"A Friendly Endorsement"
"Copy of E.L. Abbott's Letter"
"Poem 'New Woodstock'"
pages 3 to 10
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Ellsworth, Anzolette D., and Mary E. Richmond, 1901, New Woodstock and Vicinity, Past & Present. J.A. Loyster, Cazenovia, NY
Go back to the Introduction
New Woodstock and Vicinity
Past and Present
["History of New Woodstock" on spine]
Mrs. Anzolette D. Ellsworth
and Miss Mary E. Richmond
"We twa ha'e run about the braes,
And pu'd the gowans fine."
["We two have run about the hills
and picked many red berries"]
J.A. Loyster, Printer
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In a history as limited as this must of necessity be, beginning in the latter part of the eighteenth century, extending through the nineteenth, and ending in the first year of the twentieth, one feels that only the merest outline is in many cases given. In the general sketches of New Woodstock and West Woodstock, an effort has been made to avoid repetition, yet to mention the early settlers of whom there are no personal sketches. The work has been difficult and is incomplete, owing to the lapse of time making the data obtainable not always reliable.
The compilers have been agreeably surprised at the interest manifested by nearly all the inhabitants of New Woodstock, as well as by many who formerly resided here, and are grateful to those who have helped to carry forward the work to completion. They desire particularly to acknowledge their obligations to Hon. L.L. Ainsworth, of West Union, Iowa; Henry C. Lyon, of Boston, Mass.; the late Mrs. Jane Underwood and her children, Prof. L.M. Underwood, of Columbia University, and Miss Sarah J. Underwood, of New York; Miss Mary Fiske, of Detroit Mich.; E.W. Moffett, of Fayetteville, and H.M. Kellogg, of Cortland.
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A Friendly Endorsement.
So you are going to print a book about New Woodstock? Well the only wonder is that no one has ever "sot out" to do this before the end of the blessed Nineteenth century. For although it is a little city -- a very little city if you please, it is one of the dearest places on earth, and one of the most picturesque in location. Its charms are recognized not only by its own sons and daughters, but by strangers as well. "As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so is the Lord round about his people," is one of those fascinating passages of Holy Writ, that was perpetually getting paraphrased in my youthful mind something after this sort: "As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so are the beautiful hills round about this lovely village;" and I do not think it would have been very foreign to the spirit of my love for my native village to have called it "Zion, city of our God" for was it not the embodiment of all that was good and sacred to my youthful mind?
This love for New Woodstock has never grown cold. No blasting disillusionment of later years and wider wanderings has ever fallen upon my ideal of the childhood time. Her streets, her homes, her stately maples, her lovely environment of valley and hill, are all as tenderly loved and as enthusiastically admired by me today as when they constituted the only world I knew. Fifty-three years, full of as eventful experiences as many of my latter ones have been, are quite enough to dispel the veil of youthful delusion, (if it were only that.) But this has not been the case. Time and experience have only confirmed my pride and love for the nestling village between the encircling hills. I have carried into many foreign countries fondest memories of the place which comprehended my "world" for the first twenty years of my life. There dwell many of my surest, tried and best-known friends and kindred, and in its quiet cemetery sleep so many loved ones of the long ago.
It is perhaps a bit paradoxical, but we discover that the serious and dignified is often next-door neighbor to the whimsical and the trifling; so <:6> that coupled with stately memories of the olden time are groups of frivolous events that live as truly as the more important ones. I find myself recalling with equal vividness the tones and gestures of Reverend John Fulton in the pulpit of the old Baptist church, and the delicious pearmain apples which at "nooning time" used to get fished out of the profound pockets of Erastus Abott's great gray overcoat. How I used to look for those apples! And I never looked in vain. His kindly eyes and his hearty goodwill added a relish to those delicious apples that made them little less than ambrosial in their delicacy. I recall that remarkable man, Philetus Lathrop, than whom a more honest or worthy soul never honored a town with his citizenship. When pennies were scarce in the family exchequer, my mother often gave me an egg in the morning, as I started for school, with which I was to secure for myself a "cent's worth" of some goody at the store. On a certain evil day I fell down in the road and to my great consternation, cracked the hen's egg most unmistakably. With the unerring instincts of a child, I took my cracked and oozy egg flint morning to "Squire" Lathrop, feeling that he was the only one from whom I could reasonably expect the acceptance of my damaged collateral, and I was not disappointed. That tender- hearted though solemn-visaged man took my egg and gave me its full equivalent in candy; and then breaking it carefully into a saucer, fed it to his old black and white pet cat. A little matter, you say. I beg to differ. It was a transaction worthy of the attention of the Recording Angel, and one I shall never forget. It spoke volumes for the character of that lonely bachelor merchant. I bless his memory to this day for not wounding my childish feelings by spurning me and my broken egg from his store. Are there are any little things in this life? Measured by the highest standards a smile or a touch of the hand may outweigh the transactions of a Rothschild or a Rockefeller.
I recall the day when the "Cow Shed" block was raised, and with what admiring wonder I watched the daring exploit of Nelson Durfee in walking out on the plate with a commander in his hands and pounding mortise and tenon together. I had never seen such a venturesome deed before, and had he been a thousand feet from the ground instead of a possible forty, he could not have been a greater hero to me.
But I must not dwell longer on trifles, which however, are not altogether trifles, for our lives are so largely made up of just such things. Our web of life is woven of alternate sunrises and sunsets, waxing and waning moons, fond greetings, sad farewells. and shifting lights and shades.
Copy of E.L. Abbott's Letter.
Bro. Bright of Boston, forwarded to me overland a slip form the New York Bap. Register, conveying to me the mournful intelligence of the work death had made in your family. I left you all in good heath and this was the first intelligence I had received. I cannot express to von how much I was affected by it. It seems as though a desolation had been wrought among my friends, in my Native land, which made it appear a dreary waste, particularly on hearing of the death of Philetus. For you know how intimate we were in the days of our childhood and youth -- and how dearly we loved each other and how unbroken was our companionship till I bid him adieu and sailed for this eastern world. During my visit to my Native land our fellowship was sweet and heavenly, tinged at the same time with a shade of sadness as we could not keep it from our minds that we were soon to part to meet no more in this world. I recollect our last meeting I went down and visited him and his dear family at Owego, and he came with his wagon and brought me on my way back as far as Pitcher. We spent the night there together, and in the morning when we had bowed down and prayed together for the last time, in company with good old Father Wakely, Mrs. Lawton and other old friends -- the moment arrived when we were to say farewell. My last words to him were, "If you should every pass through Fulton, brother Peck, you will find two little creatures there who call me Father." He clasped me around the neck, and our tears mingled and ran down together, and he passed away and I saw him no more. And now he is dead.
Before I sailed from Boston I received a letter from him in which he says, "After parting with you at Pitcher I had a sad ride. I could no longer restrain my tears, and they ceased not that day. *Paroxism's (*Mr. Abbott's spelling) of inexpressible sadness and tears would come over me in spite of all my efforts to resist. I hurried on home, calling on no one, and arrived in the evening. Nancy soon learned my feelings and participating in them, we wept together, retired to rest and wept still, and only by the active engagements of life the next day was I enabled to obtain the mastery over my emotions of sadness. That you had a large place in my heart, I well knew; but that it would cost me so much to part I did not expect ********* To this time the thought that I shall see your face no more on earth fills me with sadness, hut I cannot help it. Nevertheless I rejoice in it because I believe it is the will of God.*** When we parted at Pitcher I could <:8> not speak. All you desired of me on behalf of your boys, or any service I can render shall be done with pleasure. Tell them that their father's friend, P.B. Peck will be their friend. Willard may thus remember me."
No -- those boys will not remember you, my Brother -- it is too late. What they have lost they know not now -- God grant that they never know. We know what we have lost, and the church of which he was pastor know their loss, and his dear family will feel his loss more and more. I knew Brother Peck well. I have felt the beatings of that great noble heart, and I have admired among other traits of his magnanimous character, an integrity the most unyielding, a grasping of the right and an adherence to it the most unflinching amidst opposition the most fearful. A fidelity and an efficiency in the discharge of pastoral duties seldom equaled, a kindness and affection and wisdom as Husband and Father, and a purity and constancy of friendship equaled only by "that above." And I feel that I have a right to mourn with others his loss. For perhaps since the days of David and Jonathan no two men have entertained for each other a stronger or more disinterested friendship than Brother Peck and myself. Farewell, my Brother, -- Rest in Peace.
I recollect that when I was at home also I experienced much satisfaction in visiting with his lamented mother, Mrs. Peck. More than any other person in my Native land, she reminded me of my own dear Mother. I recollect while sitting by Mrs Peck's side one day I found her gazing steadily into my face. After a moment she said, with a good deal of animation. "Why Elisha, how fresh you bring the memory of your Mother to my mind." She is gone to the grave full of years.
Linus I knew as a boy. He was during one season a school-boy of mine, and I marked him as a lad of bright promise and predicted for him in future life a glorious career. And from what I hear of his character and learned of his position while at home, I perceived that the promise of his childhood had been verified. He too is gone, and they all sleep in one grave. Let them sleep. We shall go to them but they will not return to us. The companions of my childhood and youth are passing away -- the greater part of my family lie on these heathen shores and the two living ones far away I am never to see. What remains to me now but to fulfill the ministry. I have received with fidelity and patience giving glory to God.
Love to Mrs. Fiske and family, Eld. Putnam and family, and to all dear friends in New Woodstock.
Your affec. Son in the gospel,
Mr. Abbott was appointed missionary to Burmah [Burma] by the Baptist Board in 1835, and continued his labors with marked success for nineteen years. With health broken he then came home and was soon called to his rest.
Mr. Abbott's monument was erected by E.C. and E.D. Litchfield, sons of Elisha Litchfield of Cazenovia. The inscription is as follows:
Rev. Elisha Litchfield Abbott, Missionary to Burmah [Burma].
Died Dec 3, 1854 aged 45.
"His works do follow him."
New Woodstock.O village white among the hills,
Where arched the sky above them first,
Seems heaven's vault most blue;
No hills so green have they e'er seen,
No friends so staunch and true.
"The thoughts of youth" -- those "long, long thoughts,"
of things seen and unseen;
Had here their source, and all life's course
Has felt the impress keen.
And so the gray-haired pilgrims come
To muse where life began.
As in a dream, the houses seem
Less spacious in their plan;
The streets stretch not so long nor wide
As to their childish eyes;
The steeple high that touched the sky
Wears now a different guise.
Yet still the same, and doubly dear
For all the years between;
And all the stress of thoughts that press
At each remembered scene.
But as the old-time ways they tread,
Themselves they aliens own;
The silent stare, the curious air
Stamp them as strangers lone.
Then to the graveyard old they turn,
And here their friends they find.
On headstones white--most saddening sight, <:10>
The cherished names are lined.
For while the living fail to gain
In numbers year by year,
The dead who lie at rest hard by
A mighty host appear.
O village white among the hills,
How peaceful dost thou seem!
Yet all the smarts that torture hearts
Are found in thee, I deem
The passions which can make or mar
On thine arena meet
No space confined can cramp the mind,
Or make life incomplete.
Within the circle of thy hills
Grim tragedy has walked;
And left and right has spread the blight
Where scathing sin has stalked.
Romance has bloomed, and love has smiled
Stern toil has borne its part,
And righteousness with power to bless
Has reigned in many a heart.
Within thy midst, through all the years,
The Church of God has stood,
The seal and sign of things divine,
A source of untold good.
And o'er the coffined forms that crowd
Beneath the graveyard mold,
Swelled sweet and strong the triumph song
That resurrection told.
O village white among the hills,
May blessings rest on thee
I here proclaim how much thy name
Has meant to mine and me.
O may thy children far and near
Fresh honors on thee shed;
Unsullied wear the names they bear,
While thou dost guard their dead.
Sarah J. Underwood
Syracuse, N.Y., January 21, 1901.
Proceed on to the Next Section, History of New Woodstock