Delaware County NY Genealogy and History Site

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Courtesy of Donald H. Seymour, June 8, 1997

In the year 1800 there lived in the village of Newburgh, NY a man by the name of William Seymour. He was reported to be a wealthy man for those days. He had a son named William that tradition says was a rather reckless character, and the father, becoming rather disgusted with the son's actions, gave him $1,000 and told him to get out and do something for himself, as he was done helping him.

The son, William, Jr., my great, great, great grandfather, came to Cannonsville and bought a large tract of timber land and proceeded to make himself a home and raise a family. On December 16th, 1803, he married Miss Dorothy Lord, daughter of Eliphalet and Mary (Green) Lord of Prattsville, Greene Co., NY. He built a log cabin on the opposite bank of the West Branch of the Delaware river from where the village of Cannonsville was located, and there started to make a real home and raise a family. The lumber business in those days becoming quite important, and with the river adjacent to his land providing a cheap, although rather tiresome and hardy means of transportation to the cities nearer the sea, he turned his attention to lumbering and rafting his lumber mostly down to Philadelphia, a market that was used by two generations of Seymours following him. He also cleared the land from which a good portion of the living for the family was raised.

William, Jr. and Dorothy raised a family of ten children: Willet, William, Lewis, Samuel Sands, Elias Chidsey, Roswell, George, Ezekiel, Charles Decatur, and Sylvia. Willet, Charles and Ezekiel lived their lives in and near the homestead. After their father's death in 1827, their mother married Ethan Underwood and had one son, John, and when Underwood died, she married Ezra Hoag. She died in 1866.

My great, great grandfather, Willet Seymour was born on the old farm in the Town of Tompkins on May 6, 1805, and lived his long life of 92 years on that farm, never having any other home. On his father's death, Willet became possessor of the old homestead and continued the occupations of his father, lumbering and farming. Later on, he started, and for several years ran a grocery store in Cannonsville. In 1830, he married his first cousin, Mary Goodrich, daughter of Allen and Elizabeth (Lord) Goodrich, born in Sidney in 1814. They had 10 children: Lewis, who died in infancy, Amanda, Alonzo (my great grandfather), Gilbert, George Washington, Charles, Erastus, Willet, Jr., Florence and Rector. Mary Goodrich's grandfather, Zenas Goodrich was a Revolutionary soldier and a pioneer of Sidney. He married Mercy Lawrence, and their son, Allen, was Dorothy's father.

Alonzo Seymour, my great grandfather, was born at the old homestead in 1836 where he lived with his parents until he was 24 years old, WORKING for and with his father at the business of lumbering and farming, lumbering being the main business. He became very expert in every part of the business - from cutting and getting out the timber and manufacturing it into lumber, to rafting it down the Delaware River to Philadelphia and selling it. In later life he became one of the best salesmen and was one of the largest rough-lumber dealers in the city of Philadelphia. In about 1859, he went into partnership with his father, Willet, and bought 200 acres of land on Sands Creek on which there was a one and a half story log house with a small shed on the backside used for a woodshed and storeroom. There was also a good frame barn and a water power sawmill, and another small board house called the millhouse. In 1860, he married Josephine Bradbury who was born in Sparta, NJ in 1838. Her father was John Bradbury, a minister, and Olive O. Terwilliger of Newburgh. Immediately after their marriage, Alonzo and Josephine moved into the log house on Sands Creek and proceeded to build a new house and raise a family. They had six childlren: Oakley Arlington, Irvin Winfield, Ziba Angle (my grandfather), June, John Willet, and Kate. In addition, they adopted a daughter, Belle (Shackleton).

The following article was written by my great uncle, Oakley Arlington Seymour ca. 1934:


"I think that the first rafting that was done on this branch of the Delaware was not later than the year 1810, as my great-grandfather, William Seymour, had been here since the year 1800, and was one of the pioneer lumbermen of the (west) branch. I do not know, nor do I know of any way to find out, who ran the first raft (presumably of pine or hemlock logs) out of the branch. William Seymour's son, Willet, was a lumberman all his life, having a water power sawmill here at Cannonsville, and having one-half interest in another one with Alonzo Seymour on Sands Creek. Willet did his rafting here at Cannonsville but he and Alonzo rafted the product of the Sands Creek mill at Hancock, but on this same branch of the Delaware. Between the two of them they probably rafted several million feet of sawed lumber from these two places, the most of it being hemlock.

"There were several other quite extensive lumbermen in the vicinity of Cannonsville, among them Wilson Owens and his sons, Lewis and James; Nathan Boyd and Sherman, Jerry and John Gregory, who operated at what was called in those days, Carpenter's Eddy, but is now known as Granton. There was also a family of Grants who lived at that place who were quite extensive lumbermen. Also a father, brother and son by the names of Francis, Aarad and Clark Frazier, who lumbered practically all their lives. They were also known as "branch steersmen," as they used to steer down this branch as far as Hancock, but no farther. In fact, there were very few men in these parts but what did more or less lumbering, as it was generally a means of procuring a little ready cash at least once a year. There were two brothers, Ben and Dan Chamberlain, living near Granton, who lumbered quite extensively, but did not carry on as extensively nor as long as those previously mentioned.

"On Sands Creek, where I was born and raised, there were nine sawmills, run by waterpower. All of them were up-and-down mills except one that was originally of that class and later built over with a circular saw. These mills all shipped their products, mostly Hemlock, by way of the West Branch, to the Philadelphia market.

"Sands Creek, a tributary of the West Branch, was named for Samuel Sands, the owner of the largest mill on the creek, and one of the largest lumber dealers in that whole territory, rafting his lumber at Hancock, but I do not know whether he confined his rafting operations to the West Branch or whether he used both. Crary Bros. also were quite lumber dealers, and they, also, had a mill at this place. Alonzo Seymour was one of the largest lumbermen on the creek. I once heard him say that he figured that over a million feet of lumber had been manufactured in his one small mill on Sands Creek, and it was all rafted on the West Branch of the Delaware at Hancock, just below the suspension bridge which goes over the river into Pennsylvania. On the opposite side of the river from where he rafted I saw in one spring what they claimed was a million feet of hemlock logs which were rafted that spring.

"I am not posted at all on lumbermen anywhere above Rock Rift, although I think that rafts have been run from as far up as Hamden, and possibly as far as Delhi. But if they were they would have to have been very small, especially in length. As near as I can remember, they used to be about 16 to 18 feet wide by 150 to 160 feet long. If a man had two of them, he would run them out of the branch single, and lash the two together when they reached the main river. It used to be quite an event for the boys here in the village to go down the branch to Hancock and then walk back 11 miles by way of Sands Creek.

"Another creek which contributed considerable traffic to the West Branch was 'Roods Creek,' several miles below Deposit, also another creek, whose name I do not recall, which came into the West Branch from the Pennsylvania side at Hales Eddy. I call to mind Begeal, Travis and Gardinier as quite prominent lumbermen in that territory.

"The main timber rafted from this section was hemlock, mostly sawed into scantling or joists, 3 inches thick, from 4 to 12 inches wide, and from 12 to 24 feet long. However, there was very little of the latter length. In the later years of rafting considerable maple was cut and rafted to the Philadelphia market. Raftsmen would put in a hemlock bottom and load the maple on it. The maple was ususlly sawed into 2 inch plank. If there was more than 60 or 70 thousand feet, it was usually made into two rafts. I have heard of two hemlock rafts that counted out 180 thousand feet in Philadelphia. Rafts from here were built from 16 to 20 feet wide; from 160 to 180 feet long, and had from two to five oars, according to the size of the raft and the amount of water they would draw. I have heard of their drawing a high as 33 inches of water. They used from 2 to 5 hands, according to the size of the raft and whether it was double or single. I have heard of one man running a light raft, which they called a "colt," clear through to Trenton alone. I went down once, there being four of us on the raft, and we had a very pleasant trip, reaching Trenton in four days."

"Some other names involved with rafting on the Delaware are: Daniel Skinner, "Admiral of the Delaware," said to be the first man to raft logs down the Delaware; Josiah Parks; Peter Swartwood Barnes; Oliver Tyler; George C. Abraham; John B. Conklin; Elias Mitchell; Nathan Calkin; Benjamin; Daniel and Stiles Chamberlain; Lyman Palmer; Daniel Alverson; A.J. Andrews; John and Martin Love; George Grant; Jeremiah and Sherman Gregory; Huntington; James Ostrom; James Lovelace; John Sprague; Sherman Sutton; Israel Gillette; Henry and Steve Durfee; "Shep" Smith; James Hunt; Johannas Frazier; John B. Kelsey; Caleb Kelsey; Alfred Beers; Jacob and Samuel A. Hathaway; Nathan Dean; George L. Rood; Benaih G. Jayne; D.W., S.F. and J.O. Whitaker; David Lord; J. Harrington Smith; Milton Whitaker; Stiles; Bridges; Barmer Hadley; Henry Evans; George Peters; John M. Briggs, Sr.; George W. Briggs; Fletcher Palmer; Palmer Boroughs; G. Halsey Bielby; Benjamin S. Boroughs; G. Mott Briggs; Albert Boroughs; Edgar Webb; Moses Cole; George Huyck; Alexander; David Lord; Bonnefond; Joshua Pine; MacLean; Weed; Ogden; Abraham and Judge Isaac; Thomas and Jared Marvin; Isaac and William Townsend; Beers; Stockton; Bennett Beardsley; Jeter Gardner; A.N. Wheeler; M. Case; Sylvester Brisack; Joseph Combs; N.C. Thomas; George Marvin; John Launt; Ira Peake; Joseph and J.B. Yentes; Eli and Alfred Gould; Hull and George Bradley; Nichols; Wakeman; Graham; Cables; Buckbee; William Boucher; Elias Mitchell; Leander S. Conklin; Boney Quillen."

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