PART III. TOWN HISTORIES (section 3)
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.
MASONVILLE by A. F. Getter
MEREDITH by Josiah D. Smith.
MIDDLETOWN - by Hon. John Grant.
ROXBURY - by Dr. J. N. Wright
SIDNEY - by Edwin R. Wattles.
STAMFORD - Written for this History
WALTON - By Hon. T. Sanderson.
This town was formed from Sidney, April 4, 1811, and was named after Rev. John M. Mason, who in the right of his wife, a descendant of Gen. John Bradstreet, was owner of the greater part of the Evans patent, which laid in this town. This patent was surveyed in 1786 by Wm. Cockburn.
A few words will explain the physical features of the town. The Bennett brook rises in the eastern part of the town, runs an easterly course and empties into the Susquehanna in the town of Bainbridge. Cold Spring brook rises two and a half miles south of Bennett brook, runs south and discharges into the Delaware near the Stiles settlement. Two ridges extend on either side of these brooks their whole length. They are broken, however by numerous lateral ravines through which flow small streams. The highest summits are from five to six hundred feet above the valleys, and about eighteen hundred feet above tide water. The surface is stony; the shaly loam only fairly productive.
The village of Masonville is situated on Bennett brook, a little west of the center of the town. The first permanent settlement was made here in 1795, on what is known as the Cockburn gore, a strip of land running across the west end of the town.
The first settlers were mostly from Massachusetts, among whom we note William and Adin Wait, Samuel Whitman, Daniel Scranton, Enos Goodman, Justin North, Perez Moody and his son Moses, Asa Terry and Caleb Monson. The first birth was that of Sally Wait, August 10, 1787. The first death was that of William Wait during the same summer.
In 1797 the State road was built, ending at Jericho, now Bainbridge. Other settlers came soon after, Darius Smith, Timothy Eastman, Bernice Hazor, Sylvester and Ebenezer Smith. Dr. Eli Emmons taught the first school; Simeon Wells kept the first inn, where the old Baptist parsonage now stands. The site of the first school house is now occupied by the barn of the late John M. Parker. The first store was kept by Fitch and Phelps, in 1808. Joseph Bicknell built the first grist and saw mill in 1802, about half a mile west of the present village. Hazor, Ebenezer Smith, Dr. Pliny and Darius Smith settled near the center of the town. Collins Brown settled a little east of the center; Silas Kneeland on Beech Hill; Wearam Willis settled about two miles south of the center on the Delaware road. He was well educated and a man of good judgment. He was the first supervisor of the town and land agent for John M. Mason for many years. Malcolm Allen and John McKinnon came about 1800 and settled on the Sidney road one and a half miles northwest of the center. L. McQuain, the two Eloner brothers and Thomas B. Palmer came in 1800; Joseph Bicknell, Ira Balcom, Levi Wells, Elijah Whitman and George Clayhom came about 1801; Elijah Whitman and Wm. Bolt came from Saratoga county. William McCrea, a relative of the Jane McCrea who was murdered by the Indians in 1777, also came from Saratoga county. There was a tragedy enacted at the residence of this McCrea, in which one Pangbourne, a laborer for McCrea murdered his wife. There was also a case of murder in 1819 by Nathan Foster, who poisoned his wife. The trial was conducted at Delhi and created an intense excitement. Martin Van Buren was present and assisted the District Attorneys. Foster was convicted and hung. Mrs. Martha Bradstreet came to Masonville in 1819 and commenced suits to recover lands of the Evans patent in Masonville and Tompkins. She was successful in some instances; but at the present date all these suits have been discontinued, as upon further investigation it was held that the claim was not established. This claim and the litigation arising out of it had much to do in retarding the settlement of the town. The village of Masonville is a part of Lot 13, in the Evans patent, the whole lot containing 1,067 acres. It was all claimed by the heirs of Mrs. Martha Bradstreet. Most of the occupants have settled with the claimants by paying $5,000 to the late William Youmans, counsel for the claimants.
In 1798 Timothy Eastman took a lease embracing the site of Masonville. This lease was assigned to Reuben Bump, and by him to a man by the name of Nash, and by Nash to Darius Smith, father of the late Stillman Smith, in 1801. These parties and their heirs have held possession ever since. The people purchased land from them in good faith and made improvements without any knowledge of a trust deed until in 1859. The settlers therefore felt that they had been greatly wronged and that this deed should be cancelled.
The eastern part of the town, known as East Masonville, was settled a little later than the western part. The soil is better adapted for agriculture than the rest of the town. The farmers have the advantage of the Ontario & Western railroad which gives them an outlet for their produce.
ORGANIZATION OF THE TOWN.
Agreeable to a vote of the inhabitants and an act of the Legislature, March 1, 1812, the first annual town meeting was held at the house lately occupied by Samuel Whitman, and was adjourned to the school house near Collins Brown. The following persons were elected to office: Supervisor, Wearam Willis; town clerk, Pliny Smith; justices of the peace, L. Liverly, Uzziel Taylor; assessors, Lucius Scofield, Abner Graves; commissioners of highways, Thomas B. Palmer, William McCrea, Erastus Goodman; collector, Robert W. Foster; constables, R. W. Foster, Job Elmer; fence viewers, William S. McCrea, Moses Shaw, Farrington Parker; pound keeper, Joseph Bicknell.
At this meeting the following resolutions were passed: Resolved, That the overseers of the poor of the aforesaid town give their notes on interest to the supervisor and justice of the peace for all moneys received. Voted, that fences four and one-half feet high shall be deemed a lawful fence. Voted, that horses and hogs shall not run on the common land. Voted, that the damages done by horses and hogs shall be the penalty without any regard to the fence; said damages to be appraised by the fence viewers, the owners to pay all the costs.
We had prepared a list of the persons who had been sent to the Legislature, and who had served as supervisors of the town, but fearing that this sketch may be too much extended, we omit these names.
The census of 1880 showed about 21,000 acres of improved land and of unimproved about 9,000 acres. The number of acres under the plow was 2,418, the pasture land something over 10,000 acres, mowing land nearly 8,000 acres. The last report of farm lands does not vary much from report of sales of 1874, falling a little below. At the last census the inhabitants numbered about 1,600, the slight decrease from year to year being caused by emigration to the west.
There are now about 2,500 cows on the farms of the town. Dairying is the principal industry. One hundred and five years ago the town was all forest through which wild beasts roamed at will. Seventy years ago there was on an average about one cow to a clearing; the tinkle of the cow bell could be heard from every hill and valley. As I have stated, we are now largely engaged in dairying. About 475,500 pounds of butter are produced annually. In the western part of the town there is a cheese factory managed by Ernest Bilby. F. W. Smith owns two creameries, one in the village and one at Jericho. W. A. Gifford owns one at East Masonville and one at Tacoma. J. C. and P. W. Willis own one at Beaver Lake. The patrons of the creamery all use separators, and the butter ranks with the best sent to market, but at the present time the price is so low it leaves but a small per cent to the farmer.
The lumbering interest in Masonville was of vast proportion from 1820 to 1850. Little else was thought of except to cut logs, haul logs, saw logs and build rafts. Had the people followed farming with the same tenacity and zeal as they did the lumbering business the town would be much better off today. In the winter time it was no trifling matter to get up at four o'clock of a frosty morning, the mercury away below zero, feeding teams, loading sleighs with lumber and then starting off for the river, twenty, thirty, and often times a greater number in procession. It was exciting; truly, but it was dry work. So they would stop at the corners, as they called it, to take a drink to warm themselves; two and a half miles further on, at the height of the grade, they would rest their teams, and being weary themselves would stop for refreshments at what is now known as the Bryant place. Again about two miles further south at the forks of the Cold Spring brook they would step in to see how "mine host" was getting along this cold morning. Arriving at the river they would feed their teams, take a drink of whiskey; eat the lunch they had with them, unload the lumber and then start for home. This is not an overdrawn picture. The writer, then but a little boy, has often driven a team in such a train and has often been urged to drink with the rest.
On the return of Spring these lumbermen would figure up their loss and gain. Many of them would find a balance against them for the corn and oats they had bought. To saw this vast amount of lumber no less than seventeen saw mills were kept running. It is unnecessary to enumerate them. They were important enterprises when lumbering was in vogue; but now their usefulness is mostly gone. Besides these sawmills there was one place where the pioneers carried their apples to have them manufactured into cider and vinegar. There were cooper shops, planing mills and shingle machines, and wagon and carriage manufactories. It is needless to extend our enumeration of the places of business, the factories and the residences which have been erected in the town.
REMINISCENCES OF NELSON GRAVES.*
(* Mr. Graves died in 1898 nearly ninety years of age).
In 1812 we had a very cold summer; it froze every month of that year. The corn all rotted in the ground; in June we planted a second time. I went out with my father to see him plant and came near freezing my hands and feet. It froze so hard that night that in the morning I went out and slid on the ice with my bare feet. Again in 1816 it was very cold, it snowed every month in the year; no corn was raised, potatoes were no larger than birds eggs; grain of all kinds was a failure, there was neither hay nor fruit. In June it froze ice one inch thick; in July we had a hail storm or rather an ice storm which covered the ground with ice. Many sheep and yearlings were killed. I shall always remember it as the starving time. The inhabitants suffered much for food; almost all the cattle died. What kept the people from starving was that they had grain left over from the preceding year, which was a year of plenty. Fish and game were also abundant. The years 1820 and 1821 were almost as bad as that of 1816. Had we not secured a small crop of rye we must have starved. In 1826 we had continuous sleighing from November first to May fifteenth of the next spring. Other remarkable seasons were 1843, 1845 and 1850. We think the times hard now and the profits small, but they are flush times com pared to those early years of trial.
In 1814 the ground where the Presbyterian church now stands was all covered with logs. They made a logging bee and cleared it up in one afternoon.
Wild animals were very plentiful. It was a common thing to have encounters with or see bears, wild cats, panthers and wolves. Once when I was a lad, driving a pair of oxen, I was attacked by what I supposed was a big grey dog, which I beat off with my ox gad. The animal proved to be a grey wolf. Mr. McCrea went out one morning to his sheep pen and found three sheep killed by wolves. He found the tracks of five wolves which he followed over to his next neighbor's. Here they had killed two sheep. The neighbors were notified to turn out and hunt them; they followed them for some distance without killing them.
An amusing story is told of Peter Couse; who was threshing buckwheat, when suddenly a big bear was seen approaching from the woods. He gave a loud shout, turned and ran for the house. His dog was as scared as himself and kept close at his heels. Uncle Peter, thinking it was the bear at his heels, was too frightened to look back, and ran, out of breath, to the house. The bear being frightened also by Peter's shout ran as fast as he could the other way.
It would be possible to gather up many interesting tales of adventures with wild animals in these early days; but it is not possible to take the space here.
CHURCHES OF MASONVILLE.
The first Baptist church in Masonville was organized January 27, 1810, by the adoption of articles of faith and a church covenant, with eight members, namely: Caleb Bennett, Collins Brown, Joseph Sanders, John Balcom, Darius S. Smith, Louis Balcom, Zelphia Smith, and Sally Welsh.
The first church was built in 1819 about one mile east of the present church. They had no facilities then for warming the house and each one carried a foot stone to keep them warm during the service. The church was recognized and received into fellowship in 1812. The same year the church united with the Franklin Baptist association, in which it remained until 1854, when it joined the Deposit association to which it now belongs. The successive pastors have been: Orange Spencer, John N. Ballard, Simeon P. Griswold, Henry Robertson Eight, E. L. Benedict, James Aimer, Henry Sherwood, E. Baldwin, E. T. Jacobs, E. H. Corey, B. L. Welman, N. Ripley, L. W. Jackson, W. E. Howell, R. Cary, M. Berry, W. S. Perry.
The church that was built in 1819 was simply enclosed. In this they held their meetings for seven years before they were able to finish the interior; and it was three years after this before stoves were set up. Here they worshipped for twenty years. Then a building was erected in a more convenient location near the center of the village where they continued until 1884. A large and beautiful church was then built on the main street seating about three hundred and fifty people. Several churches have been formed in whole or in part from this oldest church. Its present membership is 128.
The second church in Masonville was the Congregational, formed June 18,1818. The Rev. Caleb Wright was moderator of the council. A meeting was held March 14, 1821, for the purpose of taking into consideration the erection of a meeting house. It was voted to build a house forty-five feet long by thirty feet wide, fifteen feet posts. September 13 the society met and resolved that this society raise a sum not to exceed $150, to be laid by tax on such members as should agree to be taxed, taking the town appraisement as a guide; to be taxed not more than thirty per cent on all taxable property that is not encumbered; such money to be used to pay a preacher one-half of his time. The first sale of slips netted $98.50.
In 1820 the Rev. John M. Mason and his wife of the Bradstreet family granted a lot of 112 acres of land for the support of the ministry of the church. A Presbyterian society was formed to receive the grant under the law providing for the incorporation of religious societies, under the name of First Presbyterian Society of Masonville. The farm and the parsonage are about one mile south of the village, the proceeds are used for the benefit of the society. It is a good piece of land and suitable for farming and dairying.
The following have been the successive pastors: Egbert Roosa, John Fish, Charles Chapman, Daniel Manning, Moses Fatcher, Harvey Smith. In 1847 the church was changed into the Congregational form, succeeding which were the following pastors: George Evart, Mr. Ketcham, A. H. Fullerton, Sumner Mandeville, P. B. Wilson, Mr. Perry, C. E. Cary, John Hutchingson, Josiah Still, J. D. Cameron.
The church edifice was built in 1822 and 1843. It was remodeled in 1852. The church has been connected with Susquehanna Association and the Chenango Presbytery, and is now connected with the Binghamton Presbytery. It has always been feeble as to numbers and money, and has had to depend in a great measure upon home mission funds for support. The Bradstreet claim for a long time hampered it and caused anxiety.* (* At the request of Mr. Getter Rev. J. D. Cameron, pastor of the Presbyterian church, has prepared a few pages relating to the recent history of the church. It is of great interest, but for want of space must be here omitted).
A Methodist Episcopal church was organized in Masonville in 1822. Until 1851 the meetings were held principally in the school house, at which time a commodious church was erected, which was enlarged and .modernized in 1873. In 1864 a parsonage was purchased with a lot containing two acres of land. This property being inconveniently situated was sold and a parsonage on the main street near the church was bought. Preaching has been maintained in this church since its organization. The names of the preachers can be given, but they will occupy too much space for this history. The church has had a steady growth from the first. Out of it has been formed churches at Bennettsville and at Tacoma, which have drawn from the strength of the parent society.
MASONVILLE LODGE No.606, F. & A. M.
This lodge was organized July 11, 1866, by electing J. C. Bourne, W. M.; Hiram Scofield, F. W.; A. C. Bailey, Jr., W. There were twelve charter members. The lodge has prospered from the beginning and is now in a satisfactory condition. It has forty-two members in good standing. The Sidney Lodge took a number of the brethren from Masonville Lodge as charter members.
It would be interesting to give in detail the military movements which took place in this patriotic town. The following persons are believed to have been engaged in the Revolutionary war, and who ought particularly therefore to be held in grateful remembrance: Ezekial Upsen, Jonathan Hale, Asa Gillett, Case Van Tice, Abram Houghtaling, Elijah Whitman and Collins Brown.
Another list of those engaged in the war of 1812 consists of Ambrose Bennett, Miner Wheaten, John Houghtaling, Nathan Shaw, Abraham Scott and Joseph Clark.
In the Civil war, 1861 to 1865, the part of the county in and about Masonville was notably patriotic. It is impossible to distribute the names of those who entered the army with certainty among the localities from which they went. The town of Masonville, the town of Sidney and the towns of Tompkins and Deposit, together with localities on the Susquehanna river, not in the county, were all enthusiastic in the work of supplying soldiers for this war. Not less than 150 persons could be enumerated as volunteering from these towns.
IN attempting to write this history two serious difficulties confront the writer. Some years ago the building in which the town records were kept was destroyed by fire, and much that would no doubt have been of material aid in making up this record was forever lost. Again, within a few years many of the older inhabitants from whom valuable data could have been obtained have passed away. Our main dependence has been such historical facts as are already on record, together with items of interest furnished by present or former residents of the town now living.
Meredith was formed from Franklin and Kortright, March 14, 1800, and named from Samuel Meredith of Philadelphia. Its boundaries have remained the same as at its organization, except that in 1878, at their own request, a number of land owners in the town of Davenport, whose farms are situated along the Ouleout valley, were set off and are now included in the town of Meredith.
The first settlement was made by Joseph Bramhall in 1787. Captain Amos Bristol settled in 1790, Clark Lawrence in 1791, followed by Moses and Nathan Stilson and Nathaniel Stewart; the last three settling on a tract of 1,000 acres in the western part of the town that was purchased at one dollar per acre. In 1793 Caleb Strong, Oliver Dutton, Daniel North, David Bostwick and Truman Stilson joined the settlement. Caleb Strong settled on the farm now owned by his grandson, Lewis B. Strong, and so far as the writer has been able to learn this is the only farm in town that has been owned and occupied by a direct descendant of the family since its first settlement. The original deeds given to Caleb Strong, bearing date of May, 1805, are still in the possession of the present owner. Oliver Dutton was a Sergeant in the war of the Revolution, and took part in the battle of Bunker Hill. David Bostwick was the grandfather of Hon. Milton Bostwick who meets with us today at the advanced age of eighty-nine years. Hon. Samuel A. Law, popularly known as Judge Law, came from Cheshire, Conn., in 1796, and settled at the Square as agent and part owner of the Franklin Patent, making the first surveys of farms in this section. Largely through the influence of Judge Law, Meredith Square became and for a long time was the most important point along the Catskill turnpike, or in Delaware county. Judge Law was influential in causing quite a large immigration from New England, and the town assumed much of the characteristics of a Connecticut town. Judge Law built the first saw mill at Meredith Hollow. He died December 28, 1845.
Daniel Dibble settled on the farm now owned by Philo F. Benedict in the year 1799, which he bought of Daniel Smith who then owned the farms now occupied by Edmund Rose, John T. McDonald and Alex McDonald. Daniel Dibble was a Revolutionary soldier, and was present at the surrender of Burgoyne. The entire list of Revolutionary soldiers who settled in town were: Silas Brooks, Eleazer Wright, Daniel Dibble, Oliver Dutton and Captain Riley. The last two were pensioners.
The following named gentlemen served in the war of 1812 : Truman Smith, William Cramer, George Howland, Simon Knowles, Dennis Rice, J. Carrington, Simeon Crane, C. Couse and Jacob Hunt, who settled in different sections of the town. The three Mitchell brothers, Aaron, Pierce and David, settled on upper Elk Creek in 1802. Families of the names of Thornton and Peaster were early settlers in the eastern portion of the town. David Bostwick settled on what has since been known as the Wiard place in 1794. The first frame house built in town by Clark Lawrence, the first school taught in same by Lucy Austin, near where the dwelling of Hon. Milton Bostwick now stands. Joseph Bramhall kept the first hotel, and the first birth and death occurred in his family. Rufus Bunnill kept the first store at the Square in 1799. David Spoor built the first grist mill at Meredith Hollow, now Meridale, at the raising of which a man came near losing his life from falling.
If space permitted the writer would gladly make mention or those who came on to take the places of the older settlers already mentioned. The Dibbles, Mitchells, Elder Sears, Deacons Lake and Carr, Jonathan Benedict, Deacon Josiah D. Wells, the Porters, Deans, Duttons, Shavers, and many others who took an active part in town affairs, and in the organization and building up or the churches.
The Baptist church at Meredith was constituted August 22, 1811. February 4, 1818, it was decided to divide the Church and two Churches were formed, viz: the East and West Meredith Baptist churches. A report made to the Association June 1, 1816, gives the number of members as eighty-four and the name as East Meredith Baptist church. Benjamin Sears was invited to become pastor April 1, 1818; Oliver Dutton and Isaac Lake were chosen Deacons.
Nathan Stilson preached in West Meredith before the church was built. Ammon Bostwick went to Kent, Conn., and brought Elder Crane, who became the first pastor of West Meredith church. After a time there arose a division and a large number withdrew and formed the Croton (now Treadwell) church. The church which was built in 1828 was finally destroyed by fire in 1842. Forty-eight members of the East Meredith Baptist church were dismissed to unite with the Delhi Baptist church. (By East Meredith is meant Meredith, and not the East Meredith of today).
The present Baptist church at Meredith was erected in 1848 and remodeled in 1893. The Congregational or Presbyterian church at Meredith Square was organized in 1815, the first trustees being Samuel Moody and Simeon Griswold, and the clerk Bildad Curtis. The present church was built in 1828, and William Fisher was the first settled pastor. The church interior was remodeled in 1857. Later the Free Will Baptists built a church at East Meredith, now owned and rebuilt by Presbyterians; also the Methodists have a church at Meridale. Special mention should be made of that Father in Israel, Rev. George F. Post, who was called as pastor of the Meredith Baptist church three different times, and served as pastor for a period of about twenty-one years, the total number of baptisms being 135. He is still living at eighty-two years of age, but in feeble health.
The building of "The Great Catskill Turnpike," as it was called, was a notable event in the early history of the town. It was the great thoroughfare from western New York to Catskill, and thence by boat to New York city; and was in its time to the portion of the state through which it passed, what the Central railroad is today. It is said that there was at times almost a continuous line of teams passing and repassing, and there was an average of one hotel to every mile, and everyone filled each night. A former historian says there were at one time seven hotels within the limits of the town. There were in those early days three distilleries and one brewery, two of the distilleries being owned and operated by prominent members of the Baptist church. Although rum drinking was not in those days attended with as swift and certain destruction as it is today, yet we find the good people of the town becoming alarmed at the effects of the drink curse caused by the presence of so many distilleries and hotels. Lawlessness, idleness, and the thousand ills that in variably follow the liquor traffic led to the organization of "The Social League," which was established by eighty-four of the best citizens of the town. This was the first temperance society in Delaware county. So far as the writer can learn, the town of Meredith can boast of never having had a licensed saloon within its borders, who shall say that the efforts of those pioneers to save their young men from drunkenness has not been the leaven that has permeated the lives and acts of generations following.
Lying as much of the town does along the water-shed between the Susquehanna and Delaware rivers, the soil which is mainly red shale and disintegrated sand stone formation, is better adapted to the growth of grass, oats and potatoes, than corn culture, dairying therefore has been the principal industry. And although there are a few practically abandoned farms, I believe I am justified in saying that no town in Delaware county can present a larger proportion of farms free from debt, or a smaller percentage of business failures.
The early representatives in the legislature were Hon. Benjamin Benedict in 1822, Hon. Samuel A. Law, Jr., in 1858-60, Hon. Milton Bostwick in 1843. Mr. Bostwick is the oldest living ex-assemblyman in the county, and there is only one older in the state. He is still living, at the advanced age of eighty-four years. Hon. D. B. Mackey served in 1896 and was re-elected in 1897.
As the years have sped by the pioneers and their successors one after another have passed over to the great beyond, and in many cases their places have been filled by a sturdy class of Scottish sons and daughters, and their descendants are today among our most thrifty and upright citizens.
Fifty years of unremitting toil and frugality were rewarded by homes of plenty, when over these hills and along these valleys resounded the clarion notes of war, and an experience came to these homes which, God grant, may never be repeated. Long years ago there appeared a cloud, apparently no larger than a man's hand, and a few, at times but one, of our citizens marched each year to the ballot box and deposited their protest against the curse of American slavery. I need not repeat the history of gathering clouds, and the final outburst of the most cruel war this nation has ever seen. Its record is indelibly inscribed on marble slabs in hundreds of cemeteries, in vacant chairs whose occupants come not again, and on the tablets of hearts who freely gave their all to maintain the honor of the dear old flag.
No historian will ever tell the story of anguish that wrung the hearts of fathers and mothers, or wives and sisters, who bravely said adieu to sons; husbands and brothers. Some of them went out from the homes never more to return. In this Heaven born sacrifice Meredith stands second to none of her sister towns.
The conditions following the great civil war have been much the same in this as in other towns, and years of plenty have been succeeded by shortened crops and leaner harvests, but our people can with abundant reason lift their hearts in thanksgiving and praise to the great Giver of good that so few of the ills and misfortunes of life have come to us, and such an abundance of His blessings.
It is with sincere satisfaction that I witness these exhibitions of respect for the worthy deeds of our forefathers and the evident disposition of our people everywhere to cherish the memory of their ancestors; especially in times like the present when public and private virtue so needs the reinvigoration of noble examples. In field and council the sons of Delaware have done good and honorable service, and the history of Delaware is one of which we can well be proud. In the glory of her past history the original town of Middletown took no small part and it is a pleasure for us, her children, to assist in whatever way we can in celebrating her one hundredth birthday. In this history I shall briefly recount some of the early history, leaving the later events and growth and prosperity of the town to the longer paper to be submitted later for publication.
The town of Middletown was incorporated in 1789, as a part of Ulster county, being formed from the towns of Woodstock and Rochester. It took its name from its central location most of the population of the state being in the territory drained by the Hudson, Delaware and Susquehanna rivers, of which the Delaware was the middle valley and the town of Middletown contained nearly all that part of Ulster county lying within the valley. Middletown is one of the original and one of the oldest towns in Delaware county, and formerly covered all the territory of the present towns of Roxbury, Bovina, Middletown, Andes, Colchester, Hancock, nearly all of Stamford, a large part of Delhi, Hamden, Walton and Tompkins, and a small portion of Shandaken in Ulster county, comprising more than half of the whole county of Delaware. By division it has been reduced to a territory of 58,000 acres, with a population of about 4,000 inhabitants. The East branch of the Delaware river flows through the central part of the town, with the Bataviakill, Bushkill, Dry Brook, Mill Brook and Plattekill streams as tributaries, draining fertile valleys, and along which are located the thirteen settlements of the town. This extraordinary number of post offices can better be appreciated directly after a presidential election or before a town caucus. The history of the permanent settlement of this mother of towns; properly begins with the advent of the Dutch in 1763, though the Canadian French were here about the time of the French and Indian war, and still earlier there was a Tuscarora Indian village called Pakatakan just above the present village of Margaretville, and the above Indian name Pakatakan is still used to designate a company of Margaretville firemen. Of this original occupancy of the town by the Indians the Indian mounds and burying grounds on the old Dumond farm attest, and the large number of arrow heads and flint axes that have been found in this vicinity is an additional proof. Still further, there are in all probability many who have heard the authentic but hair raising stories told to this day in Middletown of the wonderful exploits of Tom Quick and Tim Murphy, the Indian slayers whose favorite haunts were the valleys of the Delaware, stories more wonderful than the "good times coming" prophecies of the Republican politicians. I made mention above of the first permanent settlers being Dutch they were with one exception, to my knowledge, and this was my maternal great-great-grandfather O'Connor, who, while he could speak nothing but the Dutch language, yet he was a full-blooded Irishman, born in Ireland. These Dutch settlers at first consisted of only four families from Ulster county, who bought four farms on Great Lot No.7, on the Middletown flats, receiving deeds therefore dated April 9, 1763, paying $2.50 per acre. Five more families joined them during the next eight years, and all maintained friendly relations with the Indians until the time of the Revolution, when the friendly and timely warning of an Indian named Teunis, who afterwards lived in Bovina, alone saved them from being massacred by the Indians. As it was they were forced to return to Ulster county, being followed by the Indians as far as Shandaken. However, the settlers afterward returned and were never afterward disturbed, the Indians being driven westward. A single incident may suffice to show the present generation what kind of a life was lived by those early adventurers: One night when the cows were driven to the enclosure to be milked a stray yearling steer was noticed in the drove. The cows did not seem to be contented in his company, and after several vain attempts to milk the uneasy herd, the stray yearling was discovered to be nothing less than a black bear.
Chancellor Livingston, as one of the heirs of Johannes Hardenbergh, was once the owner of all this section, which was a part of the land granted Johannes Hardenbergh by Queen Anne in 1708, and he, Hardenbergh, was thus the original proprietor of the soil, and the village of Margaretville is named after his great-granddaughter Margaret. Of the many privations and hardships endured by our forefathers in the early pioneer life of the town, in the limited time allowed, I can make but brief mention personally, I have always sympathized with our foremothers the most, for the reason that they had to endure the same hardships that our forefathers did and our forefathers beside.
In 1789, by act of the legislature, the town of Middletown was erected, and Benjamin Milk was afterward elected a supervisor of the town to sit at the first meeting of the Board of Supervisors held at Delhi, May 30, 1797 seven supervisors sitting at this meeting. At this town election the ballot box was taken from place to place in the town for the convenience of voters, and it may be interesting to know that the discovery was afterwards made that the successful candidate, Benjamin Milk, was neither a resident of the town of Middletown or the county of Delaware.
The oldest house now standing in the town of Middletown is on the Daniel Waterbury farm. It was built in 1791 by Colonel John Grant, who was the first postmaster of the town and held office forty years. The town meetings were held here for many years, the draft for the war of 1812 took place in the same building, and the broad meadow near was used for the general training of the militia. At these general trainings the tubs and pails of whiskey punch were used so freely that the sham fights usually turned out to be real fights before the day was over. Very soon after the return of the refugees at the close of the Revolution, a Dutch Reformed Presbyterian church was erected in the old churchyard above the present village of Arena, and the first supply preaching was by a one legged man by the name of Anderson, who afterwards became a fortune teller and doctor. Probably the oldest burying place in the county is the old cemetery on the Dumond farm, just across the river from Margaretville. It was used by the early Dutch settlers and many years before by half breeds who preceded them. In the war of 1812 three companies were drafted from Middletown (as it was then) for the defense of New York harbor. In the Anti-Rent war Middletown took a considerable part; one of the saddest episodes of which was the shooting of Steele at Andes, for which Edward O'Connor of Middletown was convicted and sentenced to be hung, but was afterward pardoned by Governor Young.
The history of the various settlements and villages in the town, the growth in population, schools, societies, business, newspapers, professions, military affairs, fire department, railroads, agriculture and public improvements will have to be left for the published history.
Politically, Middletown has always taken a leading part, and many of her citizens have sacrificed their time and submitted from purely patriotic motives, to the discomforts of holding office.
Thus reviving briefly the early history of this county we may safely say that none has a history more romantic in its incidents more marked for the sturdy independence and honesty of its people, for their energy, persistence, will indomitable to defend their rights, and readiness to accord like rights to others. It is a question which presses upon us whether the county in its subsequent history has proved itself worthy its origin, and whether we of today deserve such ancestry. This spirit mingled largely with the spirit of nationality inspired our people to the heroic devotion displayed in the late civil war. Being largely an agricultural people, with no very large towns or cities, and with few millionaires and little chance to grow rich by speculation, we have not been tempted to stray very far from our fathers' ways of industry, economy, simplicity of living and providence for the future. From this little garden and nursery of men how many have gone forth to the broader or more inviting fields of the expanding west and to the great marts of commerce and this seed of Delaware sowing, wherever cast, has burst into harvests to the enrichment of many counties and states. One hundred years hence, when Delaware shall celebrate the second centennial year of her life as a county, when we, who today commemorate the virtues of our historic fathers shall have passed into silence; when they compare the present with this, may they find a county and people softened by culture, but true to the indomitable spirit of the past, a people free, independent, intelligent, industrious, sober, honest, virtuous and religious, and above all, happy.
By Mrs. J. K. P. Jackson
Middletown contains eight hamlets of varying size, namely: New Kingston, in the northern part of the town, on the Plattekill, a tributary of the Delaware River. New Kingston was first settled by the Dutch. The land was given by William Livingston to one hundred families who were left homeless after the burning of Kingston by the British in 1777. This fact gave the place its name. Later the Scotch element came in predominating numbers. The land is fertile and well adapted to farming; excellent butter is made in large quantities from dairies of blooded cattle, chiefly Jerseys. The village contains one general store, a post office, a fire insurance association, a blacksmith and a cooper shop, U. P. Church, and a district school. The U. P. pastor is Rev. J. B. Pollock.
Arkville, in the central part of the town, derived its name from an incident in the history of one of its oldest houses: In the time of a heavy freshet this house was the only one that was not disturbed by the water that came through the valley. Its location on a high knoll, coupled with being the home of one Noah Dimmick, gave it the name of the ark, from which the name of the hamlet is borrowed. Arkville contains four stores, the Commercial House and Cole's hotel, a graded school with two departments, a Methodist church, a saw and a planing mill. Situated on the Ulster & Delaware R. R. it is the principal depot for farm produce for the western portion of the town of Middletown, and the eastern terminus of one of the few remaining old time stage routes, connecting the Ulster & Delaware with the Ontario & Western at Delhi, twenty-five miles distant. Several large boarding houses for the accommodation of summer guests are here, and their best advertisement is that they are well filled through the summer and fall months. The Hoffman house, surrounded on three sides by forest trees, is the summer home of many artists and lovers of nature. The Locust Grove house is another delightful resort of historical record. This was the property of Edward Livingston who was once Minister to France. While in Paris his style of living plunged him into debt and he mortgaged his estate to a French importer named Laussat, and Joseph Bouchand. They foreclosed the mortgage and built this house about 1812. It was purchased from Laussat by the late Hiram B. Kelly, whose widow, Katie, and son, Eldridge, are now the proprietors.
Dunraven is a post station on the Plattekill. In the days when the country was new and lumbering and tannings were prominent industries, it contained a grist mill and tannery. Early in the century the first of many tanneries in the town was built here. A primitive feature of this tannery was that the vats for tanning the skins were made by digging holes in the earth and pounding in a lining of blue clay. The destruction of the hemlock forests was followed by the decay of the tanning and milling industries, and today the mill and lumber yard of Olney Smith is all that recalls the past.
On the Delaware river in the western part of the town lies the village of Arena, formerly known as Lumberville, a name significant of the early industry of the place. Arena has an M. E. church, a large district school, a Grand Army Post, three general and one hardware store, a Lodge of I. O. O. F., a fire company, and two hotels. At Grants Mills, four miles southwest of Arena, on the Millbrook stream, is the large boarding house of A. W. and J, M. DeSilva. This region is much sought after by anglers both from city and country.
In the eastern part of the town is Halcottville, named in honor of its first merchant, Matthew Halcott, who was one of the prominent business men of Middletown early in the century. The Ulster & Delaware R. R. passes through the place. It contains one hotel, two general stores, a grange store, a large mill, with flour and feed store. A Methodist church was recently built and Rev. R. S. Beckett is in charge. At the Baptist church Elders Abner Morse and John Clark preside. A new school building has been erected in a sightly part of the village. Lake Wawaka, a fine sheet of water over a mile long, is formed by a dam across the river. On the lake are row boats and a steam launch for pleasure parties.
Kelly's Corners, another station on the Ulster & Delaware R. R. half way between Halcottville and Arkville, contains a store, a post office, a large creamery and cheese factory. Limburger cheese is manufactured here.
In the eastern end of the town is Griffin Corners, a village that has made rapid growth in the last ten years. It is situated on the Bushkill stream and the Ulster & Delaware R. R. The especial cause of its growth is the summer boarding business. The beauty of the mountain scenery, the pure air and fine water have won the city guest. The village has a fine public library, the gift of a woman who spent several seasons here. It is called the Skene library in honor of Dr. Skene, her husband. Other features of the village are four churches, viz.: Methodist, Old School Baptist, Baptist, and Episcopal. There are numerous fine summer boarding houses. The societies are Knights of Pythias, with seventy members, and Good Templars. A bridge over a small stream on Main street divides Griffin Corners from Fleischmanns, named after the senator who built a cottage and laid out beautiful grounds on the hill above the depot. About ten years ago city people began building cottages here, and now thirty-five ornament the hillside. The cost of these with their grounds is from three thousand to forty thousand dollars each. Among the prominent people who make their summer homes here are Mrs. Charles Fleischmann, Mrs. L. Blair a sister of the Senator, Louie Fleischmann and the young widow of Max Fleischmann, and Mrs. Seidl, the widow of the late musician and leader. There are three stores, mill and other enterprises in this place. The people of Fleischmanns have fitted up fine grounds for bicycling and other athletic games, called the Mountain Athletic grounds; here also is a riding school building that cost $10,000.
Margaretville, the metropolis of Middletown, is located on the East branch of the Delaware, at the foot of Mount Pakatakan, a lofty verdure crowned peak of the Catskills, and near the central part of the town. It was named in honor of the daughter of Governor Morgan Lewis, who at one time owned this tract of land by inheritance from her mother. Her mother was a daughter of Chancellor Livingston. At the time of the Revolution Livingston was the owner of all this section of country. The first settler on the site of the village was Ignos Dumond, in 1784. He sold the land for £100 to a Mr. Tompkins, who built the first saw mill. Tompkins sold to Jephtha Seager and Solomon Scott.
In 1843 the late Dr. Orson M. Allaben succeeded Mr. Scott as owner of the west half of the farm, and David Sliter the Seager part. At this time Margaretville contained three buildings, a saw mill, mill house, and the house of Solomon Scott, the father of the venerable Methodist minister Russell S. Scott and grandfather of S. F. Scott. The mill house was a frame building, enclosed with plank. It is still in good repair, and occupied as a dwelling. The first hotel was built in 1844 by David Ackerly. It was enlarged by his son J. B. Ackerly in 1871, and again in 1883 and fitted for the accommodation of city boarders.
The first store was kept in the office of Dr. O. M. Allaben. The Doctor and Rev. Ananias Ackerley, his partner, conducted business near the present home of Mr. E. Clute. In 1847 a larger store was built on the corner opposite the Ackerley hotel and occupied in, 1849 by Burhans & Decker. Mr. Decker continued business here until 1855, when he built a more commodious store near his house. In 1876 he sold his business to his son-in-law Orson A. Swart.
Dr. Allaben, believing the old adage "the pen is mightier than the sword," on July 7th, 1863, issued the first number of a weekly paper, called the Utilitarian. At this time the county had but five papers. He continued to fill the editorial chair for five years when he sold the paper to A. R. Henderson and H. T. Becker. In 1879 it was purchased by J. K. P. Jackson, a staunch Democrat. In 1884 a second paper was started by Frank Barclay. It was published about five months, and then closed its career. In 1894 the Messenger was established, owned by a stock company with John Grant as editor and Dr. J. W. Telford as assistant.
The village of Margaretville was incorporated in 1875. At the first charter election Dr. Smith W. Reed was elected president, E. A. Olmstead, G. G. Decker and A. P. Carpenter trustees. The present corporation officers are: Andrew J. Kaufman president, Charles Gorsch and Rufus Gavett trustees, Noah D. Olmstead treasurer, Hermon Rotermond street commissioner.
Margaretville has three churches. In 1850 the first Methodist Episcopal church was built, and Rev. R. S. Scott was the preacher and Rev. Richard Decker his assistant. In 1880 the society erected a larger building on Church street. The present pastor is Rev. Orville VanKeuren. This church has a large membership and a flourishing Sunday school. Hon. G. G. Decker has been its superintendent for nearly fifty years. This school was the first in Middletown to establish a class in normal Sabbath school and home department work. So interested was Mr. Decker in having the teachers in his school thoroughly familiar with Bible history, that in 1893 he built a pleasant room connected with the church for the use of those in the normal class.
Through the instrumentality of Rev. W. N. Allaben a Baptist society was organized in 1874. Services were held in the old academy building until the society in 1881 bought and refitted the old Methodist church on Main street.
In 1891 a Presbyterian society was formed with Rev. R. M. Blackburn as preacher, who only remained a few months; he was followed by Rev. Charles Ellis, Mr. Osborn, and Frank B. Seeley. A church was built, and dedicated in August, 1896. The society has made rapid growth. Rev. D. G. Lawson is the present pastor.
A Catholic society holds services once a month, conducted by priests from Stamford or Kingston. At present they have no church, but have been discussing the question of building one.
In 1889 the Catskill Mountain Agricultural Society was formed, with O. M. Allaben, president, J. K. P. Jackson, secretary, O. A. Swart, treasurer, and William R. Swart, general manager. They purchased twenty-six acres of river flat, below the village, from Will. R. Swart, paying $2,500; improvements costing $2,500 were added and the first fair was held in the last week of August, 1889.
Margaretville has four lawyers: A. P. Carpenter, Calvin Hull, J. K. P. Jackson, and S. P. Ives; five physicians: Smith W. Reed, Charles Allaben, G. T. Brown, J. W. Telford, and William E. Hendry. Dr. Reed, the veteran physician, has practiced here since 1853; he has been superintendent of common schools of the town and has filled the office of Supervisor for ten terms.
Earlier than 1871 the educational advantages of the town were such as could be procured at the ordinary district school of the day, where one teacher was expected to be able to teach sixty or seventy pupils. But in 1871 a new school building was erected and fitted for two departments. This was the first school in the town to employ two teachers. As time advanced and Margaretville became a larger business center the need of a still better school became evident. From 1882 to 1892 Miss Lucy A. Waterbury, a lady of rare ability as a teacher, a daughter of Robert L. Waterbury, taught a select school here. In 1892 at a meeting called for the purpose, it was voted to change the public school into a Union free school, with a school board of nine members, namely: William R. Swart, E. L. O'Connor, Mrs. S. P. Ives, J. H. Hitt, C. Hull, Mrs. J. K. P. Jackson, Amos Allison, C. J. Dickson, and C. C. Kaufman. Mr. Swart was deeply interested in the success of the school and gave liberally of his time and money. He was president of the board until his death, when Edward L. O'Connor filled the office.
The first principal was Alvin A. Lewis. A fine library has been added to the school; the building is furnished with running water and heated by steam.
The supervisors who have watched over the interests of Middletown for the last twenty years have been selected from this village. The following list gives the name and time of service of each: From 1880 to 1883, Dr. S. W. Reed; 1884, Dr. O. M. Allaben; 1885, W. F. Doolittle; 1886, S. W. Reed; 1887, James W. Kittle; 1888 to 1892, S. W. Reed; 1892 and 1893, J. W. Kittle; 1894 to 1898, Thomas Winter.
In 1885 a water company was established with $10,000 capital. The present officers are: Alexander Thompson, president; William T. Winter, vice-president; A. Albers, secretary and treasurer; E. L. O'Connor, superintendent.
In 1887 the Excelsior Hook and Ladder Company was organized with thirty members and soon after the Pakatakan Hose Company with twenty-five members. The fire department was accepted by the corporation trustees in 1890. In 1896 a three-story building was erected on Church street for the department.
In 1891 a state bank was organized with a capital of $25,000, which has been increased to $40,000. A fine building was built on the corner of Main and Bridge streets. Hon. George G. Decker has been president of the bank since its organization, John Grant its first and Noah Olmstead its present cashier, Howard Swart assistant, E. L. O'Connor vice-president, and J. K. P. Jackson attorney.
The hotels of Margaretville are: The Ackerly House, the Riverside House, and the Bouton House. The general mercantile business is represented by many active firms.
There are several societies, the oldest is the Masonic, organized in 1855, Knights of Pythias and Good Templars. Another old organization of the place is the cornet band, formed in 1859, and now, nearly thirty years after; it still contains several of the first members.
In the time of the Civil war Middletown showed her patriotism by sending more men to the front than ally other town in the county.
The popularity of Margaretville as a summer resort is each year increasing. Its clear mountain springs from which it receives its water supply, its improved roads and shaded drives, its miles of stone walk, its clean streets and fine mountain scenery attract all who visit the place. During the summer months the population is largely increased by city people. Among those who have built cottages here is the artist, Mr. Henry Mosler, whose paintings are noted both in Europe and America. The normal population of Margaretville is about 800.
Among those people prominent for their usefulness in the town of Middletown may be mentioned Dr. Orson M. Allaben, who came here and settled the year he graduated from Waterville Medical College, Maine, in 1831; here he practiced medicine until his death in 1892. The respect and confidence placed in him by the people is shown by the numerous public offices that he filled; being once a Senator, twice in the Assembly, and seven terms town supervisor. He procured the first legislation relating to the Ulster & Delaware Railroad, and was instrumental in various early town and village improvements.
George G. Decker came to Middletown in 1849. He was instrumental in establishing the Methodist Episcopal church, and especially helpful therein. He has been Supervisor of the town, Member of Assembly, and is now president of the Peoples Bank.
Matthew Griffin, an attorney at Griffin Corners, represented the second district of the county in the Assembly for three years. His son DeWitt Griffin is also an attorney and was Member of Assembly in 1892.
John Grant, a native of this town, was elected State Senator in 1896, the youngest member of that body.
Dr. J. N. Wright
IN the year 1788 on the beautiful flats upon which now stands the village of Roxbury, a wandering hunter by the name of Israel Inman built himself a house of logs and made a little clearing. But agriculture was not Israel's forte. The glossy fur of the beaver whose dam across the East branch of the Delaware at that point made those flats a miniature Venice was vastly more to his taste. But Inman soon had company, for in the next year, 1789, a party of pioneers of about twenty families from Fairfield, Conn. followed a pathway, with blazed trees for a guide, from Catskill, and camped at the mouth of what is now known as Roses Brook in the town of Stamford. Their horses being stabled in the woods to browse, the third day were missing, when a search party, of which Abram Gould was one, started on their trail. They followed them over the mountain, and on the other side met Inman who told them he had their horses and invited them to his cabin. So pleased were they with the location that they returned for their families, and persuading two others to come with them they came back over their trail to what is now Grand Gorge, passing through the mountain notch and down the valley to a place now known as West Settlement. Thus the grand old town of Roxbury had its birth.
But another settlement had added materially to the beginning of the town. In the year 1786 that sturdy old Scotchman John More whose numerous descendants are so closely and honorably associated with the growth and prosperity of this town; established his home near the head waters of the East branch of the Delaware, at a point seven miles east of Inman's, cabin, his land claim being now partially covered by the village of Grand Gorge. This beginning was known as More's Settlement, then Moresville, until in 1875 the post office department by reason of the confusion arising from their being a number of similarly named offices in this state changed the name to Grand Gorge, apropos of the grand mountain gorge just west of the village.
And now commenced the gigantic undertaking of transforming a howling wilderness into the beautiful town of today.
"His echoing axe the settler swung, Amid the sea-like solitude, And crashing, thundering, down were flung The Titans of the wood."
It was soon learned that the bark of the hemlocks which covered the mountain sides could be utilized, and large tanneries sprung into existence along every stream, from which immense quantities of first-class sole leather found its way to the markets of the world. Saw mills on every mountain rivulet furnished lumber for the homes; green pastures and waving meadows appeared, and Roxbury took the place which she long maintained as the first butter town in the United States.
In 1845 Roxbury became involved in what was known as the Anti-Rent war. Masked and armed men disguised as Indians terrorized the peaceable farmers who thought differently from themselves in regard to leased land. Many serious and ludicrous incidents occurred, a fair specimen being the battle of Shacksville. As the signal for the gathering of the Indians was the blowing of a horn the farmers were forbidden to use theirs to call their men to meals. John B. Gould, the father of the late Jay Gould, refused to submit to their dictation and proceeded to blow his horn when and where he pleased, until one noon after a particularly long and aggravating blast, a tribe of warriors swooped down upon him to execute vengeance. The old man, instead of begging for mercy, quietly took down his old flint-lock rifle from the antlers where it hung and confronted them. That and the ominous clicking of the lock was enough; in less time than it takes to tell it nothing could be seen but the cloud, of dust raised by those bold warriors as they scooted for tall timber, and the battle of Shacksville was over. These differences however were soon adjusted, but more or less of the anti-rent feeling prevailed until other issues absorbed the attention of its followers.
When the war cloud of 1861 spread its gloom over the country Roxbury sent nearly one hundred of her sons to defend the integrity of the nation. Enlisting in fighting regiments over sixty of them sleep where they fell on the field of battle, or in the trenches near the prison pens of Richmond, Saulsbury and Andersonville. Only about thirty of their more fortunate comrades are peacefully waiting for their final muster out as residents of this town.
The building of the Ulster & Delaware Railroad in 1872 marked a new era in the history of this town, making many changes in long established customs and putting in touch with the outside world in a manner never dreamed of by its early settlers. And though the town was bonded for the large sum of $150,000 for the construction of this road, it has all been paid, and now this town has within its borders over fourteen miles of one of the finest and best managed railroads in the state. Its people can now leave their homes in the morning, go to New York, transact fair amount of business and return by nine o'clock in the evening, a wonderful change from the old five days journey by stagecoach and steamboat.
Roxbury has had the honor of contributing two county judges to the bench of this county. Edwin More, who was the first county judge elected under the constitution of 1846, and William Gleason, who was elected in 1851 and again in 1859, serving eight years. Its citizens have also many times represented this county in the legislature at Albany.
In this brief sketch it is utterly impossible even to mention the names of those who have been prominent in the history of this town. Yet memory loves to dwell upon the names of John More who more perhaps than any other can be called, the founder of Roxbury; of Jay Gould, the most brilliant financier of the age, who was born and grew to manhood in a typical Roxbury home; of Hon. Edward I. Burhans, the able and .conscientious magistrate and sagacious man of business; of Charles Harley, who for his whole long life was the honored merchant, genial companion and trusted adviser of the entire eastern portion of the town, and of John C. and Joseph Keator, whose enterprise did so much to make the beautiful valley of Batavia the splendid section that it is today.
The town of Roxbury has a population of 2,344 who receive their mail from four well conducted post offices. Eight churches of the following denominations are well supported. Three Methodist Episcopal, two Reformed, two (old school) Baptist, and one Baptist; all of them having excellent edifices, and their pulpits supplied with eloquent and earnest pastors.
Two beautiful villages are within its borders, Roxbury and Grand Gorge. The incorporated village of Roxbury is second to no village in the county. It has wide, level, well shaded and well lighted streets, the best possible system of water works, a well equipped fire department, a union free school supplied with all the modern methods of education, a live newspaper, two ample and well arranged public halls, three fine churches, one of them the Gould Memorial church, erected in loving memory of their father by the children of the late Jay Gould, having a deservedly national reputation.
A large number of first-class villas and cottages are every season filled with summer guests, while the private homes of Roxbury are beautiful and modern. Kirkside, the elegant and spacious summer residence of Helen Miller Gould, is an ornament of which any village might be proud, while the presence of Miss Gould in the town is a benison indeed. Her interest in every public improvement, the establishment and maintenance of a public library, her unostentatious and elegant hospitality, combine to place her among the most beloved of women.
"Our homes are cheerier for her sake,
Our dooryards brighter blooming,
And all about the social air
Is sweeter for her coming.
Her presence lends its warmth and health,
To all who come before it;
If woman lost us Eden, such
As she alone restore it."
The village of Grand Gorge is what may be justly called a modern and up-to-date village. A mere hamlet in 1872, the building of the Ulster & Delaware railroad gave it an impetus, and a steady and substantial growth has been the result. Its situation commands the trade of a large portion of Greene and Schoharie counties, which with its extensive milk business makes it an extremely lively village. It has two admirable churches, two large creameries, two mammoth mercantile establishments, a splendid school, a fine system of water works, and its residences are with out exception in first-class condition and of modern construction. It entertains a large number of summer guests, and is in all respects a good place in which to exist.
Batavia, about four miles south of Roxbury village, is one of the most beautiful valleys in the county and is a thriving farming community. It has two churches, a post office, and many of the finest farms and farm buildings in the town, and its inhabitants are altogether a happy and prosperous people.
Such is a brief history of the town of Roxbury in 1897, Delaware county's centennial year. Its future is bright with many pleasant anticipations which are sure to be realized, and it will always hold its position among the first towns in our county.
The following is a complete list of the persons who have held the office of Supervisor:
1799, 1806, Isaac Hardenbergh
1807, 1808, Joshua Ferris
1809-25, 1832, 1838, John T. More
1826, 1827, 1830, David P. Mapes
1828, 1829, Lewis Hardenbergh;
1831, 1833, 1834, 1842, Jonas More
1835, Alexander Daniels
1836, Daniel Rowland
1837, 1843, 1844, 1846, 1847, Thomas Keator
1839, 1853, 1854, 1857, 1864-66, E.I. Burhans
1840, 1841, Harvey Keator
1845, John S. More
1848, Sherman S. Street
1849, 1860, Ira Hicks
1850, Martin Kelly
1851, 1852, 1855, 1863, Alexander H. Burhans
1856, Jonas M. Smith
1858, 1872, 1873, Edward Burhans
1859, Benjamin Scudder
1860, Charles Harley
1862, Alexander More
1867, Jacob Newkirk
1868, Hiram Meeker
1869, Abram Van Dyke
1870, 1871, George W. Lauren
1874, Andrew J. Corbin
1875, 1876, Henry G. Soop
1877, John E. Newkirk
1878, 1879, O. A. Meeker
1880, 1881, Daniel D. Andrus
1882, Charles G. Keator
1883, George W. Lauren
1884, Daniel T. Keator
1885, Charles G. Keator
1886, 1887, Almerin Cartwright
1888, 1894-97, David S. Booth
1889-91, B. B. Bouton
1892, Charles Schermerhorn
1893, Ezra H. Bartram.
Prior to 1870, the following held the office of Town Clerk:
John T. More, John E. Burhans, Otis Preston, Thomas Montgomery, Jonathan B. Cowles, John Frisbee, Novatus Blish, Dubois Burhans, Ezekiel Preston, E. Follett, Thomas Keator, Truman C. Bidwell, John P. Burhans, A. C. Cowles, A. H. Tyler, Alexander H. Burhans, Samuel B. Follett, Hiram Meeker, Daniel W. McGarry, Silas S. Cartwright, Orrin A. Meeker, Richard W. Van Dyke, John C. Van Dyke, John E. Newkirk, Fred J. Youngman, William W. Noble, Henry C. Soop.
The early Justices of the Peace were the following:
Alexander Daniels, Harvey Keator, Daniel Rowland, Henry T. Becker, Timothy Cartwright, Edward I. Burhans, Harvey Keator, Samuel More, Samuel Scudder, Eli Wright, Cyrus Graves, David M. Smith, Benjamin H. Akin, A. C. Cowles, Lewis Stratton, Erastus Mead, Solomon P. Moffatt, Nelson K. Dart, Hiram Meeker, Albert R. Terwilager, George A. Dart, George A. Dent, Robert B. Smith, Almerin Cartwright, John T. Grant, Jacob K. Benjamin, Erastus Mead, Ezra Mead, William D. Powell, Samuel B. Shout.
By Edwin R. Wattles.
SIDNEY was originally part of the town of Harpersfield. Harpersfield was created a town in Otsego county in 1778, and embraced lands between the Susquehanna, Charlotte and Delaware rivers. It included besides the present town of Harpersfield, Franklin, Sidney, part of Bainbridge, and part of Afton.
Harpersfield was then in Montgomery county, the name Montgomery having been substituted in place of Tryon, because Governor Tryon was a tory. In 1791 the county of Otsego was created from Montgomery, and the town of Harpersfield, including Franklin and Sidney, became part of Otsego. In 1792, Harpersfield was divided, the western part being called Franklin, and Franklin was made to include what is now Sidney, and Sidney was taken off from Franklin in 1801. The name of Sidney was given in honor of Sir Sidney Smith, a British Admiral, who about that time had achieved great success in Syria (Asia Minor) by checking the progress of Napoleon Bonaparte. Sidney prior to this time was called Susquehanna Flats, but at the suggestion of an English school master named Mandeville, the name was changed to Sidney.
Rev. William Johnston, one of the earliest pioneers of our town, was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1713. This remarkable man received a thorough education at Edinburgh University, Scotland. He came to this country when a young man, and married Miss Cummins, an English lady. It is not fully known where he resided during all the time prior to his removal to this town, but it is believed that it was in the vicinity of Albany. His occupation had been that of a minister of the gospel, of the Presbyterian Calvinistic faith. His wife was a lady of education, and was in receipt of an annuity of £150, which, however, ceased after the breaking out of the war. Interesting incidents are related in the career of the elder Johnston, and the tradition is that the notorious Brant met General Herkimer by appointment in the summer of 1777, encamped on what is now known as the Milton Johnston farm one mile below the village of Sidney. Here they held a conference and the Rev. William Johnston was present at the interview, and Brant asked him which side he was on and Mr. Johnston told him he was on, the side of the people.
Soon after these occurrences the Johnston family removed for safety to Cherry Valley. Before leaving they secreted some rude farm utensils that they could not carry with them, burying them in the ground and under the hearth in the cabin.
After the massacre at Cherry Valley, Hugh and Witter went to Schenectady and Florida in the Mohawk valley, where their father died in 1783, after preaching a sermon celebrating the result of the war. Witter and Hugh returned to Sidney in 1784, bringing their mother with them.
The following obituary notice of the son Hugh is worth preserving: "Died at Sidney Plains, October 23, 1833, Hugh Johnston, aged 70 years. Captain Hugh Johnston was born April 10th, 1763, in Duanesborough, New York. He, with his father, Rev. William Johnston, with other connections, came to the Susquehanna Flats, now Sidney, in 1775. They were the first settlers in that part of the county and for two years suffered all the hardships and privations of a new country. In June, 1777, they were obliged to leave their homes and flee before an invading foe. Brant, a chief, with one hundred and ten warriors, came and burnt their buildings and slaughtered their cattle."
At Sidney was the site of an old Indian fort where three acres of ground were enclosed by mounds of earth, surrounded by a ditch; and for a long time this enclosure was called the Grounds.
In company with Mr. T. Gr. Smith we visited recently the Indian burial place, located near the Ontario & Western bridge across the Susquehanna river at Sidney. We found a circular, haystack looking mound about one hundred feet in diameter at the base, and ten feet in height, well authenticated as their burial place. Since that time one of the early tribes assembled on Moses hill just across the river, and decided to make an encampment where Sidney village is now located. Some of the tribes remained there for many years. Excavations and examinations of this mound have proved it beyond doubt to be an Indian burial ground. The unearthing of arrow heads and other relics was sufficient evidence to induce the people to have the mound remain intact. Mr. Arthur Bird suggested to the village fathers to have a monument of an Indian chief placed on the mound, holding in his hand the calumet, or pipe of peace, a deserved and appropriate memorial of the "Indian lover" and "his dusky mate."
The first grist mill west of Harpersfield was built in 1778 by Abram Fuller, on the Ouleout, near Wattles Ferry. An inn was opened by Nathaniel Wattles at the Ferry in 1785. The first raft was sent down the river to Harrisburg, in 1795, by Captain David McMasters.
In 1787 a great scarcity of provisions occasioned much distress in this valley, and the settlers were saved from starvation by a boat load of flour from Northumberland, Pennsylvania, brought to them through the exertions of General Daniel Bates.
The second settlement of white people was made upon the Ouleout in the summer of 1785, by Sluman Wattles, who was afterwards Justice of the Peace and a Judge of the County Court. Mr. Wattles was born in 1752, of Scotch descent, in Lebanon, Connecticut, and died in Sidney in 1837, aged 85 years. Arriving in this state he first settled for a short time at New Canaan, and moved from there to a place upon the West branch of the Delaware, at or near what is now called Bloomville. Leaving this place Mr. Wattles located in Franklin, upon what is now known as the Taylor farm, where he commenced clearing a piece of land, and the following year went back after his family, bringing them with him on his return. In the course of this journey a daughter was born to them, the first white female child born in Delaware county. Previous to moving his family the Judge had made some improvements, having erected a log cabin, the covering or roof as well as the upper and under floors of which were composed of elm bark. As near as we can learn this was in 1785. About this time John and Alexander Harper bought of the Indians the right and title to a large tract of land, and soon after sold their contract to a company, who petitioned the State for a grant of a patent of land. The patent was granted to Peter V. B. Livingstone, and was known for a long time as the Wattles patent, the Judge being one of the four proprietors. The Harpers having failed to pay the proprietors, Judge Wattles went to Governor Clinton and related the circumstances. The Governor asked him if he had the money due the State, and learning that he had, they both went before the Legislature and the Governor stated the business of Judge Wattles, and thereupon an act was passed reinstating them in the contract. Soon after Judge Wattles, standing upon the banks of the Ouleout, called by the Indians "Leafy Water," surrounded by the swarthy denizens of the forest, made with them a memorable treaty. And many times thereafter during the frequent troubles that arose he was able, by this treaty, to save himself and family from being massacred.
In this brief sketch many incidents and reminiscences must be omitted; but we would pay a grateful tribute to the memory of those grand men who when quenching their thirst from the flowing springs of the forest displayed a character as pure as the fountain itself.
We have in our possession Judge Wattles' old account book, more than a century old, written by his own hand with ink made from the bark of a tree, with a pen made from the wing of a bird captured in the same dense wilderness. In this book, now yellow with age, we find historical records of great value, legal documents and papers, which when we consider the dates when they were written, indicate remarkable ability. And what Mr. Francis W. Halsey said of him after a careful study of Judge Wattles' life and character was true: "When Sluman Wattles left this world he took a man's life with him."
Also we find in this book running accounts with Peter V. B, Livingstone, Jonathan Bush, Solomon Martin and many others in 1791, and later with Daniel Root and all of the early settlers. Two entries of early dates read: "Nov. 29, 1790. Benj. Hovey Dr. to cash 0 £ 15s and 10d, to be delivered at Ball's in Catskill. April 6, 1791, to cash received of Peter V. B. Livingstone, £11 4s and 7d."
While cordially acknowledging our willingness to do honor to the pioneers of every town in our county we take honorable pride in the mention of the Johnstons, Smiths, Bidwells, Hodges and Burdicks, who figured so prominently in the Susquehanna and Ouleout valleys.
The next settlement was made upon Carr's Creek, at what is now Sidney Centre, in 1793. The first pioneer was Jacob Bidwell, who located upon the farm where Harper W. Dewey now, resides. The coming of "Uncle Jacob," as he was familiarly known was some years after the close, of the Revolutionary war. Peace had been restored, Indian hostilities had practically ceased, and though living in a dense wilderness very far removed from neighbors and friends, they enjoyed a sense of security and safety. Still, they had their battles to fight and we can imagine something of the sufferings and hardships of these early pioneers.
Earliest among the wants of the earliest settlers was that of a grist mill. It was more a necessity than a saw mill, because a good axe could cut and hew logs for a cabin and could thus delay the advent of sawn timber for years. But with flour and meal the case was more urgent. The hollow top of a tough stump, or a hollow boulder, soon became inadequate to meet the wants of the new comers. One of the first grist mills on the upper Susquehanna was built on Carr's Creek. It was built a few years before the one which Abram Fuller set up on the Ouleout, and thirty years earlier than the one built in Unadilla village. At the Baxter mill a small amount of grinding meal was done before 1778, and sixteen years later it was destroyed by fire. John Carr, its builder, and the builder of a saw mill on the same site, is familiarly known in local annals as a tory. When Joseph Brant first came to Unadilla in June, 1777, Carr was one of those whom he allowed to remain because he had declared himself for the King.
Another early settlement in our town was made in 1795 by Captain Samuel Smith, at what is now known as Franklin Depot, but for many years as Smith Settlement. Mr. Smith came from Bennington, Vermont, and first settled on the farm lately owned by Richard Ostrander. The father of Captain Smith was killed at the battle of Bennington and Mr. Lyman B. Smith, a well known business man of Binghamton, is one of his grandsons.
Jonathan Burdick was another of the early settlers of Sidney. His father, Elisha Burdick, came to Kortright in 1810. Mr. Burdick's father was a soldier in the war for independence, serving five years. He was at the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown and he had been one of the guards when Major Andre was taken from the old Dutch church to the place of execution.
Joseph Niles moved to this town in 1812. He was drafted to go to the war and hired a man to go in his stead, who went to Sackett's Harbor under General Boot. David Baker came in 1816 and settled near the village of Sidney Centre, at which time the land upon which this flourishing village now stands, with the exception of one little spot, was an unbroken forest.
Mr. James Hughston settled soon after Mr. Wattles did, and settled on the Ouleout. It was then a very dense wilderness, and so thick were the trees and bushes that it was said to be impossible to drive a pair of yoked oxen from Mr. Hughston's house to Wattles' ferry. Mr. Hughston moved his wife into this town on horseback, with her bed and other articles strapped on the horse; and she used to relate, among other incidents, how she made a cradle for her first child from a piece of a hollow tree. Mr. Hughston lived and died at Sidney, was a magistrate in the town for about forty years, was several times supervisor and once a member of the State Legislature.
Soon after the Revolutionary war, Adam Rifenbark settled on the bank of the Susquehanna, near what is now called Crookerville. It is said he was a deserter from the British army.
Timothy Beach, about the same time, moved his family into a cabin he had built at the junction of the Ouleout and Susquehanna, where he lived a number of years and was drowned in the river by an Indian. He has numerous descendents residing in this county.
In the year 1789 Isaac Hodges came from the town of Florida, on the Mohawk river, to the Ouleout to look for lands for his sons to settle on. He purchased 500 acres, being a part of the patent surveyed by Judge Wattles a few years previous. He paid ten shillings an acre, and divided this land among his four sons, Hezekiah, Benjamin, Isaac, and Josiah. Early in the spring of 1790, Hezekiah with his wife and three brothers took possession of the land. They moved with a yoke of oxen and one horse, and carried their few household goods and provender for the oxen on a sort of sled with crooked runners, which was called a dray, and was so constructed as to easily pass over logs and other obstructions. They arrived at their destination the 29th day of April, 1790, with 200 pounds of hay for their team and a little corn. On the day after their arrival the snow fell two feet deep, and the intensely cold weather and scarcity of provisions and fodder caused them much suffering.
In 1797 Stephen Dewey with his sons, William, Roger and David, settled on the Ouleout about one mile above. Soon after William, afterwards well known as Colonel Dewey; purchased the farm and resided on it until his death. He filled many public positions, having served as Supervisor of the town of Sidney, and a Member of the Legislature. He married the daughter of Judge Wattles referred to as the first white female child born in Delaware county.
Among other early settlers were Jonathan Bush, at whose house the first town meeting was held; and one Stevens, who ran a grist mill on the Ouleout, and also the first and only distillery for making whiskey in the town. Some other early pioneers were Oliver Gager, a captain in the militia; Nathaniel Wolcott, Josiah Thatcher, for many years Town Clerk; William Evans, and others. Most of these old settlers raised large families and left numerous descendents, some of whom still remain in Sidney, but most of them are widely scattered.
Jonathan Carley came from Dutchess county and settled on the banks of the Susquehanna in the year 1795, two miles below Otego village. He found a family by the name of Collyer there, who came a few years earlier. Josiah Chase also came about that time; Laban Crandall, John French, Jerry Reed and Godfrey Calder came immediately after. The first school in that part of the town of Sidney was taught by Miss Abigail Reed, in Mr. Calder's barn.
John Avery settled at Sidney Plains (now Sidney) in the year 1798, and died in 1836, aged 80 years. He was born at Ashford Corner and served in the Revolution.
Levi Baxter came to Sidney in 1806. He was a man of marvelous industry and energy, and died at the age of 87. Squire Baxter was the son of Mr. Francis Baxter, a Revolutionary soldier who during the war was taken prisoner by the tories and after suffering much abuse was incarcerated in that infamous den, the New York Sugar House.
Deacon Peter Bradley came to Sidney at the close of the Revolutionary war and resided there until his death in about 1814. He settled on the farm where General Herkimer and Brant, the Indian chieftain, held their conference in 1777.
Space forbids especial notice of many of the early pioneers, and the records are lost of others deserving of mention. Milton C. Johnston of Sidney, Witter Johnston of Fort Dodge, Iowa, and Laurens Johnston of Challis, Iowa, now living, are great grandchildren of the Rev. William Johnston.
The section of the town of Sidney lying upon the Ouleout creek, at the point where Wattles ferry was built, for a long term of years was the principal business part of the town. It was here that Judge Wattles many times held court, and here elections, general trainings and town meetings were held. At this place also the Hon. Samuel Gordon was born.
Closely connected with the interests of early Sidney, and of very great local and commercial advantage, was the construction of the Catskill turnpike. The opening of this great thoroughfare from Catskill to what was then Wattles Ferry, along the Ouleout, a distance of eight miles through our town, was an important enterprise all along the line, and also gave a wonderful impetus to the business of the village of Unadilla, immediately across the river. The Catskill Turnpike, as a turnpike, dates from the year 1802; but the road itself was of much older date than that. The road followed lines nearly straight, and ran through lands owned by the stockholders. Little regard was had for grade, the main purpose being to make the land accessible and marketable. It soon became a famous highway between the two rivers, the Hudson and Susquehanna. Toll gates were built every ten miles, and the immense amount of travel provided funds to pay the stockholders and kept the road in fine condition. The rates of toll were as follows: For twenty sheep or hogs, eight cents; for twenty horses or cattle, twenty cents; for a horse and rider, five cents; for a horse and chaise, twelve and one-half cents; for a coach, twenty-five cents; for a stage or wagon, twelve and one-half cents. Two stages were kept regularly on the road, the fare five cents a mile. A stage that left Catskill Wednesday, reached Wattles' Ferry Friday night.
The town of Sidney is located in the northwest corner of the county, and is bounded on the north by the Susquehanna river; on the east by Franklin, on the south by Masonville, and on the west by the town of Bainbridge, (Chenango Co.) The town comprises a large area of productive and fertile land. It has two enterprising villages: Sidney located on the Susquehanna, and Sidney Centre, on Carr's Creek. The village of Sidney Centre contains a population of about 500, and Sidney about 3,000; while the entire town according to the census of. 1850 contained 1,807 inhabitants, and by that of 1890, 3,112. At the organization of the town in 1801 the inhabitants must have consisted of a few families at Sidney, Jacob Bidwell at Sidney Centre, Capt. Samuel Smith at what is now Franklin Depot, and a few squatters along Carr's Creek.
The thriving village of Sidney Centre, located on the New York, Ontario & Western railway, contains seven stores, two fine churches, and two large creameries; while the energy and enterprise of its business men insures a healthy and steady growth. The first school built in the Sidney Centre district was located where George Simpson's barn now stands, and one of the first teachers was Miss Lydia Knapp, afterwards the wife of Daniel S. Dickinson. Garrett Dedrick kept the first store, and William Smith was the first postmaster. Mr. William Johnston of Penn, speaking of himself in a friendly letter says: "I might say, and truthfully too, that I helped to swing the axe right and left to cut down the timber where the beautiful village of Sidney Centre now is." He says further, "Samuel Niles was a good mower, and Launt Thompson was the only man who could go barefoot the year through." If space allowed mention could be made of many worthy men and 'women, and many interesting events described; but it is enough to call attention to the wonderful changes made during the century. In the place of hardship and suffering we see well cultivated farms and handsome villages; instead of being compelled to go to Schoharie to mill with a peck or half-bushel of Indian corn to be ground into meal to keep our families from .starvation, we have everything in abundance growing on our own farms, or brought to our doors from all the markets of the world. Truly this fact presents an object lesson worthy our consideration.
The log cabin was an evolution of the wigwam and was the first dwelling of the wilderness, where the pioneer attempted to construct a home. Rude as it was it secured warmth and safety to the family, and sheltered men and women of noble character and daring enterprise. The great stone chimney at one end of the cabin became the roaring tunnel for the household fire. At that time fire, in the form of living coals, was as carefully guarded and preserved as was the sacred fire of old. It was the last and most binding duty of the pioneer before retiring at night to bury the fire, and the first necessity in the early morning was to search the ashes for living coals, and failing in that the next and only recourse was an early journey to the nearest neighbor, (which was often a long distance,) to borrow a shovelful of coals. It is a long step from that condition of affairs to the turning on of the electric light by a simple motion of the hand; and think of all that has come between, since the pioneer and his family sat in the blaze of the open fireplace, heaping on boughs of wood to make a light by which the pages of an old book could be read!
This town was represented in the Senate by John M. Betts in 1848-49. Jonas A. Hughston was Member of Congress in 1865. Members of Assembly were Sluman Wattles in 1800, Nathaniel Wattles in 1798, ( then Franklin), William Dewey in 1816, Charles Rogers in 1853, Samuel Rexford in 1823, James Hughston in 1832, Reuben Lewis in 1846, Ira E. Sherman in 1865, and 1886, Albert H. Sewell in 1878, Robert Courtney in 1863, Robert Cartwright in 1895, Timothy Sanderson in 1883.
Our town is highly favored as a Railroad center. The Albany and Susquehanna, now owned by the Delaware and Hudson company, was built in 1866, and runs three miles within our boundaries. The New York, Ontario & Western railway was built in 1870, giving the town fourteen miles more of railway. The New Berlin Branch, running from Sidney to Edmeston, was completed in 1873. The junctions of the great thoroughfares at Sidney give the village remarkable shipping facilities, and induce passenger travel, trade and commerce from many points.
One of the most important industries of Sidney is the Silk Mill Company employing 150 hands. The raw silk is imported from Japan and manufactured into ladies' gloves and mitts. The dyeing and weaving are all done here, fifteen looms being in operation for weaving the cloth, and each loom weaving a web ten feet wide.
The Novelty Works used twenty-nine car loads of lumber in the month of May, employing 100 hands.
The Sidney Glass Works employ 100 hands in making bottles of every description, and the Cart and Carriage Company and the Lumber Machinists, each employs a large force in their extensive businesses.
The Sidney National Bank was organized, with a capital of $50,000, in December, 1887, with John A. Clark as president, Sluman L. Wattles as vice-president, and James L. Clark is the present cashier. The bank declared no dividend for eight years, at the end of which time its surplus equaled its original capital.
Space will allow us to mention only a few of the conspicuous men of Sidney. The Hon. Ira E. Sherman (lately deceased) was held in the highest esteem, and his fine sense of honor, ability and kindness, made his presence seem like a benediction. His fame as a poet is widespread, and from a brooklet, river, or old ruin he would weave a song story in language surpassingly beautiful.
Mr. H. O. Weller is the oldest business man in our town and by honorable business methods has been very successful and enjoys the confidence of his many friends in a remarkable degree.
Mr. T. G. Smith enjoys a reputation not confined to our town or county. Retiring a few years since from active pursuits, he made a trip to the old country, visiting London, Paris, Naples, Florence, Rome and Vienna, and also traversed Holland and Belgium. His correspondence, while abroad, was published in the metropolitan journals, and read with the greatest interest by many people. His description of the "City of the Sea," and other historic places, was appreciated and recognized by all who had the pleasure of reading his letters.
The village of Sidney contains five churches: Congregational, Methodist Episcopal, Baptist, Episcopal and Roman Catholic.
The first newspaper printed in Sidney was the Star, in 1876. We now have the Sidney Record, Sidney Advocate and the Transcript, the last named published at Sidney Centre. The first number of the Sidney Record, Arthur Bird editor, was issued December 8, 1882. The population of the village at that time was 550. The organization of the Sidney National Bank, and the energetic work of the distinguished editor of the Record, gave a powerful impetus to the business prosperity of Sidney. Citizens of our town are proud of the honorable career of Mr. Bird, in public and private life, and appreciate his manly work in their behalf. This gentleman received the appointment of United States Vice-Consul General at Port-au-Prince, Hayti, in the year 1879.
Sidney was the first village in the county to have an organized police force. Mr. Leroy Smith is the Chief, and under his supervision the town feels comparatively secure.
In conclusion we would pay a grateful tribute to the noble pioneers of every town who laid the foundation for all we have, and make their lives and character an object lesson for our young men to appreciate and value the rugged integrity and faithful industry of those grand men. The past is history and the future is the unwritten page. Of our unparalleled advancement in science, and the possibilities already accomplished they could not have had the faintest conception. And when we review the wonderful growth of our towns, state, and nation, a panorama of astonishing events is constantly before us, and indeed, it is true that the future is known only to a kind Providence and His knowledge is
"The Divinity that shapes our ends, Bough hew them as we will."
THE present town of Stamford was formerly a part of Ulster county, or as it was termed "Original County;" that it was a county organized before New York State was under its first constitution as a state. An Act to divide the Province of New York into provinces, shires and counties was passed November 1, 1683. The act provided: "That the said province be divided into twelve counties," to wit: City and County of New York, Westchester, Ulster, Dutchess, Orange, Richmond, Kings, Queens, Suffolk, Dukes and Cornwall. The two latter counties were afterward surrendered to Massachusetts.
The first known settlers in the town were Dr. Stewart and John and Alex More, who emigrated from Scotland in 1773. Two years afterwards they were followed by James Stewart, William Fraser, Simon Fraser, Daniel and Abijah Bennett. Others who came were Elijah Baldwin, son of Caleb Baldwin, a captain in the Revolutionary army, who came to Stamford early in 1792, Philander Smith, a practicing physician, Stephen Beers, a native of Stamford, Conn., Heth Griffin, Burton Judson, Isaac Gould, Benj. Gilbert. These pioneers located in what was called the Township Valley, on Town Brook, and about five miles from its mouth. It was the intention of the early settlers to make this place the center of business. Accordingly an act was passed by the Legislature, surveys made and a town plot, one mile square, was laid out into plots forty rods square, with eight streets running at right angles. For a new country this locality was quite thickly settled previous to the Revolution, most of the settlers coming from Stamford, Conn. The Indians and Tories drove them out and many of them were compelled, to return to their native State. But with the close of the war they returned and again sought the beautiful valley.
Many of the settlers being from Stamford, Fairfield county, Connecticut, the name of their former place of residence was given to this locality, and it was called New Stamford. Two years later (April 6, 1790) an Act of the Legislature authorized the laying out of a road through to the Delaware and Susquehanna valleys. The road extended, from near the mouth of the Ouleout to the Hudson river. For that purpose the land commissioners were authorized to draw from the state treasury a sum "not exceeding eight hundred pounds." The contract for building this road was awarded to Nathaniel Wattles and Medad Hunt, but proving ruinous the contractors were relieved in 1793 by a further grant of one hundred and twenty pounds. The advantages of a road built by the state elated the people and in a comparatively short time the number of settlers increased; mills were built and an air of activity prevailed throughout the country.
The number of settlers increased so rapidly that the formation of a new town was desired. This section was then embraced in the town of Woodstock, as the territory of that town then extended to the Delaware river. An application for that purpose was made to the Legislature, which on April 10, 1792, enacted as follows:
" All that part of the town of Woodstock in the county of Ulster bounded West by the west bounds of the county of Ulster, South by the north bounds of Middletown, East by a line to begin on the side bounds of Middletown, two miles east of Papacton river, and running northerly to a monument number seventeen at the head of said Papacton river, and thence continuing the same course northerly until it meets the line of Albany county, shall be erected into a separate town by the name of Stamford, and the first town meeting in Stamford shall be held at the house of Peter Knapp."
This meeting was held on Tuesday, April 2, 1793. Patrick Lane was superintendent of the meeting and Peter Osborn moderator. These officers were elected for one year: George Squires, town clerk; Samuel Ingersoll, constable; Andrew Beers, supervisor; Joshua Wright, Silas Knapp, Abijah Bennett, assessors; Daniel Bennett, Samuel Merriam, Israel Inman, commissioners of highways; Hugh Rose and James Grant, overseers of poor; George McKenna, Ezra Hart, Peter Osborn, Alien Grant, Salmon Mallett, Jacob Smither, John Wright, district roadmasters; Abraham Gould, Ezra Hait, Simon Frasier, fence viewers and damage 'prisers; Peter Shearman, Zalmon Tousey, Israel Inman, pound masters. The next annual town meeting was held at the house of Philo Norton.
The question of a new county became a subject for consideration as the settlement increased between the Delaware and Susquehanna rivers. On the 10th of March, 1797, by an Act of the Legislature the county of Delaware became a fact. The entire territory of the county at first comprised the towns of Stamford, Harpersfield, Kortright, Franklin, Middletown and Colchester, but a short time afterward the town of Walton was added.
When first formed the town of Stamford had an area of 81,000 acres. It possessed all that part of the county of Delaware lying north of the northern bounds of Great Lot No. 40 in the Hardenburgh Patent. The direct length of its south line was about sixteen and three-fourth miles, and of its eastern line about eleven and one-half miles. Its northern line was eleven, miles and its western side, direct from corner to corner, about thirteen and one-fourth miles. About two years afterward its area was reduced more than half by the formation of the town of Roxbury. In 1820 it sustained another loss of territory by the erection of the town of Bovina. Ten years later (1830) six lots were taken from Harpersfield at the village of Hobart and annexed to Stamford.
Prior to 1820 the town meetings were held down the Delaware and on Rose's Brook, with one exception, (1794) when it was held at the house of Abel Watkins in the Town Plat. Town meetings were subsequently held at the Masonic hall in Waterville, now Hobart, and the town house has ever since been located there.
The first justice of the peace elected was Duncan McDonald, who was elected at the annual town meeting held April 6, 1830. The methods of voting for town officers prior to 1822 was by viva voco, raising the hand, or by the voters arranging themselves on either side of the room and being counted. The first justices being made by appointment no record is obtainable. But by official signatures it is found that Patrick Lamb held the office in 1793, being succeeded by Benjamin Ackerly, 1794, Andrew Beers, 1795; Isaac Hardenburg, 1796, Hugh Rose, 1797, Asahel E. Paine, 1802, Elijah Canfield, 1803, etc.
In 1860 a town insurance company was formed with these officers: Jacob B. Van Housen, Charles Griffin, Henry Pratt, Nelson L. Thorp, Cyrenus Gibbs, Lyman Wilcox, Frances B. Gilbert, Wm. B. Beckley and Robt. T. Hume. Mr. Wilcox was chosen president, and Mr. Gilbert secretary.
The following from Stamford have been Members of Assembly: Patrick Lamb, 1800; John Lamb, 1803; Anthony Marvin, 1805-06; Robert Clark, 1813; James G. Redfield, 1829; John Griffin, 1836; Orrin Griffin, 1842; Orrin Foote. 1846; Daniel Stewart, 1853; John Haxten, 1856; Frances B. Gilbert, 1863-64; Isaac H. Maynard, 1876-77; John S. McNaught, 1879.
In 1850 Levinus Monson of Hobart was elected a Justice of the Supreme Court (Sixth Judicial district). Only one man from Stamford was ever elected to the office of County Judge, Isaac H. Maynard in 1878.
Those residents of the town who have been elected and served as Sheriffs of the county are Duncan J. Grant, 1835-37; DeWitt C. Thomas, 1847-49; Baldwin Griffin, 1859-61; William B. Clark, 1877-79.
Many volunteers from Stamford helped to form the 144th Regiment, which left Delhi for the front on Sept. 27, 1862. Among those who enlisted were Wesley W. Sanford, Omer Champlin, Beers Grant, James Grant, and many others whose names we have not space to mention.
Among those who resided, in the town a century ago were: Stephen Adams, Samuel Adee, David Austin, Samuel Babbit, Sylvanus Brigham, Andrew Beers, John Bennett, Amos Baldwin, Thomas Brooks, James Bouton, Asa Beach, Archibald Burgess, Thomas Crosby, Alexander Cummings, Heman Dewey, Samuel Davis, Daniel Foote, Joshua Ferris, James Grant, Isaac Gould, Heth Griffin, John Hayes, Ezra Hoyt, Eseck Inman, Benjamin Jones, Jabez Jennings, Silas and Peter Knapp, Joseph Keator, John and William Lamb, Daniel Lynch, Nathan Lee, John Mallett, George McKenney, Alexander McDonald, Elisha Maynard, Asa Norton, John Polly, Solomon Parsons, Hugh Rose, Daniel Robinson, Aaron Rollins, Joshua Simmons, David Smith, John Sherman, Ebenezer Sturgess, Thomas Taylor, Nathaniel Tiffany, Charles Tucker, Henry Voorhis, Demar Wheeler, Joshua Wright, Anthony Wilber, Daniel Woolsey, William Yeomans.
With increased business came the needs of a bank, and on October 24, 1863, the First National Bank of Hobart was established in that village. Previous to the above date the banks at Kingston and Catskill had been used by depositors. The first board of directors was made up of Frederic W. Foote, John M. Olmstead, Russell D. Baird, John Griffin, Robt. I. Hume, Robt. McNaught, John Cowan. Mr. Foote was chosen president, and John M. Olmstead cashier. The capital at first was $50,000, which was afterwards increased to $100,000. In 1872 Mr. Foote resigned his position and Mr. Olmstead was chosen to succeed him as president. In 1881 the bank went into voluntary liquidation. To the credit of the institution it may be said that during the eighteen years of its existence it never missed declaring a dividend, and during that time it paid to its stockholders about $130,000. In 1872 Mr. F. W. Foote started a private banking house, which was known as the Exchange Bank. Its business career was short lived.
It was on November 12, 1881, that the Stamford National Bank was organized with a capital of $50,000, which was increased in 1886 to $75,000. The bank began business early in 1882 with these officers: M. Fredenburgh, S. W. Hubbard, J. H. Merchant, I. H. Maynard, Stephen Van Dusen, E. W. Churchill, Edgar Johnson, N. K. Wilson, R. G. Dayton. Mr. Fredenburgh was the first president, and Mr. Hubbell the first cashier. The present officers are J. H. Merchant, president; C. L. Andrus, vice-president; G. W. Kendall, cashier. Directors, E. W. Churchill, Stephen Van Dusen, Heth Griffin, H. S. Wood, E. W. Gallup, E. L. Seeley.
The National Bank of Hobart was established Dec. 6, 1890, with a capital of $50,000. The first officers were J. R. Cowan, president; J. M. Olmstead, vice-president; J. A. Scott, cashier. The same gentlemen are still retained in office, with the exception of Mr. Olmstead, who has been succeeded by O.I. Bennett as vice-president. The directors are J. R. Cowan, J. M. Olmstead, Jacob Lawrence, J. E. Bush, O. I. Bennett, John Bell.
The first fraternal organization in the town of Stamford was that of St. Andrew's Lodge, F. & A. M., No. 48, chartered April 12, 1796. Andrew Beers was the first master; John French senior warden and James Laughran junior warden. The first by-laws adopted, or at least recorded, were on December 26, 1796. The first number, 48, was renumbered 45, and the charter was forfeited (presumably for not making returns to the Grand Lodge) in 1832. The old warrant of St. Andrew's Lodge was returned to the Grand Lodge August 11, 1852. On September 4, 1852, a dispensation was issued to Harry Andrews, Elisha Wetmore, William McCaughan, Agnus McDonald, Alexander Stewart, B. Lyon and Joseph B. Hunt to erect a lodge at Hobart. Harry Andrews was named as master; Elisha Wetmore senior warden, and William McCaughan junior warden. A warrant was issued to these brethren as St. Andrew's Lodge, No. 289, June 8, 1853. This last warrant or charter is the one under which St. Andrew's Lodge is now working. St. Andrew's Mark Master's Lodge was an off-shoot of St. Andrew's Lodge, and is not the first Masonic lodge organized in Delaware county as has erroneously been recorded. The first records obtainable of any minutes bear date March 6, 1798. The officers were Andrew Beers, master; David G. Wainwright, senior warden; Robert G. Wetmore junior warden; John S. Bradford, tiler. The lodge of Mark Master Masons was formed about the time the Grand Chapter of the State was organized. On February 4, 1802, a Chapter of Royal Arch Masons was organized, Andrew Beers being chosen high priest; John Lamb, king; and Erastus Root, scribe. The number of this chapter was 14. The original charter of St. Andrew's Chapter is now in the possession of Delta Chapter No. 185, R. A. M. of the village of Stamford, being the legitimate and lineal descendant of old St. Andrew's No. 14. St. Andrew's Lodge and St. Andrew's Chapter were the first of the order in Delaware county. The first meetings of St. Andrew's Lodge were held at the house of Andrew Beers, and at other members' homes. Some time later a masonic hall was built near St. Peter's Episcopal church in Hobart. The building, a frame structure, was moved to its present site more than sixty years ago, after having been abandoned for lodge purposes. It is now used as a tenement. The present masonic hall at Hobart was built in 1889. St. Andrew's Lodge is more than one hundred years old, its centennial having been celebrated at Hobart on October 8, 1896, at which time Major George C. Gribbs of Stamford was the historian, and to him the writer is indebted for much data concerning the Masonic organizations. St. Andrew's Lodge has a membership of about one hundred. The present officers are: G. A. Young, master; Walter Kniskern, senior warden; William Barrett, junior warden; Norman K. Silliman, secretary; John Telford, treasurer; Robert C. Blackburn, senior deacon; W. Frank Clark, junior deacon; John Coon, tyler.
Delta Chapter, No. 185, was organized Feb. 8, 1865. The first officers were, Michael Karen, High Priest; Robt. S. Brownell, King; Oliver D. Young, Scribe; S. B. Champion, Secretary. Regular convocations are held in the village of Stamford. The present officers are, A. L. Van Dusen, High Priest; E. W. Landon, King; J. W. Baldwin, Scribe; Johnson Hamilton, treasurer; Geo. O. Leonard, secretary. There are sixty-five members.
Hobart Lodge, No. 339, I. O. O. F., was organized March 7, 1848, with these officers: Dr. Galvin C. Covel, noble grand; Baldwin Griffin, vice-grand; John McDonald, treasurer. Capt. John B. Baldwin was the first member to die, March 7, 1850. The present officers are noble grand, D. J. Young; vice-grand, Freeman Keyser; secretary, Geo. A. Young; treasurer, Justus Cobbe; warden, J. E. Butler. This lodge is the parent Odd Fellows' organization of Delaware county. The lodge celebrated its fiftieth anniversary last spring.
FIRE DEPARTMENT, STAMFORD.
The organization of a fire department for the village of Stamford was perfected June 16, 1870. The first apparatus purchased was a hand engine of the Button make. It was a second hand machine, bought for $250, in Rome, N. Y., by Maj. Geo. C. Gribbs and Harvey S. Wood, a committee appointed for that purpose by the board of trustees. Major Gribbs was appointed chief of the department and A. M. Martin assistant chief. A company consisting of thirty-five men was immediately organized to run with the machine, the company retaining the title, "Fort Stanwix Engine Co.," that being the original name of the engine while it was owned in Rome. John M. Bennett was elected foreman. The machine is still in commission but is not much used owing to the splendid system of water works with which the village is supplied. The present officers of the fire department are Geo. O. Leonard, chief; A. L. Van Dusen, 1st assistant; J. Gr. Dean, 2d assistant; E. L. McArthur, clerk.
Stamford Hose Co. No.1 was organized Nov. 21, 1883. The present officers are, Wm. Myers, foreman; A.L. Mattice, assistant; W. P. More, secretary; Eugene Stoutenburgh, treasurer.
I. H. Maynard Hose Co. No. 2, .was organized April 17, 1889. John Dooley is foreman; F. A. Maynard, assistant; E. L. McArthur, secretary: A. E. Fink, treasurer.
S. E. Churchill Hook and Ladder Co. was organized Oct. 2, 1895. The officers are E. C. Hanford, foreman; C. E. Smith, assistant; J. A. Tooley, secretary; D. C. Hoagland, treasurer.
The business of the village having increased to such an extent that the need of a better supply of water for fire and domestic use became imperative. On February 2, 1881, the present excellent system of water works was established. An organization was formed and a company, capitalized at $20,000, immediately began business. The directors were S. E. Churchill, J. P. Grant, S. W. Hubbell, L. H. Maynard, J. C. Van Dyke, Johnson Hamilton, F. G. Rulifson, Edgar Johnson and E. W. Churchill. S. E. Churchill was elected president; J. P. Grant, secretary; S. W. Hubbell, treasurer; F. G. Rulifson, superintendent.
A reservoir was constructed about one and one-half miles north of the village and mains laid throughout the various streets. October 29, 1892, the capital of the company was increased to $30,000, and again on March 3, 1897, to $45,000. This last increase of capital was for the purpose of building another reservoir about a mile further north of the original one and to put down an increased number of mains. The new reservoir was constructed early in the summer of 1895, at a cost of $16,000. The water works is one of the best in the state of its size and an abundance of pure spring water is supplied the citizens. There are twenty-six fire hydrants located about the village at important points. The pressure of water is 124 pounds to the square inch. The present officers are: J. C. Van Dyke, president; J. B. Cowan, vice-president; William Whitney, secretary; R. H. Barner, treasurer; Johnson Hamilton, superintendent; C. A. Crowell, A. M. Warner, W. V. Gillespie, E. W. Churchill, directors; George O. Leonard, Collector.
The first school commissioners of the town were Joseph Hurd, Silas Knapp and Francis Burritt, who were elected at the annual meeting in 1796. On Feb. 3, 1813, the town was divided into nine school districts, the commissioners, Charles B. Perry, Aaron Blish, and Daniel McGillivrae, being elected at a special meeting held in January of that year. The first inspectors of schools were Robert Forest, William Kedzie, Joseph D. Beers, Matthew DeWitt, Robt. Gleason and Abel Watkins. The first school building stood on the east side of Delaware street near the railroad creasing, in a corner of the lot of the present residence of Mrs. I. H. Maynard. Small select school had been kept at various times and in different parts of the town, but it was not until 1851 that the citizens were induced to contribute toward the erection of the Stamford Seminary building. The building finally passed into the hands of Charles G. Churchill, who built a boarding hall in connection with the school. The building later passed into other hands and is devoted to private enterprises. It was not, however, until 1874 that the "Stamford Seminary" was incorporated under board of regents, and on the 30th of May the corner stone of the present splendid structure was laid. The building with its appurtenances, exclusive of site, cost $12,000. A bell weighing 300 pounds was subsequently bought by private subscription. In the seminary building was kept the books of the Judson Library Association, named after Samuel Judson, jr., who bequeathed to the association $1,500 upon condition that the citizens of the village would contribute an equal amount of money. This being done the Library Association was formed with a board of trustees composed of S. E. Churchill, J. C. Van Dyke, J. H. McKee and I. H. Maynard. The library contains about 3,000 volumes. The establishment of a Union Free School was not perfected until August, 1881, when school districts No. 1 of Stamford, No. 15 of Jefferson and No. 5 of Harpersfield were consolidated and the Union Free School system was perfected. The first trustees were Norman K. Wilcox, Van Zandt Wyckoff, S. B. Champion, S. I. Brown, Harvey S. Wood, H. S. Preston, I. H. Maynard, S. E. Churchill, John Hagar. I. H. Maynard was elected president and Van Zandt Wyckoff secretary. The seminary building was secured and has since been used. The first principal was Robt M. Hughes. He was succeeded by Adelbert Gardenier, 1884; F. M. Smith, 1887; James Blakesley, 1890; J.B. Hastings, 1892; James A. Tooley, 1893. The present principal is Prof. S. L. Howe, who was engaged in 1896. The present board of trustees consists of H. P. Hubbell, president; S. E. Churchill, J. H. Merchant, C. L. Andrus, H. C. Lawrence, S. I. Brown, J. A. Tooley, A. W. Terry, E. E. Van Dyke. W. H. McAlpine is clerk. The school has an attendance of about 300 pupils.
Hobart is a small village in the town of Stamford and about four miles west of the latter village. It has a population of about 650 and is the oldest portion of the town of Stamford. The place was originally known as Waterville, presumably taking its name from the excellent water power which the Delaware river affords at this point. The settlement was at one time called "Tinkertown" from the fact that a man living here appropriated to his use a full set of tinker's tools belonging to another man. The Rev. Philander Chase, the first rector of St. Peter's Episcopal church, suggested that the village be named after Bishop Hobart of New Jersey, which was done.
The village was incorporated early in the spring of 1888. The first meeting of the board of trustees was held on May 31 of that year. The first President of the village was Dr. J. S. McNaught; Trustees, J. K. Odell, S. D. Kerr, John Robinson; Treasurer, Case Ostrander; Collector, O. B. Barlow; Clerk, A. H. Grant. The present officers of the village are: President, James B. Cowan; Trustees, Jacob Lawrence, Oscar I. Bennett; Treasurer, William S. Thomson; Clerk, A. S. Carroll.
George Foote kept the first tavern, where the old Mansion House building now stands.
Cyrus Beers opened the first store, on the same ground where the store of J. W. Griffin is located.
The first physician in Hobart was Dr. Joshua H. Brett, who was also the first judge of Delaware county. Other physicians were Drs. Gregory, Hanford, Howard, and J. S. McNaught, the last of whom has been supervisor of the town and represented the district in the Assembly. Dr. McNaught is still in active practice and one of the prominent citizens of the village.
The first lawyers were J. B. Spencer and Andrew Beers, the latter being known as the almanac maker. Some of his almanacs are still in existence.
William Trotter was the first postmaster at the village, and James B. Rich is the present incumbent. George Foote built the first carding mill. He also built a woolen factory, and the water to run both mills was taken from the same dam, which although frequently rebuilt still remains and does good service. The foundry now operated by John Robinson was built by Charles Whiting in the winter of 1849. Mr. Robinson has owned and conducted the foundry for nearly forty years.
The Hobart Agricultural Society was organized June 17, 1876, with these officers: President, D. C. Sharpe; Vice-Presidents, Samuel H. Stevens, E. A. Gallup, Charles S. Stevens, H. Meeker; Secretary, B. S. McNaught; Treasurer, James S. Kerr. The first exhibition of the society was held October 10-12, 1876. The grounds and buildings are south of the village. The society has not held annual exhibitions in several years, not a sufficient interest being manifested to ensure its success.
The Union School of Hobart was organized in 1891, when the present building was constructed at a cost of about $7,000, which includes the furnishings. The building was enlarged in 1895 by the erection of an addition. The board of education consists of James B. Cowan, president; A. S. Carroll, secretary; James B. Rich, treasurer; James A. Scott, B. Hume Grant, William H. McClelland. There is a well stocked library containing about 2,000 volumes attached to the school. Prof. George J. Dann is the principal, and Martha Belle Scott preceptress. The school is now known as the Hobart High School.
The fire department was organized August 5, 1886, the first company being called Star Hose Co. No. 1. In 1894 this company was incorporated under the name of the Cascade Hose Co. About the time of the organization of the Star Hose Co. a small hand fire engine was bought in New York. It at one time belonged to Engine Co. No. 41, of the volunteer department of that city. The company organized to run with this machine was called Clinton Engine Co. No data of the formation of this company is obtainable. The "old tub," as it is sometimes called, is still in service but not much used owing to the village being supplied with water works. The officers of this company are J. E. Butler, foreman; J. C. McMurdy, secretary; C. E. Hanford, treasurer. The officers of Cascade Hose Co. are W. J. H. Robinson, foreman; Charles L. Shakelton, assistant; A. S. Carroll, secretary; C. E. Hanford, treasurer. Justus Cobbe is chief of the department, and A. S. Carroll, assistant.
The Mansion House, which is now closed, is the oldest hotel in the place. It was built more than seventy years ago. For many years the hotel was conducted by Clayton Weeks. The last landlord was Jesse Minor. The Barrett House, William Barrett, proprietor, is the only public house at present in the village.
The Hobart Water Company began business in 1887, the capital stock of the company being $12,000. The officers are: President; W. B. Brock; Secretary, Charles T. Leonard; Treasurer, J. S. McNaught; Superintendent, Robert McNaught.
There is but one newspaper published in the village, the Hobart Independent. This paper was established in 1885 by J. B. Rich, who in 1890 sold it to Mr. A. J. Champion of Stamford. The latter conducted the paper but a few months when it passed into the hands of I. L. Brayman of Walton. In 1891 Mr. Frank B. Mayham, the present publisher, secured control of the paper and changed its tone to that of the Democracy.
The first creamery in the village was established in 1888 by L. B. Halsey of New York and J. V. Jordan of Newburgh, under the firm name of Jordan & Halsey. The name of the creamery was afterward changed to that of the Sheffields Farm Creamery. Last spring some of the farmers became dissatisfied with the price offered them for milk and withdrew their patronage. As a result of this movement a co-operative association was formed by a large number of the farmers and the Hobart Dairy Condensing Company (limited) was organized. A substantial two-story building has been erected near the railroad station, which cost fully equipped $15,000. James A. Cowan is president; O. B. Foote, vice-president; S. O. Bennett, secretary; J. B. Stevenson, treasurer.
Stamford is one of the most picturesque and healthy villages it the State. It is about 162 miles from New York and seventy-four from Kingston. It is familiarly spoken of as the "Saratoga of the Catskills," being quite noted as a summer resort. Its altitude is about 1,800 feet above tide water. The village is reached by rail over the Ulster & Delaware railroad, which was built as far as Stamford in December, 1872. Later the road was completed to Bloomville, thirteen miles distant.
The village was incorporated May 19, 1870. The first president was Isaac H. Maynard, and the first board of trustees Charles Griffin, J. B. Van Housen, J. W. Maynard, E. W. Churchill, H. S. Wood. On February 19, 1873, by an Act of the Legislature the area of the corporation was reduced to its present limits. The village lies at the base of Mount Utsayantha whose towering summit is reached by a two mile drive. From this point the entire range of the Catskills, the Hudson river valley and the Berkshire hills are plainly visible in clear weather.
The village is handsomely laid out and has several well shaded streets. There is a normal population of about 1,000, but in the summer months this number is increased nearly four-told. The village contains a number of large hotels and commodious boarding houses and numerous pretty cottages, some of which are owned by citizens of New York, Philadelphia and other cities, by whom they are occupied in the summer months. There are four churches (referred to below), a public school and several substantial business blocks. The citizens are progressive, enterprising and take a natural pride in the village. Among the important hotels are Churchill Hall and Rexmere, under the management of S. E. Churchill; the Grant House. J. P. Grant, proprietor; the Hamilton House, A. E. Tallmadge, proprietor; and the Delaware House, Fred M. Tingley, proprietor. The latter house is one of the old landmarks of the place. It was built in the early part of the present century by Lemuel Lamb, who was its landlord for several years. The "tavern" was a small red frame building and originally but a story and a half in height. Daniel Clark, however, is said to have kept the first public house in the town.
The Mirror office was built by S. B. Champion in the summer of 1870, the frame being raised on the 6th of July of that year.
In 1893 Granthurst Park was annexed to the corporation. It is located on the heights overlooking the village and is surrounded by the handsome residences of some of the more wealthy citizens.
The Stamford Electric Light Company wag organized April, 1892, with a capital of $20,000. The present officers are J. P. Grant, president; J. K. Grant, secretary; S. E. Churchill, treasurer; J. Corbin, manager.
Of the three newspapers in the town the Stamford Mirror is the oldest. This paper was established in 1851, by Simon B, Champion, who had previously printed a newspaper in the village of Bloomville. Mr. Champion is the oldest publisher in the county and one of the few veteran editors in the state actively engaged in country journalism. He became a resident of Stamford in 1870, having moved from Bloomville. The Mirror is Democratic in tone and principle and its venerable editor is highly esteemed by all classes. Mr. Champion has held many positions of trust in his town. Mr. A. J. Champion is assistant editor of the Mirror and Mr. Clifford Champion its business manager.
The Stamford Recorder was established in the village in April, 1892, by a company composed of representative Republicans who desired an exponent of their political faith. The name of the corporation is The Stamford Printing and Publishing Company, and the printing plant of the Andes Recorder was purchased of William Clark, who became editor and manager of the Stamford Recorder. In August, 1894, Mr. Clark resigned and Edward A. Ackley has been the editor and manager since that time.
This young village is situated in the beautiful valley of the West Branch in the western part of the town. Since the coming of the railroad new buildings, stores, hotel, and a large and important creamery have been erected. The creamery is owned and operated successfully by a company of farmers. James McLean and S. W. Andrews have each fine summer residences here and the latter is making very extensive improvements on his grounds. In the picture given on page 469 this place is shown.
The first building to be used in town for religious purposes was built about 1798. It was a union meeting house, not denominational. The money, $550, to build this meeting house was raised by popular subscription. Among the original subscribers were Thomas Rickie, Douglas McIntyre, James Pudney, Nehemiah Whitney, Ralph Newell and Thomas Montgomery.
The second church built in the town was St. Peter's Episcopal in Hobart. The frame was raised on July 4, 1801. It was a noted edifice for that early period, a picture of which appears on page 53. The organization of this church society dates from December 8, 1794, when members of the Episcopalian church at Stamford, Kortright and Harpersfield met and elected Truman Beers, Augustus Bates, Ebenezer Sturgis, Gershom Hanford, Andrew Beers, Herman Bradford, Stephen Bartow, Elijah Baldwin and Moses Sackrider trustees. A parsonage, costing $529.66, was built in the fall of 1800. The money to build it was loaned by the corporation of Trinity Church of New York, and the building is still in use. The Rev. Philander Chase was the first rector of the parish and the Rev. Benjamin T. Trego is now in charge.
The third church was built in the Township valley in 1823 by the Methodist society, the framing and construction of the building being superintended by Peter Grant. The building was not heated and for seats loose boards were thrown across supports.
The fourth church in town was built as a Union Church in the village of Stamford in 1833. On June 24, 1834, the Presbyterians withdrew from the Harpersfield church and organized a church society. The Rev. Fordice Harrington was the first pastor. While Rev. Warren Mayo was pastor, in 1855, money was raised by subscription and a new edifice was built in the village of Stamford. The present structure is a very attractive one, and the pastor is the Rev. Leonard E. Richards.
The Methodist society, which is believed to have been the fifth church organization in the town, was organized about 1832. The Rev. John Bangs was the first pastor. The Methodists were the last to use the old Union meeting house, the Baptist society having withdrawn and in 1864 they built a more modern structure. The Rev. F. D. Abrams is the present pastor.
The Baptist church society was originally organized in the town of Jefferson, Schoharie county, but the church building stood in Harpersfield, about two miles northwest of Stamford village. In 1863 the society was reorganized and the present building erected on Main street between the Methodist and Presbyterian churches. Some years ago the church was rebuilt. The church was dedicated November 8, 1866. The Rev. J. B. Van Hoesen was pastor of this church for many years. The present pastor is the Rev. R. G. Sibley.
The seventh church in town was built in Hobart by the Presbyterian society in 1854, which has not had a pastor regularly.
The Methodists also built a church at the head of Roses Brook which was the eighth church built in the town.
William Trotter, esq., had much to do with the organization of the Reformed Presbyterian church of Hobart, which was effected in that village in 1853. The following year the present edifice was built at a cost of $3,200. Mr. Trotter died before the church was completed. The church was dedicated in 1855 by the Rev. Andrew Johnston, the newly installed pastor. Later the society changed its name to that of First Presbyterian Church of Hobart, which it still retains. The present pastor is the Rev. Charles M. Herrick.
As a result of revival services in Hobart held in January, 1834, by the Rev. Bezaleel Howe, the Methodist Church Society was organized. The present church edifice was built in 1835 and in 1854 it was extensively repaired, and several years afterwards the society built a parsonage adjoining the church, costing $1,500. The present pastor is the Rev. A. A. Walker.
Grace Episcopal Chapel was organized in Stamford village as a mission of St. Peter's church in the fall of 1883. The establishment of a mission was the outgrowth of the efforts of Mr. James McLean of South Kortright and New York, Miss M. E. Treadwell, Mrs. I. H. Maynard, Mrs. Ingraham, Mrs. H. S. Wood, Mrs. B. H. Foote, Mrs. E. C. Simpson and other ladies of the Episcopal faith living in Stamford, The chapel cost about $3,000 and wag built on a lot donated by Dr. H. S. Wood for that purpose. When the chapel was consecrated some years later the society was set apart as ail independent mission and it has since been self supporting. The present rector is the Rev. Olin Hallock.
The Roman Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart, of which the Rev. Patrick Livingstone is pastor, was built in 1870 on Harper street. The structure is a frame building and cost about $4,000. The dedication of the church took place on Oct. 25, 1870, the Rt. Rev. J. J. Conroy, Bishop of Albany, officiating. It is a mission church and under the pastorate of the Father Livingstone has grown so as to occupy an important position among the mission churches of the Catholic diocese.
Besides the churches mentioned above, the one at Almeda, or South Kortright, is probably the oldest church organization in town.
The Associate Reformed Presbyterian church was organized by Rev. William McAuley in the year 1790, at South Kortright. In 1833 the society built a second church, which has been remodeled in recent years. During the first ninety years of the existence of this congregation there were but three pastors: Rev. Wm. McAuley, Rev. Robert Forrest and Rev. John D. Gibson. The membership of this church extended over a very large territory in the early days. In 1858 the name was changed to United Presbyterian, the Associate and Associate Reformed organizations in the United States having been merged into one body. This church is still prosperous after an existence of more than a century, and Rev. W. L. Martin is the pastor.
I HAVE undertaken the task to collect and arrange in as orderly a manner as the brief period of time assigned to me will permit, some of the principal events which have transpired within the limits of the town of Walton within the past one hundred years.
The year 1784 marks the period of the first permanent settlement within the bounds of the present town of Walton. A glance at that date recalls the fact that the war of independence had been brought to a successful issue, and the mother country had been compelled to relinquish her claim upon the thirteen colonies, and that henceforth they were to carve out for themselves the form of a government and lay the foundations of a permanent republic. 'The great state of New York, even at that early period; began to give evidence of that supremacy among the sisterhood of states which she has easily maintained for more than half a century. From the landing of the Dutch on Manhattan Island in 1609, until the transfer of the colonial government of the colony to the English in 1764, the principles of Dutch freedom became implanted in the governmental policy of the inhabitants.
In 1683 the state of New York was divided into ten counties, Albany, Dutchess, Kings, New York, Orange, Queens, Richmond, Suffolk, Ulster and Westchester.
At that date the territory that is now embraced within the limits of the county of Delaware was included in the counties of Albany and Ulster. That portion of the county north of the West branch of the Delaware, or what was then called the Fishkill, was within the boundaries of Albany county, and that portion lying on the south of the aforesaid branch was included in the county of Ulster.
On March 12th, 1772, the county of Tryon was organized from the county of Albany, so named from Tryon, the colonial governor who during the Revolution, became so zealous in the cause of the king that he wantonly sent out parties to burn and destroy all the property of the inoffensive colonists, declaring that he would give twenty dollars for every acting committeeman who should be delivered to the King's troops.
The year succeeding the close of the Revolution, the name of Tryon county was changed to Montgomery. This county included that portion of the county north of the West branch of the river.
February 16th, Otsego was erected into a county, including within its boundaries the northern portion of the county of Delaware. Upon the erection of the present county of Delaware, on March 10, 1797, the southern portion of Otsego county included between the Susquehanna and the West branch of the Delaware, and that portion of Ulster south of the West branch and extending to the northern boundaries of the present county of Sullivan, was erected into the county of Delaware.
Upon the formation of the county, six towns were included within its limits, to wit: Colchester, Middletown, Franklin, Harpersfield, Kortright and Stamford.
The town of Colchester was originally organized April 10th, 1792, and was carved out of the town of Middletown, which had been organized March 31st, 1789, as a town of Ulster county. The territory of this town was taken from the towns of Rochester and Woodstock in Ulster county.
The town of Franklin was organized April 10th, 1792, from the town of Harpersfield, which was organized March 7th, 1788, as a town of Montgomery county.
Kortright was organized March 12th, 1793, from the town of Harpersfield. Stamford was organized April 10th, 1792.
Seven days after the organization of Delaware county the town of Walton was organized. As originally organized the upper or northern boundary line was the line of White's patent, just above Delhi village, running westerly through the town of Franklin and what is now the town of Masonville to the line of Broome county, thence southerly to the Delaware river at Deposit. The West branch of the Delaware was the southerly boundary of the town. Upon the formation of the town of Delhi in 1798, the upper line of Livingston's patent was the northerly boundary. That line was the upper line of the Robert Murray farm. In 1812 the town line was moved up to Arthur Shaw's line, being the upper line of Beddington's patent. In 1825, upon the erection of the town of Hamden, the town line was moved to its present location.
The town derives its name from William Walton, who obtained a grant of twenty thousand acres of land from the King of England in 1770. This grant extended from the Delaware to the Susquehanna river and was about two miles in width. The upper line of the patent was located about one mile above Walton village, near the farm formerly owned by Stephen Berray and the lower line about a mile below the village.
The topography of the town may be described as a mixture of mountain, hill and valley. Through the southeastern portion runs the West branch of the Delaware river. Along that portion of the river in the northern part of the town are wide, fertile flats. Below the village the flats become narrower, and the mountains approach almost to the river banks. That portion of the town north of the river is traversed by the East, West and Third brooks, which empty into the river through the plain upon which the village of Walton is now situated. The valleys of these various streams form some of the best farming lands in the county.
The first permanent settlement was made in the town in the year 1784. Prior to that time hunters and prospectors had undoubtedly passed through the unknown forests which then stood as sentinels. Although but little more than one hundred years have passed, many of the events of those early days have faded into tradition, tradition into myth, and myth into fable. It is said that some of the early settlers from the region of the Susquehanna valley made incursions into these regions, allured by the plentifulness of the game.
At this period Dr. Platt Townsend, a resident of Long Island, purchased of William Walton a tract of five thousand acres from the south end of the Walton patent. A portion of the purchase price was to be paid in surveying the tract, the doctor being a practical surveyor. Seventeen hundred of the five thousand acres was paid for in this work.
Of the original settlers who came from Long Island with Dr. Townsend, twenty in number, were the following persons: The doctor's two sons, William and Isaac; Robert North, wife and infant son, Benjamin; Gabriel North, wife and two daughters, Hannah and Deborah; William Furman, wife and two children; Joshua Pine and sons, John, Joshua and Daniel, and daughters, Nellie and Mollie.
They left Long Island in the month of March of that year and ascended the Hudson in a sloop to what was then called Esopus. Leaving their families at Marbletown the men of the party made the journey from that point to Walton on foot, traversing the almost unknown wilderness. No one of the number has left a detailed account of that interesting journey. Their route, no doubt, touched at the early settlement made at Pakataken, near the present village of Margaretville, and Pepacton on the East branch of the Delaware just above Downsville. When they arrived at the end of their journey they found that some timber pirates had preceded them up the river the year previous, and had cut from Pine Hill a quantity of the pine which covered it in great abundance from base to summit, and from which the hill had its name, and had attempted to raft it down the river for the Philadelphia market; but being unacquainted with the river the fruits of their piracy was strewn along the banks, the rafts not being sufficiently strong to stand the racking resulting from unskillful pilotage. These people had built a log hut or cabin for their temporary use, which Mr. Townsend and his party were not slow to appropriate and occupy. Though rude, no doubt, it was a palace of rest for the weary pioneers at the end of their long and perilous journey. The exact location of this cabin in the wilderness is somewhat in doubt, but the weight of authority seems to place it somewhere near the mouth of the East Brook, near what was formerly the residence of Damon Hull.
Robert North, one of the pioneers, built a log house on the spot where, a few years later, in 1799, he built a frame residence, probably the first erected in the town, and which stood until replaced a few years since by the modern mansion of the North sisters.
The early summer was spent in clearing the land and making a shelter for their families, and in the latter part of June they retraced their steps over the mountains and up the valleys to Kingston, and made preparations to move their families to their new homes. It is said that a large portion of their belongings were taken down the East branch in boats or canoes to the junction below Hancock, and from there up the West branch to Walton. The teams and wagons were, however, brought through the forests, a road being cut as they advanced.
The star of empire moved slower in those days than in later years; the only sounds which broke the stillness of the forests were the woodman's axe, the crack of the rifle, the bowl of the wolf and the cry of the panther. It is said that Mrs. Robert North made the journey from Kingston on horseback, carrying in her arms her infant son, Benjamin, while trapped behind her upon the back of the horse was her bedding and some household furniture.
Once settled in their new homes, and the fame of the new locality reaching friends upon Long Island and in Connecticut, they soon found congenial spirits, anxious to brave the hardships of frontier life, and make for themselves and posterity a home in the wilderness. In the year immediately following, new settlers swarmed in from Long Island and Connecticut.
At this early day there were no mills for grinding grain nearer than Schoharie, and to that place, on horseback or on foot, the early settler carried his grist when he desired something more palatable than the product which he obtained, from pounding the grain in a hollow mortar made of stone or wood.
It must also be remembered that there were no mail facilities in those early days; no electric telegraph spanning the continent, or cable resting upon the ocean bed. The grist carrier became a news carrier, and upon his coming from the mill, was besieged by the whole neighborhood to learn what had transpired at the Schoharie settlement, and what he had learned of the outside world. The first regular mail facilities were not established until about fifteen years after the first settlement. At that time, about the year 1800, a mail line was established between Kingston and Jericho, not the city whose walls were demolished by the blast from a ram's horn, but the place now known as Bainbridge, Chenango county. One mail weekly; from the east Fridays, and from the west on Saturdays, abundantly satisfied the then wants of the community.
In the year immediately following the advent of the first settlers, the fame of the new country and its fertility having spread abroad, many were anxious to avail themselves of the privileges which the well watered and well wooded hills and the fertile valleys offered for permanent homes. The love of adventure and the excitement incident to clearing up the land and hunting and destroying the wild beasts of prey of which the forest abounded brought many from the states of Connecticut and Massachusetts and from the more recent settlements along the Hudson. There was something in the pioneer's life that seemed to charm them and it required only a few years for the settlement to become too densely populated and too civilized for their restless spirit and they were anxious to advance to new fields and forests.
As stated before, the fifteen years following the first advent brought many new settlers so that upon the organization of the town in 1797, March 17th, the population of the new town was not far from 1,200 inhabitants. The town then included the town of Tompkins and a large part of the town of Hamden.
>From the old tax roll of 1799, now in the possession of the Pine family, the taxable inhabitants within the present limits of the town numbered ninety-two. Allowing five inhabitants to each taxpayer, the estimated, population at that time would be 460. The following is the number of taxpayers in the town and the estimated population for the following years:
In 1803, taxpayers 114; estimated inhabitants 570; assessed property, real and personal, $880.55.
In 1810, taxpayers 172; estimated population 860; assessed valuation $103,801.
In 1815, taxpayers 190; estimated population 950; valuation $186,256.
Walton village in the year 1815 contained 33 taxpayers; estimated population 165.
In 1820, taxpayers 198; estimated population. 990; assessed valuation $173,396.
In 1825, taxpayers 222; estimated population 1,110, assessed valuation $145,533.
In 1830, taxpayers 256; estimated .population 1,280; assessed valuation $134,876.
In 1835, taxpayers 361; census population 1,754; assessed valuation $157,350.
In 1840, taxpayers 337; census population 1,846; assessed valuation $182,870.
In 1845, taxpayers 379; census population 2,704; assessed valuation $192,250.
In 1850, taxpayers 419; census population 2,277; assessed valuation $212,190.
In 1855, taxpayers 497; census population 2,404.
In 1860, taxpayers 550; census population 2,740; assessed valuation $541,340.
In 1865, taxpayers 611; census population 2,926; assessed valuation $584,200.
In 1870, census population 3,578; assessed valuation $812,222.
The first grist mill was built by Michael Goodrich on East Brook, about a mile from the village, upon the site now occupied by the Howland mill. From the best information obtainable the date of its erection is 1792. The site has been used for that purpose continuously since that time. The second grist mill was built about two and one-half miles up the river from the village by Thomas W. Griswold about the year 1798. This mill has long since fallen into decay, and not a vestige is left to mark even the site. The third grist mill was erected in 1802 by Daniel Robinson in what is known as the Den, upon the farm now occupied by John Northcott.
In 1806 William and Isaac Townsend built the fourth mill, which is still in existence and is owned by A. A. Haverly. This mill is located just above the village on the river. These early mills were very crude in construction, with only one run of stone, and these were brought a great distance, probably from Schoharie or Albany. They were brought by wagon or cart to the head of the river, two canoes were lashed together and the stones placed upon them and thus floated to their destination.
Several of the early settlers had a crude contrivance or vat for tanning their own leather. The first tannery was built by Nathaniel Steele on East Brook on the premises occupied by Pollock Howland. This was built in 1803. Alan Mead a few years later established a tannery on Mt. Pleasant near the Franklin road. In 1810 John and Nathaniel Steele erected a tannery at what is now the corner of Delaware and North streets, upon the site now occupied by the Lyon building and the wagon shop of J. B. Eells & Son. This tannery was soon after purchased by Alan Mead, who abandoned the one on the hill. At this time the bark for tannery uses was ground by a very rude process. A few years later, about 1815, a more perfected machine was used for grinding bark. In 1842 John and Gabriel Mead built an extensive tannery on West Brook. This was burned in 1857 and rebuilt in the following year, and passed to the firm of Mead, North & Co. in 1863. In 1872 it was purchased by Tobey & Warner. Mr. Warner died in 1895 and the business is now carried on by Mr. Tobey.
In 1876 the Novelty works were started by W. C. Gould; for a time they were run by Wood & Gould, and then by Peake & Barlow. Mr. Peake bought out Mr. Barlow's interest in 1891, and in 1895 a corporation was formed with a capital stock of one hundred thousand dollars. About one hundred and fifty men are employed in its various departments. It is now the principal manufacturing industry of the town.
Two foundries are in operation; one owned by N. O. Flint, and one by L. E. Hoyt & Co. These are located at West End near the O. & W. depot. L. E. Hoyt & Co. employs about twenty men and the Flint foundry a less number.
The manufacture of potash was one of the early industries of the town, commencing about the year 1800. One potash manufactory was located on East Brook and was discontinued about 1823. In 1836 one was established near the present depot by Niles Berray, and still later an extensive one was established by William Ogden and Henry Smith, where the Novelty works are now located on Delaware street. These establishments have long since disappeared.
Brick kilns were established as early as 1815. One was located on the farm now owned by James Patterson on East Brook. In 1828 Ezra Benedict operated a kiln on East Brook.
The clothing of the early settlers was largely made by hand, to use a common phrase. The wool from the backs of the sheep was washed and carded by hand into rolls. These were spun into yarn upon a spinning wheel, from which it was taken upon a reel. The hand loom was put into operation and the shuttle was sent back and forth with each downward motion of the treadles. Some of the housewives were very expert as weavers, and several yards per day of good solid woolen cloth was the result. Flax was quite extensively cultivated, and the hand process from the breaking to the weaving was wont to produce a good portion of the wearing apparel of both male and female for the summer months. A carding machine was first put into operation in the sawmill of the Ogden's above Walton village, early in the history of the town. Afterwards, Isaac and William Ogden put in a fulling mill about the year 1800, near the present residence of William Hall, formerly the Stephen Berray place. In 1807 Mr. Townsend erected the second mill near where the Haverly grist mill now stands. Quartus Merrick built a third mill up East Brook, near the Cyrus St. John place, now occupied by Henry A. St. John. During the Monroe administration these mills received medals for the excellence of the cloth produced. The mills have all passed out of existence long since.
Among the early industries that of distilling must not be left out, for at that early date the necessity of "a little wine for the stomach's sake" was fully recognized; nor was the appetite always satisfied with wine. The product of the rye and wheat seemed to be in great demand. As early as 1795, John Eells established a distillery on the hill. Later Fletcher Gardiner erected one further up East Brook. About 1798 Selick St. John established the third and last one up East Brook. In the year 1810 the county of Delaware produced nineteen thousand gallons of spirituous liquors. It was used on all occasions; the logging bee and the church raising alike felt its stimulus. But it would be a mistake to suppose that there were not ardent advocates of temperance among those who made daily use of it. Prominent among the organizers of the first temperance society in Delaware county in the town of Meredith were the owners of two distilleries. The legislation of that period too, had its peculiarities. For instance, one of the provisions of the law of 1829 was that no person who did not have a license to sell intoxicants should put up a tavern sign under a penalty of $1.25 per day. What harm could have come from a tavern sign where no intoxicants were sold is a question which would bear investigation by a student of sociology.
The year immediately following the organization of the town license was granted by the town board to seven places for the sale of liquor, viz: James Howard, George Yendes, John Eells, Thos. W. Griswold, Nathan Kellogg, Clark Cannon, Elias Butler. In 1846 a special town meeting was held at which 192 votes were cast against license to 82 for license. At a special town meeting in 1896 to vote upon the question of license, 416 votes were cast for license and 480 against. The law known as the Baines law went into effect March 1896.
Walton has been, and is one of the leading towns in the county in all that pertains to agricultural interests. Her location peculiarly fits her for dairying and kindred agricultural pursuits. The river flats of the East, West, and Third brooks produce an abundance of grain and hay; while the hills which rise on either side from which bubbles cold, pure water in great abundance, produce rich, sweet pasturage, so necessary for the production of the butter, the fame of which has become world wide. The number of cows in the town at present is estimated at 6,000. The amount of butter produced is not as large as formerly owing to the growth of the milk traffic, which began to be developed upon the opening of the Ontario & Western railroad in 1872. Large quantities of milk are produced in that portion of the town adjacent to the line of the railroad, which is shipped direct to New York city, thus diminishing in some degree the product of butter. The farms which produce the milk are so managed that the production extends through the winter months, at which time the price is advanced, making the production more profitable. Owing to increased railroad facilities from the west and the consequent cheapness of grain, large quantities of feed are purchased by the farmers and the number of cows upon their farms has been largely increased. Formerly the farmer depended entirely upon his own farm for the feed for his stock. Now the great grain belts of the west assist in making the dairy of the eastern farmer.
The first town meeting was held in the log church of the Union society in April, 1797. Prior to that time the town meetings were held at the house of Major Boot, dear the present division line of the towns of Franklin and Walton.
From the town records a few extracts may not be uninteresting:
"April 3rd, 1798, at a town meeting held at the meeting house at Walton, the following persons were elected into office, to wit: Isaac Darrow, collector; David St. John, town clerk; Robert North, supervisor; Isaac Darrow, John Eells, and Clark Cannon, assessors; Benajah McCall, Thaddeus Hoyt, overseers of the poor; Aziel Hyde, Michael Goodrich, Reuben Crosby, commissioners of highways; Lewis Seymour, constable and collector; Thomas Dennis, Joseph Adams, constables; Hilliard Burrhus, Andrew Craig, Dr. Wm. Maxfield, Samuel Teed, Asa Gears, John St. John, Thomas W. Griswold, Moses Hanford, Josiah Cleveland. Dr. Isaac Goodrich, Aziel Hyde, David Smith, Nathaniel Emerson, Samuel Frisbee, overseers of highways; Benajah McCall, Isaac Darrow, Samuel Johnston, King Mead, James Bradt, Joseph Webb, Jonas Parks, fence viewers; John Eells, pound master; Benajah McCall, Aziel Hyde, James Durfee, commissioners of schools."
At a town meeting in 1803 the following resolution was passed:
"That any hog or hogs, running at large without a sufficient yoke and ring, the fence viewers to be judges of the yokes, shall be liable to be taken and shut up in any man's enclosure. The owner of said hogs, after being notified to take his hogs home, which notification shall be made within twelve hours, shall be liable to a fine of fifty cents for each hog so found running at large without yoke and rings, after the first notification, from the first day of April to the first day of December."
The following is a list of the supervisors of Walton since its erection and the date of their first election: Robert North, 1797; David St. John, 1805; John Eells, 1809; Gabriel North, 1811; Isaac Ogden, 1813; Bennett Beardsley, 1816; William Townsend, 1823; William Merwin, 1827; Alan Mead, 1829; Samuel Eells, 1832; Peter Gardiner, 1836; John Townsend, 1839; Ambrose Ogden, 1842, John Mead, 1844; David More, 1845; G. S. Mead, 1848; Gabriel S. North, 1855; Benjamin J. Bassett, 1859; J. B. Eells, 1863; C. B. Wade, 1869; M. W. Marvin, 1870; A. D. Peake, 1876; G. O. Mead, 1877; Charles B. Bassett, 1890; Joseph Harby, 1892; H. S. Sewell, 1893.
As early as 1802 we find the early settlers of Walton combining their efforts toward securing the advantages of a public library. Nearly fifty shares at $2 per share were taken and with this fund the foundation of a valuable collection was commenced. In 1809 the Walton library was incorporated under the general act of the legislature. This organization was kept up and additions made to the collections until the number of volumes reached 658. On January 27th, 1852, the library was divided by lot among its members. By a provision in the settlement of the estate of the late Wm. B. Ogden, a fund of twenty thousand dollars was set aside for the purpose of erecting a library building and furnishing the same with books. This building is now in course of erection upon the public square at the junction of North street and Gardiner Place. Fifteen thousand dollars of the fund is being used in the construction of a building. The balance, with some liberal contributions of friends interested in the project, will supply the books and provide for the care of the building.
As early as 1813 the town was organized into school districts. Originally there were twelve districts; William Townsend, Alexander Ogden, commissioners of schools.
As at present organized, the town contains twenty-three districts, the last organized being the Marvin Hollow district, which was organized in 1850. The necessity for more and better educational facilities soon became apparent to the people of the town, and in 1852 the Rev. J. S. Pattengill, then pastor of the Congregational church, a large hearted and liberal minded man, began the agitation of more extensive educational facilities. He made the theme the subject of several sermons and lectures. Awakened by these appeals, a subscription paper was circulated and $3,300 was subscribed in sums varying from $5 to $300. The subscribers organized themselves under the name of The Academy Association. At a meeting of the association, February 3, 1853, the following persons were elected trustees, to wit: Col. John Townsend, D. H. Gay, Hon. John Mead, Dr. J. S. McLaury, William E. White, Rev. J. S. Pattengill, and Dr. T. J. Ogden, Gen. B. J. Bassett, S. H. White, J. H. St. John, Thomas Marvin, White Griswold, Nathaniel Fitch. The board was organized by the election of John Mead as president; Dr. McLaury, secretary; Nathaniel Fitch, treasurer. J. S. Pattengill, John Mead, and T. J. Ogden were appointed a building committee. The land was donated by John Townsend and J. Eells was appointed master builder. The frame of the building was erected June 23, 1853. The lower floor was divided into two apartments one used as a chapel and the other for a primary department. The upper floor was divided into two school rooms, one for ladies and one for gentlemen. The entire cost of the building was about four thousand dollars. The academy was completed December 14th, 1853, and incorporated by the regents February 10, 1854. The first principal employed was Mr. Eli M. Maynard, assisted by his sister Miss Lucy A. Maynard. Miss Adelaide Gardiner was the first teacher in the primary department. Mr. Maynard resigned in March, 1857. Henry E. Ogden acted as principal during the spring term of 1857. M. N. Horton took charge as principal August 26, 1857. During the spring of 1859, an addition was built to the main building at a cost of fifteen hundred dollars, and the lower rooms of the main building were used entirely for a chapel. Mr. Horton resigned March 1861. In July, 1861, Sidney Crawford took charge as principal, assisted by the following corps of teachers: Miss Jennie S. Bostwick. Miss. Charlotte Marsh, who filled the position of preceptress. Miss. E. Maria Ogden, teacher of drawing and painting. Hon. John Mead resigned the Presidency of the board March 30, 1863, and David H. Gay was elected to succeed him. Charles E. Sumner was engaged as principal and began his duties August 24, 1864. He remained in charge three years and was assisted by Miss Lena F. Wheat as preceptress in 1864 and 1865, Miss Jennie Sumner, 1865 and 1866, and Miss Jennie F. Barnes, 1866 to 1867. Miss Hattie A. Taylor had charge of the primary department. Mr. Sumner was succeeded by Strong Comstock, August 19th, 1867, and Miss Martha Atwood was preceptress. In the spring of 1868 a union school was organized, and the academy property transferred to the board of education. In 1870 the Rev. D. T. Barclay was chosen principal for the two following years. The diplomas were first awarded in 1871. The first class consisted of Ella Love, Hannah N. Benedict, Charlotte E. North, and Cornelia F. White. Miss Laura Gay was engaged as preceptress in 1870 and held the position until 1886. Mr. Comstock was again called to fill the position of principal in 1872 and continued in charge until 1891, when Prof. Fairgrieve, of Fulton, N. Y., was chosen as principal. Owing to the rapid growth of the town, incident to the building of the Ontario & Western railroad, the old building soon became inadequate for the purpose for which it was intended, and a new building was erected in 1892 at a cost of about forty-five thousand dollars. The new building is one of the finest of the kind in the state, and was completed and occupied in the fall of 1892.
The brave and hardy pioneers, who left their homes upon Long Island and Connecticut to establish their future homes in the wilderness in the interior of New York, brought with them the principles and the faith which enabled them to bear up under and sustain the burdens incident to such a great undertaking. They were descendants of the men who centuries before had left their own country and braved the dangers of a stormy voyage of three thousand miles of ocean, in order that they might worship God according to the dictates of their own conscience.
As early as 1791 a log house was built upon Mt. Pleasant for the double purpose of a place of worship on the Sabbath and a school during the week. The church was formally organized October 12, 1793, by Rev. David Huntington, a missionary from the General Association of Connecticut. Mr. Huntington's stay was brief. David Harrower, a member of the church, now entered a course of study, and in two years was employed by the association as pastor. Three days after the organization of the church, October 15, 1793, the ecclesiastical society connected with the church was organized in legal form. The first trustees were Daniel Boot, Samuel Johnson, Chas Marsh, Michael Goodrich, Gabriel North and James Weed. The first clerk was Robert North. A log meeting house was used for church purposes ten years. Mr. Harrower remained with the church as stated supply ten years, spending some portion of his time in visiting and ministering to the outlying settlements. A new church building was commenced in1800 and finished in 1803 upon the same site. The church was without a stove until 1816 and at the town meeting that year a resolution was voted to purchase a stove for the meeting house and assess the cost upon the town for the privilege of using the building for town meeting purposes.
The following are the pastors who have ministered to the society: In 1807 the Rev. Archibald Bassett was called and remained until 1811. The Rev. Orange Seymour was stated supply for six months. In 1813 the Rev. Isaac Headley was called and remained until 1829. The Rev. Alva Lillian supplied for six months and Rev. E.D. Wells was called in 1830 and Rev. A. L. Chapman in 1831. The Rev. Jonathan Huntington supplied for six months, and the Rev. Fayette Shepherd was called in 1834 and remained until 1838, and the Rev. Wilton Clark from then until 1842. In 1840 the church was built upon its present site. The Rev. E. D. Willis supplied in 1843 and remained until 1847. The Rev. J. S. Pattengill was installed in 1848 and remained until April, 1868. The Rev. S. J. White was installed in 1869 and remained until 1875, and the Rev. H. M. Ladd was pastor from 1875 until 1881, when Rev. G. W. Nims came and has remained until the present time.
The first Methodist class was organized in 1802, and Seth Berray was chosen leader. The members were Anna Berray, Esther Berray, John Heath, David Heath, Eleanor Heath, Mrs. Filkins, Elizabeth Orr, Quartus Merrick, Lucia Merrick. The celebrated Nathan Bangs held preaching services in Warren Tavern as early as 1808, and afterwards a preacher named Richards came into town on business and preached a few sermons. The Rev. Asa Hall, while visiting his father, preached in the house of Cyrus. St. John.
That was about the year 1810. The first regular appointment was January 1, 1819, when A. S. Scofield was appointed to take charge of the church, since which time there has been regular preaching.
The following have been the appointments: In 1834, David Terry and James Benson; 1835, M. VanDusen and D. B. Turner; 1836, S. M. Knapp and T. Bangs; 1837, S. M. Knapp and Arad Lakin; 1838, H. Frost and Arad Lakin; 1839-40, B. Wakely; 1841-42, Aaron Rogers; 1843, Sanford Washburn; 1844, J. Tippet, W. C. Smith, and A. H. Mead; 1845, B. M. Gerrung; 1846, M. S. Pendell; 1847, George Kerr; 1848, George Kerr and Elias Rogers; 1849, David Gibson; 1850, D. C. Drake; 1851, Meto Couchman; 1852, George Palmer; 1853-54, John Davie; 1855, William Hall; .1856-57, Richard Decker; 1858, Charles Sitzer; 1859-60, Edwin Clement; 1861-62, John F. Richmond; 1863-64, Richard Decker; 1865-66, John W. Gorse; 1867-69, A. R. Burroughs; 1870-72, J. J. Dean; 1873-74, J. M. Burgar; 1875, Joseph Eliot; 1876, J. G. Slater; 1877-79, Edward White; 1880-81, Rev. W. A. Chadwick; 1882-84, Rev. George Hearn; 1885-87, Rev. L. S. Brown; 1888-90, Rev. O. D. Ramsay; 1891-92, Rev. J. W. Bohlman; 1893-95, Rev. E. H. Roys; 1896, and Rev. Robert Knapp.
The first Methodist church was built in 1811, and it cost $1,600. The first board of trustees was composed of the following persons: Sanford Ferguson, John McCall, Gersham H. Bradley, Hiram Fitch, Cyrus St. John. A new church was built in 1869 at a cost of $10,000. This church was used until 1892, when the present structure was commenced and built at a cost of $20,000. It is said to be the most beautiful church structure in the county.
The first services of the Protestant Episcopal church were held in Walton about the year 1830 by Rev. Mr. Johnson.
The first vestry was composed of the following named, persons: James Noble and Everett Guild, wardens; Isaac Ogden, Robert North, Jr., James Smith, W. B. Ogden, Peter Gardiner, Joshua Pine, Bennett Beardslee, Benajah Hawley, John F. St. John, Adam Mallory, Rufus Smith, vestrymen. In 1831 the church edifice was commenced, and completed in 1834. The clergymen connected with the early history of the parish were the Rev. Mr. Adams of Unadilla, Rev. Orange Clark of Delhi, Rev. Russell Wheeler of Butternuts, Otsego county, and Rev. E. K. Fowler of Monticello, N. Y. The first installed rector was the Rev. John F. Messinger, who supplied here in 1834; in 1837, Rev. Amos Billings Beach; 1839, Rev. Robert Campbell; in 1840, Rev. Asa Griswold; in 1842, Rev. David Huntington; in 1846, Rev. William G. Heimer; in 1847, Rev. John Creighton Brown; in 1860, Rev. Charles Canfield; in 1861, Rev. F. S. Compton; in 1863, Rev. Frederic Sisson; in 1866, Rev. Gurdon Huntington, who died November 29, 1875; in 1876, Rev. Theodore A. Snyder; in 1877, Rev. Mr. Searing; afterward Rev. Mr. Rathbun, Rev. Reeves Hobbie, Rev. J. R. L. Nisbitt, Rev. Richard Searing, and Rev. Charles Temple at the present time, have been the rectors.
The first Baptist church was organized in the year 1866 from the various outlying branches. Rev. Jenkins Jones was stated supply during the first year. In November, 1869, Rev. L. M. Purrington was called as pastor, and remained until 1877. The church edifice was erected in 1869 at a cost of $5,000. In 1878, Rev. A. J. Adams was called; in 1881, Rev. E. B. Glover; in 1882, Rev. W. N. Thomas; in 1882, Rev. J. A. Hungate; in 1886, Rev. W. P. Chipman; in 1887, Rev. C. A. Stone; in 1895, Rev. A. J. Whalen; in 1895, Rev. W. A. King; in 1896, Rev. J. T. Barber.
The Reformed Presbyterian church was organized September 5, 1861. The first church edifice was built on East brook, about five miles from Walton village. The first pastor was Rev. David McAllister, who remained until 1884. In 1874 a new church was erected in Walton village. In 1885 Rev. S. G. Shaw was called to the pastorate and remained until 1896. The present pastor is Rev. R. C. Reed.
The United Presbyterian church was organized October 19, 1865. The elders elected were John W. Smith, William Kilpatrick, Thomas McLaury and P. M. Doig. The church edifice was built in 1868 and the Rev. W. B. Crow settled as pastor. In 1873 Rev. S. W. Meeks was chosen, and in 1878 Rev. W. M. Howie was called and remained until 1892, when Rev. Thomas Park, the present pastor, was called. A new church edifice was erected on the corner of North and East streets in 1891 at a cost of about six thousand dollars. The number of members is 280.
The following persons have served as town clerks of Walton: David St. John, date of election April 4, 1797; William Townsend, 1801; Robert North, 1806; David St. John, 1828; Platt Townsend, 1829; David H. Gay, 1848; Henry E. St. John, 1857; Charles B. Wade, 1861; Orson J. Ells, 1863; George W. Fitch, 1864; David H. Gay, 1865; George O. Mead, 1867; John S. Eells, 1877; John Olmstead, 1883; John S. Eells, the present clerk, 1884. Within a period of one hundred years, twelve men have served as town clerks.
The War of Independence was brought to a successful termination and a treaty of peace with the mother country was signed the year prior to the first settlement of the town. Among the early settlers of the town were many who braved the dangers and bore the sufferings in the patriot army under Washington during the eventful struggle. From the best information the following persons, early settlers of the town, served in the Revolutionary war either as soldiers of the line, levies or militia: Matthew Marvin, Jared Hoyt, Daniel Nichols, Captain James A. Marvin, James Adams, Roger Case, Jonathan Weed, Reuben Bartow. These men were enlisted largely from the state of Connecticut, and after the revolution moved into the state of New York.
The following is a list of the residents of the town who performed military service for the state during the war of 1812: Benjamin E. Eells, Mead Eells, John Marvin, Stephen Berray, Mr. Smith, Jonathan Beers, Samuel Morehouse, Nathan Nichole, Gabriel North, John Patrick.
The following is a list of those who were drafted, in the service in 1814: Jonas Walker, William K. Seeley, Eliphalet Seeley, Sylvanus Seeley, Seeley Benedict, Silas Benedict, Nathan Benedict, Tenas Ogden, John Raymond, Samuel Eells, Levi Hanford, Amasa Hoyt, Chauncey Hoyt, Billy Benedict, Alfred Bradley, Gersham H. Bradley, Captain Harmon Sawyer, Ebenezer Steele, Smith St. John, John Hess, Thomas Marvin, Platt Richards, Thomas Keeler, John Olmstead, Bueld Case, Hanford Wakeman, Hezekiah Vanderburg, Alfred Nichols, William Cable, Simon Cable, Nathaniel G. Eells, Lieutenant Gabriel North, Benjamin North, Quartermaster Gabriel Honeywell, William Seymour, Cook St. John, sutler; Richard W. Stockton, sergeant; Tunis Brazee, Harry Bedell, John Barlow and Ebenezer Hanford.
The next military event following the war of 1812 was the so-called "Anti-Rent war" of 1845. From the fact that there was little or no leased land in the town, Walton had consequently less sympathy for the "Anti-renters" than there was in those parts of the county where the land was largely lease lots. The soldiers called out to aid the sheriff in the discharge of his duties were taken largely from the town of Walton and those towns where there was little or no anti-rent sympathy. Major James Marvin, of Walton, was in command of the troops or the sheriff's posse, as it was termed in those days, during the period that the county was under martial law, by a proclamation of the governor of the state, Silas Wright.
The great civil war of 1861 to 1865 made large demands upon the patriotism and the purse of the loyal North, and the part which the town of Walton bore in that eventful struggle will always be a source of pride to her patriotic citizens. The limits of the present historical sketch will .not permit the recording of all the names of those who enlisted and served in that memorable struggle. Our records will therefore be confined, to a list of the organizations in which there were enlisted men from the town. The following list and the battles in which they were engaged is taken from the adjutant-general's report of the state of New York published in the year 1868:
The 72d Infantry, Company I, Captain Johnson; engagements Williamsburg, Seven Pines, Charles City Cross Roads, Malvern Hill, Bristow Station, Bull Bun.
The 71st Regiment; this regiment was mustered into the service of the United States from June 20 to November 19, 1861. On the expiration of its term of service the original members (except the veterans) were mustered out and the veterans and recruits transferred to the 120th New York Volunteers.
The 71st Regiment, Company I, Captain Elwood, mustered into the service of the United States, August 4th, 1861, and mustered out of service July 30th, 1864, and the recruits transferred to the 120th New York Volunteers. Engagements, Stafford Court House, Yorktown, Williamsburg, Seven Pines, Fair Oaks, White Oak Swamp, Charles City Cross Roads, Malvern Hill, Bristow Station, Second Bull Run, Chantilly, Fredericksburgh.
Third New York Cavalry, Company E, Captain Jacobs; mustered into the service of the United States, from July 17th to August 27th, 1861. On the expiration of its term of service, the original members (except the veterans) were mustered out and a regiment composed of veterans and recruits retained in service. It was united with the First Mounted Rifles, July 22d, 1865, and was called the Fourth Provisional Cavalry. Engagements, Youngs Cross Roads, Williamsburgh, Kingston, White Hall, Goldsborough, Balls Bluff, Weldon Railroad, Edwards Ferry, Stony Creek, Petersburg, Malvern Hill, New Market, Johnson's House.
The 8th New York Independent Battery, Captain Fitch, was raised principally in the county of Delaware and mustered into the service of the United States, October 30th, 1861. On the expiration of its term of service, the original members (except veterans) were mustered out and. a battery composed of veterans and recruits retained in service until June 30th, 1865, when it was mustered out in accordance with the orders of the war department. Engagements, Malvern Hill, Fair Oaks, Seven Pines.
The 51st New York Infantry was mustered into the service of the United States from July 27th to October 23d, 1861. The original members (except veterans) were mustered out on the expiration of the term of service and a regiment consisting of veterans and recruits retained in service until July 25, 1865, when it was mustered out in accordance with orders from the war department. Engagements, Roanoke Island, Newburg, Manassas, Chantilly, South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Siege of Vicksburg, Jackson, Wilderness, Spottsylvania, North Anna, Cold Harbor, Petersburg, Weldon Railroad, Poplar Spring Church.
The 89th Infantry, Company I, Captain T. L. England, mustered into the United States service December 6th, 1861, mustered out August 3, 1865. Engagements, Suffolk, Camden, South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg.
The 101st New York Infantry, Colonel George F. Chester; mustered into the service of the United States September 7th, 1861. It was united with the 37th regiment of New York Volunteers, December 24th, 1862, and the officers mustered out of service. Engagements, Seven Pines, Peach Orchard, Savage Station, Chickahominy, White Oak Swamp, Charles City Cross Roads, Malvern Hill, Groveton, Second Bull Bun, Chantilly, Fredericksburg.
The 144th New York Infantry, Colonel Lewis. This regiment was organized at Delhi, New York, to serve for three years. The companies of which it was composed were raised in the county of Delaware. It was mustered into the service of the United States, September 27th, 1862, and mustered out of service June 25th, 1865, in accordance with orders from the war department. Company B of this regiment was raised in the town of Walton, M. W. Marvin Captain. Engagements, Honey Hill, John's Island, James Island, Siege of Wagner, Deveaux Neck and Honey Hill.
The 69th New York Infantry, mustered into the service of the United States, September 7th, 1861, mustered out June 30th, 1865. Engagements, Yorktown, Fair Oaks, Peach Orchard, Malvern Hill, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellor's Bluff, Gettysburg, Wilderness, Spottsylvania, Cold Harbor, Petersburg and Reams Station.