLancey, on the site of one of the first mills erected in the town. A small amount of custom sawing is done at this mill, barely sufficient to pay for keeping it in repair, and this mill is the sole relief of an industry which at one time, it is estimated, annually brought $75,000 of foreign money into the town.
As the lumber business declined the farmer turned naturally to dairying, and from 1860 till 1890 butter making was the one great industry. The great prices received for butter during the Civil war and for many years thereafter enabled many farmers to pay off their mortgages, erect new buildings, purchase new and improved implements and machinery and live in greater comfort and with greater ease. But in its turn the butter industry has so declined and the profits are so small that is no longer possible to pay for a farm from its products, and with the hope of more profitable returns most farmers, whose location permits, have engaged in the shipment of milk, and it is probable that at least one-half of all the milk now produced in the town is shipped to New York, or manufactured in co-operative creameries. Large creameries are conducted at Hamden and DeLancey; others at Terry Clove and Mundale at present inoperative will doubtless be re-opened another season. In addition to these the Borden condensary at Delhi daily receives the product from thirty to forty Hamden dairies.
Within the past few years it has been developed that many of the hills, practically worthless for farming purposes, are filled with blue stone of the finest quality and suitable for flagging, curbing, or building purposes. This business is in its embryo state, not yet fully developed, but steadily increasing in volume and already affording employment to many who would otherwise be unable to secure employment within the town.
The breeding of sheep and the manufacture of woolen cloth and yarn which was at one period quite extensively conducted, there being one large woolen mill employing several operatives in town has almost entirely ceased, and the mill has been transformed into a grain and feed store.
At the first general election, held in 1826, there were cast in the town of Hamden 142 votes, of which W. B. Rochester received ninety-six and DeWitt Clinton forty-six. The total vote in 1880 was 426, of which Garfield received a majority of 256. The vote of 1884 was 410, of which Blaine received 272 majority. The vote of 1888 was 438, of which Harrison received 238 majority, and the vote of 1896 was 412, of which McKinley received a majority of 245. The vote of 1888 was the largest of which we have any record and was doubtless the largest ever cast in the town. Prior to 1836 the town was usually Democratic, then the Whigs gained the ascendancy and in general maintained it until 1856, when the Republican ticket received a majority of over 200 votes. It is a remarkable fact, probably without a parallel in the state, that for more than forty years no candidate of the Republican party for a state or national office has failed to receive in the town of Hamden a majority exceeding 200, often nearly 300, out of a total vote which has never reached 440. And further, no Democrat has been elected to the office of supervisor, town clerk, or justice of the peace since 1836. While in other towns there have been political revolutions brought about by general or local causes, the Republican party in Hamden has never had a reverse or lost any degree of its prestige. This is doubtless due to the fact that "Free-soilism" early took root in the winds of our voters. The same love of liberty of speech and action that caused a large percentage of our voters, or their fathers, to emigrate from a land of oppression to a land of freedom, caused these voters to early espouse and enthusiastically support the cause of abolition of slavery and to join and adhere to the political party which made the United States in fact a country of free speech and. free men.
Less than one-third of the town's population lives in villages. Hamden, the principal village, has nearly three hundred inhabitants, but is much more important as a business center than its size would indicate. Four large establishments dealing in general merchandise, one hardware store, one furniture and undertaking establishment, two feed and grain dealers, two hotels, two blacksmith shops, a cooperage and two firms dealing in butter comprise the business directory of the village. Two physicians divide the medical practice, viz: W. D. Heimer who came from Andes in 1876 and has ever since practiced in the town, and enjoys a reputation for success and skill, second to none in the county, and H. C. Neff, who came from Michigan in 1893, and has worked into a good practice and is well liked by his townsmen. There are two churches, the First Presbyterian, erected in 1864, and since improved and remodeled, is a substantial and attractive building. Rev. George Brown was its first pastor. He came to Hamden in 1854 and preached in the old union church building until his own church was erected. He continued its pastor until 1892 when because of failing health he resigned and removed to Walton, where he died in 1895. The present pastor is Rev. J. H. Turnbull. The Methodist Episcopal society occupied the old union church for many years prior to 1892 when they built a new edifice of modern architecture.
Two miles above Hamden on the east side of the river lays the village of DeLancey with a population of 175. The location, with its wide stretching river flats which never overflow, perfect drainage and shaded streets, is one of the finest in the county for a large village, but with no manufactory or business enterprise to support a larger population, there is no growth and no prospect of any. One general merchandise establishment, one grocery, a public house, a blacksmith shop, a cooperage and a grist mill are the principal business establishments. H. M. Seaman for many years conducted here the only tannery in town, but the supply of bark becoming exhausted he erected a large grist mill on the site of his tannery and utilized his water power for grinding grain. This is the only mill in town and is largely patronized. He is also an extensive dealer in flour, feed and grain. The United Presbyterian church society of DeLancey erected a building in 1848 which was remodeled in 1882 and was used until December 24, 1896, when it was totally destroyed by fire, which was first discovered about eight o'clock A.M. A new building was immediately planned and was built during the summer of 1897 at a cost of nearly $7,000 for building and furnishing. It was dedicated October 14, 1897, and has since been used. Rev. Dr. Thomas Park, of Walton, was pastor of this church from 1878 till 1892 and under his ministry the membership was greatly increased. The present faster is Rev. N. L. Heidger, who came from Philadelphia in November, 1895. The Christian church of DeLancey was erected in 1844 and was regularly supplied by preachers of that denomination until 1877, since when it has been occupied only at long intervals. Its last pastor was Rev. James Topping, who regularly supplied its pulpit during the year 1890. The only other church in town is one of the United Presbyterian denomination at Mundale, erected in 1881 when the society was first formed. Its pastor is Rev. Daniel Harris who came thereto from Rock Rift in 1896.
There are four post offices in the town, viz: Hamden, DeLancey, Mundale, and North Hamden. The first two are money order offices, the others are not. Donald Crawford, Henry W. Holmes, Daniel Harris and Amos P. Wood are the respective postmasters at the offices in the order named.
The building of the New York & Oswego Midland Railroad was a matter of much interest to the people of Hamden, and when it was decided that the road would follow the Sidney-Walton and Hancock route, the town was bonded to aid in the construction of the Delhi branch. It was represented that the town would receive stock in the new road to an amount equal to the amount of bonds issued, which could in a very few years be sold at par, thus realizing the sum necessary to retire the town's bonds at very little actual cost to the town. On these representations the necessary consent of the taxpayers was secured and $100,000 of coupon bonds were issued by William Lewis, Marshall Shaw and James Chambers as Railroad Commissioners, bearing date of issue January 1, 1869, due twenty-five years after issue with no option of redemption, rate of interest seven per cent., payable semi-annually. As early as 1880 the town was desirous of refunding this issue of bonds, but the holders would not accept payment and only $9,000 had been surrendered and retired when the entire issue fell due. The original railroad company having speedily become bankrupt and the road having passed into other hands, It was supposed that the stock acquired by the town was of no value, but in 1881 William Lewis as Railroad Commissioner sold it for five and one-fourth per cent., thus realizing $5,250, which, together with the railroad tax rebates, were invested as a sinking fund for the liquidation of the town's bonded debt. When the bonds fell due January 1, 1894, this sinking fund amounted to about $6,000, leaving $85,000 of the bonded debt still unprovided for. New bonds to that amount were issued to the Comptroller of New York State and the proceeds used to redeem and retire the old bond issue which has been done with the exception of one $100 bond which has never been presented. The new bond issue bears interest at three and one-half per cent, and $2,000 of the principal sum is payable each year until May 1, 1914, when the entire sum falls due. It will readily be seen that our town has paid dearly for their railroad, but we believe the consensus of opinion is that it has been a good investment, and if today the people of the town could get back their money by relinquishing the road they would undoubtedly refuse to do so.
It is estimated that not less than one hundred men were enlisted from Hamden in the civil war, most of them serving in the 72d, 89th, 101st and 144th Regiments New York Volunteers, and more in the last named than in any other organization. As a matter of fact Company C of the 144th Regiment was very largely made up of Hamden men and was commanded first by Captain 'Thomas Lewis and later by Captain M. C. Lewis. The regiment was, during a portion of the war, commanded by Colonel James Lewis, now a distinguished Presbyterian clergyman residing at Joliet, Illinois. These three Lewises were all natives of and enlisted from the town of Hamden. Most of the veterans residing in town belong to Bryce Post, No 612, G. A. R.
Donald Shaw, hereinbefore referred to, was for many years the most prominent and for a long time wielded a greater influence than any other man in town. He came from Scotland in 1806 and to Hamden in 1820, purchasing the Harrower estate and engaged extensively in lumbering and tanning. Business and politics being then as now almost inseparable, he became a political leader and was elected supervisor in the years 1837, 1838, 1839 and 1842, and in 1847 represented the First district of Delaware county in the New York Assembly. He died about 1866 leaving an estate valued at $100,000. His son Donald D. Shaw, a young man of exceptional ability and just graduated from Yale college was elected to the Assembly of 1860, but died before the opening of the session.
William Lewis was another Scotchman who became prominent and influential in the town and county. Born in 1827 and emigrating in 1834, he lived on the farm in Terry Clove now owned by John A. Salton until 1850 when he engaged in the mercantile business in the village of Hamden. He soon became a recognized leader of the Republican party, and in 1856 was elected to the office of justice of the peace in which he continued eight years. From 1863 till 1866 he was United States assessor of internal revenue. In 1871, 1872 and 1880 he was elected to the Assembly of New York. From 1875 till 1881 inclusive he was supervisor of the town and was chairman of the board in 1877 and 1878. In 1887 he was elected to the State Senate and for two years represented the Delaware-Chenango-Broome district. He had sold his mercantile business in 1874 but for several years thereafter had dealt largely in Delaware county butter, being for a time the most extensive dealer in the town, if not in the county. During his senatorial term his health failed and steadily declined until he died, December 11, 1891. He despised deceit and hypocrisy, was a steadfast and loyal friend, never making a promise which he did not fulfill, and died universally respected for his ability and integrity.
By Hon. Wesley Gould. ...
THE town of Hancock was formed in March, 1806. It was named after the celebrated John Hancock, and bears the same relation to towns in general that the signature of Hancock to the Declaration of Independence bears to ordinary signatures.
The town contains nearly 170 square miles of territory, and the Delaware river, including the West and East branches there of flows upwards of forty miles through the town and along its southerly border.
With its lofty and extensive mountain ranges, its numerous valleys, beautiful lakes, hundreds of springs and streams of the coldest, purest and sweetest water, teeming with fine trout and various other fish, its immense forests of oak, pine, hemlock, maple, beech, birch, basswood, cherry, ash, and other valuable timber, abounding with deer, wolves, bears, wild turkeys, partridges and other game, it presented a fine and desirable field for the hardy pioneer and the bold huntsman; but had few attractions for the weak and effeminate of the human race.
But little is known, at the present time, of the savage tribes who for long centuries fished in its waters and hunted in its forests. "The steel of the white man hath swept them away." A few small clearings, remnants of Indian villages, and a small number of scattered, roving red men, under the chieftain Canope, were still found along the river by the early settlers of the town.
Until the latter part of the eighteenth century this vast domain was comparatively unknown to the white man. In the early days of the American Revolution a few hardy spirits settled in the town. The first permanent settler was Josiah Parks, who having been an officer in the British navy, was commonly known as "Bo'sen" Parks. The only two other white men that are known to have settled in the town prior to the Declaration of Independence, were John Johnston, who was killed by the Indians, and one Cadoce, whose cabin was located at the mouth of the creek now bearing his name. Nothing further is known of him, and it is thought that he too was killed by the Indians.
Josiah Parks was a man of heroic mold, a man that would leave his impress upon any people that he came in contact with. Many of his descendants are still living in the town of Hancock, and a history of the town would be very incomplete without at least a short sketch of this hardy pioneer. He was born in New London, Conn., in the month of February, 1745. At an early age he and his brother Silas entered the British naval service in an expedition against the Spaniards. After an unsuccessful assault upon the Spanish fort at Havana, young Parks studied out a plan by which he thought he could capture the fortress. The British officer, learning of his plan, gave him sufficient men, and Parks landing his men on the mainland made an assault upon the Spanish works and captured them. For this act of bravery he was promoted. Shortly thereafter his brother Silas died and was buried at sea. On reaching home he left the British service, married and moved to Shawangunk, in Ulster county, where he remained until the breaking out of the Revolution. He procured from the government, service as a scout among the Indians and tories, and did much valiant work in that capacity. Up to the day of his death the word "tory"' would arouse in him the fiercest passions of his fiery nature. After the battle of Minisink he moved his family to Equinunk, coming up the river in a canoe with his family and all their belongings, and finding shelter in a cave in the rocks. Shortly thereafter he built a log cabin on the line of what is now the town of Hancock. While at this point a friendly Indian informed him of the intended Indian raid upon the Wyoming Valley. He at once started to inform the unhappy people of their impending danger, but alas, they would not believe the tale, and history records the terrible disaster that befell them shortly thereafter. Only two families believed and profited by the warning, viz: Fullerton and Whitaker, who came away with him, the Fullerton family going to Orange county and Whitaker to Shehocking. Numerous descendants of these families still live.
In 1784 a Baptist minister, by the name of Ezekiel Sampson settled on the flats a short distance below where Hancock village now is, but he remained there only a few years, and then removed to Chemung county in 1789. In 1787 Judge Samuel Preston came to Stockport to survey the lands in that vicinity, one Edward Doyle from Doylestown, Pennsylvania, coming with him. In 1789 Judge Preston determined to establish a colony, locating himself across the river at Stockport. Young Doyle determined to remain with him, and thereafter only went back to Doylestown for an occasional visit. He settled at a point two and one-half miles below Shehocton, now Hancock village, on the farm now occupied by Frank Doyle, one of his descendants. Soon after he married Elizabeth Shaffer, and many of their descendants still reside in the town. Edward Doyle was the first member of the Legislature from this town. He had three sons, Edward, John and Samuel, the last named being the third member of the Legislature from the town, and three daughters, Abigail, Elizabeth and Mary. His wife was the first member of the Methodist Episcopal church in the town, she having been a member of that church at Canaan, Pennsylvania, where she regularly attended the Quarterly Conferences, going and returning on horseback. The Methodist church was first organized in 1831, at Hancock village, then a small hamlet. When they proceeded to organize they discovered that there was no copy of the Church Discipline in the place, so they posted a man on horseback to the Doyle residence to procure one, in the meantime having a very enthusiastic meeting, singing hymns and giving testimony, That small beginning has grown into a church at the same place with a prevent membership of about 300.
In the latter part of the eighteenth century one Ezra May located in the town, teaching school in 1800 and 1801 at Shehocton, now Hancock village. He afterward became the first deacon of the Presbyterian church there. He also gave the old cemetery to the people for a burying ground for their dead. John Dusenbury started the first store in the town. It wasn't much of a store, but no doubt was considered quite an acquisition by the settlers.
Captain John Knight, from near Philadelphia, settled below Stockport about 1785. Numerous descendants of his still reside in the town and have always been considered people of fine tastes and habits. About 1790 Aaron Thomas and Moses his brother settled above Doyle along the river. Many of the Thomas family still reside in the town and are considered good substantial citizens. Along the East branch of the Delaware, settlement began about the same time.
Henry B. Bascom, D. D., one of the Bishops of the Methodist Episcopal church, South, was born in Hancock May 27, 1796. He was licensed to preach in 1813, and in 1823 was elected Chaplain to Congress. In 1827 he was called to the presidency of Madison College, Pennsylvania, and in 1842 became president of Transylvania University. He was editor of Quarterly Review of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, 1846-1850, and was elected a Bishop May, 1859. He died September 8th, 1850.
The first settlement made in the upper end, of the town, was by Abraham Sprague at Long Flats, in 1788. His grandson, Al Sprague, is still living in the town, in his eighty-sixth year. Abraham Sprague came direct to this place from Newburgh, upon his discharge from the Continental army. The tract of land upon which he settled, consisting of 261 ½ acres, was granted to one John Burch, Esq., of London, by Queen Anne, and was accepted out of the Hardenberg Patent. Burch conveyed the same to William Cockburn in 1772, and. Christopher Tappan as agent for Cockburn sold the same to Mr. Sprague in 1777, while he, Sprague, was in the army. Mr. Sprague soon after his settlement there sold portions of the Long Flat to Titus Williams (grandfather of Colonel Williams now residing at East Branch) and Charles and James Sutton who settled thereon about 1795. In 1800 Titus Williams and one Stephenson built the first grist mill near there, and Stephenson run the same until his death, which occurred some years later by drowning at Early's ford. He attempted to cross upon the ice, but it gave way and he fell in. His hat being found later upon the remaining ice at this point told the tale of his unfortunate death. His body was found the next spring at the head of Cochecton Falls. It was upon discovery buried at a point between high and low water mark, that being supposed to be the requirements of the law at that time. Silas Bouker, Major Landfield and Jesse Baxter settled at Harvard in 1790. About two years thereafter Ichabod Benton, Solomon Miller and Elijah Thomas settled what is known as the Martin Flat near Harvard. In the same year James Miller great-grandfather of S. Gordon Miller, and his two brothers settled at the juncture of the East branch and Beaverkill on the site of an ancient Indian village called "Pacatacan," and on the exact spot where now stands the thriving village of East Branch.
About the same year, 1792, Jonathan Bolton settled on Bolton Flat, and one Gilbert Early on the Early Flat, about midway between East Branch and Fish Eddy. This flat contained several hundred acres of productive land, and was considered one of the finest along the East Branch for many miles. But a little over one-half of it now remains. Little by little, slowly but surely, each year during the past century, the Delaware river has been collecting the interest on the mortgage which she holds upon what was once the best farm in the whole town, and whose fertile acres once, "filled heaping full the old cherry chest of Uncle Gill" with bright and shiny silver dollars.
The first settler at Fish Eddy was Jonas Lakin, better known as Squire Lakin, who cleared a small place near the mouth of the brook, and erected a store, thought by some to have been the first store in town. About the year 1792 Ebenezer Wheeler, emigrating from Massachusetts, settled in the town and built a saw mill at Partridge Island. The Wheeler house now standing upon the banks of the river there being the oldest house in town.
At Pease Eddy, a little farther down the river, Aaron Pierce was the first settler, after whom came Mr. Pease, Asa Appley and Ezra Maine.
About this time there came to Cadosia and Hancock the Leonards, Hawks and Sands, all of whom have numerous descendants in the town. Prior to the beginning of the present century the settlements have all been along the river and its principal branches, but little being known of the immense tract lying along the section known at the present time as the French Woods and Goulds. That vast territory being well watered, and mostly covered with hardwood timber, is much the best part of the town for agricultural purposes. Numerous streams starting along this elevation flow northwesterly into the East Branch, and southerly into the Delaware. At the heads of many of these streams are fine lakes and good farming lands, but in following the same as they near the river the valleys become narrow, and the mountains upon each side steep and high so that the land is practically untillable, and this is so with each of the score or more of streams rising in the highlands and flowing into the river, as already stated. This vast section of several thousand acres was deemed of little value by the early settlers. There being no roads, nor means of getting the timber to the river, it remained comparatively an unbroken wilderness for many years after the settlements along the river. In the early part of the present century David, Asher and Loring Leonard settled the westerly part of this section, known as the French Woods. Shortly thereafter colonies of French and Germans, principally from New York city, settled there, many clearing their lands and making permanent homes. In this place the first Catholic church in the town was erected, and recently a Methodist Episcopal church has been erected there.
In the fall of 1842 John Gould, having exchanged two brick houses in the city of Newburgh for a large tract of wild land, in the central part of the highlands between the rivers now known as Goulds, removed his family there. In the early part of October, having arrived at Westfield Flats, and the end of the roads and civilization, he together with his family consisting of a wife, one daughter and seven sons, started with a caravan of six ox teams and sleds. Cutting their way through the forests, they arrived at their destination October 13th, having been three days and two nights on the journey through the wilderness from Westfield Flats. The smoke curling from the nearest cabin was at least three miles distant, and there were but two or three neighbors within four or five miles. With the pioneer spirit and lofty puritanism he left the culture and civilization of the beautiful Hudson valley, thinking that he might better rear his large family of boys "Far from the mad'ning crowd's ignoble strife." About ten years thereafter he was suddenly killed by logs rolling on him at a saw mill near Peakville. Seven of his sons served in the Union army in the civil war. One afterward became a doctor and one a lawyer.
Within a few years after Mr. Gould moved into this section quite a number of families, mostly from Schoharie county, settled there, generally engaging in farming, and at the present time this is the best agricultural and most beautiful part of the town. Up to this time and for some years after this part of the town abounded in game, especially deer. The writer when a boy well remembers seeing six fine deer all in one drove in his father's fields, grazing as contentedly as if the land had been cleared and seeded for their special benefit. This settlement closed the period of pioneering, as the town had no more large isolated tracts lying wild and unoccupied. Those coming later knew little of the privations and hardships endured by the early settlers.
Agriculture has not attained to very great importance in the town, having generally been made secondary to lumbering and other employments. Much of the land along the river is not adapted to farming, the flats being not very extensive and the mountains being steep and rough. The lands adapted to farming were settled very much later, and while promising to be very valuable in future, are in many instances still uncleared, or if cleared not fully subdued and cultivated. One of the great drawbacks is the poor roads. The country being sparsely settled and the roads new and rough will require much labor to make traveling very desirable or pleasant for years to come.
The chief industries in the town during the first three-quarters of the present century were tanning and rafting lumber down the Delaware. For many years millions of feet of hemlock, pine and hardwood were annually run to the down river markets, the hemlock bark being used principally at home in the tanneries. As the tanning business and the rafting of lumber declined, the manufacture of hardwood, by chemical processes, into acetate of lime, wood alcohol and charcoal developed into an extensive business. There is at this time nine large factories in the town, costing, with equipments, several hundred thousand dollars, and giving employment to hundreds of men. If the destructive forest fires could be entirely suppressed, this industry might continue for countless ages, as the natural reproduction of wood, from lands cut over, would be sufficient to furnish the wood for an equal number of factories indefinitely.
Another industry of much importance, and of great benefit, has lately been developed into substantial magnitude, viz.: quarrying of blue stone. While this business already has attained to importance, and gives employment to many men, it may no doubt be considered still in its infancy. The hills and mountains of the town are seemingly full of fine stone quarries, hundreds and probably thousands of them yet unopened, and many of those opened are but partially developed or exhausted.
There are still a number of saw mills in town; also a few wood working establishments. Of the latter the town has far too few. With unlimited water power, good facilities for shipping and plenty of timber, this industry should be encouraged, as it could give steady employment to numerous persons, without such a great waste of timber as was occasioned by the rafting of the lumber down the river, or by shipping it, only partially manufactured, from the mills.
The growth of Hancock has been steady and sure. The two principal villages, Hancock and East Branch, are putting up a few new buildings each year and making material growth and development. Each Federal census has shown an increase in population and wealth in the town. The census of 1890 shows the population to have been 4,745, two hundred more than the next largest town in the county.
Since the Declaration of Independence the growth of the United States has been about twenty fold, while that of Hancock has been one thousand fold. Judging from the past and the present outlook, it is safe to predict that in the near future the, town of Hancock will be the banner town of the county, both in population and wealth.
The history of Hancock presents, it is true, but little that is startling or grand. Her early settlers were men of robust strength and rugged honesty. They possessed few of the comforts of life and none of its luxuries; still we are not sure but they got as much real enjoyment out of life as those apparently more favored who are surfeited with the luxury of civilization and refinement.
The town of Hancock is not resting satisfied with her past. Like a young giant she is firmly planting her feet, squaring her shoulders and preparing for the onward march of civilization and prosperity. She has no old castles, no lofty monuments, speaking of mighty events already achieved, no traditions or old wives' fables. Forward! is the word of command along the lines of business, education, religion and home life.
Half a century ago there was no railroad within her borders. Today the Erie railway, traversing the town from east to west, has upwards of twenty miles of double track therein. The Ontario and .Western and the Scranton branch have about twenty miles of single track in town, making with the Erie forty miles of railroad in town with nine stations. At that time the only means of crossing the river were by canoe, by boat or by fording. Now there is one suspension bridge across the West branch and one across the main river. These were erected by private capital. There are also three iron bridges across the East branch and one across the mouth of the Beaverkill, erected by the town. The total expense of these bridges was about $100,000.
A century ago there were only two schools in town. Now there is a fine Union Free School at Hancock village and twenty-one common schools in the town. At that time there was not a church in the entire town, now there are thirteen churches, and religious services are also held at a number of places in the public school houses. Then there were but a score of voters, now some 1,500. Then the entire property in town was valued at a few thousand dollars, now the assessed valuation exceeds one million dollars.
The future of Hancock ought to be, and is bright. With her large territory, her great natural resources, her diversified industries, her numerous streams, furnishing unlimited power, her fine railroad facilities, her exhaustless stores of the finest blue stone, and her boundless forests, she ought not for ages to come close her pages of history, and sit down content with achievements gained or laurels won.
Nations, states, cities, towns and villages, yea, man himself, must either advance or recede. All things animate or inanimate are at this moment either growing, developing, perfecting, or receding, decaying, disintegrating. Happy indeed the condition of that people, or individual, who looks to the achievements and successes of the future instead of dwelling among the dead things of the past.
THE history of Harpersfield begins at a meeting between the Harpers and the Onoughquage Indians, presumably in 1766, at which an agreement was made for the purchase of the lands named in their petition to the Governor and Council of the province, which was granted. The following consent and deed has been copied from the originals owned by Mr. D. N. Gaylord, a great grandson of Col. Harper, such consent being necessary to enable them to obtain a valid title from the government: L.S. By his excellency Sir Henry Moore, Baronet, Captain-General arms. and Governor-in-Chief of the Province of New York and the Territories depending thereon in America, Chancellor and Vice- Admiral of the same. To all to whom these presents may come or may concern, Greeting.
Whereas, John Harper, Sen. William Harper, John Harper, Jr., Joseph Harper, and Alexander Harper, by their humble petition, presented unto me and read in Council on this day, have set forth that there are yet certain lands unpurchased of the native Indians of Onoughquage, of which they are the proprietors, situate, lying and being in the county of Albany, upon the head of the Delaware river; and the said Indians being disposed to sell the same, the petitioners, with their partners, are desirous to purchase one hundred thousand acres, or a smaller quantity, as it may be found, in order to enable them to obtain his Majesty's letters patent for the said lands, that they may settle, cultivate and improve the same; or any other unpurchased lands belonging to the said Indians where they may be disposed to give them, not exceeding the said quantity; and therefore humbly prayed my license for the purpose aforesaid.
I have therefore thought fit, by and with the advice of his Majesty's Council, to grant, and I do by these presents give and grant unto the said John Harper, Sen., William Harper, John Harper, Jr., Joseph Harper, and Alexander Harper, full power, leave and license to purchase in his Majesty's name from the native Indian proprietors these of the lands aforesaid; provided the said purchase to be made within one year from the date hereof, and conformably to the regulations contained in his Majesty's proclamation of the 7th of October, 1763; or that the parties do produce a certificate signed by Sir William Johnson, Baronet, his Majesty's sole Agent or Superintendent of Indian Affairs for that Northern Department, that the Indians to be brought before me for the sale of the said lands are chiefs of or belong to the tribe or nation who are the owners and proprietors of the said lands, and that they have authority from such tribe or nation to dispose thereof, and for so doing this shall be to them a sufficient license. Given under my hand and seal at arms, at Fort George in the city of New York; the ninth day of April, one thousand seven hundred and sixty-seven. (Signed) H. MOORE.
By his Excellency's command G. BANYAR, D. Sec't'ry.
The time given in the foregoing. was probably extended, as the purchase was completed in presence of the Governor, at the house of Sir William Johnson on the 14th day of June, 1768, for the purchase of 250,000 acres extending from the east line of Harpersfield, down the Charlotte and Susquehanna, one mile from each, Sir William Johnson had the mile, to the mouth of the Ouleout; thence direct to and down a creek called Canaskully, Trout Creek (?) to the Delaware river; thence up to Lake Utsayantha. The Harpers' land was run out the same year and Governor Moore having died, a deed reciting the before named facts and setting out their land was granted by Cadwalader Colden, Lieutenant Governor, Andrew Elliott, Receiver General, and Alexander Colden, Surveyor General, as commissioners, which concludes as follows:
"In pursuance whereof, and in obedience to his Majesty's said instructions we, the said Commissioners, do hereby certify that we have set out for them, the said John Harper, Sen. William Harper, John Harper, Jr., Joseph Harper, Alexander Harper, Andreas Rebar, William Golt, Thomas Hendry, John Wells, Robert Campbell, James Scott, John Wells, Jr., Joseph Harper, Jr., John Thompson, Robert Thompson, John Thompson, Jr., James Moore, Robert Wells, James Harper, Timothy McIlvain, John Rebar and Johannes Walrad, all that certain tract or parcel of land within the Province of New York situate, lying and being in the county of Albany, between the Cookquago branch of Delaware river and the branch of the Susquehanna river called Adiquitange, beginning at a rock maple tree marked on four sides with a blaze and three notches and with the letters and figures A. C. 1768, standing on a high point of land at the south side of a small pond of water called by the Indians Utsayantha, from whence the said branch of the Delaware called by the Indians Cookquago issues, and runs thence North thirty degrees West, five hundred and forty-nine chains; thence South eighty-six degrees West, two hundred and fifty chains; thence South sixty-three degrees West, one hundred and eleven chains; thence South thirty degrees East, seven hundred chains, to a tract of six thousand acres of land granted in the year one thousand seven hundred and forty to Arent Bradt, Volkert Van Vechten and others; thence along the Northern and Eastern bounds of the last mentioned tract, Northeasterly and Westerly as they run, to the said branch of Delaware river called Cookquago; thence up the Northern bank of the said branch as it winds and turns to the rock maple tree where this tract first began, containing twenty-two thousand acres of land and the usual allowance for highways. And in setting out the said tract or parcel of land, we, the said Commissioners, have had regard to the profitable and unprofitable acres, and have taken care that the length thereof doth not extend along the banks of any river otherwise than is conformable to his Majesty's instructions.
Given under our hands at the City of New York the twenty-ninth day of November, one thousand seven hundred and sixty-nine, in the tenth year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord George the Third, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, Defender of the faith, and so forth. (Signed) CADWALLADER COLDEN, ANDREW ELLIOT, ALEXANDER COLDEN."
A patent was soon after granted giving each of the patentees 1,000 acres, though most of them afterward deeded their rights to the Harpers. The patent reserved to the King all mines of gold and silver and all pine trees fit for masts, of twenty-four inches diameter and upwards twelve inches from the earth, for masts for the royal navy. The grant is also subject to a quit rent of two shillings and sixpence sterling, yearly for each 100 acres, and is erected into a township forever.
This township is to elect annually two assessors, two overseers of highways, two overseers of the poor, one collector, one treasurer, and four constables, to be chosen at the most public place in the township. Vacancies are to be filled by election within forty days after they occur.
Digging the gold or silver, cutting the pine fit for masts, or default in quit rent renders the patent void.
In 1771 Colonel Harper removed his family from Cherry Valley for the purpose of making a permanent settlement, and having the patent divided into lots and highways; Adonijah Stanburrough acting as surveyor assisted by several men, one of whom was David Hendry.
Rev. Harper Boies, who married a grand-daughter of Colonel Harper and who took a deep interest in the early history of the town and church, says: "The Colonel first for his family in the form of a wigwam, and there lived till a house could be built; but not long after their arrival the Colonel was called away on business. His wife then superintended the erection of a dwelling, directing the men whom the Colonel had brought with him to assist the surveyor, and before her husband; return the walls were fully raised. The house was soon roofed and fitted for the residence of the first white family that ever made a home in Harpersfield. This house stood at the southeast corner of Lot No. 133, near a small stream which crosses the turnpike below the Center, west of and near the cemetery. Part of the foundation is still visible crossed by a wall about ten rods north of the turnpike. The place is now owned by Gideon E. Wickham, who says that lately he plowed up some bricks near the wall. A part of the house now occupied by him was built by Colonel Harper."
>From this time forward settlers came in rapidly and lands were cleared till the Revolution. Nearly the whole tract was heavily timbered, and till crops could be raised, all the flour had to be brought from Schoharie on the backs of horses or men.
The following was related to Jay Gould by Mr. Boies:
"The first winter succeeding the removal of the Harpers was very severe. The arrangements they had been able to make proved hardly sufficient for the privations they were compelled to endure. * * * * Winter set in earlier than expected, and the snow fell to such depth as to render it almost, impossible to reach any settlement, of which there was none nearer than Schoharie, nearly thirty miles away.
In the midst of this dilemma their stock of provisions became reduced to a little corn, which was powdered in a mortar and made into johnny cake. * * * * At last, but one small loaf of johnny cake was left, and the wife who had borne up well to now, began to yield. She, had concealed the state of their provisions from her husband till it was useless to conceal longer, and she told him this small loaf was all; and the children were crying for that, but she dared not give them that for fear they might need it more hereafter. The father now resolved to travel to Schoharie on snow shoes on the morrow, and divided the loaf among the family but keeping none himself. * * * * In the meantime the Schoharie settlers being aware that their neighbors in the 'Bush,' as Harpersfield was usually called, must be short of provisions, had determined to go to their relief the same day that the last of the johnny cake was eaten. Accordingly, early on the day in question, a company set out from Schoharie on snow shoes, arriving at Harpersfield at midnight, to the joyful surprise of the starving inhabitants."
The story as told by "Simms" is that the relief party traveled with sleighs; and is much less reasonable.
It is related that on another occasion the Colonel's stock of hay became exhausted, and he was forced to go over to the Delaware river, to a natural meadow on lands since owned by the late Elijah Churchill, and carry hay on his shoulders to keep his cow from starving. The distance is at least four miles, and the journey was made on snow shoes; and these are only two out of many examples of hardships endured, and assistance extended. Notwithstanding all this, more and more settlers were attracted by the liberal terms offered by the patentees, and as in all new settlements new comers were warmly welcomed, and when necessary the ready assistance of the settled erected houses for the new comers at the, shortest notice.
A history of Harpersfield would necessarily be incomplete without a history of the Harpers. That which follows is taken from records in possession of his descendants.* (*The sketch of Col. Harper appears in Part 1, and was taken from this history.)
CAPTURE OF COWLEY AND SAWYER.
Early in the spring of 1779, St. Ledger Cowley and Isaac Sawyer were captured by four Indians. They were among the refugees from Harpersfield who sought safety in Schoharie at the beginning of difficulties; where their families remained in their absence.
The prisoners could speak Dutch, which the Indians understood nearly as well as their own language; and the latter could understand little, if any, of the conversation of these Anglo- Americans; Cowley being Irish and Sawyer Scotch. When taken they intimated by signs as well as they could, that they were friends of the King; and not only evinced a willingness to proceed with their captors, but a desire to do so. An axe belonging to one of them was taken along as a prize. The prisoners set off with such apparent willingness on their long journey to Canada that the Indians did not think it necessary to bind them; but they were compelled to act as "hewers of wood and drawers of water" for their red masters.
After being eleven days captive they arrived at a deserted hut near Tioga Point, and the captives were sent to cut wood a few rods distant. On such occasions one cut and the other carried it to the hut. While Cowley was chopping and Sawyer waiting for an armful, the latter took a newspaper from his pocket and pretended to read it to his fellow; instead of which he was proposing a plan of escape. After the Indians were sound asleep the friends arose and secured their weapons, shaking the priming from their guns. Sawyer, with a tomahawk, stood over the most desperate of the Indians, while Cowley, with his axe, placed himself beside another. At a given signal the blow fell, fatal to the two Indians. Sawyer drew the handle from his weapon in trying to pull it from the skull of his victim, and Cowley had the rest of the tragedy to finish. As another rose to his feet he partly warded Cowley's next blow, which exposed his shoulder, and he fell back stunned. The fourth, as he was about to escape, received a heavy blow from the axe, fled into a swamp near, where he died. The Indian who was stunned recovered, and while the victors were planning their next course, sprang to his feet, dashed through the fire, caught up his rifle, snapped it at one of his foes, ran out of the hut and disappeared.
Expecting to be followed, the friends took a zigzag course and succeeded in eluding pursuit, though at one time they counted ten Indians in pursuit of them. After suffering much from exposure, and still more from hunger they finally reached their friends.* (*Abridged from Simms' Frontiersman.)
Sawyer is said to have died many years after in Williamstown, Massachusetts.
St. Ledger Cowley emigrated to America from Dublin, Ireland, about 1769, with his wife, Mary, and two children, Jonathan and Samuel, and settled in Greenbush, near Albany, where he engaged in trade; we would now style him a commercial traveler, not exactly a peddler, and not exactly a merchant, in which he continued several years. Exactly when he removed to this section is not known, but he located near Bloomville, perhaps continuing the same business. After the war he built the first grist mill near Stamford village, the site of which still shows on the west side of the river a few rods above the railroad bridge, below the village. His sawmill stood on the opposite side of the stream, both being supplied by the same dam. His house stood about sixteen rods northwest from the mill.
After his death, his son William moved the mill to a site near the present Stanley mill where it was burned. His children, born in this country, were William, Polly, Martha, Elizabeth, Ann, and Ledger. His will, the first recorded in Delaware county, is dated Sept. 30th, 1796, and bequeaths, among other things, one thousand feet of pine lumber and ten pounds lawful money to aid in the completion of the Presbyterian church at Harpersfield; it disposes of about 200 acres of land in Delaware county, and fifty acres and buildings in Greenbush, besides personal, and names his friends, Hon. Joshua H. Brett, Col. John Harper, and his son William as executors, giving to each the sum of seven pounds for services. The will was proved Aug.7, 1797, before Anthony Marvine, at Kortright now Delhi. His only descendants of the name now living in town are Wm. A. Cowley and his son John B. Cowley; the former, a great-grandson of St. Ledger, furnished the documents and information for this Sketch.
CAPTURE OF THE SUGAR MAKERS.
On the second day of April, 1780, a scouting party commanded by Capt. Alexander Harper, fourteen in all, was sent from Schoharie to Harpersfield for the purpose of making maple sugar, and watching certain disaffected persons in that vicinity. The names of the party besides Harper were, Freegift and Isaac Patchin, brothers, Ezra and Henry Thorp, Thomas, James, and John Hendry, brothers, Cornelius Teabout, James Stevens, William Lamb and son William, Dr. Brown, and one other.
Shortly after they arrived at the block-house at Harpersfield where they deposited their provisions, a heavy snow storm came on during which about three feet of snow fell, in addition to that already on the ground.
After seeing the men fairly engaged in sugar making at the different camps five in number Harper went back to Schoharie on some business, and did not return till the 8th.
Among the early settlers was one Samuel Claxton, or Clockstone, who resided on Lot No. 13, (situated on the road since called Smith Street.) He was a Tory and had harbored the Indians and Tories since the commencement of the war. The house had become so noted in this respect that it was known long after the war as the "Tory house." It was situated about thirty rods from the west line of the lot and about fifty rods from the present highway. The house stood on the trail from Schoharie to Harpersfield, and when on his return to the camps, Harper arrived near the house, instead of following the trail in a curve past the house he determined to go straight across, both to shorten the distance and avoid observation. Near the large tree in front of the house, while on this route, he stooped to fasten his snowshoes, when Brant and two other Indians came upon him unawares and took him prisoner, Brant exclaiming as he recognized him: "Ah! Captain Harper, is it you? I am sorry to see you here." "Why," said Harper, "are you sorry to see me here?" "Because," he replied, "I must kill you, though we were schoolmates in youth." Harper replied that it was no use to kill those who submitted peaceably. He was accordingly bound and taken to Claxton's house, where he found the rest of Brant's forces, amounting in all to forty-three Indians and seven Tories. This was about eight o'clock in the morning.
In order to make the surprise more complete, and allow none to escape, the enemy were distributed so as to fall upon all the sugar makers at once, and so well was it carried out that no signal of alarm was given. A company approached the house where Stevens was engaged, which was on Lot. No. 57. He had been, up most of the night boiling sap, and towards morning, having boiled all the stock on hand, he laid down in the store trough and fell asleep. The voices of the enemy awakened him, and he sprang up to get his gun, when an Indian came to the door and seeing the movement threw his tomahawk, which Stevens dodged, and catching the Indian threw him head foremost into the coals under the kettle. This he had scarcely done when a second tomahawk was thrown, killing him instantly, when he was scalped and left. Four years later, when Samuel and Mrs. Sally Hunt Wilcox moved into the house, blood stains were plainly seen on the floor.
A second party proceeded to the camp of Thomas Hendry on Lot No. 37, when he offering some resistance, was killed and scalped, while his brother John, submitting peaceably, was taken prisoner. Another detachment captured William Lamb and his son William, a boy eleven years of age, on Lot No. 84. Lamb was in the hut when taken. The son was gathering sap, and just coming to the hut, when seeing the Indians he dropped his pails and ran towards the Schoharie trail, but reaching a place where the sun had softened the crust he began to break through and surrendered. James Hendry is supposed to have been killed, and some of the party captured near the highway leading from the school house of district No. 2 towards the Gaylord and Maynard farm and The Patchins and Thorps were taken near the northwest corner of Lot No. 214, now owned by Dr. S. E. Churchill.
After plundering the camps of sugar and other articles, the parties reassembled with their plunder and prisoners, which Brant demanded of Harper whether there were any troops at Schoharie. Harper saw at once that their lives depended on his answer; if he said "No," which was the truth, they would all be killed, and the enemy would proceed to Schoharie and perhaps cut off the entire settlement. He therefore replied that three hundred continentals arrived there three days before a righteous lie.
The party then started for Niagara and after proceeding a few miles met Claxton, the tory, who was surprised to see them, as he knew them all. Brant related his adventures, and how he had been defeated by the story of troops at Schoharie.
"Troops!" said Claxton, "There are no troops at that place, you may rely upon it, Captain Brant; I have heard of none." Brant sprang towards Harper and exclaimed: "How came you to lie to me so?" when Harper turned to the tory and said, "You know, Mr. Claxton, I have been to the forts alone, and if Captain Brant disbelieves me he does it at his peril." His going the tory did know, and he answered, "Yes, I know it."
Several miles from the place of capture the party halted at a grist mill owned by a tory, who told Brant he might better have taken more scalps and less prisoners. After a frightful journey during which captors and captives nearly starved, they reached Niagara, where Harper found friends who saved him from much of the suffering endured by his comrades.
After the war Harper and the Patchins and Ezra Thorp returned to Harpersfield where they had before resided; after a time Harper and his brother Joseph, with a number of others, removed to Ohio, founding Harpersfield in that state.
Freegift Patchin after a time removed to North Blenheim, where he became a General of Militia, and Member of Assembly for several sessions. Isaac moved to Jefferson, upon land owned by his wife, and died at about seventy years of age. Ezra Thorp never married, but lived for many years, and died on what is still known as "Thorp Hill," where also lived another brother, Daniel, who at the time of this raid was engaged in defense of the coast; probably Connecticut. The latter was father of the late Nelson L. Thorp of this town.
William Lamb, previous to the war, owned the farm where he was captured, and when released, returned there and built a house east of the toll gate, near the Centre, where he died about 1819, aged eighty years. The house has been repaired and enlarged, and is now owned by Joseph Tate. The boy, William, was absent eleven years before he reached the houses of an aunt in Schoharie, where his father went to bring him home. William afterwards settled in the western part of the state with a brother Peter. Two other brothers were John and David, the former passing his life in Harpersfield, and leaving a son, William J. who is well remembered. David was an easy, improvident man, who after living awhile in Harpersfield removed to Kortright. Wm. R. Stanley, a grandson of Wm. Lamb, is now ninety years old. Of the Hendrys, only John was married, and his wife and a son, four years old, were at Schoharie when he was captured. He was a carpenter, and the British wished him to go to Bermuda to work, which he refused to do, and to subdue his "in different spirit" as they called it, he was confined in a dungeon at Quebec, in which he died. He wrote to his family that they might know why he was so cruelly treated.
The foregoing was related to Simms by Thomas Hendry, the young son of John, whose widow married a McPherson with whom the boy lived till old enough to learn the trade of ship carpenter. About 1800 he moved to Lot No. 178, which had been owned by his father, and built a small framed house, which was unusual for the first house on a new farm. About the same time he married Eupha Graham, by whom he had several children, of whom William O. and David B. settled in town, the latter on the homestead, each leaving one son James A., son of William, and Charles M., son of David. Charles now owns the homestead.
Of the celebrated tombstones to the memory of the murdered and captured Hendrys in Harpersfield Rural Cemetery, one was erected by Thomas Hendry, inscribed as follows:
SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF THOMAS AND JOHN HENDRY, WHO WAS SACRIFICED BY THE TORY PARTY APRIL 8TH, 1780, FOR THE CRIME CALLED DEMOCRACY. WHEN THE BRITISH AND TORIES, O'ER THIS LAND BORE THE SWAY, A LESS CRUEL INDIAN, MY BODY DID SLAY. THOMAS HENDRY.
WHEN MY BROTHER WAS MURDERED, I WAS STANDING BY, BUT IN QUEBECK PRISON I WAS DOOMED TO DIE. JOHN HENDRY.
The other stone, much older, is inscribed: IN MEMORY OF MR. JAMES HENDRY, WHO WAS KILLED BY INDIANS AND TORIES, APRIL 8TH, 1780, IN THE 39TH YEAR OF HIS AGE. WHILE BRITISH TIRANNY OVERSPREAD THIS LAND I WAS SLAIN BY CRUEL HANDS.
William Hendry, a brother of John, James, and Thomas, settled on Lots No. 15 and 16, after the war. He married Catharine Hall, from Mohawk. Of his children, William lived in Jefferson, Schoharie county, leaving a numerous family. Catharine married Clark Bryan, who died young, leaving three sons, of whom William published a newspaper for many years in Hudson, and Clark W. is now publisher of "Good Housekeeping" at Springfield, Mass. Their mother lived to be nearly or quite ninety. Polly married William Buckingham, who was a soldier of 1812, supervisor and justice of the peace of the town, and Lieut. of Cavalry in the Anti-Rent war. They passed their lives on the old farm. He died in 1846, she living many years longer, leaving a large family of children.
As early as 1782 an opinion prevailed among the Tories in this section that a change of residence was desirable, and a hasty removal was the consequence. The following incidents would indicate that their opinions were well grounded:
Among the most cruel and malicious of the Tories was one Beacraft, who was one of the seven with Brant at the capture of the sugar makers. The night of the capture the prisoners were confined in a log pen, and Beacraft, one of the guards, would frequently call to them, "You'll all be in hell before morning," while all through the journey to Niagara he was continually taunting them, and boasting of the numerous cruelties he had committed and particularly of having cut the throat of a little Vroman boy, then scalping him and hanging his body across a fence. This continual boasting and nagging was kept up till the prisoners all hated him with a deadly hate. After the war he had the impudence to return to Schoharie. His presence becoming known a party of Whigs surrounded the house he was in, near where the Blenheim bridge now stands, and leading him from it into a grove nearby, whipped him with hickory gads, giving him between every ten lashes the reasons for that particular number; this was continued till he was nearly dead, and some of them out of pity put an end to his sufferings.
Simms recites the story that he thanked them for sparing his life, and was never afterward heard from by the citizens of Schoharie, and the foregoing explains that although it was a terrible punishment there was a terrible provocation.
Simms relates also that a party from Harpersfield went down the Delaware and gave the miller who preferred their scalps to their persons nearly a hundred lashes; and from thence proceeded to the house of a Tory neighbor and gave him about the same, giving as a reason that they had harbored and fed the enemy on their way to murder their neighbors. The culprits were both admonished to leave the country and never return. One of them, it is supposed, went to Canada and stayed there, the other went, to Albany county for a time, but was afterwards allowed to return. The Tory Claxton sold his land to a Capt. James Smith, who had been a soldier in the French war and in the Revolution, and though Claxton was never accused of cruelty to the patriots, his having harbored the enemy made him so diffident of meeting his old neighbors that he came back in the night to get his pay.
Capt. Smith came from Haddam, Conn., and buying Lot. No. 12 in addition cut the two lots across into five farms, placing his four, sons, Frederick, Nehemiah, Hubbard, and James Jr., on four of them and disposing of the fifth to a friend or relative, William Dart. Each farm contained fifty acres, being forty rods wide and two hundred rods long. Frederick and James Jr. had also been soldiers in the Revolution. The reason for Captain Smith's removal to this country was to prevent his sons from becoming sailors, which was likely to be the case if they remained in Haddam.
David Garmsey was another soldier who settled in the same school district, being on Lot No. 56.
Abijah Baird, also a soldier, settled on Lot No. 32, at the top of the Middlebrook hill, in 1789, his lot cornering on the southeast with Capt. Smith and on the southwest with Mr. Garmsey. He was the first blacksmith in town. It is said he intended to go further, but looking over the great forest ahead, he was discouraged, and concluded to stop where he was.
The Harpers came back in 1783-84. The Colonel rebuilt his grist mill, and his wife having died during the war, he married the widow of his cousin, Joseph Harper, by whom he had two daughters, Abigail and Sally. Of his nine children, only Margaret, who married Hon. Roswell Hotchkiss, passed her life in this town.
Tradition says the Colonel had a saw mill near his grist mill, three-fourths of a mile, below the Centre, if so no signs of it remain; but he built a saw mill on the Middle brook, not far from the school house of Dist. No. 12, one of them being the first saw mill in town. With the Harpers, and following them, came most of the earlier settlers though some had sickened of hardships and gone back to the older settlements, followed by many new settlers. Among the first of the new ones was Samuel Wilcox, who, as before mentioned, moved into the house where James Stevens was killed in 1780. He became a prominent man, was Supervisor, Justice, and one of the first Deacons of the Baptist church, when he came near being placed on trial for shooting a wolf on Sunday; the wolf being found prowling around the log pen where the Deacon housed his sheep.
Another settler of 1783 or 1784 was Levi Gaylord, first Deacon of the Presbyterian church who came with his sons, Levi, Jedediah, and Joel all of whom became prominent and useful men in town.
The following is a list of the earliest known settlers on the various lots in town, revised from a list made several years ago: Lot 2, Aaron Scott; 3, Samuel Southmayd; 4, Daniel Lindsley; 5, Daniel Nichols; 6, John Brown; 7, Amos Barnum; 8, Raymond Starr; 9, Ezra Nichols; 10, William Baird; 12, Capt. James Smith; 13, Samuel Claxton; 14, Hazard and Salmon W. Beardsley; 15, 16, William Hendry; 17, Phinneas Bennett; 18, James Morrison; 19, 20, Levi Gaylord; 21, Ezra Thorp; 22, Joseph and John Barnum;. 23, Edward Evans; 24, 25, Joseph Benson, Nathan Holmes; 26, Joseph Kitte; 27, Najah Beardsley; 28, Lewis Penfield; 29, John Lindsley; 30, Eden Hamilton; 31, 32, Abijah Baird; 33, 34, Caleb Gibbs; 35, Stephen Judd; 36, 37, Thomas Hendry; 38, Joel Gaylord; 39, James Montgomery; 40, Daniel Edwards; 41, Freegift Patchin; 42, Ezra Thorp; 43, Daniel Thorp; 48, Gabriel Gray; 50, 51, Samuel and John Knapp; 52, Matthew Lindsley; 53, James Spencer; 54, Plyment Dayton; 55, Voluntine; 56, David Garmsey; 57, James Stevens; 58, Samuel Wilcox; 59, Richard Bristol; 60, David Lamb; 61, William McFarland; 62, Thomas Maxon; 63, Sylveuus Graves; 61, Samuel Stevens; 65, John Montgomery; 66, Joshua Drake; 69, Heman Copley; 70, Abel Seley; 72, Benjamin Pierce; 73, 74, Isaac Pierce; 75, Benjamin Owens; 76, James Bryan;. 78, Dayton; 79, Ezekiel Baird; 80, Zach. Bryan; 81, Presbyterian church; 82, Alexander Harper; 83, John Montgomery; 84, William Lamb; 85, Thelus Hotchkis; 87, Uriah Adams; 88, Asa Warner; 89, Noah Buck; 90, Gershom Davis; 91, Robert English; 95, John Birdsall; 97, Joseph Copley; 98, Perez Pierce; 100, 101, James Campbell; 103, Isaac Dayton; 104, Abel Dayton; 105, Epinetus Buckingham; 106, Andrus Jerome; 107, Zadoc Osborn; 108, Colonel Harper; 110, Joshua H. Brett; 111, 112, Abram Williams; 113, Richard Stanley; 114, Daniel Peters; 117, Alden Bennett; 119, Jacob Titus; 120, Lemuel Birdsall; 121, John Harper; 123, Samuel Campbell; 124, William I. Harper; 125, Burgoyne McIlvaine; 127, Hugh and John McCullough; 128,129, Benjamin Morse; 130, Joel Davis, 131, Daniel Prentice; 132, Roswell Hotchkis; 133, Colonel Harper; 136, William McClure; 137, Martin Kellogg; 138, Elisha Sheldon; 139, Eliab Wilcox; 142, William Butts; 143,144, Gideon and John Wickham; 145, Ezekiel Woodbeck; 152, Samuel Doane; 153, Joel Hubbard, sen.; 154, Robert Watkins; 155, 156, Samuel and Thomas Loyd; 159, Ransom Packard; 160, James Douglass; 161, Uriah Odell; 164, Eliab Wilcox; 168, Charles McMullen; 169, Heman Copley; 170, Robert Henderson; 171, Simeon Fuller; 173, James Bell; 174, Abel Seley; 175, Colonel William Harper; 176, James Scott; 178, John Hendry; 179, James Brown; 180, 181, Roswell Hotchkii3; 182, Joel Mack; 184, Robert Hamilton; 185, David Hendry; 188, William Wardwell; 189, John McClelland; 190, Thomas Porter; 195, Robert and John Wool; 196, John Wilson; 197, Daniel Butler; 203, Benjamin Odell; 204, Ruliff Voorhis; 205, 206, David and John Wilcox; 207, Andrew Rickey; 210, Stephen Churchill; 217, St. Leger Cowley; 219, Peter Monfort.
On the northeast corner of the town Benjamin Bartholomew and his brothers, Thomas, Joseph, James, and John, both before and after the way owned five lots called the Bartholomew tract, or thousand acres.; five other lots being north of the Charlotte. 'They built mills on westerly lots, but which side of the crook is unknown.
On the northwest corner of the town Benjamin and Ebenezer Foster, Daniel Sawyer, and Isaac Cleveland were early settlers.
A large part of what is called Middle brook was settled by people from Danbury, Conn., and for some time was called New Danbury.
Some years ago Mr. John Nichols, then in his ninety-third year, stated that he was four years old when his father, Ezra Nichols, settled on Lot 9, now owned by Isaac P. Nichols. The first work after their arrival was to erect a log house, which was built of peeled fir poles notched together at the corners, the spaces between the poles being filled with mud. The roof was covered with large pieces of elm bark fastened on with wooden pins. The door was a woolen blanket, and the floor was of sticks, split in halves and hewed as smooth as possible and called puncheons. Mr. Nichols believed that he killed the first skunk ever seen in town: he had set a trap near a dead horse hoping to catch a fox. On going to see what he had caught he found a small spotted animal fast, but busily gnawing at the horse. Upon his trying to loosen the trap he was astonished to find himself in the midst of a terribly disagreeable odor which nearly took away his breath. He killed the animal, however, and was told at home what it was. He sold the skin to it Mr. Montgomery who kept a store at the Centre, and it was there nailed up as a curiosity. Mr. Nichols said also that crows did not appear for some years after their arrival.
As related by Mr. David B. Baird, a grandson of Abijah, one of these New Danbury settlers, Jehu Knapp, was rather eccentric, and being greatly troubled by the sheep of a neighbor named Day, which persisted in foraging on his crops, Knapp finally caught one of the sheep, and cutting a slit in one hind leg stuck the other leg through it. The sheep hobbled home and the rest stayed away; not long after, Knapp's old sow got down to Day's and came home with her mouth out open as far back as a knife would go. Knapp "went for" Day for misusing his hog so, and was coolly told that "when that sow got down here, and see how funny that 'er sheep looked with one leg tucked through t'other, she just split her mouth laughin'."
In the northwestern part of the town, on what is still known as Quaker Hill, there settled from Dutchess county a colony of Quakers, or Friends, as they styled themselves, of about twenty families who built a log church with a log partition through the middle to separate the men from the women. If a couple wished to marry the young man stated their intention to the meeting and took his seat with his intended on the women's side. Preaching was only as the spirit moved; often nothing was said; just shook hands and separated.
Harpersfield, the only original town in Delaware county, was first organized April 27, 1787, and covered about the same territory as the 250,000 acre tract purchased from the Indians June 14, 1768. For some reason this act was inoperative; and March 7th, 1788, the town was again organized as follows: Harpersfield, and all that part of the said county of Montgomery between the Cookquago branch of the Delaware river and the branch of the Susquehanna river called Adiquitange, beginning at a rock maple tree marked on four sides with a blaze and three notches, and with the letters and figures A. C., 1768, standing on a high point of land at the south side of a small lake called by the Indians Utsayantha, from whence the said branch of the Delaware called by the Indians Cookquago issues, and running from thence North thirty degrees West to the said Adiquitange, and thence down the same and the Susquehanna to the bounds of Pennsylvania, and East along the same to the river Delaware, and then up the same river to the place of beginning, shall be and is hereby erected into a town by the name of Harpersfield.
The territory embraced averaged about fourteen miles wide by about sixty miles long; and from it nineteen towns and parts of towns, have been, formed in the counties of Broome, Chenango, Delaware and Otsego. 'The names of the towns are: Afton, Bainbridge, Colesville, Davenport, Delhi, Deposit, Franklin, Hamden, Harpersfield, Kortright, Masonville, Meredith, Oneonta, Sanford, Sidney, Stamford, Tompkins, Walton, and Windsor.
Although parting with so much territory has made the old town the smallest in the county, reducing her from more than eight hundred to but little more than forty square miles, she is the best looking town of the lot as the map will show.
The first town meeting of which any record exists was held April 1, 1787, as follows:
Chosen unanimously, Wm. Cure, moderator; John Harper, treasurer; Samuel Wilcox, John Deniston, assessors; Isaac Patchin, Sen., collector; Ezra Thorp, Thelus Hotchkiss, constables.
June 12, 1787, This day appointed Wm. McFarland Town Clerk in place of Walter Sabin, former Clerk, absent, and Isaac Patchin, Sen., Assessor, in place of Benjamin Bartholomew, absent.
At a town meeting of the Inhabitants of the District of Harpersfield, voted at the house of Alexander Harper, Esq., on Tuesday, the first day of April, A. D. 1788: 1st, voted: Wm. McFarland, Town Clerk. 2d, voted: Edward Paine, Esq., Supervisor. 3d, voted: Ezra Thorp, Constable. 4th, voted: Levi Gaylord, Samuel Wilcox, Gabriel North, Sluman Wattles, and David Parsons, Assessors. 5th, voted: Stephen Judd, Moses Clark, and Simeon Hyde, collectors. 6th, voted: Alexander Harper, Esq. Treasurer. 7th, voted: William Hendry, John Brown, Nathaniel Skinner, Richard Bristol, Ezra Paine, John Gardner, Path Masters; Eli Reynolds, Jr., Gideon Frisbee, Benajah McCall, Samuel Johnson, and Hugh Thompson, Path Masters for P. D. (supposed Painesdale.) 8th, voted: Capt. David Parsons, Benj. Morse, Poor Masters. 9th, voted: Levi Gaylord, Samuel Wilcox, Ezra Paine, Samuel Johnson, Fence Viewers. 10th. voted: Daniel Mack, James Douglass, Francis Clark, Benaj'h McCall, 'Prisers damages.
The second town meeting held April 7th, 1789, at the same place, elected besides persons within the present limits of the town, Moses Clark of Hampden, and Robert Freeman, Walton, Constables; Alex Smith, Johorakim Burgett, and Gabriel North, Assessors, Robert Freeman, Sibbles Bennett, Collectors; Jacob Houghtail, Henry Burgett, Dan'l Parker, Nathaniel Wattles, John Ogden, Witter Johnson, Michael Goodrich, Joshua Pine, David Harrow, Path Masters. May 26th of the same year was the first election of commissioners of highways; previously they had either been appointed by courts of Special Sessions or commissioned by the Governor. Such a commission issued to Hon. Roswell Hotchkiss is still in existence. The commissioners elected were Samuel Wilcox, Jared Goodrich and Nathaniel Wattles. Also at the same time, Abel Kidder of Franklin, Kenoth Chisholm of Painesdale, Andrew Kiff of Goalsborough, and George Wiseamore of Whitesborough, were elected Pathmasters.
The following resolutions would indicate that these town meetings had considerable authority over the other districts, or that they were rather free with criticism: April 6tb, 1790, voted: That the proceedings of Kortright, Hampden, Walton, and Clinton are approved of and ratified by this meeting. April 5th, 1791, voted: That the proceedings of Kortright, Hampden, Walton, Franklin, and Charlotte river, be ratified and approved of by this meeting. April 3d, 1792, voted: That the proceedings of the town of Kortright shall not be ratified by this meeting. April 2, 1793. The proceedings of Kortright, viz: (Approved, of course.) Grover Smith, commissioner of roads; Thomas McClaughry, James Stewart, assessors; Thomas McClaughry, Caleb D. Ferris, overseers poor; Ephraim Barrit, Grover Smith, Warner Lake, David McIlvaine, Daniel Harris, Aaron Stewart, Caleb D. Ferris, Hugh Sloan, John French, James Stewart, Richard McClaughry, Thomas McClaughry, pathmasters.
A later resolution reads: Any hog found on the commons without being well ringed and yoked, shall pay a fine of fifty cents.
Another time it was voted: That hogs on the common shall be wringed in the nose on penalty of twenty-five cents.
The following seems to show, that the town came quite near uniting church and state:
April 26, 1796, Resolved: that all the money that has arose from the excise in this town shall be collected and loaned to the proprietors of the Presbyterian meeting house, at the usual interest on demand, for the purpose of carrying on the building.
April 2, 1799, Resolved: that the excise money now in the hands. of the overseers of the poor, shall be appropriated to the special use of the several religious societies and dissenters, to be for their use forever, within the town of Harpersfield, for the purpose of erecting or repairing houses of public worship or other purposes, and that the assessors of said town for the last year shall be empowered to ascertain what proportion of said money belongs to each religious society and dissenters, in proportion to last year's tax list, each society producing a list of the members of their own society under the hands of their particular members, within six months after this second day of April, 1799, and the moneys to be paid over to the societies or persons entitled thereto, within one year from this date.
March 2, 1802, Resolved: that the money now due the town, in the hands of the Committee of the Presbyterian meeting house shall be laid out towards repairing and finishing the said house for the benefit of said town to hold Public Town Meetings, and when necessary, and when the whole of said sum, which is $162 and cents, with the interest till paid, shall be laid out in manner aforesaid, which shall be done by the first of November next, then the notes given by said Committee of said house shall be given up and discharged. But if not laid out in manner as above, then the privilege hereby meant to be granted by said town to be forfeited.
By resolution passed March 6, 1804, one hundred dollars of excise money was given to the Baptist society to aid in building the church near Stevens', the town to have the use of the church for public meetings if the society do not need it at the same time; but in 1812 when application was made to the town meeting for help to build a school house out of the excise money, it was Resolved, thereon: that the town cannot appropriate any of said money for erecting common school houses.
The following list of officers from the first recorded:
Supervisors: 1788, Edward Paine; 1789-93, William McFarland; 1794, Samuel Wilcox; 1795-97, 1812-13, Roswell Hotchkiss; 1798, Aaron Wheeler; 1799, Salmon W. Beardsley; 1800-04, Levi Gaylord; 1805-06, 1814-16, 1818-20, 1824-25, Cyrenus Gibbs; 1807, Giles Humiston; 1808-10, Elisha Sheldon; 1817, 1821-23, 1826, 1829, James Ells; 1827, Samuel Stevens, Jr.; 1828, 1830, Baruch Taylor; 1831, Frederic A. Fenn; 1832, 1836-37, Stoddard Stevens; 1833-34, Nathan Bristol; 1835, 1843-44, William Buckingham; 1838-40, Lyman Hakes; 1841-42, Phineas L. Bennett; 1845-46, John Harper; 1847, Asahel Cowley; 1848-49, Johnson B. Bragg; 1850-51, Ira S. Birdsall; 1852-53, Elias B. Penfield; 1854, 1860, Michael Dayton; 1855, Jeffrey H. Champlin; 1856, 8heldon A. Givens; 1857, James S. Peters; 1858-59, 1866-69, Norman P. Dayton; 1861-63, Richard E. Davis;. 1864, Henry TenEyek, Jr.; 1865, Truman B. Seley; 1870, John L. Beardsley; 1871-72, 1878-83, Allen S. Gibbs; 1873-75, Richtmyer Hubbell; 1876-77, Hamilton S. Preston; 1884, Calvin Hull; 1885-87, Amos Barnum; 1888-91, Levi B. VanDusen; 1892-95, John J. McArthur; 1896-97, William M. Beckley; 1898, John W. Dayton.
Town Clerks: 1787, Walter Sabin; 1788-89, William McFarland; 1790-94, 1800-01, Roswell Hotchkiss; 1795, Aaron Wheeler; 1796- 99, Levi Gaylord; 1802-03, Salmon W. Beardsley; 1804, Enos Bell; 1805, James Smith, Jr.; 1806, Eliab Wilcox; 1807-10, Peter Penfield, 1811, John Davenport; 1812-14, Joshua H; Brett; 1815, James Ells; 1816-17, Ebenezer Penfield; 1818, Cornell Smith, Jr.; 1819-21, John Lake; 1822-23, Joseph Hotchkiss; 1824, 1826, Aaron Wilcox; 1825, Anson Penfield; 1827-30, Frederick A. Fenn; 1831-32, Nathan Bristol; 1833-34, Joseph W. Babcock; 1835-37, 1843, Johnson B. Bragg; 1838, Smith Penfield; 1839-40, Myron Tremain; 1841-42, James McMin; 1844-45, Henry R. Hamilton; 1846, 1858, Alexander Dales; 1847-48, James France; 1849-50, Horace Lockwood; 1851, 1860-63, Elias B. Penfield; 1852, William C. Lamont; 1853, E. L.. H. Moeller; 1854, Benj. F. Gibbs, Jr.; 1855, Allen S. Gibbs; 1856, Russel D. Baird; 1857, 1859, William Elsbree; 1864, Calvin H. Peters; 1865, Lewis C. Silvernail; 1866, John Bell; 1867- 68, Richtmyer Hubbell; 1869, Seth W. Hubbard; 1870-73, 1887-89, .Samuel D. Hubbard; 1874-75, Peter I. Merriam; 1876, 1879, Charles L. Foote; 1877, Thomas M. Douglass; 1878, Alvin F. Lain; 1880, Samuel H. Van Dusen; 1881-83, Hiram P. Hubbell; 1884, Charles W. Phincle; 1885-86, Jay M. Dyer; 1890, 1893-98, George B. Davenport; 1891, Gideon E. Wickham; 1892, William S. Dart.
Justices of the Peace: 1786, Alexander Harper; 1791, Joshua H. Brett; 1803, Elisha Sheldon, Samuel Wilcox; 1804, Roswell Hotchkiss; 1806, Salmon W. Beardsley; 1809, Cyrenus Gibbs; 1812, Eden Hamilton; 1814, Peter Penfield, Cornell Smith; 1821, Calvin Howard; 1823, Stephen Lockwood, Baruch Taylor, Samuel Stevens, Raymond Starr; 1827, Joseph Copley; 1828, Frederick A. Fenn; 1830, James Spencer (elected); 1831-35, John Wool; 1832-34, James Bristol, 1832, Ira S. Birdsall; 1836, William Buckingham, Nathan Bristol. 1837-40, Alonzo B. Wilcox; 1837,.Michael Dayton; 1841, Joseph Ells; 1841-45, Nelson L. Thorp; 1844-48-51, Levi Seley; 1843-46-50, Benjamin F. Gibbs; 1843, Hiram Graves; 1844-48, James Strain, Jr.; 1844-47, Apollos B. Wilcox; 1849-53, Jeffrey H. Champlin; 1850-52, John Flausburgh; 1854-59, Johnson B. Bragg; 1855-69, Wiley Beard; 1857-60, Ezra J. Nichols; 1858, Almus M. Babcock; 1859, Fredus Baldwin; 1862-66, Allen S. Gibbs; 1862-69-74-77, Michael Odell; 1864-67-71, Thomas H. Smith; 1865, James Loughran; 1867, John S. Baldwin; 1871-74-83-86-90-94-98, Stephen Van Dusen; 1872, Colonel D. Wiltsie; 1875, James D. Seley, Morell Wager; 1876-80-84-88, John J. McArthur; 1878, James Beilby; 1879-83-87-91, Richard Magee; 1881-82, Samuel D. Hubbard; 1885, Cheeney A. Crowell; 1889, Daniel W. Peters; 1889-92-96, Edgar B. Dayton; 1893, Charles A. McMurdy; 1894-97, George O. Gibbs; 1895, Rolla G. Nichols.
The first religious society in Harpersfield was organized June 7, 1787, at a meeting held for that purpose at the house of Col. John Harper, when Col. John Harper, David Hendry, Benjamin Bartholomew, Joseph Hotchkis, and Daniel Mack were chosen trustees, and it was unanimously agreed that the trustees and congregation should be called "Presbyterian Congregation of Harpersfield." The election was held pursuant to an act passed by the Legislature, April 6, 1784; Deacons, Levi Gaylord and William McFarland. The proceedings were certified by John Deniston and Levi Gaylord, the officers of the election; witnessed by Alexander Harper and Roswell Hotchkis, and acknowledged before William Harper, one of the Judges of Montgomery county. Five days after their election the trustees agreed to make proposals to Rev. John Lindsley, which included the offer of 90 pounds as an annual salary and 100 pounds as a settlement. Mr. Lindsley accepted the offer with the understanding that he was to be paid in labor, cattle or notes. He commenced his labors in the fall of 1787, and continued them till 1791. He is also supposed to have taught the first school in town. Between 1791 and 1793 Rev. David Huntington and Rev. William Stone preached for the society occasionally.
In 1793, Rev. Stephen Fenn became the minister, and was to receive seventy acres from Lot No. 108, the whole of Lot No. 65, (one hundred acres,) and 10 pounds in building material; the whole valued at 200 pounds, to be considered as his settlement. He was also to receive 70 pounds annually for four years, after which his salary was to be increased 5.15 pounds per year till it amounted to 93 pounds, which was to be the annual salary thereafter, but if he left before the end of twenty years he was to forfeit 10 pounds per year for each year he fell short of twenty, unless he left through the fault of the society. Mr. Fenn reorganized the society in 1798, and Caleb Gibbs and Joshua H. Brett were elected Deacons. Mr. Fenn continued his labors with the church over thirty-five years, and was finally dismissed in consequence of the anti-Masonic excitement caused by the abduction of Morgan, he being a Mason and refusing to sever his connection with that order. (Rev. H. Boies hist.) It is believed that a church was built probably of logs soon after the formation of the society. It is first referred to in the records Nov. 3, 1789, as follows: "Resolved, that it shall be the duty of the Clerk for the time being to notify each annual meeting, sixteen days previous to the first Tuesday of November annually, at the place of public worship and likewise at Col. Harper's grist mill." Also Nov.15, 1791, a resolution specifying the circumstances under which the Trustees shall open the church. The first church, however, of which anything is otherwise known was erected about 1794, and was erected by subscriptions payable in labor, material, etc. This church was used till 1837, when a new one was built under contract for $2,525 and the old meeting house. At one time the society numbered over two hundred members; but the establishments of other churches and internal dissentions have reduced it to a very small membership.
The following shows the methods of the society one hundred and six years ago:
At a meeting of the session of the Presbyterian church in Harpersfield, regularly warned and held at the house of Mr. Stephen Judd, on Thursday, July the 19th, Ann. Dom. 1792.
Present, Rev'd William Stone, M. A., New Paltz, Mod. pro tem. Messrs. CALEB GIBBS, Elders of LEVI GAYLORD said church
The following persons presented themselves to take the Covenant of God upon themselves and to be admitted to solemn ordinance of baptism, viz: Messrs. Joseph Harper, David Hendry, William Hendry, Thomas Montgomery, Nathaniel Skinner, Robert Montgomery, Joel Gaylord (by application of his wife, he being absent), Mrs. Mercy Gaylord, wife Mr. Jedediah Gaylord.
All these were examined and approved and recommended by the Elders (excepting Mr. Joel Gaylord, who being in family connection with the Elders, son of one and son-in-law of the other) was recommended by Messrs. Joseph Hotchkiss and Nathaniel Bristol. And likewise Messrs. James Cooley and Jacob Brightman presented themselves to receive the ordinance of baptism for their children, and after a full and candid examination were approved and recommended, provided that Mr. Cooley shall, previous to his taking the Covenant the next Lords day, subscribe to, and publicly acknowledge a written confession of the ruinous sin of drunkenness; and Mr. Brightman subscribe to, and make a public confession of the detestable sin of fornication at the same time and place. * * * * * * * * True copy of record. Attest WM. STONE, Mod. P. T.
It is said that a "bee" was made to get out timber for the old church, and Elder Warner Lake, a Baptist preacher, was presents to help, and it was suggested that he be asked to pray; Deacon McFarland was also present, and said this was a "Presbyterian bee," and he made the prayer himself. Another time he rather discouraged the choir leader, who started to use a pipe to pitch his tunes, by commanding him to "Git oot o' the hoose i' the Laird wi' that whussle."
The second religious society in Harpersfield was Baptist, and organized about 1792. They held meetings for some time in a building near the present school house in district number three. Elder Lake, before mentioned, who lived in Kortright on what is still known as Lake hill, where John Porter now resides, was the first and for many years the minister. Elder Mack was the second, and was succeeded by Dingee Adams, who served as pastor many years till very serious charges against him divided and greatly weakened the society. They built a church in 1805 about halfway between the Centre and Stamford, aided by the town with a site and one hundred dollars. This was removed and rebuilt at Stamford in 1865.
The Quaker society was formed about 1810, and for some time meetings were held at the house of John Wickham, an early settler, who was the first and only preacher. This society is extinct.
A Methodist class was formed in the north part of the town with Silas Washburn as leader and about thirty members, among whom were the Seleys, Darts, Butts and others.
As related by a neighbor who was with him, Washburn once proved himself quite an evangelist. As was customary with farmers of that time they went to New York with their butter in the, fall, and as they were going off the boat the horse of a carman backed off the dock and was drowned. The carman was greatly distressed at losing the only means of support for himself and family and the people present, though very sorry for him, began to separate. Uncle Sile, as he was called, got upon a box and began to shout and a crowd gathered again. "You all say you are sorry for this man," said Washburn; "now how much are you sorry? I am sorry five dollars," and placing a bill in his hat passed it around and soon secured money enough to buy the poor fellow a good horse, for which of course he was very thankful. The next year as, Washburn was leaving the boat a man accosted him with, "Ain't you the man that was so G- - d - - sorry for me last year when my horse was drowned?" Uncle Sile knew him at once, and replied: "Yes, I was sorry for you; but I'm a great deal sorrier now!" "Why?" asked the carman. "Because," said Uncle Silo, "if you don't stop swearing and be a better man you'll go straight to hell!" He soon had the man crying, made him kneel down, and prayed with him', and made him promise to stop swearing and lead a better life.
The Methodists organized a society Jan., 2, 1823, to be known as the Methodist Union Society of the town of Harpersfield. They soon after purchased an old store which they changed into a church and used till about 1850, when it was abandoned, and it was used as part of a dwelling, and is still so used. This church stood near Rural cemetery, where the wagon house of Lewis Hager now stands. For the next eight years meetings were held at the houses of members and in school houses, till in 1858 the society purchased a building at the Centre, formerly an academy, using it as a church till 1871 when a new church was built at a cost of $3,500. This has been recently repaired and improved into quite a fine church. The society is now in a flourishing condition.
1857 a Methodist church was built at North Harpersfield by the successors of the Class before named, and services are well attended.
In the same year what was called a "Free Church" was built near the last named Methodist church, but has not been well kept up.
Some years ago the Catholics built a fine church in. the Stamford end of the town which is said to be well attended.
The first burying ground in Harpersfield was located on the west end of the church lot (81) given by Col. Harper to the Presbyterian church, and most of the first burials were made there.
Colonel Harper died Nov. 20, 1811, and was buried there, and also his second wife, but about 1853 his descendants removed the remains of both to the cemetery below the Centre, where a monument was placed over them. The latter cemetery was opened about 1812, on account of the old ground being wet and unsuitable. The ground below the Centre is quite well kept and has some good monuments.
Harpersfield Rural cemetery, on the east side of Lot No. 63, is really the best round in town for the purpose, and was opened previous to 1795. The burial in this ground of the murdered and captured sugar makers and other Revolutionary heroes, of Hon. Joshua H. Brett, and other notable men of the early times, renders it quite worthy of notice in this history.
Five other grounds have been used in town, three in the north and two in the south part, of which the one on the Middlebrook is the best kept. A stone set to the grave of a child of Eden Hamilton, buried in 1795, mentions that as the first burial in that ground.
A lodge of Masons, known as Charity Lodge No. 224, F. & A. M., was organized Sept. 27th, 1813, but there seems to be no list of members. A certificate of membership issued to Michael Dayton in 1815 shows the following officers: Elijah Andrews, W. M.; Thomas Maxon, S. W.; Thomas Hendry, J. W.; and Samuel Stevens, Sec'y. The lodge continued its communications until the Morgan excitement was at its height when the members met in an upper room in the house of David S. Patchin and formally surrendered their charter to the Grand Lodge of the State of New York. Such property as belonged to the lodge was divided among the members. Michael Dayton was the last Master.
The grist and saw mills of Col. Harper and. St. Leger Cowley have been mentioned; but as stated by his daughter, Mrs. Betsey Hamilton, now 95 years old, Mr. Campbell built a grist mill in 1818 in the lower part of Middlebrook, and two years later he built a saw mill nearer his residence. These were to replace mills built by him on the united Harpersfield and Middlebrook streams, built about 1792 below North Kortright, and which had been carried away by a heavy flood. Mr. Campbell fearing the mill would go went in on Sunday and removed the grain belonging to his customers, but would not break the Sabbath enough to save his own of which he had a large quantity.
About 1820 or 1825 Abijah Baird and his son William built grist and saw mills at No. Harpersfield; which were run till about 1849, when they were burned by an incendiary;but were soon rebuilt and are still running.
In 1804 Judge Hotchkiss built a grist mill and a mill for making linseed oil. Both are now out of use. There are now six grist mills and four saw mills running in town.
There was formerly four clothieries in Harpersfield, all doing a good business; but the spinning jenny and the power loom have driven them out of business, and they have been torn down or adapted to other uses, notable among the latter being the works of Newell & Co., which are now run by W. A. Cowley & Son as a machine shop and grist mill, a foundry being used in connection. In place of another cloth works a foundry was started at North Harpersfield, which has always done a good business.
Of blacksmiths, Peter Penfield is said to have been the first to do job work, Mr. Baird keeping shop more for his own use.
Eben Dodge worked on the old road in the west end of the town near the present residence of W. G. Henderson, and Thos. Maxon worked near L. C. Grant's.
About 1800 Ebenezer and David Penfield were running a scythe and axe factory near the Centre, using a trip-hammer to assist in forging. They finally dropped the scythe business, dissolved partnership, and started separate shops under the titles of E. Penfield & Son, and D. Penfield & Son; both firms doing a jobbing business, and making axes and edged tools, the sons succeeding. The reputation of the Penfield axes extended over Delaware and the adjoining counties. At their first location they were succeeded by Beardsley Sanford, a celebrated manufacturer of spinning wheels and reels; and in those days no young wife's outfit was complete without a set of Sandford's wheels and reel; but the business died out from the same cause as the cloth works.
The first store, so far as known, was kept by John Montgomery in a house afterward occupied by Ebenezer Penfield, which stood across the turnpike from the present residence of H. Ralph Dart. About 1796, Giles Humiston was keeping a store near the residence of Geo. C. Gibbs in the Stamford end of the town; and later Noah and John Davenport had one at the Centre, and Raymond Starr at North Harpersfield.
The first distillery was run by a man named Chapman, who also had a small store near Col. Harper's grist mill. Judge Hotchkiss was running one about 1800, as was also the Davenports and Starr, making four distilleries in Harpersfield all running at the same time. No wonder the town was thriving, and had money to give out of the excise fund, for building churches! But everybody drank; the preacher and his flock, and the doctor and his patients, and the man was inhospitable who did not offer it to his guests.
Within the memory of the writer, there was almost a riot at a barn raising because the helpers were served with food instead of whiskey.
Many different houses have been used as taverns in Harpersfield. Alexander Harper is believed to have kept the first, as early as 1786 or 1787, at the Centre. After his removal to Ohio, a tavern was kept some years by Nathaniel Skinner, then by John Bristol, then by Asahel Merriam, who kept it as early as 1808, and till about 1820. The house had a reputation extending into the far west, under the management of Johnson B. Bragg, up to 1847, when Mr. Bragg sold it. From that time, as railroads were built, and under bad management, the custom decreased till it was closed.
Prior to 1796 Stephen Judd kept a tavern on the northwest, corner of Lot No. 35, which was torn down in 1835. About 1800, and till 1840, Major Isaac Pierce kept a tavern in the north part of the town; and about the same time Samuel Stevens opened a tavern about half way between the Centre and Stamford. A house was nearly completed, and while the workmen were at dinner one day the building took fire and burned down. Another was immediately begun and when finished was used as a tavern for some years. But it was during the ownership of his son, Stoddard, that the Stevens, tavern became almost as Lowell known as Bragg's.
Several other houses were kept as taverns, viz: On Lot 9, H. W. Hamilton; Lot 30, Bradt's Patent, Samuel Wilcox; Lot 41, Harper's Patent, W. P. Pudney; Lot 61, Joseph Hotchkis; Lots 132, 133, Ransom Packard; Lot 15,6, Samuel Lloyd, James Ells; Lot 181, Joel Mack.
Maj. Isaac Pierce, John Bristol, and James Cooley were early carpenters.
With the building of the Susquehanna turnpike Harpersfield became a very active business place; probably doing more than any other place within many miles. It had three stores, two harness shops, two cabinet shops, two shoe shops, two tailor shops, a hat factory, three blacksmith shops, and a wheelwright, and all busy, which looked quite lively for a place of only twenty-four houses. Coaches ran tri-weekly, usually with an extra or more, and the writer has seen eight four-horse coaches, besides the family coach of the proprietors, stop at Bragg's for breakfast. Spring and fall the road was fairly lined with teams drawing produce east or goods west. During the summer and early fall immense droves of cattle were continually passing through from the western states.
The Delaware turnpike, nine miles long, built in 1843 or 1844, paid for itself in four years. The advent of the Erie Railroad checked those little profits, and the Albany and Susquehanna cut them fine. The Ulster & Delaware helped it somewhat, and it is now a little more than paying its way.
>From 1800 to 1812 the history of the town is uneventful. The town furnished its quota by draft and enlistment, but most of the soldiers had an easy time, hardly any of them being in battle. A notable exception was General John Ellis Wool, who gained undying laurels in that and the Mexican war. A. private from Harpersfield named Zenas Berse was so perfectly fearless that the General said if he had a thousand men like Zene he would drive all the British off the continent.
It is unfortunate that no record can now be found to show the names of enlisted men during the war of the Rebellion, nor the amount paid for bounties.
The town was injured much more by the booming of values, leading to extravagance in many ways, than by the taxes for bounties, though they were very large.
Before the boom had subsided, the railroad fever struck us, and the town was bonded, for $100,000; and after twenty-four years of paying principal and interest we were out over $206,000 for a railroad we didn't get.
During that time there was occasionally more excitement than during the war. Candidates for town and county offices were elected or defeated according to the ingenuity of the stories for or against them about the railroad. Complaints before the railroad commissioners were prosecuted, and actions were carried to the court of appeals, only to be defeated, and fill the pockets of the lawyers. Litigation must have cost the town twelve or fifteen thousand dollars. Since this great debt has been paid taxes have been lower, and the town is slowly recovering from its depression and if no further tariff agitation arises, we shall again feel as though Harpersfield was a good town to live in.
Harpersfield state tax for 1788, 19 pounds, or about $30. Harpersfield State tax for 1888, $760.80, with less than one-twentieth the territory.
The price of out nails in 1797, as appraised in the St. Leger Cowley inventory were as follows: Ten pounds 4d cut nails, $1.44; thirty-five pounds 8d and 20d, $6.37. In 1897 the writer bought fifty pounds 4d for $1.25.
HON. ROSWELL HOTCHKIS
was born in Cheshire, Conn., July 24, 1762, and came to Harpersfield with his father, Joseph, and his brothers, Thelus and Joseph, in 1784. In 1785 he married Margaret, eldest daughter of Colonel John Harper, and settled on Lot No. 132, now owned .by Stephen Van Dusen, but afterward removed to Lot No. 181, where he continued to reside during the remainder of his life. During the war he served in the army, part of the time acting as orderly for one of the officers. Being a bright, active young man he became secretary, thus acquiring the plain, peculiar hand which makes his writing admired wherever seen. At one time, while serving as one of the outpost guards to one of the forts on the Hudson, they were raided in the night by a troop of British and nearly the whole guard slain. Hotchkis had stooped to tie his shoe, but seeing the trooper close upon him he dove into a clump of bushes close by and escaped.
In civil life Judge Hotchkis served as Supervisor, Town Clerk, Justice of the Peace, and various minor offices, being supervisor when the county was formed. In the county he was Judge of the Common Pleas, Sheriff, 1805-09, and member of the Constitutional convention in 1801. Soon after the Federal Government was formed a post office was established at West Harpersfield, of which he was postmaster till his death, when the office was discontinued Judge Hotchkis and his wife united with the Presbyterian church in 1792, and at his death, December 28, 1843, he was the oldest member. His wife died in the spring, of the same year. His only descendants now living in town are Daniel N. Gaylord, and his sons, Harper and Edward. The most of this sketch and the Harper family history was obtained from Mr. Gaylord.
REV. HARPER BOIES
was born in Massachusetts in 1797. He came to Harpersfield in 1830, and became the successor of Mr. Fenn, in July of that year, which position he held for five years, when he returned to Massachusetts. During the first year of his ministry in Harpersfield an extraordinary revival took place, and more than one hundred members were added to the church. In 1850 he returned by invitation of the church and supplied them for the succeeding five years; during which time he being a widower, he married Margaret, youngest daughter of Judge Hotchkiss. After 1855 he continued to reside in Harpersfield, preaching for that and the neighboring congregations, as his failing health permitted.
Of a very loving disposition, the mild deportment and affable manners which characterized Mr. Fenn, belonged equally to him. His death which took place March 7th, 1867, the writer felt as a personal loss. Mr. Boies took great interest in the early history of the town and church, giving material aid to Jay Gould for his .history, and the memoranda left by him have materially assisted the writer.
REV. STEPHEN FENN.
The materials for this sketch were derived from Mr. E. A. Dayton, an aged neighbor who knew and remembers Mr. Fenn, from notes by Rev. Harper Boies his successor, and from his farewell sermon.
Mr. Fenn was born at Watertown, Connecticut, in 1769, and graduated from Yale College in 1792. He was of medium height, thick set, with rather sandy hair and florid complexion; and is described as being "mild in his deportment, affable in his manners, witty, as well as grave in his conversation, with a mind stored with a fund of amusing anecdotes connected with the experiences of himself and others." He came to Harpersfield in 1793, where he officiated as pastor of the Presbyterian church for more than thirty-five years, and is said to have been the first college graduate who ever preached in the county.
During that time he performed seven hundred and thirteen baptisms in that and in societies around, and he also performed .three hundred and sixty-seven marriages. He was a universal favorite with old and young, being always sympathetic, whether the occasion was a wedding or a funeral. Probably no man during this time had a greater influence for good over the moral and social development of the town than Mr. Fenn.
He might probably have spent his life in this, pastorate, but for the abduction of William Morgan in 1828, as supposed, by Masons which rendered the order especially obnoxious in Harpersfield. Mr. Fenn belonged to the order and refusing to withdraw the occasion was used (by some in abhorrence to the Masons, and by others who thought their pastor instead of being cheerful like Mr. Fenn, ought always to be singing "Hark from the Tombs,")to procure his dismissal. About four years after leaving the pulpit in Harpersfield he was seized with a fit of apoplexy while in his wagon, on his way to fill an appointment, and lived but about thirty minutes after the attack. He died September 26, 1833, and his funeral was attended in the church where he had so long proclaimed the gospel.
One of Mr. Fenn's anecdotes shows him as a boy. His family lived near the church and an old lady used to come to their house every Sunday between sermons, when Stephen was called upon to fill and light her pipe, which was a large one, from the family crib; and after smoking awhile she would stick the pipe in her garter and return to church. Stephen got tired and one day loaded the pipe as full as he dared with powder, and not have it go off in the house. The old lady had her smoke, put her pipe in the usual place and started for church, but before she got there an explosion took place which raised her about a foot from the ground, and Stephen was freed from his servitude.
This one was rather at his expense in two ways: A colored couple came to the tavern one night and sent word up the hill to Mr. Fenn that they wished him to marry them. Mr. Fenn went of course found a crowd there and the party had lots of fun. After awhile Mr. Fenn began to dun the groom for his fee. "No," said the groom, "You've only half married us." "Yes, I have," said Mr. Fenn, "I've married you just as usual." "No," said the darkey, "You haint kissed the bride yet, and I won't pay till you do." Mr. Fenn went without the fee and called on the flip.
HON. J0SHUA H. BRETT,
the first practicing physician in Harpersfield, was born about 1750, and came to Harpersfield about 1788. The record shows that he was elected assessor in 1789, '90, and '91; and in 1791 he is first noticed as one of the justices of the peace. In 1795 he first pre- sided at the annual town meeting, previous to which a moderator had always been chosen. In 1796-7 he was Member of Assembly for Otsego county, and it was largely owing to his exertions that the county of Delaware was formed at that time, against a strong opposition. In 1797 he was appointed first Judge of Delaware county, which office he held till 1810, when being sixty years of age he was disqualified by the constitution from holding it longer. He was State Senator eight years, 1804-11, member of the Council of Appointment in 1805, and continued to hold office of some kind nearly to the time of his death, which took place December 24, 1822. None of his descendants reside in town.
Members of Assembly from Harpersfield: William Harper four years, Joshua H. Brett, James Ells twice, Stoddard Stevens, Nathan Bristol, George C. Gibbs.
Judge: Joshua H. Brett. Sheriffs: Roswell Hotchkis, John J. McArthur. District Attorney: John P. Grant.
HON. CYRENUS GIBBS
was born in Litchfield, Conn., April 17, 1768, being nineteen years old when he removed to Harpersfield with his father, Deacon Caleb Gibbs, in 1787, and settled upon Lots No. 33 and 34.
During the Revolution the Deacon was a member of the Committee of Safety of Litchfield, and at a special town meeting hold Oct. 7, 1777, it was voted: "That Messrs. Caleb Gibbs and others be a committee to purchase and provide shirts, frocks, overalls, stockings, and shoes, for the noncommissioned officers and privates in the Continental army belonging to this town." Several of his daughters had previously moved to Harpersfield, which is supposed to have been his reason for moving, as he was nearly sixty years old. The Deacon and his son cleared and improved their land, and upon the death of the former in 1801, the farm came into the possession of the son, and continued to be his through life.
Judge Gibbs was well educated for those times, an excellent business man, and he became one of the leading men in town. In the county he held the office of Justice of the Peace, Clerk of the Board of Supervisors 1809-12, and Judge of the Common Pleas. Between 1805 and 1825 he held the office of Supervisor ten years, and at different times he was elected to nearly every office in town. He became a member of the Methodist church early in life, and aided in forming the first Methodist society in Harpersfield, serving as one of the officers and first class leader. He died August 10, 1845.
The name is represented in town by Major George C. Gibbs and son Ransom, Howard a nephew of the Major, and the writer and his son Francis, who occupy the old homestead.
By W. B. Peters.
CONFESS that I feel somewhat proud today to represent and to be represented with the good people of old Kortright.
Albany and Ulster counties are a hundred and fourteen years older than Delaware, having been formed in 1683 with the Delaware river for their boundary, and the territory now known as Kortright was situated in turn in the counties of Albany and Tryon, in the Province of New York, and the counties of Montgomery, Otsego and Delaware in the State of New York. A very old map in my possession christens us "The Manor of Courtwright, lying in the county of Albany and the province New York."
Kortright was born of Harpersfield and although not as large as in her childhood, she is still larger than her mother and quite as good looking. Originally she occupied all the land of the Kortright, Goldsborough, Bradish and Meredith Patents; having the Delaware river for her southern boundary and extending in a westerly direction to a point situated within the corporation limits of the present village of Delhi and within the flight of an arrow from where we are at this moment standing, the line crossing Main street in a northerly direction between Meredith and Orchard streets. Kortright is four years older than our county, having been formed in 1793.
The act of 1797 which formed our county directed that the county business be transacted at the house of Gideon Frisbee in the town of Kortright until further legislative action. This house, as many of you are doubtless aware, is still standing at the mouth of Elk Creek and is occupied by Mr. James Frisbee.
When Delhi was born in 1798 we rather liked the kid and gave it 15,000 acres as a birthday present. We gave Meredith 15,000 at its birth in 1800. Davenport as much in 1817, and when good old Stamford claimed she was cramped in 1831 we turned in with Harpersfield and gave her enough room to make her comfortable. That our locality was a favorite hunting and camping ground with the aborigines is not only attested by the records of our historians but also by the great number of Indian relics in the shape of flint arrow heads, bits of pottery, tools, such as knives, scrapers, files, spear heads, etc., a fine collection of which may be seen among the towns' exhibits here today. It is not within our province if we had the time to go into details of the early experiences of settlers with these somewhat trouble some neighbors, they having long before the formation of the town passed out from among us and on to the happy hunting ground which their wild fancy had so often pictured them.
About the year 1844 having been long out of the original article, with some of our neighbors we conceived the idea of stocking up anew with a homemade variety, of a possibly less dangerous if not less useful sort, the outcome of which was the anti-rent movement of that year. Delhi, as I remember, having none of her own, swooped down on us one day and gobbled up several of our choicest specimens and we were mad about it, and didn't like Delhi just a little bit, and in fact didn't play in her yard much for the next ten years. On July 4th, 1845, we had a celebration at Bloomville. Hon. Ira Harris, then an aspirant for Governor, and later Supreme Court Judge and United States Senator, with others, addressed the people in what is now known as Peters' Grove. Such a multitude as gathered in that little village on that day was never there before or since; beside the civic throng, Indians in most fantastic dress and form and feature poured in from every hilltop. They quietly hung around and listened to the addresses, immediately after which, collecting in the meadows below, they entertained the crowd for an hour with what was designated an Indian training, and which consisted of a very well executed drill of semi-military tactics and evolutions, which in its weird entirety created, I dare say, on the average beholder an impression and a picture which time would not be likely to obliterate. A lad then of eight years, I observed a respectful distance and at the close reached the village just a little ahead of those fellows, where in my excitement I was immediately knocked down and run over by a four horse team, and carried home, what there was left of me, to my Ma on a pillow. The history of the sudden and somewhat tragic end of this shall I say nonsense? -is too familiar to most of you to need mention.
The first birth in our town, we are told, was that of Daniel McGillivrae, the first school was taught by Jane Blakely, the first mill was built at Bloomville by Jacob Every. The first church that on the hill at Kortright Centre, the Presbyterian, the first pastor, William McAuley, who was installed in the year 1794 and who continued in that position until his death in 1851. The membership of this church at times reached 500 and the weekly attendance was much more. A rather witty friend once told me in describing his early recollections of attendance at this church, that with the rest of the small boys he was each Sabbath hung up on a narrow seat or shelf at the back of the gallery, where a man by the name of Leal was delegated to pick them up and replace them as one after the other tumbled off on account of sleep or exhaustion. The service commenced at 9:30 in the morning and continued with an hour's intermission until three in the afternoon. He assured me it was a happy event each Lord's Day when the preacher reached that part of his closing prayer where he pleaded for a safe return to their several places of abode. It was then hurrah boys! we'll be out of this now in just three-quarters of an hour. Mr. McAuley was a man of the people and yet his reign of over half a century was well nigh regal. One only of his large family survives, Mrs. James G. Blakely, who at the age of eighty-three years is as bright and witty as at forty. During a recent visit to her pleasant home in Kortright she related to me this anecdote: Being called upon at one time to marry a rather cranky parishioner, her father made the ceremony unusually short, hoping thereby to win his approval. The experiment was a failure, however, and the worthy minister was seriously reproached for his shortcomings by the injured benedict. A few years later, wife No. 1 having died, he invited the pastor the second time to officiate in the same capacity; the good work was begun and the parties pledged in the usual manner, then came a prayer of regulation length, then a somewhat extended address to the bride at the end of which she was told to be seated, and the exhortation to the bridegroom, who remained standing, commenced and continued for something like an hour, completing at length a ceremony which the much married man was never known to criticize on account of brevity. The first Methodist church is believed to have been the one at Bloomville, although the one built on Betta's brook dated back to near the first of the century. John Bangs, one of the pioneers of Methodism, was an early resident of the town and among the first as he was one of the most eminent of the many preachers who have represented that body. Many anecdotes both humorous and pathetic might be told of these faithful and devoted men which are worthy of record if time would admit. In the year 1837 Bloomville circuit paid its preacher $137 in cash and $70 in provisions, and his preaching places were limited to Bloomville, West Kortright, Elk Creek, Meredith Pond, Federal Hill, Delhi, Peake's Brook, Hamden, Hamden Hill, New Road, Walton, Walton Mountain and the Griswold school house. Another of the early churches of the town was that of the Reformed Presbyterian, organized in 1814, with a church ear the residence of Mr. Harvey Bolles at Kortright Centre, at which time a man by the name of Williams became pastor and remained ten years, when Rev. Samuel M. Wilson became pastor and remained incumbent until his death in 1864. A new church was built near the white house a mile west in 1851. Mr. Wilson was a faithful pastor and the father of a wide awake family, as I remember of two daughters and as many sons; the latter were full of mischief and their pranks were the bane of the life of at least one of the neighbors, an old lady, who had appealed to the fond father in vain for his friendly interference, and who on one occasion, hearing that the old gentleman was dangerously ill, was provoked to say that "preacher or no preacher, if the father of those boys dies and gets to heaven, he will make a good summer's work of it."
Rev. J.O. Bayles succeeded to the pastorate of this church in the year 1866, and for about thirty years was a faithful and capable minister of the Word.
The original survey of the Kortright and Goldsborough Tracts were made by William Cockburn about the year 1770, and Alexander Mills, a pioneer resident, was made agent for the proprietors.
Alexander Leal, John McKenzie, and Daniel McGillivrae, who with their families came from Scotland to New York in 1773, left their families in that city early in the following spring and in their search for a future home pressed their way through forest and stream and over mountain until they reached the wooded hills near where the village of Kortright Centre now stands. There these sturdy Scots found already gathered together in different localities within the present town limits a few and were soon followed by others as sturdy and determined spirits as themselves, and having each selected one or more of the recently surveyed farms or lots at once began the work of clearing the timber and fitting up as best they could homes for their absent ones who were anxiously awaiting their return.
These pioneers were nearly all Scotch and Irish Protestants, and as no land was a home in its true sense to them without a place of worship, they soon organized themselves into a religious society, and as early as the following year petitioned the Associate Reformed Church of New York and Pennsylvania for a preacher. This request was shortly after granted by the Presbytery, and as one of its "vacancies" was supplied and cared for until the settlers were driven out and scattered by the storm of the Revolutionary war. Many, and indeed most of these settlers never returned. Among the few, however, were the families of Mills, Leal and McGillivrae, and with them and following soon after came the names of Harper, Riggs, McClaughry, Sloan, Stewart, Goodrich, McKenzie and others, all staunch Presbyters, who soon succeeded in reorganizing their society. A preaching place was provided and after a season of supplies, with Rev. William McAuley as their pastor became the Associate Reformed Church of Kortright, for years one of the largest and most prosperous in the Synod of New York, and of which I have before made mention. After half a century of active work the venerable McAuley, having entirely lost his sight, laid aside his life work and Rev. Clark Irving was installed as junior or "collegiate" pastor, Mr. McAuley remaining as senior until his death in 1851. Rev. Irving was of superior scholarship and an able and successful preacher. In the year 1849 the church edifice was burned and out of its ashes grew three churches, one at North Kortright, one at West Kortright, and one on the old site at Kortright Centre. These churches have since for forty-five years each been doing earnest and successful work, the parent organization under the pastorate of Rev. Irving for twenty years, Rev. A. M. Smeallie for seventeen years, and Rev. N. E. Wade the present incumbent, for eight years; all men of ripe attainments and earnest purpose.
The one at West Kortright under Rev. J. B. McNulty, Rev. John Rippey, and last though not least, Rev. R. T. Doig, has also been highly favored on account of the high rank of the men who have been called to minister to them in sacred things. And the one at North Kortright under that of Revs. John Erskine, James Smealie, E. B. Taggart, R. C. Monteith and A. M. Smealie, all men eminently fitted to fill the high once to which they were chosen.
The present church edifice at Bloomville was begun and enclosed in the year 1800. A man by the name of Every fell from the highest peak to the ground on the day of its raising without sustaining further permanent injury than the entire loss of one of his senses, that of smelling. For nearly thirty years it remained unfinished, the seats being composed of boards supported by logs or timbers. It was completed about the year 1830, was rebuilt in 1857, and again rebuilt and modernized in the year 1889. Among those who have done most active work as preachers may be mentioned J. B. Wakely, Ira Ferris, A. C. Morehouse, Chas. Palmer, Geo. W. Martin, E. White, O. P. Dales, S. J. McCutcheon and J. P. Race. Among these the pastorate of Rev. A. O. Morehouse stands perhaps most prominent in the recollection of the older citizens. His labors began in the spring of the year 1856; he was at the time a comparatively young man, possessed of a reasonably sound head and an agreeable presence; he was an acceptable preacher and was particularly well adapted to pastoral work. During his three years stay at Bloomville and Rose's Brook he conducted successful revival meetings and built or rebuilt fine churches at both stations. There were at Bloomville about 100 accessions to the membership as the result of his first effort, among these were many of the first and most influential citizens of the town village. On one occasion soon after his first arrival at Bloomville he set out on a day to make pastoral calls in the village; his attention had been called to the fact that one family, consisting of some four or five members, were all communicants of the church except the man of the house, who was somewhat skeptical and sometimes was disposed to resent any allusion made to him by the minister about his future. The new minister determined to make this one of his first visiting places, which he accordingly did, selecting an hour when the head of the house would be likely to be present. He failed to find him in and after a brief call proposed a season of prayer. He had only knelt with the family and begun his petition when he was accosted in a deep bass voice with the command, "Here, d--n you, quit that! Quit that!! Get out! Get out!!" whereupon he hastily arose to his feet, and in a half dazed condition undertook to offer a protest or an apology. In his confusion it was some minutes before the good woman of the house could sufficiently compose the young minister to get him to understand that his traducer was no other than an erring pet parrot which had been a favorite in the family and neighborhood for years.
A prominent figure in Bloomville sixty years ago was that of Asher Merwin father-in-law of Judge William Murray of Delhi and a Hon. Stephen H. Keeler of Bloomville. In company with Silas Knapp, he built the old hotel in Bloomville about the year 1800. One end of the same was used by him as a store, and the rest by Knapp as a hotel. Colonel Merwin was a genial old gentleman and a pleasant companion of old or young. In his younger manhood he served for a time as clerk in the Bloomville hotel, kept at that time by Silas Knapp, who later became his father-in-law. One evening while a young friend who had rode in on horseback from a neighboring town was calling on one of the young ladies of the house his visit, which had been somewhat prolonged, was rather rudely interrupted by young Merwin who informed him that his horse had got loose and had started for home, at the same time giving his friend the grateful intelligence that he had caused the boys to bring a horse with which he could readily overtake his own if he made good use of whip and spur. The visitor mounted with a bound and was soon out of sight, but soon returned, saying: "Boys I have a business with you in doors; I thought before I reached the bridge that this horse rode strangely like my own."
Other early prominent citizens of Bloomville and its vicinity were Jacob Every, who at different periods built two grist mills; Silas Knapp, Thomas Fitch and Rufus Bunnell, who under the firm name of Fitch & Bunnell conducted a mercantile business and erected several important buildings, among which were the large house now owned by Mr. J. A. Hill, long known as the Bathrick house, the red store on the opposite side of the street recently removed from the corner of the S. Forman lot, and the Dr. Forman house now standing; Jehiel Gregory, father of Horace Gregory, who was a lifelong resident, a merchant, cattle dealer and an active business man; Aaron, John and William Gregory, Moses Lyon, Sr., John Bathrick and his two sons, Daniel and Noah, Hiram Every, as merchant and farmer; Colonel Adam Jaques, as hotel keeper, merchant and farmer; John Peters, who as farmer and dealer in general merchandise, wool, butter, hops, cattle and real estate spent fifty years of a busy life in the village and upward of ninety within the present post-office limits; Virgil Bunnell and son, George, the latter being a man of particularly fine presence and a. successful merchant, doing business in the store now occupied by M. F. Allison; Henry and Isaac Drake, furniture dealers; James R. White and Andrew More, merchants; Samuel Barlow, also a merchant, the last three being in their day not only wide-awake business men but each possessed of a love of innocent fun which kept a whole village from a condition of ennui; George Dales, hotel keeper, justice of the peace and manufacturer of proprietary medicines; Charles W. Duren, furniture dealer; Harvey Davis, merchant, farmer and liveryman, was for many years supervisor of the town; Joseph W. Brownell, cooper, justice of the peace and merchant; Abijah Fields Cooper and Aaron Champion Miller, were among our most exemplary citizens. Doctors Wadby, H. K. Willard, Stephen Forman, O. L. Butts, and J. R. Mathews each in their turn served their day in ministering to the sick and suffering and are remembered by many for their kindly offices.
These represent a portion of the business men of Bloomville village and only such as have passed into history. Many more who are still among the living, and whose life work seems not yet to have been completed, have done and are doing much among us, but, their names can hardly be mentioned within the space of this article.
A somewhat noted character who lived in another town across the Delaware, but who was almost a daily visitor and was counted one of our citizens, was William Youmans, or "Uncle Bill," as he was familiarly called. A chief peculiarity about the man, and one that attracted people for miles to see him was a most unnatural condition of his features, known as a liver face. It consisted of an almost blood red growth extending down from the chin the length of a medium sized potato, and which also hung pendant from each ear and a corresponding discoloring and slight growth of the same fiery red color that covered the entire lower part of the face. With this peculiarity of feature he was also the victim of a shaking palsy, which kept these elongations in a constant tremor as though they had been formed of a jelly. His speech was also affected and he talked in a kind of jerky manner that made him altogether a most remarkable personage. He was a man of much more than ordinary wit and intelligence, and very few met him if but for a few moments without going away with some sally of wit which would be as indelible as the sight of his features. On one occasion after having an animated scriptural discussion with the minister on the story of the creation, on starting for home with a new pair of boots on his arm he was met by the good man who asked him where he got his boots: "I created them." "What do you mean by that?" "Why, I said let them be made, and they were made!"
Prominent among the older residents of the town was the name of Alexander Leal, the father of Alexander Leal who now lives east of Kortright Centre. Mr. Leal was at one time the most extensive dealer in butter in the state, and as incredulous as it may seem, is said to have practically controlled or "cornered" the entire butter market of the country on different occasions. His residence at the time was on the farm lying east of that of his son Alexander. Lewis Mills was also an active business man living at North Kortright. He owned and traveled with a, circus for several years, which was not, perhaps, the greatest even then on earth, but was the best owned in Kortright, and furnished a very creditable entertainment. Several members of the Mills family became eminent on account of their business ability, and accumulated elsewhere immense wealth.
Elisha Osborn, Thomas Shiland and Peter Fisher, Sr., living on the mountain south of Bloomville, were citizens of sterling integrity. Samuel Osborn and Peter Fisher, sons, continued in possession of the Osborn and Fisher farms up to the time of their death.
Among the prosperous farmers of former years living, along the Delaware were Joseph Clark, for several years supervisor of the town, a most active and reliable citizen, who succeeded his father, William Clark, on the M. N. Frisbie farm, Wheeler, Barlow, Peter, James, and Andrew Kiff, brothers, all of whom raised large and respectable families at Kiffville. Andrew kept a hotel in the house where DeWitt Kiff spent his last days, on the east side of the highway, Henry Sackrider, who was succeeded by James, his son, on the E. J. Wheeler farm, Duncan and John McDonald, both of whom held different offices of trust and honor. A son of the latter, Grant McDonald, became a successful business man in New York and possessed great wealth. John Andrews, who occupied for many years the farm owned by William Nesbitt, belonged to a large and somewhat distinguished family who were sons of Samuel Wakeman Andrews, who spent his life on the Daniel Andrews, or Sharp farm, on the east side of the river. John Andrews was father of S. W. Andrews, Sr., who for many years was proprietor of an important line of stages in New York, from which he realized a handsome competence. He was the father of S. W. Andrews, the present owner of the palatial residence on the spot where Judge Martin Keeler formerly lived at South Kortright. Judge Keeler was a prominent business man of the town seventy-five years ago; held the office of County Judge and Sheriff, and was extensively engaged in mercantile pursuits. He was the father of Hon. Stephen H. Keeler of Bloomville, Hon. Martin Keeler, Kortright Centre, Edmund Keeler, North Kortright, and Charles Keeler of South Kortright, all of whom were in their day active and influential merchants and business men, doing business at the above named places, the two first named having held various offices of trust and honor.
Thomas Clark owned the farm which is now the delightful houses of J. J. Andrews. He was a dignified gentleman of English birth, and in connection with the farm kept a hotel. A daughter of his was the accomplished wife of the late James A. Thomas, who spent their lives near Bloomville in the town of Stamford. The names of Sanford, Griffin, Simmons, McMurdy, Hillis, Hanford, White, are synonyms of business prosperity and integrity.
Back of fifty to seventy years ago a large proportion of the woolen garments worn by both sexes were home made. Sheep were kept on every farm, the wool was combed or carded into rolls; these rolls of wool were two or three feet long and a little larger around than an ordinary lead pencil, they were then spun or twisted into threads, each roll being stretched out as the twisting process was going on until it was as fine in the thread or yarn as the spinner was pleased to make it. This thread or yarn was then colored or dyed and some "doubled and twisted" and knit into socks or mittens, or left single and woven into cloth; this cloth when taken from the loom would be possibly five feet wide and was rough, thin and slazy. It could be held up to the light and objects seen through it. It was then sent to the "fulling mill" where it was placed in a shallow trough and with soap and cold water abundantly supplied it was pounded or squeezed by simple machinery constantly for about three or four days, and when taken from this bath was found to be "full cloth," thick, heavy and firm, and about two and one-half feet in width or half as wide as when it left the loom; if four yards long when put in there would be possibly three when taken from the vat. These fulling mills were a necessity and were common; one was in operation in Bloomville at the head of N. Moak's mill pond, nearly opposite the residence of L. H. Every, another at the river crossing just above the small bridge on lands of W. H. Forman, another at Kiffville, and many others were scattered throughout the town. Oat mills and oat kilns were also quite common. These were used in the preparation of oat meal. The oats were first spread in the kiln on an iron screen with a fire underneath and heated until the hard, dry hull or covering was charred and brittle, then they were run or rolled loosely between two light mill stones which broke and loosened the hull, leaving the berry white and clean, then after the separation process the oat berry was ground into oat meal. One of these mills was also situated at Kiffville.
A gristmill was also situated a short distance above the Hogsback on lands of E. J. Wheeler, and was run by a man by the name of John Tolditch, but who was somewhat appropriately called for short, by old and young, and in fact only known by many as "Johnny Tolldish."
Saw mills and grist mills were scattered at different points throughout all parts of the town. Whiskey stills and potasheries were also abundant throughout the town.
Among the early teachers of schools we have often heard mention of one named Patterson, an eccentric character but a man of more than common educational ability. He enjoyed the reputation of being able to solve nearly any or all mathematical problems, and also to distort his features so as to frighten the most incorrigible scholar into a meek obedience. A story is told of an occasion when a most exasperating violation of the rules had been committed within the temple of learning, and the boys were promptly called into the entry way and solemnly warned that the guilty boy must come forward, confess his crime, remove the obstruction and throw himself on the mercy of the court. The faithful pedagogue waited and worked his face for all he was worth, but it failed for the first time to start the unknown criminal. The situation was becoming awkward, when the teacher fell back and supplied himself with a very large slate and pencil and quietly told the class that if that boy held off and put him to the further labor and trouble of figuring out which one was the guilty one, the trouble with that boy in that school would only have just commenced. This was counted a most serious turn in affairs by the youngsters and the unfortunate victim at once walked up, confessed his guilt, and took his medicine like a little man.
Andrew Gilchrist, for many years a prominent citizen and office holder in the town, was a son of Thomas Gilchrist, who came from Ireland about the year 1810. Andrew Gilchrist was the father of Dr. William Gilchrist late of New York, now deceased, a gentleman of great wealth and whose benevolences throughout our town and county, both public and private, have been princely. He was a brother of Mrs. B. M. Banks and Mrs. Smith of Bloomville.
Alanson Banks came from Westchester county about the year 1800. He was the father of John Banks, who for many years was an esteemed citizen and who left a large family of whom the following were long or are still residents of our town: Alanson Banks,who recently died in Cortland county, Henry M. Banks, Benjamin M. Banks, both residents of the town, Mrs. John O. Thompson, Mrs. Thomas Robertson, Mrs. Leland Kenyon, and Mrs.. William G. Stoutenburgh.
Moses Sackrider came from Westchester county about the year 1796. He was the father of Timothy, Henry, Daniel and Solomon, Polly, and Hannah Wetmore, wife of James Wetmore, Esq., late of Stamford, and mother of S. S. D. Wetmore and Thomas H. Wet- more, both substantial citizens and life long residents of the town. Henry Sackrider married a sister of James Wetmore, senior, and was the father of James and Solomon Sackrider, who were long prominent residents of the town.
Thomas McClaughry was a native of Ireland, and came to Kortright from Westchester county in 1784. Two brothers also settled in the town, Richard and Andrew. Thomas reared a large family, among whom known to the writer was Matthew and Edward. Matthew was the father of the late Mrs. James McGillivrae, of Walter T. McLaury of North Kortright and of Doctors James and William McLaury, who were long and successfully engaged as medical practitioners in and about the city of New York. Edward was the father of the late E. T. McLaury and grandfather of Judson McLaury, now engaged in the mercantile business at Kortright Centre. A McClaughry (McLaury) lineage of the town of Kortright would fill a book.
John Blakely came to Kortright from Schenectady in 1798. He had five sons, William, James, John, George, and David, and several daughters. William Blakely married Nancy McDonald, a sister of Duncan and John McDonald, and was one of the prosperous and influential citizens of the town. He was father of John D. Blakeley who married a sister of John Peters of Bloomville and spent his early life in Kortright, of James G. Blakely who married a daughter of Rev. McAuley, and whose wife and family still reside in Kortright, and of Goldsborough Banyer Blakely who married a daughter of the late Pierce Mitchell of Meredith, and whose wife, one son and daughter reside at Oneonta, N. Y. Many members of this and other branches of the Blakely family have become scattered and are no longer residents of the town.
William Rowland, accompanied by his son Ebenezer, moved to Kortright and settled on a farm at the foot of Kenyon Hill about 1800. Ebenezer Rowland became one of the wealthiest men of his day residing in the town. He was father of William Rowland Esq., James Rowland, Ebenezer Rowland and George Rowland, all of whom became substantial and wealthy citizens of the town and is well known. The home of Ebenezer Rowland who married a daughter of Robert McIlwain, Esq., and resides in the extreme western part of the town, is one fit for a prince. In fact the visitor to our town of Kortright who fails to take in that region occupied by the residences of William McClintock, James Rowland, John Moredock, Merritt S. and Joseph Roberts, William H. Brownell, William Blakely and James Kelso, will miss a locality which on account of fine farm houses, barns and outbuildings and neat, productive, well fenced and well kept farms is difficult to exceed.
The veteran editor of the Stamford Mirror, S. B. Champion, established his printing business in Bloomville in the year 1851, and continued the publication of the Bloomville Mirror in that village for about twenty years when he moved his plant to Stamford, giving his publication its present name.
Benjamin Gerowe, manufacturer of grain cradles, resided for many years at Kiffville. He was the father of William Gerowe of Walton, and Harvey B. Gerowe, who with his son Lucius W. resides also near Kiffville, where they are extensively engaged in the dairying business. Benjamin Gerowe is still living, in the state of Delaware, having reached very nearly the century mark.
Orson J. Butts, R. W. and John W. McArthur, Cornelius W. Every, William Shaw, John O. Thompson, Augustus Dunn, Geo. E. Scott and James Gibson are all prosperous and intelligent farmers living in the central portion of the town. Other substantial citizens who were prominent in their various vocations were John and Hugh Kinmouth, farmers, who came from Scotland about the year 1830. The former was the father of J. A. Kinmouth, who still resides on the old homestead, and W. Rollo Kinmouth, a physician in New Jersey. Hugh Kinmouth was the father of two sons, both of whom are physicians of note living in New Jersey. The elder, Sutherland, having by means of well conducted transactions in real estate become possessed of great wealth.
Simon McIntosh was an early resident, came from Dutchess county in the year 1800; his wife's name was Bates, also from Dutchess. They were blessed with seven sons, Jonathan, Henry, William, Matthias, Alexander, George and Simon. Of these Henry had two children, William and Emeline; William McIntosh is now living in Washington, D.C., the father of James H., a former school commissioner of our county, and A. W. McIntosh of Delhi, N. Y. Emeline McIntosh, daughter of Henry was the wife of the late Frances Fuller and mother of Mrs. J. E. Powell. George McIntosh, a younger son of Simon and brother of Henry, lived for many years on Federal Hill, town of Delhi, and was the father of Theophilus, the senior editor of the Delaware Republican. Other members of the family drifted to other parts of the county.
John McArthur was a native of Ireland, came to Kortright and settled on the farm now owned by John W. McArthur about the year 1813; there was born to them one son, Robert, the father of John W. and Robert W. McArthur. The fact that the fond parents journeyed the entire distance to New York in those slow and troublous times for the sole purpose of having their boy properly christened, is an incident which John W. should pin in his hat.
Still others certainly no less deserving of mention, who by devoted lives and generous impulses have imprinted their names on the hearts of our people, are the families of Roberts, Kerr, Orr, McMurdy, Galloup, Donnelly, Donaldson, Kilpatrick, Loughren, Husted, Forman, Smith, Burdick, Mitchell, Kenyon, Harkness, Harper, Parker, Jones, Douglass, Humphrey, McIlwain, Cummings, Stoutenburg, Beken, Davis, Ceas, Hill, Every, Brown, Rowlands, McNeeley, Sexsmith, Tait, Bolles, McAuslin.
I am warned that I must not trespass further on your time with this record today, but I cannot close without making mention of the honored dead if I cannot of those still living who were our defenders in the late civil war. A soldiers' monument erected at Kortright Centre records the names of Joseph R. McCracken, Levi Decker, John S. Burdick, Joseph Rowland, James T. McLaury, Walter T. Mead, John M. McCully, James Murphy, George Ceas, Richard Young, Horace S. Hanford, Chauncey D. Hanford, John B. McWilliams, Charles H. Barker, Frederick Ames, Samuel Tate, Andrew Tate, J. Newton McLaury, Hugh Black, and William Davis. In the midst of our rejoicing of this occasion, and the things of beauty and the national emblems which gladden our eyes and surround us on every side, let us stop today and in our minds wreath a garland and plant a flag over the resting place of those and all those who nobly served and nobly died for us and the country which we laud and love so well.