Jabish N.M. Hurd, born about 1778, seems to have come been in Utica where he, Josiah Masters, and Merritt Clark had been in partnership in a general merchandise store. In 1802 Clark dropped from the partnership, and Hurd & Masters went off to open a store in Cazenovia. Masters seems to have continued management of the store in Utica while Hurd came into the hills of Cazenovia to run the store (Whitestown Gazette 2/22/1802). Hurd also served as Cazenovia's second Post Master beginning in 1803, and later served as the Town Clerk, County Coroner, County Clerk, Lieutenant Colonel in the Cazenovia Militia, and most impressive of all as a Brigadier General in the War of 1812. His business connections were far and wide and besides the large chunks of land he owned in the village he also operated an ashery, was associated with a woolen mill, and had other manufacturing interests. An 1809 map of the Madison County Jail Limits in the Village of Cazenovia (then the County seat) shows that Hurd's store was located on the north side of Albany Street at the west side of the Public Square, no w#21 Albany Street (map at the Madison County Historical Society). His house appears to have been on or near the same property as the store, at the corner of the Public Square but because of his large property holdings and lack of positive evidence this cannot be said for certain.
Although the community was still quite young when Hurd came to town, all but three of the twenty families on the Holland Land Company census of that year lived in small frame houses (Village and Out Lots). The village also had by that time a saw and grist mill, other small manufactories, a post office, and several other general merchants. The primary merchant at the time was Samuel S. Forman in the Holland land Co. store which stood where the Presbyterian Church is today and later nearly across the street from Hurd's store, at #24-26 Albany Street.
Masters & Hurd purchased several parcels of land fronting along Albany Street and extending from the Public Square westward to what is now Hurd Street (Chenango County Deed C:176). By 1804 Masters & Hurd had purchased nearly all of the land that lies between present Albany, Sullivan, Forman, and Green Streets, excepting the house lots fronting on Albany Street (5,7,9 Albany St., now Brae Lock, Gothic Cottage, and David O'Hara's office) (Chenango Deeds D:330, F:45, and G:347). These lots were laid out as building lots by local surveyor Elisha Johnson in 1804 (map at Lorenzo) but sale of the lots was slow because of a question about the title between the former partnership with Masters and for many years after the land was kept as a large meadow. In 1810 Hurd Street was opened through the large property (The Pilot 4/__/1810). Other improvements were made at this time to a shallow stream which ran through the property and it was diverted, the land filled, and a corduroy causeway built over the wet area. Hurd Street was originally called "Church Street" because the Presbyterian Church (built 1804 to 1806) originally stood at the head of of the street (in front of the present Middle School). From the 1830s to the early 1850s, after the church had been moved to its present location (1828), the street was called Green Street as it led to the Village Green (the present Green Street was not opened by then). The present name was given in honor of Jabish N.M. Hurd in 1852 (The Cazenovia Gazette 11/4/1852).
The store seems to have been somewhat successful at first and Masters & Hurd continued together until August 1808 after which time Hurd continued alone, selling dry goods, yarn, cotton, etc. (The Pilot, 8/10/1808, 8/__/1811, 8/__/1815). As Post Master, Hurd had charge of the very important (political and community) office which was located in the store, but in 1819 it was moved to a brick building that stood at the northeast corner of the Public Square, where the wooden half of the Merchant's bank now stands.
Hurd seems to have had somewhat of a stormy relationship with some people in high and influential places, creditors and politicians alike. The reasons for his troubles are not entirely clear and were shrouded with mystery at the time and then more by the passing of the ages. In 1819 Hurd ran into financial difficulties with creditors in Albany and New York City and by the end of the year his lands were put up for sale. The store must have been closed at this time, thus the wording of the note posted upon the door of the store in the sketch: "goods are moved to Carpenter's store mysteriously." The last word, "mysteriously." hints that things were not going Hurd's way. Jabez Abell wrote in 1941 that Hurd was, like many of his fellow merchants, a victim of the lifting of the embargo after the War of 1812. He held on much longer than some, being over stocked with cheap British goods that quickly became unsalable, but finally collapsed. Abel makes reference to Hurd's store accounts and it seems that they still existed in the 1940s, but their whereabouts today is unknown.
Hurd's creditors included several prominent Albany and New York City merchants who were not about to let him off easy. They foreclosed on his properties in October 1819 (Madison County Deed Q:16) and a month later the local paper advertised that his property, including the store property, house lots, a mill lot north of the village, an ashery near the east bridge, and a share in a brick building on the northeast corner of the square (which housed the village Post office) was to be sold at auction (The Pilot 11/__/1819). Hurd managed to retain some of these parcels, but despite the closing of his store and the loss of some of his real estate, his troubles were not over.
Hurd remained as Post Master until the first of January, 1822, when he was replaced by fellow merchant, Jesse Kilborn. Kilborn was also a Federalist, but Hurd was swept away like hundreds of other post masters during this time of nation-wide political struggles. Despite adamant arguments from nearly all the other merchants and prominent men of the village, Kilborn was in the spot to stay (The Pilot 1/__/1822). Hurd seems to have remained in Cazenovia for a few more years and sold the last of his land here in 1827. At that time he still retained the store lot (where he had his house) which was described as one acre suitable for "family or business," with 5 acres adjoining, the distillery lot and stone distillery across Albany Street (now along Willow Place), and one half of a two story office building on the Public Square (with 2 rooms on each floor) (The Republican Monitor 8/__/1827). Whether Hurd had full ownership of these properties is not likely as his house lot is later sold by the same creditors that were after him in 1819.
I have not found a biography of Hurd, but it appears that he was born about 1778 and would have been a young man of 24 years when he settled in Cazenovia. Some information is known about his family, but it seems that, like his business ventures, his personal and family life was also difficult. His first wife, Nancy, died at Huntington CT, February 8, 1809, at the age of 29 years, his second wife, Laura, daughter of Thomas Williams of Cazenovia, died April 22, 1817, at the age of 22 years. Laura Williams Hurd is buried in Cazenovia Village's Evergreen Cemetery. His third wife, also named Laura, lived with him in later years. Jabish N.M. Hurd, long a prominent figure in Cazenovia, left the village about 1827 and removed to Albany. He is listed in the Albany city directories for many years and became a prominent citizen of that city. He died there in February of 1855 at the age of 77 years.
In 1828 the Albany Street lot, where Hurd's store, and presumably house, had been located, were purchased from Hurd's New York City creditors by Augustus W. Smith, a math professor who soon became the principal of the Oneida Conference Seminary, and went on to later in 1851 became the principal of a Wesleyan University in Middletown Connecticut (Madison County Deed Z:747). Smith lived here for a short time only and about 1831 the house and lot were purchased by Dr. Alvin Foord, who had come to Cazenovia about 1828. Foord was a village physician and patent medicine king who sold his famous "Pectoral Syrup," "Tonic Cordial," and "Universal Pills" far and wide across the country in the 1840s, 1850s, and 1860s. Foord lived at this location until 1866 when he sold it to George S. Ledyard, who built the present house at #19 Albany Street. In 1867 Foord built what is known as the "Wendell House" next to the Presbyterian Church at #21 Albany Street. The 1852 map of the village shows clearly the extent of the Foord house property which is little changed since the days that Hurd occupied it.
THE PORTRAIT of Jabish N.M. Hurd
(from the Collection of the Cazenovia Public Library)