History of Durham and its Early Settlers
Extracted from Beers' History of Greene County, pages 260-274 by Celeste MacCormack
The town of Durham has a Revolutionary history, but it is a history mostly pertaining to the patriotic men who, at the close of the war, emigrated from other parts of the land and found homes here. At the conclusion of the war, probably in 1782 (as the war was virtually closed by the surrender of Lord Cornwallis in October 1781), these settlers returned to their home in Oak Hill. They were quickly followed by a large number of emigrants from the valley of the Hudson, and from the New England States. These settlers, as a class, were a hardy, industrious, patriotic, Christian people, and they soon made this "wilderness to blossom as the rose."
It is purposed to treat of events in the general history of the town in chronological order, as far as possible.
When Lucas De Witt reached his former home in Oak Hill, he recovered his grist-mill from the hollow log in which he had secreted it several years before, and it did service again until it was replaced by a more modern one built on the banks of the Katskill. The log house was also removed, and the present one, now occupied by Israel De Witt, was built. It had a log roof on the front side extending over a wide stoop, as was the fashion in those days. He owned several slaves; but they suffered none of the miseries of Southern slavery. They lived like members of his family, and were generally known by the family name. Hence we find the names of Andrew De Witt, Jack De Witt, Peter De Witt, and Jude De Witt - the latter a faithful old female slave, whom Mr. De Witt remembered very kindly in his will. His wife was Deborah, daughter of Abraham Person, of the Inbogt; his sons were James (alias Cobus), Peter, and John (Deacon John). He is now represented here by Israel De Witt, his grandson, and William F. De Witt, his great-grandson (who is a nephew of Israel De Witt), and their families.
Hendrick Plank, as has already been stated, was taken prisoner by the Indians and taken to Canada, where he died. His widow married Leonard Patrie, and they came and resided on the farm for many years. Mrs. Patrie has a granddaughter now living in the village of Schoharie-the widow Ter Bush.
John Plank also returned to his home in De Wittsburgh, but his farm has long since passed out of the ownership of the family. The names of Jeremiah Plank, Peter Plank, Hendrick Plank jr., and Peter Plank jr. are also found, but none of that name now remain in the town.
The Egbertson family located on the farm now owned by Israel P. Utter. We have the names of Cornelius Egbertson and Maria Bushkirk, his wife, Egbert Egbertson, Mrs. Rebecca Egbertson and Hannah Egbertson, the wife of Deacon John De Witt. The family is now scattered over the country.
Fredrick Gruyslaer and Catrina, his wife, settled on the farm now owned by Francis De Frate, but must have left the town quite early in its history.
Augustinus Shue probably came to this town in 1782, and settled on the flat lands near the Field homestead, and finally where William Baldwin lives. His wife was Maria Merkel. He also held slaves and was quite wealthy. He had, or claimed to have, a patent of several hundred acres in the vicinity and sold the right of soil to many of the settlers. Roswell (or Rozel) Post, for instance, bought his farm of him, for L1 6s. 5d. per acre. But many of the settlers resisted his claims, and the result was the commencement of a tedious and costly litigation in the Supreme Court, which resulted unfavorable for Mr. Shue. He finally sold his farm and left the town in quite reduced circumstances. He had a son Peter Shue, who lived where H. B. Kirtland now does. He, too, removed out of town, so that for many years there have been no representatives of this family residing here.
The next settlement which was made in this town was by some Connecticut people, on Meeting-house Hill as it was called. The hill and the surrounding country was, for many years, known as New Durham, so called from the town of Durham, in Connecticut, from which these people came. In fact, this part of the town was called New Durham until 1805, when the name of the town was changed from Freehold to Durham. The exact date of the commencement of this settlement cannot now be given; and, with one or two exceptions, the same remark holds true with regard to the arrival of any given family who settled in this town in its early history. Our forefathers appear to have been too busy in the struggle, amid all the privations of frontier life, to make or preserve any record of their first experience here. After a careful investigation of the whole subject, an investigation which has been continued for more than five years, we are of the opinion that early in the spring of 1784 was the time.
The general history of this county throws light upon this subject. It has been mentioned that a settlement was commenced at the De Wittsburgh, now Oak Hill, early in the seventies; that upon the breaking out of the Revolutionary war, that settlement was, for the time being, abandoned. It has also been shown that at the close of hostilities, probably before peace was formally declared, these first settlers naturally turned their attention to their deserted homes. Hence, in a diary kept by one of the settlers on Meeting-house Hill, is a reference to Mr. De Witt and to Mr. Shue, both of whom are spoken of as having seed-wheat to sell, showing that they had been here at least a sufficient length of time to raise a crop of that grain. It is evident that the Utters and the Pratts, the Flowers, the Baldwins, the Strongs, and the Merwins who were evidently the first Yankees who settled in this town, were dependent upon their Dutch neighbors for their seed-wheat.
The history of the nation also throws light upon this subject. Although Lord Cornwallis surrendered in October 1781, and there was very little fighting after that; still, owing to the complicated state of affairs between Great Britain and France, our independence as a nation was not recognized by Great Britain until September 3rd 1783; and the army was not disbanded until November 3rd of the same year.
Our forefathers were intensely loyal men; many of them were soldiers in that great struggle for liberty, and we are assured that not one of them forsook the standard of their country to form settlement in this wilderness, so long as that country needed their services in the field.
A brief reference to the condition of the country at large at the close of the war, will throw light upon motives of the people, which led to such a surprising emigration from the older sections of the country to the New West, as it was then considered.
The government was heavily in debt, having borrowed $8,000,000 of other nations, besides the many millions ($170,000,000 according to Patton’s history), which she owed to her faithful soldiery and marine. The whole energies of the loyal people had been given to the cause of liberty, so that trade and manufactures had been greatly neglected; and, in the language of "Willard’s History," written in 1828, "many of the inhabitants were nearly destitute of clothing and the necessaries of life." Add to this the burdensome taxes which the government was compelled to assess upon them, and we can see that the distress of the people was great. Therefore, urged by sheer necessity, many of the young men from older sections of the country emigrated to newer regions, even into the wildernesses, like Durham.
It is exceedingly unfortunate that a historical record of the settlement of New Durham, together with the subsequent history of the town, was not written by one able person, conversant with the men of those days. There is indeed, a memoir of Elihu W. Baldwin, D. D., who was a son of Jonathan Baldwin, one of the first settlers on the hill, written by Edwin F. Hatfield, D. D., which so far as its historical statement are concerned must be considered perfectly reliable. No doubt Dr. Hatfield obtained his information from Elihu Baldwin or from his father.
He says: "Shortly after the termination of the war of the Revolutions, they [Elihu’s parents] emigrated to Greene county, beyond the Hudson River, in New York, where, with six other American and two Dutch families, they settled the town of New Durham in the wilderness." Then, after speaking of their religious privations, Dr. Hatfield says: "The next year added five families to their number, and in the following year four more families took up their abode among them." The date of this emigration is not given, but, speaking of the previous history of Elihu Baldwin’s parents, he says that "they were married in 1782, that she removed to Durham, Connecticut [she was a native of Saybrook], where they resided eighteen months." Then follows the statement of their emigration to this town, which makes it very clear that the date of settlement should be 1784.
The names of all of them cannot be given with certainty; but it is known that Jonathan Baldwin, Abiel Baldwin, Phineas Canfield, David Merwin, and Selah Strong were among the number. The latter, however, according to his diary, did not arrive at the settlement until August 27th 1784 -sometime after his companions. Who the other two men were in unknown; but it is known that Daniel Merwin, John Canfield, John and David Cowles, Bill Torry, Curtis Baldwin, Augustus Pratt, Jarius Wilcox, and Francis, his son, Daniel Kirtland, John Hull, Ebenezer and Stephen Tibbals, Jesse Rose, Eliakim Strong, Timothy Munger, Jarius Chittenden, Henry Hendrickson, Adijah Dewey, a Mr. Hurd, and probably many others whose names cannot at this time be ascertained, were among those who came and settled in New Durham during the first few years of its history.
Meeting-house Hill is one of the highest of a series of foot hills lying near the base of the Catskills. It has Canfield Hill to the northeast and Rose Hill to the southeast of it. It is about 200 feet higher than the valley north of it, and about 1,100 feet above tide. The ascent to the top is gradual, the land is smooth, and in early days it was very fertile. The view from the top extends in all directions and is very commanding.
And yet it is strange, at first thought, that these men should come directly past the rich valley lands of the town of Catskill, and even the lower lands of East Durham and Oak Hill, and settle on that hill. But it should be remembered that the best lands of Catskill and of Oak Hill had already been taken up, and as they were Yankees, they thought they could not raise wheat on lower lands of East Durham -they must get up in the world. The hill must have been thickly settled at one time.
The settlement was called New Durham, and is mentioned frequently in the ancient official papers of the town. Besides the many dwellings on this hill, there have been two meeting houses, at least one school-house, a blacksmith shop, a store, and public roads passing over it from the four points of the compass. Now, while the whole hill is used as farming lands, there is not a building upon it, except at the eastern extreme, where Curtis Osborn lives; and excepting the road passing Mr. Osborn’s house, the only road approaching it is private farm road. There is also a "silent city of the dead," on the top of the hill, which, like many other sacred spots, is sadly neglected.
The spring of 1785 saw these hardy men and their faithful wives engaged in hewing out their fortunes at New Durham. In the process of time, the hill became too small for them. Only Jonathan Baldwin and Selah Strong remained permanently upon it.
Jonathan and Abiel Baldwin were brothers, and belonged to a family of eight children, all of whom eventually settled in this town. They also had eight cousins of the same name who settled here. In fact there were more of the Baldwin name among the early settlers than any other; and it is a wonder that the town was not named Baldwin, and the settlement on the hill Baldwinville. The history of Baldwin family can be readily traced back to Joseph Baldwin, who with his brothers Nathaniel and Timothy, emigrated to this county from England in 1639, and settled in Milford, Connecticut. Many of the descendants of these Baldwins have been eminent men. John C. Baldwin, of Orange, New Jersey, was a princely giver to the cause of benevolence, and his brother Henry P., was in 1872, Governor of the State of Michigan, and afterward United States Senator from that State. These were descendants of Nathaniel Baldwin.
Joseph’s descendants also rank among the eminent men of the land. Three ministers of the gospel, one president of a college, one foreign missionary, besides elders, deacons, lawyers, judges, principals, writers, authors, and soldiers and officers who participated in all the wars of this country -these positions, and many more besides, have been filled by members of this family. And in England the family was noted. In 1545, Sir John Baldwin died at Aylesbury, Bucks county, England. He was chief justice of the Court of Common Pleas, and a very wealthy man. He is thought to be the uncle of Richard Baldwin, the grandfather of Nathaniel, Timothy, and Joseph, who came to this country in 1639. Their father’s name also was Richard.
Students of ancient history are familiar with the fact that the name Baldwin was applied to five successive kings of Jerusalem after the capture of that city by the Crusaders, in the year 1110. After the conquest of England, in 1066, by the Normans under William the Conqueror, the name occurs frequently in that country; it originated, however, in Flanders, as early as the year 864. That was long before surnames came into use. The first earl of Flanders was called Baldwin I., and so on in succession, we find the name until we reach Baldwin IX., who became emperor of Constantinople in 1204.
Jonathan Baldwin was born in 1758, married Submit, the youngest daughter of Deacon Christopher Lord, came to New Durham in 1784, and settled on the farm now occupied by Curtis Osborn. In 1816, he sold the farm to Hezekiah Baldwin, his cousin, and removed to Atwater, Ohio, where he died in 1843. His wife died there in 1855, aged 91. They had six children, one of whom, Elibu W., was a graduate of Yale College, became a reverend, a D.D., and at the time of his death in 1840, he was president of Wabash College, at Crawfordsville, Indiana. Nearly all of Deacon Jonathan’s descendants live in Ohio.
Abiel Baldwin, his brother, eventually settled on the farm recently occupied by the late John Peck. The house stood 50 or 60 rods north of the present one. His first wife was Eunice Coe, and his second, Mrs. Elizabeth Sandford, of New Haven. He was reverend, soldier, and a pensioner. He died in 1847, aged 85 years. He had eight children -one son, Johnson, became a Congregational minister. He has a grandson, Johnson H., who is an eminent lawyer, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. There are no representatives of this family now living in this town.
Phineas Canfield settled on Canfield Hill, where O. W. Moore now resides. He at one time owned the grist-mill, situated on the Katskill Creek, near Francis De Fratie’s. He died in the year 1800, comparatively young. None of his descendants remain.
He had a brother John, but none of his family live here now.
David Merwin, after residing on the hill a short time, settled on the farm now occupied by H. P. Lacy. About the year 1831, he sold or exchanged his farm for 1,000 acres of land in Ohio, and removed there, where he died not many years after. One of his children, Nancy married David Cowles, jr., of Durham village. Mrs. Anson P. Hull and her sisters are granddaughters of David Merwin by this marriage.
Selah Strong was born January 6th 1759, and married Eunice Baldwin. He was the son of Eliakim Strong, who was a lieutenant in the French and Indian war of 1755. He lived on the hill until 1798, when he bought the farm now occupied by Horace Strong, where he died in 1837. He had eight children, and his second son, Eliajah, was said to be the first child born in the settlement. His third son, Lyman, was an elder in the church, and was much respected. Salmon, the fourth son, was a graduate of Williams’ College, became a reverend, and was the father of Addison K. Strong, D.D., of Wisconsin. Anna, his eldest daughter, married Elizur Hull, and became the faithful mother of nine children.
Eliakim Strong, the father of Selah, also came to this town some time after, and lived on the north bank of the Katskill, at the ford where the road passing Abiel Baldwin’s (as it then was), crossed the stream, The land is now a part of Israel De Witt’s farm. He was one of the original members of the Presbyterian church in this town. He died in the year 1800.
The history of this family can be traced back through eleven generations, to the year 1545. They lived in Shropshire county, England. John Strong immigrated to the country in 1630, and settled in Dorchester, Massachusetts. He lived in several other places, and died at the age of 94, at Northampton, Massachusetts. He had, up to the time of his death, 165 descendants; 18 children, 114 grandchildren, and 33 great- grand- children.
The family name is now represented in this town by Miss Harried Strong, Horace Strong, and his family; besides, another family of the same name, whose ancestor came in later.
This completes the personal history of the pioneers in New Durham settlement as far as can be ascertained. They endured great privations, and sometimes suffered for want of necessary food. Mr. Strong, in his diary, speaks of catching pigeons, and the failure sometimes attending his efforts in that direction; and, September 22nd 1784, he says: "Provisions are very scarce here." This, no doubt, led some of them to return to Connecticut for the winter. But in the following spring (1785) they came back again, bringing their wives with them. From this settlement on the Meeting-house Hill there issued streams of blessing which reached and effected not only the whole town, but whose influence will be felt by generations yet unborn. There were other Baldwins and Strongs who afterward settled here, of whom mention will be made elsewhere.
The region of country about East Durham was settled mostly by families from Cheshire and other places near New Haven, Connecticut, with a sprinkling of Dutch families from the valley of the Hudson. They were an active, enterprising race and were known as "Cheshire cats." They came here in 1784 and 1785. We are indebted to Robert Hotchkiss (now deceased), who was an estimable citizen of East Durham, for the following history of the early settlement of that neighborhood.
John Bagley settled on the farm now owned by John Morehouse. Upon the formation of a company of militia in this part of the town, he was chosen their captain. He built the first grist-mill in this part of the town. It was on Thorp Creek, about a mile west of East Durham and one-half mile north of his house.
Cutting Bagley settled on the adjoining farm, west. He was the grandfather of Harry Bagley, a respected citizen of the village of Freehold.
Bernard Bagley first lived on the farm now occupied by Abram Smith. These Bagleys are relatives of Ex-Governor Bagley of Michigan.
Robert Hotchkiss lived on the farm now occupied by Charles P. Miller, and Samuel Hotchkiss occupied the farm of Amos Rockefeller.
George Hotchkiss was the father of Robert Hotchkiss, jr., and lived on the farm previously occupied by Barnard Bagley.
David Tyler occupied the J. W. Slater place; Elisha Tyler lived where D. S. Jones now resides; and Phineas Tyler lived on the adjoining farm directly west. He succeeded John Bagley as captain of militia and the first training ever held in East Durham was held on his farm.
Joel Lindsley lived at the "Locust Shade House," while the farm occupied by William Ecklor was settled by Mr. Ecklor, one of his ancestors.
Captain William Evory seems to have lived at one time on the farm now occupied by William Wetmore and also where Lyman Rickerson now lives.
Ichabod Olmsted, the ancestor of the Olmstead family, came from Canaan, Connecticut, and bought 200 acres of a Mr. Proctor for $3 per acre. He brought his provisions, a gun and an ax, and cleared up the farm now occupied by his grandson of the same name. He reached the great age of 95 years.
In the neighborhood of Centreville, there was a family of Barkers who settled on the farm now occupied by Fletcher Rogers. They were no relation to the patroon of that name.
In Centreville are found the names of John Howell and Jeremiah White, who were partners in tanning leather and in making shoes. Gillamore Rickerson and Ebenezer Brocket also settled here, but perhaps later than 1785.
There are other names in the old records, but their history is unknown; such as Van Loan, Ackerly, Moses Cory, Samuel Judson, William Earl, and Michael Webster.
Crossing to the east bank of the Katskill, there were a few settlers as early as 1784-5. Captain Eliakim Stannard, born in Connecticut, August 31st 1752, married Bathiah Kelsey, and in 1785 he came to this town and lived on the farm now occupied by Clark, his grandson. He was a Revolutionary soldier, and upon the formation of a company of light infantry in this town he became its captain. He died in 1838, and had nine children. Of his sons, Silas was a soldier in the war of 1812, and Lyman was supervisor of this town.
Ransom, a son of Lyman occupies the homestead of his father and is a successful farmer. He gives special prominence to fruit-raising for which his farm is well adapted.
Grovenor, son of Silas, was engaged in public works for ten years, was commissioner of highways nine years and is now successfully engaged in farming near Centreville.
Clark occupies his grandfather’s old farm, formerly occupied by Josiah his father. He has a good farm and is a good farmer. There are many other representatives of this family in the town and all are excellent people.
Deacon George Wright, one of the first settlers of Wright Street, came from Saybrook, Connecticut, and settled on the farm recently occupied by Silas Wright, his grandson. He was a Revolutionary soldier. His family representatives are found in nearly every State of the Union. Bradford and Anson B. are grandsons still living in Wright Street. Both of them are farmers and are much respected.
Anson B. has held the office of commissioner of highways several terms. He is a strong friend of temperance and of political reform.
Oliver Wright is a man of intellectual force. He has served his town as commissioner of excise. He is the son of James, and grandson of Deacon George. There are other representatives of this family living here. The family is very influential in the town.
Philip Moore and Maria, his wife, were natives of Germany, and immigrated to this country, and settled first in Dutchess county, from whence they came and located on the Moore farm, now owned by L. Sherrill. They had four sons: William, Jacob, John, and Edward. Jacob was the father of Ransom and Ezra, and Edward was the father of Madison Moore. All of them are thrifty farmers, living in the vicinity of Wright Street.
John Showerman was an early settler here. He had four sons: Peter, Andrus, Tunis, and John.
There was a family of Benjamins who settled in Wright Street and in Saybrook but they are now only represented through intermarriage with other families. Silas and Lyman Stannard married into this family -daughters of Daniel and Richard Benjamin. The latter built the present Abrams House at Hamburg, alias Saybrook, and kept a hotel there. On one occasion, a company of young people from the other side of Saybrook Creek spent the evening at Mr. Benjamin’s. They came on foot, crossing the creek in a small boat. Joseph Wright, "for the fun of it," went and cut a hole through the bottom of their boat, and fitted a piece of board so nicely that the boat did not leak. To this board he attached a strong cord about twenty feet long (letting it run under the boat), and fastened the other end to the tie stake on shore. When the party broke up, they stepped into the boat and launched forth; but they soon found themselves at the "end of their rope," the water came rushing in, and, "with screams and wet feet, they made a hasty retreat."
It is impossible at this late day to give the names of all the early settlers of this town, neither is it considered necessary, and yet there were men who gave shape to every interest of the town and whose memories should be embalmed in the records of history.
James Utter sen., a native of Saybrook, Connecticut came here in the summer of 1783, and settled on Saybrook Hill. The farm was until recently owned by Addison Utter, his grandson. He cleared a piece of ground, built a hut, and sowed a little wheat. He spent the winter in Connecticut, and in the spring of 1784, he brought his wife, Hannah Spencer, and their eldest child, on horseback, he walking all the way by her side, and began settlement. They were accompanied by Captain Jonathan Pratt and Abigail, his brother. [I believe this should be the name Abijah as you will see reference to his name later - CM] It is said that Mrs. Utter became so homesick the first year, that she went back to Connecticut on horseback, carrying her children in her arms. She burned out the upright end of a log in such a way as to make a very respectable mortar of it, in which she pounded corn for family use. Mr. Utter was a Revolutionary soldier, and was much respected. They had six children, and the family is quite largely represented and much respected in the town.
Israel P. Utter is a grandson of James Utter sen., and is now (1884) the supervisor of the town, being first elected in 1882. He has a fine large farm and is a successful business man.
Addison Utter, brother of Israel P., lives in East Durham and carries on an extensive milling interest, both in lumber and in grain-grinding.
James L. Utter, son of Isaac Utter, and great-grandson of James Utter sen., is a well-to-do farmer living near Oak Hill. His farm buildings and the farm itself indicate first class management.
Isaac Utter Tripp, another great-grandson is a prominent merchant in Oak Hill. He succeeds his father Alfred Tripp in that business, and in the general management of the farm.
Captain Jonathan Pratt and Abijah Pratt sen., came from Saybrook, Connecticut, and settled on Saybrook Hill, a little north of James Utter’s. Captain Pratt commanded a company of Connecticut soldiers in the Revolution. He was a very energetic man. On one occasion he had received quite a sum of money from Connecticut, and was on his way home, when, going up the road east of Oak Hill, it being after dark, a man sprang out of the thicket by the roadside, and demanded his money. The Captain bounded out of his wagon; and applied his "Blacksnake" whip so vigorously, that the cowardly rascal ran for dear life. The Captain’s descendants now reside in Schoharie county, and in Michigan.
His brother, Abijah Pratt sen. married Priscilla Shipman, and settled on the farm now occupied by Ezra P. Pratt, his grandson. His son, Abijah, jr., married a niece of Colonel Ezra Post, and settled near by. The descendants of this family are quite numerous: they are represented not only in this town, but in many of the towns and States throughout the country.
Electus A. Pratt, a grandson of Abijah Pratt sen., was a captain in the late civil war, and lost an arm in a skirmish at Darbytown, Virginia. Upon his recovery, he was favored with a position in the pay department at Washington. He has now relinquished that, and is engaged in business at Minneapolis, Minnesota.
George Flower was born in 1741, married Roxaline Crowe, was a soldier in the Revolution, and, at its close he emigrated from New Hartford, Connecticut, and settled on the farm now owned by Mrs. L. Henderson at Oak Hill. He was a clothier by trade. He also owned a saw-mill connected with the dye-house and fulling-mill. He was justice of the peace for several years. He died in 1827 aged 86 years. He had ten children. Abner, his eldest son, succeeded him not only in his business, but was also a justice of the peace, town clerk, and supervisor. Jervis, another son, was an intellectual man and a great musician. He was also a man of method in his farming operations. His son Ambrose now occupied his father’s homestead, and inherits his virtues. He is specially fond of music, and possesses remarkable skill in playing the flute, the fife, and the clarinet. He is the only grandson of George Flower sen. who now lives in the town. Mrs. Roxie Fordham, Miss Maria Flower, and Mrs. Lucinda Henderson, daughter of George Flower sen. are now living in Oak Hill, and are much respected. They are all in the eighties of life. There is one grandson, Roswell Flower, who is a wealthy business man of New York city, and recently represented his district in Congress.
There are doubtless many others who settled in De Wittsburgh and its vicinity during the eighties of the last century. We find the names of Captain Sheldon Graham, Denis Spencer, William Edwards, Solomon Guild, Adoniram Skeels, Captain Hinman, Bela Strong, jr., Oliver Bull, and Josiah Doane.
Captain Hinman was a soldier in the French and Indian war of 1755. He held the office of captain at that time, and was under the command of General Washington at Braddock’s defeat before Pittsburg, in July of that year. He also participated in the Revolutionary war. He and his family had suffered so much from the Indians, that he naturally felt a strong dislike to them. On one occasion he attended an "Indian show" in Oak Hill, and so excited did he become, that it was with difficulty that he could be restrained from wreaking vengeance upon them. He lived where Mrs. Harry Peck now does; but he moved to Ohio where he died.
The first settler in the present village of Durham, was without doubt, Adijah Dewey. He built a log house in "Esquire Cowles" front yard. This was the first hotel kept in the village. Some years later, probably about 1820, he moved to Leeds. He is remembered by the old people as Major Dewey. Anna, his daughter, married Jarius Chittenden jr. Polly, another daughter, married Peter Elting.
Timothy Munger was a soldier in the French and Indian was of 1755. He also settled near Major Dewey. He arrived November 4th 1784, and lived for a few years in a house that stood on the present site of W. R. Cowles’ house. Then he and Titus, his son, took up the farm now occupied by Bela Munger, a son of Titus. The family representatives are Bela and his family, Lyman and his family, Mrs. Israel Brown of Durham and Sylvester and family of Windham.
It is possible that James Chapman settled in the village about this time. He lived on Dr. Cowles’ farm. The present house, built by him is said to be the oldest one in the village. It was his second.
Daniel Merwin was a brother of David Merwin, one of the "seven pioneers of New Durham." He came the following year (1785), and settled on the farm now occupied by Thaddeus Collins. The old log house stood near the present burying ground on that farm, but in time gave way to the present one, built there at first by him, in 1790, but moved to its present location, in 1812, by Benjamin Chapman. This house was said to be the first two-story house that was built in the town of Durham. The frame is of white oak and will last for generations to come. In 1808 he sold his farm and bought a smaller one, together with an interest in a saw-mill near the residence of Laurence Benton.
Curtis Baldwin, a brother of Jonathan and Abiel, arrived in 1785, lived at first in the family of Selah Strong, married Polly Chittenden in 1789, and lived and died on the farm now occupied by Z. Brand. He and his brothers just mentioned were earnest Christian men, and were strong pillars in the church. He has one daughter (Mrs. Levi B. Gilbert), and she has two sons living in Albany. The oldest son, Professor J. H. Gilbert, is an author, and has been the principal of one of the city schools in Albany 28 years.
Josiah Doane lived directly across the Katskill, opposite Brown’s mill. He had some knowledge of dentistry. On one occasion, after the country was quite fully settled, a company of young people were gathered together in the village of Durham, and, thinking to play a joke upon the "Doctor," they procured a sheep’s head, and sent word to him that his services were needed "to pull some teeth." He arose from his bed and responded to their call, when they presented this head, saying, "There are your teeth, Doctor." With the utmost coolness, he applied his turnkeys and pulled every tooth; then he made them pay him 25 cents for every tooth drawn, and left for home.
Gideon Hulbert was one of the very early settlers of the town, although the date of his arrival cannot be given. He was born in Middlesex county, Connecticut. He died in 1835, and Sarah, his wife, died in 1841. His ten children are also dead. Asaph, one of his four sons, married Roxy Sage, and of their children, Sanford and David live in Catskill, and Levi and his sons occupy the old homestead. They are very prudent and very respectable people. They are influential members of the Methodist church.
Ebenezer Tibbals was one of the original settlers, and lived where Mrs. A. P. Hull now resides; but his subsequent history is not known.
John and David Cowles, brothers, came to this town about the year 1786. John settled on the farm now occupied by Horace Strong; he finally sold it to Selah Strong and went to the northern part of the State. David lived at first on Horace Mabey’s farm until finally he built the house still standing, about 60 rods east of George Pratt’s. It is probably the oldest house in the town of Dunham [as spelt book]. Here he and his wife (Eunice Payne) lived, and raised a large family of children. His youngest son was named Jonathan Bird, from perhaps the first missionary who ever preached the gospel here. He was born May 29th 1799; attended the select schools taught by Professor Eaton and Reverend Salmon Strong; studied medicine with Dr. Halsey of Kortright, New York, and with Dr. Hamlin of Durham; received his diploma in 1821; and commenced practice in Stamford, New York, where he married Harriet, daughter of Judge Truman Beers. He afterward practiced in Roxbury, New York, and in 1842 he moved to his native town. He has been long known as a very skillful physician. In 1862 he represented his county in the Legislature of the State -85th session. He now resides in New York city.
Alanson Camp Cowles is a grandson of David Cowles, and a nephew of Doctor Cowles. He is a lawyer of extensive practice and of excellent legal attainments. He studied with Almeron Marks of Durham, and commenced practice in Ulster county; removed to Roxbury and from thence to Durham, where he is familiarly known as "Esquire Cowles." He has held the offices of justice of the peace and supervisor, and in both Greene and Delaware counties. Cornelius, Hobart, and many others are representatives of this family.
Augustus Pratt sen., was born in Durham, Connecticut, in 1751, and in or about 1786, he and Esther, his wife, established their home where George W. Pratt, their grandson, lives. He was a soldier of the Revolution and drew a pension of $8.00 per month. He was one of the original "nine" who constituted the First Presbyterian church of this town. He died in December 1850 in his 100th year. The family representatives now in this town are Addison and George W., and their families. Henry Pratt, a grandson, was once a colonel of the 49th regiment.
Daniel Kirtland, sen., was a native of Durham county. He married Lovisa Lord, a sister of Jonathan Baldwin’s wife. He lived on the farm now occupied by the family of the late Orin Porter. He was a tanner and shoemaker, as those two trades were generally united in those days. He pounded his tan-bark with an ax -that was before "bark stones," the predecessors of the modern bark-mills, were known. Of their eight children, Christopher married Rhoda Coe, sister of the late Deacon Coe, of West Durham, and Orlando Lord, their son, became a clergyman, and lived at Morristown, New Jersey. Roxiana became the second wife of Foster Morss, of Prattsville. Daniel married Huldah Stevens. They had seven children. One son, Daniel, married a daughter of Deacon Chapman. Amelia Caroline became the wife of Hon. Burton G. Morss, of Red Falls. He was the son of Foster Morss, above mentioned. So she married her uncle’s son, and at the same time they were not related to each other. She was a very active Christian woman, and died a few years since, greatly lamented. Another son, Horace B., lives in Durham. He has been supervisor and deputy sheriff. He is very much respected.
Jesse Rose lived on the Meeting-house Hill. He was the grave-digger for the settlers. His son James owned a farm on Rose Hill. Hence the name.
John Hull was the son of Joseph and Sybil Hull, and was born in Durham, Connecticut, November 18th 1756; Sally Baldwin, his wife, was born in the same town November 2nd 1765. In or about the year 1786, they came to this town and settled on the Van Wagoner farm. It is said that when he moved his goods from Catskill, he constructed a sort of dray from two strong poles, hitching a horse between the front ends of these poles and letting the back ends drag on the ground. Upon this dray he brought a barrel of pork and other articles needful for their family use. He was very quiet, bashful man, and at the same time courageous in time of danger. On one occasion a wolf came upon his sheep and he went to the rescue, and in some way managed to catch the wolf by the hind foot, and, breaking its leg across his knee, rescued his sheep. He, also was one of the nine original members of the Presbyterian church, and while he was not demonstrative, his live was consistent with his profession. They had six children, five of whom lived to maturity. Anson died young.
The descendants of this family have been very numerous and influential in the town. Two of the sons, Elizur and Luman, were industrious farmers, and each left large families. Lyman A. and David B., who were Elizur’s sons, and Anson P., Luman’s son, have passed away within a few years, greatly lamented. They held various offices of honor and trust in the town. They were all of them elders in the church. Anson and David were Sunday-school superintendents, and Lyman was the teacher of the old ladies’ Bible class. John and Dwight, sons of Elizur, are highly esteemed for their sterling worth. Theodore P., son of Luman, is a merchant in Durham village. He is a good financier, and is a well read man. These are grandsons of John Hull sen. The granddaughters, twenty in all, have thus far been an honor to the family and a blessing to the world.
Among the many descendants of John Hull sen., in the third and fourth generation, Austin L., David S., and Cowles are enterprising, successful farmers and Judson D. and Addison O. are prominent merchants in the town.
Silas Hull was a brother of John Hull sen., but he removed to Berkshire, Broome county, long ago.
Lemuel Hotchkiss came from the same place in the land of steady habits and stood by the side of John Hull in the formation of the church and in upholding the right. He had three sons: Jason, Lemuel, and Henry, and he and they were blacksmiths. He lived in the village near the present dwelling of W. W. Burhans. He was quite prominent in the public affairs of the town. He died in 1802.
His son Lemuel was very active as a public man, and in 1813 he was sheriff of the county. John, a grandson, died on the isthmus during the wonderful gold excitement following the year 1849.
The family is now represented in the town by Benjamin C. Hotchkiss, a worthy farmer, and his family.
Roswell (or as it is sometimes written Rozel) Post came to Greenville with his father, and in 1787 he came to this town, and spent his days on the farm now occupied by Edwin D. Elliott. His wife was Elizabeth Shaft, and they had six children, one of whom, Ransom, was a deacon in the Baptist church. Temperance married James Conklin, and lives in an honored old age in the village. Seymour, the youngest, lives near the old homestead. He is a dealer in stationery, etc. There are three grandsons living in California. Other representatives of the family are found not only in Durham, but in many other places. Mr. Post sen., reached the age of 90 years.
Captain Jarius Chittenden, descended from an illustrious family. Their history can be traced back to the year 1594. William Chittenden was born in March of that year, and in 1639, he came to this country and settled in Guilford, Connecticut. He had previously served in the Netherlands in the thirty years’ war, and attained to the rank of major.
Among his descendants there have been two governors of Vermont, one register of the United States Treasury, and several members of Congress; among whom Hon. S. B. Chittenden was conspicuous in his devotion to the best interest of the land.
Captain Jairus was the great-great-grandson of William Chittenden. He was born in Guilford, October 17th 1745, married Rebecca Hall, and in 1787, he came to this town and took up about 400 acres of land about a mile west of Durham village. Here he reared a large family and died in 1828. He also was a Revolutionary soldier.
Leverett, his second child, and father of Leverett jr., was a major of the 49th regiment. He has two daughters now living in town. He had one son, Alanson B. who was a minister in the Reformed church.
Hervey was the youngest of this family, and the only one born in this town. He was colonel of the 49th regiment, and during the war of 1812, they were under marching orders, but were not called out. He was an elder and also deacon in the church. He married Sarah Pratt, and three of their children reached mature life. Orville H. was an eminent lawyer and held the office of surrogate of Albany county. He was also judge advocate to the 31st and 37th brigades of New York infantry. He has two sons living in St. Paul, Minnesota, one of whom is a lawyer of high standing. Judson H. became major of the old 49th regiment, and was a progressive farmer. Louisa K. married Lyman A. Hull, and still resides in town, and is much respected. Horace K. is the only male representative of this family now remaining.
There is another family of the same name who are distantly related, of whom Joel was the ancestor. They are now represented by Roscoe and Joel his son. They are doing a good business in cabinet making and in general house furnishing.
There was a family of Jewells who came here about the year 1787. Some of them lived in East Durham, and one of them, Joseph, settled on the farm now occupied by Mrs. James Elliott. In 1640, Thomas Jewell, the ancestor of this family lived in the same neighborhood with Henry Adams, who was the ancestor of John Adams and John Quincy Adams, presidents of the United States. This was at Mount Wollaston near Boston. Seven of this family served their country in the field.
Up to this time, this town was simply a portion of a district, belonging to Albany county, and governed by the officials of that county. Probably the people here had little to do with affairs outside of their own neighborhood. But in March 1788, this district was organized as the town of Coxsackie. Meanwhile, the unsettled portions of the town were rapidly filled up with people from New England and New Jersey and the valley of the Hudson.
Captain Asahel Jones was born in Hackettstown, New Jersey, in 1753. He came and settled on the farm now occupied by Alvin Jones, south of Hervey Street. This was in 1788. The following winter was very severe, so that in the early part of the spring they were obliged to turn their cattle into the woods, to browse on the tender twigs of the trees, and finally they took the straw with which their beds were filled, and fed it to the starving creatures. In the Revolutionary war he commanded a company of New Jersey soldiers. After the town was organized he was commissioner of highways. He also kept a hotel on the Batavia road as it was then called. His death was hastened, as it was thought, by the bite of a mad dog. He had a son, Stevens, who was a surveyor, and he located the Windham Turnpike in its excellent grade over the mountains. Alvin Jones, Mrs. Paddock, and other descendants of the captain live near the homestead.
Deacon Obed Hervey was born in Putnam county, New York, in 1722. From there he moved to North East, in Dutchess county, and, in 1788, he and Obed, his son, came to this town, and took up land west of Hervey Street. He died in 1808. His son Obed was born in 1756, and accompanied his father to this town. He was a splendid business man, built a carding machine, saw-mill, store, and blacksmith shop, and he and his father were the prime movers in the building of the church at Hervey Street. Deliverance Bell, a son of his, was generally known as "Esquire Bell." He was not only a justice of the peace, but, in 1845, he represented this county in the Legislature. His children, as well as their ancestors, are eminent for their virtues. Very few of them, however, are now residents of the town.
The genealogy of this family can be traced back to Sir William Hervey, who belonged to one of the families who left Normandy, and settled in England in the eleventh century, in the time of William the Conqueror. The ancient coat of arms is now in possession of the family.
Thomas Smith was born in Haddam, Connecticut. He came to this town in 1788, and took up the farm now occupied by Embury Strong. In his youth he was a sea-faring man, and became the commander of a vessel on the ocean. He went by the name of Captain Smith. He had seven children, and their descendants are very numerous and influential. Quite a number became preachers and teachers. In fact, there are few families that have exerted so great or so good an influence in the town as the Smiths of Cornwallsville.
Captain Daniel Cornwall, a Connecticut man, came and made the first settlement in Cornwallsville, about the year 1788. He lived on the farm now occupied by Benjamin Hubbard. He commanded a company in the Revolution, and was a pensioner. He was 90 years old when he died, and Rachel, his wife, was ten years older than that when she died.
David, his son, received fatal injuries in Mexico during an earthquake there. Amos and his descendants lived in Catskill. Helen married Hon. Lyman Tremain, who was without doubt one of the greatest men ever born in Durham. Another daughter married R. E. Austin Esq., of Catskill.
There was a family of Percivals who lived in Cornwallsville about this time. One of them, Elkanah, lived to a great age. His adopted daughter, Gertrude Ames, married William Pierce, of Durham village.
Moses Austin was born in Wallingford, Connecticut in 1768, and in 1789 he took up some land lately owned by F. A. Strong, and in 1806 he removed to Cornwallsville, and built the house now occupied by Armenus Smith. He was a good business man, and became very wealthy. He was a judge of the Court of Common Pleas, and in 1819, he was elected to the Senate of this State, holding his office four years. Then years later he was elected to the Assembly. He spent the evening of his life in Cairo, and died there in 1748. He was twice married. His second wife was a niece of General David Humphrey, who was a United States Minister of the Court of Spain and Portugal.
He had a large family, one of whom, Elias B. inherited the homestead, and was at one time elected supervisor of the town. The family is now largely represented by descendants and relatives in this town, and also in Cairo and Windham.
Captain Jarius Wilcox and Francis, his son, settled on the farm now occupied by Ezra Brown and son. The date of their arrival cannot be given. It may have been as early as 1785. It is possible that they were among the seven pioneers of New Durham. They were prominent men in the town. Lyman, the son of Francis, was an elder in the church. He inherited the farm, but afterward sold it and removed to Stamford, New York, where he died.
Captain Charles Johnson was the son of Solomon Johnson, and was native of Wallingford, Connecticut. He was an intimate friend of Moses Austin, and came here at about the same time. They were accompanied by a Mr. Ford, who died soon after their arrival. Mr. Austin went to Hudson for medical aid, but it was of no avail. Mr. Johnson spent his days on the farm now occupied by his grandson, William F. Johnson. In his letters written to his parents soon after his arrival here, he addresses them as "Honored Parents," and speaks of his wheat, and of his cattle, and of the land he bought, "having on it a small frame house." He was captain of a cavalry company which was formed in the town. He was also justice of the peace, chorister, and singing-master, for many years. He introduced a bass-viol, which was the first musical instrument ever used in church in this town, and it made quite a commotion among the people for a time. Elizabeth, his wife, died in 1840, and he in 1848.
They had nine children. Solomon, one of the sons, married Mary Whittlesey, a sister of Deacon Zina Whittlesey, and their son, S. W. Johnson, is a highly esteemed business man, living in Brooklyn. Edward married Harriet Field, and spent his days on the old farm, greatly respected by all. William F., his son, inherits not only the farm, but the genial qualities and the generous nature of his father. Collins B. was the youngest of Charles Johnson’s family. He married Charlotte Field, and lived at first on the old farm, but in time he bought the "Hendrickson place," which is now occupied by Sherwood, his son. He is a successful farmer, and his location is commanding and pleasant.
The farm itself was settled by Henry Hendrickson, about the year 1790. He and Cataline Shoemaker, his wife, were of Dutch descent. Their only child died young. He was a famous hunter, and spent much time in hunting and digging for coal. He died June 24th 1858, aged 90 years. He had a brother William who had a large family. He had a son John, who lived on the mountain near West Durham, and who froze to death near his home.
The year 1790 introduced a new departure in their history. A writer of some note has said that "The two most important events in the history of a country are its settlement and its government." For two years they had belonged to the immense town of Coxsackie. The people no doubt had participated somewhat in the management of town affairs and now they were called upon to provide for themselves. They had watched with interest the proceedings of the continental Congress and of the constitutional convention at Philadelphia-had voted to adopt the immortal United States Constitution-had assisted in the election of George Washington as their president, and now, rejoicing in the full enjoyment of their liberties as American citizens, they met at the house of Stephen Platt, in the village of Freehold, to elect town officers. There was really but one political party then, who were called federalists, so that it is fair to presume that the federal ticket was triumphantly elected. Their road commissioners during the 15 years history of the town of Freehold have already been mentioned.
Among those who acted as supervisors we find the names of Perkins King, De Alancey King, and James Thompson.
The latter lived near "Broadway," on the farm now occupied by William Falk. He evidently was a man of superior attainments. He held the office of supervisor at least ten years in succession, from 1800 to 1810. He also represented his constituents in the Legislature during two years of that time, 1806 and 1807. He afterward became an Episcopal clergyman, and was the first pastor of St. Paul’s Church at Oak Hill. He died August 19th 1844, aged 77, and was buried in t he cemetery near the church.
Ebenezer Barker, or, as he generally wrote his name Thomas E. Barker, belonged to the family of Barkers who settled on the farm now occupied by Fletcher Rodgers. They came from Branford, Connecticut. They were accompanied by John Butler, who belonged it is said to the same family from which Governor Butler of Massachusetts descended. His daughter, Sally, married Anson Strong, Esq., of Cornwallsville. Mr. Butler owned the farm now occupied by C. Shermerhorn.
About the year 1790 Mr. Barker, it appears, sold his interest in the farm and potashery to his brothers, James and William, and bought the farm now occupied by George Easland. He also bought or built the house now occupied by the Methodists in Durham village as a church. He built a tannery near the village, and the house now occupied by J. B. Bascom he built for an office and a leather store. He was the first man form the region of country comprising the present town of Durham, who became a member of the New York Legislature. That was in 1798 and 1799, while we belonged to Albany county. In the year 1800 he and Caleb Benton were the first representatives from the new county of Greene. In 1822 and 1824, he was the supervisor of Durham. He was also judge of the Court of Common Pleas and justice of the peace. He was evidently the business man of his day. His signature is a fine specimen of penmanship.
Stephen Platt, from the present village of Freehold, in the town of Greenville, was a member of the Legislature in 1795.
Dr. William Cook lived where J. M. Hallock does. He was the first physician who settled in this town. He was a soldier of the Revolution. He used to relate an anecdote about General Washington, as follows:
The army wintered in Morristown, New Jersey, during the winter of 1777 and 1778, and so little did they have to eat that, at one time, their rations were limited to a single gill of wheat per day. Said Dr. Cook: "Washington used to come round and look into our tents, and he looked so kind, and he said so tenderly, ‘Men, can you bear it?’ ‘Yes, General, yes, we can,’ was the reply, ‘and if you wish us to act, give us the word and we are ready.’"
While they were in Morristown, Washington had a dangerous attack of quinsy. The officers feared that he would die; and they asked him to indicate the man best fitted to succeed him, and without hesitation he pointed to General Nathaniel Greene.
The central part of Broadway was, at this time, held by a family of Fordhams. Silas S. lived where Lyman Munger now does. He also owned a saw-mill on the stream north of him. Mrs. Roxiana Fordham of Oak Hill, married Justin P. Fordham, of this family; but, like many others, this family has very few representatives now living here.
Daniel Brown lived where the family of the late William J. Reed now resides. He was very prominent in society. He went by the name of General Brown. He was frequently the moderator of the business meetings held by the people.
Richard Tryon lived where S. Crandall does at the "Crandall House." He was one of the tything men of the church. He had a remarkably large nose, and he even went so far as to make it a matter of pleasantry rather than a misfortune. On an occasion he met an acquaintance on the sidewalk who had an equally large facial appendage. Mr. Tyron halted him, saying: "Hold, my friend; will you please turn your nose that way, and I will turn mine the other way, and perhaps we can pass." He had several sons, and one of them joined the temperance society on condition that he might drink when he washed sheep; and it was said that he had one old sheep that he washed every day.
William Torry married a sister of Jonathan Baldwin, and lived where Mrs. Marion Campbell now resides. He was a shoemaker and had a large family. In 1809 they removed to Broome county.
There was a Mr. Ford who started the first cabinet shop in the village. He built the first bier for the dead, and his own body was the first corpse that was borne to the grave upon it.
Deacon Noah Baldwin was a cousin of Jonathan Baldwin, Abiel, and Curtis Baldwin. He was born in Durham, Connecticut, February 20th 1768, and moved to this town as early as 1790. He married Phebe Hull, a sister of John Hull, and at first they lived in that neighborhood, but eventually he bought the farm now occupied by Hezekiah, his son. He died in 1843. His first wife died in 1809, and he married the widow Beach, who was an aunt of Honorable Horatio S. Lockwood of Hunter.
There were ten children in this family, but now nearly all of them have passed away. Hezekiah and Elizabeth occupy the homestead. He is a farmer and shepherd. In 1857 he was chosen to the Legislature of the State. He is a genial, kind-hearted man, and is always interested in the civil and political welfare of the people. Hannah, a sister of the above, now resides in Norton Hill, having married S. Ramsdell.
William and Lewis are sons of Lemuel Baldwin, who was a son of Deacon Noah; and these three families are now the only representatives in this town of that ancient and numerous family. William is a good and scientific farmer, and Lewis is an obliging expressman.
James Baldwin was a brother of Deacon Noah, and came to this town and bought the farm now occupied by Ralph Campbell. His wife was Mabel Jones, a daughter of Seth Jones of Saybrook, who was killed in the Revolutionary war. He was a very quiet, pleasant man, and was much respected. He and Noah built each of them a substantial hip roofed house, both of which are still standing and in good repair. All the nails and door hinges were made by a blacksmith. The internal arrangements of these houses were exactly alike, every door and window occupying the same relative position, and not only that, but they were built the same year, and the frames were raised the same day; the only difference in them was that one was built on the north side of the road and the other on the south side.
He had five children. Dennis, the eldest was the elder in the church, and in 1840 and 1841, he was the supervisor of the town. He owned the farm now occupied by Thaddeus Collins. But he sold it and moved to St. Paul where he died in 1875 aged 80 years.
Stephen Tibbals married Hannah Baldwin, a sister of Deacon Noah, and lived on the western half of the Van Wagoner farm. It used to be said that "everybody in Durham was related to everybody else," and there certainly was a very general relationship existing in this part of the town, as has already been seen.
Stephen Tibbals jr. was the oldest child. He married Fanny Wright and lived where Curtis Osborn does-built that fine brick house, and now lives near Poughkeepsie. He was once fife-major in the 49th regiment, New York infantry. The family were noted for their musical abilities.
Benjamin Bidwell settled at first on the Lewis Baldwin farm. He afterward sold it to Captain Cooley and bought the Garret place. He built a grist-mill at the falls on Durham Creek known as Bidwell’s Falls. He also built a saw-mill at the smaller falls above the grist-mill. He is described as abroad built, broad faced, noble-looking man, who always wore a white hat and generally rode a white horse. But he left town long ago, and has "nor kith nor kin" here.
Captain Jehiel Cooley and Samuel Cooley were brothers. Samuel kept a hotel in the village, where Mrs. Montross lives. Both families are gone. Frank Cooley, grandson of Jehiel, lives in Dakota. William Cooley, a great-grandson is a minister. Samuel Cooley had a son Ira. A. who became a Baptist minister, and his son, Hon. E. C. Cooley, has held the offices of mayor of Decora, Iowa, and member of the Iowa Legislature.
West Durham was settled by a number of Connecticut people in 1790-7. Some of them did not remain long, and have left only their names. There was a Mr. Clover who settled on the south part of E. E. Newman’s farm, who froze to death in trying to carry provisions home to his family; also a Mr. Rood and Captain Daniel Shepherd, and probably others whose names are forgotten. Benjamin Hubbard, sen., settled on the farm belonging to William McLean. His native place was Haddam, Connecticut, where he was born in 1761. He had a large family of children, and his descendants are widely scattered. He was active in the church, was a deacon, and was much respected. He died in 1853, aged 92 years.
Benjamin Hubbard, jr., was a thorough-going farmer, and his son Edwin has his homestead. He is a straight-forward man.
Benjamin W. and Ira are sons of James, a son of the deacon, and are successful farmers.
Benjamin Doty was an excellent man, who came from Saybrook, and settled in the north part of West Durham in 1790. His family were mostly girls. He had sons, however.
Alvin was an earnest promoter of the church and all good. He was the father of David Doty, Esq., of East Durham.
William Doty was universally known and admired as a man, as a chorister, and as a singing master. G. H. Doty, Esq., of Windham, is his worthy son.
Captain John Newell, the third son of Josiah Newell, was born in Southington, Connecticut, January 15th 1755. He married Sybil Andrus, and in May 1791, he bought the farm well known as the Newell farm. He was a Revolutionary soldier, justice of the peace, and commissioner of highways. They had nine children.
Andrus, the youngest son, married Julia Bushnell, and second, Melissa M. Porter. Mr. Newell was born in 1798, and is still actively interested in every good work. He has 8 children, 29 grandchildren, and 4 great-grandchildren living. Zina, a life-long teacher, lives in Nebraska; John is a much respected citizen of Windham; while the three younger sons are progressive farmers at Durham.
The history of this family can be traced back to the year 1632. Thomas Newell was one of the first settlers of Farmington, Connecticut. The family have always been noted for their sterling virtues.
Daniel Coe and Seth, his brother, must have reached West Durham at about this time. Seth was a good reader, and frequently read sermons in the absence of a preacher. Daniel lived on the Goff farm, and was the father of the late Deacon Daniel Coe, who was a splendid specimen of the courtly gentleman of his day. He had means, and it was his delight to use them for the good of his fellow men. Coe College, in Iowa, is a noble monument of his beneficence, as well as to his memory. He removed to Alabama, and died there not long ago. His removal from West Durham was a great loss to the church and society there. He was thrice married, and his only child, Mary, married a son of Dr. Jewell, and lives in Alabama.
Ephraim was an older brother of Deacon Coe. He married Polly, the eldest daughter of Captain Cooley. They were the parents of Kirtland Coe, a hard-working farmer who occupies his father’s homestead in West Durham. Eliza, now the widow Lord, lives in Oak Hill.
Elihu Moss came from Connecticut soon after, and settled where Mrs. Daniel Ingraham lives. The house stood where the stone blacksmith shop is. His wife was Hannah Tyler, and they had three sons and five daughters. Elihu, the eldest son, bought the farm now occupied by Mrs. Reynolds. He had two sons: Orville lives in West Durham, and Reuben lives at Cornwallsville. Both are farmers by occupation, and both are active in church and Sunday-school work. Orville has a son, Elihu, who is worthy heir to the favorite name, Elihu. The other members of both these families are worthy young people.
There are several representative families who came in here at a later date, of whom brief mention will be made.
In 1790 Captain Aaron Thorp owned a saw-mill on the north bank of the Thorp Creek, at East Durham. He afterward moved to Oak Hill. He lived where Walter Cheritree does, and had a store where Charles W. Pierce lives. He was a native of Saybrook, Connecticut, and was born in 1746. He died in 1819. His daughter Nancy married Jacob Roggen, and they had the Thorp homestead at Oak Hill. The captain had the honor of serving his country in the Revolutionary war.
Deacon John Cleveland lived on the farm now occupied by Edwin Palmer. He lived originally in Massachusetts and also in Hillsdale, New York. He also was a Revolutionary soldier, and had a British ball through his hat and another through his pants. He was consistent member of the Baptist church. His wife was Elizabeth Searing and they had four sons, Searing, Amos, Ezra and John. Searing was killed by falling in the barn. Amos married Mercy Piece, and their son Amos is the well known and popular hotel keeper of East Durham. Ezra married Polly Wright, and was the father of Ezra and Lyman Cleveland of Oak Hill. The Cleveland family originated in England, and it is claimed that there is a relationship among all of that name now in this country, Governor Cleveland, of course, included.
Mr. Ecklor was one of the early settlers near East Durham. The farm is now occupied by William Ecklor, who is a successful farmer and a respected citizen. This was also the home of Darius Winans, who was a member of the Legislature in 1853. He was the father of Frank D. Winans, a young lawyer of great promise, whose early death was greatly lamented.
Deacon Benjamin Chapman was born in Saybrook, Connecticut, February 23rd 1768; was married in March 1792, and came to this town in June of that year. He located about a mile southeast of Cornwallsville, and in the year 1800 he moved to Durham village and built the house now occupied by A. C. Cowles. In 1808 he bought the farm now occupied by Thaddeus Collins, where he spent the remainder of his days. He died February 2nd 1842. Lydia, his wife, formerly the Widow Cochran, had two daughters by her former marriage, and six daughters were added to her household after her marriage with Deacon Chapman. She died in 1864, in her 99th year. Mr. Chapman was a deacon in the Presbyterian church more than 41 years. He was a man of excellent spirit and judgment, and was often employed to settle difficulties in the community. In 1810 he was a member of the Legislature. He was very absent-minded, and very humorous accounts are given of his directions to "Toby," the hired man, about the work on the farm. On one occasion he and his wife went to church in the family "gig," and at the close of the service he forgot himself and walked home, leaving his wife, horse and gig at the church. It is said that he so far forgot himself that on one occasion at least he knocked at his own door for admittance, supposing he was at the door of a neighbor. Temperance, his second daughter, married Dennis Baldwin, and is still living, in her 88th year, at St. Paul, Minnesota.
Robert Chapman, the ancestor of this family, came from England in 1635, and was one of the first settlers of Saybrook, Connecticut. He was the great-great-grandfather of Benjamin Chapman of Durham.
Deacon David Baldwin was without doubt the most influential man in the town. Others were possessed of more property, and perhaps more learning, and possibly had more brilliant talents than he. But for soundness of judgment, correctness of principle, evenness of development and kindness of spirit, he was the man of his time in this town. He was born in Durham, Connecticut, November 23rd 1768. He was a brother of Jonathan, Abiel and Curtis Baldwin, who have already been mentioned. About the year 1796, he came here and brought the farm recently owned by the late Justus Finch. He married Julia Chittenden, daughter of Jairus Chittenden, but they had no children. They adopted two or three, besides assisting in the education of their nephews, Elihu and Dwight, who became ministers. He was very liberal in the use of his property, devoting much of it to the cause of benevolence. His knowledge of the Bible was wonderful. His pastor often spoke of him as concordance. He could generally give the book, chapter and verse of any passage of Scripture. In the church he was clerk, trustee, deacon, elder, and the first superintendent of the Sunday-school. In the town he was surveyor, road commissioner, commissioner of schools, school inspector, and supervisor in 1829, 1830, 1832, and 1833. but the good man died March 27th 1841, and his excellent wife died December 4th of the same year.
Seth Baldwin was the youngest brother of the above. He was also born in Durham, Connecticut, in 1775, and came to this town and bought the farm now owned by Reuben Moss. His wife was Rhoda Hull, daughter of Timothy Hull, of Connecticut. They had twelve children, and their oldest son, Dwight, is now living at Honolulu, Sandwich Islands. He was born, September, 29th 1798. He was graduated at Yale College in 1821; was principal of Kingston Academy one year; taught select school in Durham three years; graduated from Union Theological Seminary in 1830; and on the 28th of December, the same year, set sail for Honolulu. He became the pastor of the native church of Lahaina, and received 2300 members into it during his 33 years residence there. He is now teaching in the native theological seminary at Honolulu. Seth Baldwin, his father, died at Cornwallsville, from the kick of a horse.
Anson Strong came to this town from Durham, Connecticut, about the year 1796, and bought the farm now occupied by his son, Ellsworth Strong Esq. He was a nephew of Selah Strong, who settled on Meeting-house Hill. He was well educated, and taught school 17 winters. He was town clerk, and justice of the peace. He was a soldier in the war of 1812. He was an earnest Christian. He married Sally Butler, and they had six children. Ellsworth, his son has long been a justice of the peace. One of his sons, Wilbur Fisk, was a soldier in the great civil war. He died in a hospital at Martinsburgh, Virginia. Another son, Frederick, died greatly lamented , a few years since. The family of John Strong, brother of Ellsworth, are quite numerous in this and other towns; and all the descendants of Anson Strong are highly esteemed.
Ethan Pratt was a brother of Captain Jonathan and Abijah Pratt. He lived one-half mile east of Oak Hill. He married Mabel Skeels. Ethan, his son, became a minister. Sarah married Col. Hervey Chittenden. Eveline married Deacon Zina Whittlesey. Edmund married Eunice Hull. Elizur H., son of Edmund, graduated from Williams College in 1867, also from Union Theological Seminary in 1870. He became pastor of the church at Cape Vincent, New York. For the last few years of his life, he was associate editor of the New York Evangelist. He died July 4th 1883, in his 41st year. He was one of the best and purest of men; and the world and the church met with a great loss when he breathed his last. His only surviving brother; Ezra B. Pratt, M. D., is a prominent physician, living at Brownsville, Jefferson county. N. Y.
William Ingraham came from Connecticut in 1797, and located eventually on the farm now occupied by Benjamin Ingraham of West Durham. His wife was Hester Doty, and one of their sons, John B. Ingraham became an eminent physician and minister. He died in 1834. Daniel Ingraham became a wealthy man and farmer. Dr. George Ingraham of Amsterdam, New York, was an adopted son of David Ingraham.
Thomas Adams, was in 1798, one of the first business men of Oak Hill. He built the house now occupied by Messrs. Roggen and Dietz, which is probably the oldest dwelling in Oak Hill. He was a nail-maker, which in those days was a good trade, as all the nails used in the construction of buildings were forged on the anvil, one by one. He also kept a store, and his wife waited upon the customers while he made nails. His wife was a daughter of Captain Thorp, and sister of Mrs. Jacob Roggen. One of the sons, Norman, became an Episcopal clergyman, and his son John is a resident of Oak Hill. Another son of Thomas Adams, Calvin Adams, was for many years engaged in manufacturing at Oak Hill. His daughter married Johnson H. Baldwin Esq., of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Colonel Ezra Post was very prominent in the early part of the present century. He lived on the farm now occupied by Henry Haskins, and must have settled there as early as 1799. He built that fine house, and occupied it as a hotel while he lived there. It is near the geographical center of the town, and that fact, together with the personal popularity of the colonel, made it the place for town meetings, caucuses, trainings, etc. He was colonel of the 49th regiment in 1812, while his regiment was under marching orders for the war.
He had two sons, Ezra jr., and William, the latter of whom became a colonel of militia. This family now have only distant relatives here.
The year 1800 brought about a change in the relations of the town of Freehold. Hitherto it had belonged to Albany county, but in March of that year the county of Greene was formed, and Freehold became one of her four towns. James Thompson was chosen supervisor, and he and Garret Abeel of Catskill, James Bronk of Coxsackie, and William Beach of Windham, met in Catskill on the last Tuesday in May 1800, and organized with Mr. Abeel as chairman.
The total amount of town and county accounts allowed by the board of supervisors at their meetings for that year was $944.86. The town account for Freehold was probably about $60.00.
The year 1800 also introduced a very notable family to share in the fortunes of the town. Joseph Adams sen., was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and early in life he located on the west bank of the Hudson River, about six miles below Catskill. He had a farm there, and also carried on the mercantile business in Catskill. At the commencement of the present century he bought the farm now occupied by Henry S. Mace, where he died in 1832, aged 94 years.
Joseph Adams jr., son of the above, was a farmer, and lived near Cornwallsville, although at the time of his death he lived near South Durham. He was nearly 100 years old at death. Morgan Adams of Windham, and Seymour Adams of Cairo, are his sons.
John Adams, another son of Joseph Adams sen., commenced his public life as a school teacher, reading law meanwhile, and in 1810 he was appointed surrogate of Greene county, by Governor Daniel D. Tompkins. In 1812 he became a member of the Legislature. In 1815 he ran for Congress, and was declared elected; went to Washington and took his eat, but his opponent, Erastus Root of Delhi, contested his election, and finally secured his seat.
Just 18 years after, in 1833, he was elected to Congress, and served his full term. He had hitherto lived in Durham village, and practiced law, having for his office the building formerly occupied by Judge Barker as a leather store, but now it is the dwelling of J B. Bascom. Soon after his return from Congress, he removed to Catskill, where he continued the practice of law until his death, September 25th 1854.
Colonel Platt Adams was the youngest of this family, and was born December 20th 1792, at his home near Catskill. He was trained to the legal profession, but he preferred a mercantile life. His store was the one now occupied by W. W. Burhans, Esq. He lived in the present Presbyterian parsonage. He married Clarissa Dudley, daughter Mrs. Seth Williston. His business capacity was marvelous. His store burned to the ground in 1821, involving a loss of about $5,000 more than his insurance, and yet in less that three weeks, he built a new and better store, and was selling goods as though nothing unusual had taken place. He was before the public in an official capacity perhaps more than any other many who ever lived in the town.
In 1820 he was a member of the Legislature. From 1821-1824 he was town clerk. From 1825-28, 1834-38, he was supervisor. From 1828 to 1830 he was sheriff of the county. From 1837 to 1840 he was justice of the peace. In 1848 and 1849 he was member of the New York Senate. He succeeded Colonel Ezra Post in the command of the 49th regiment, holding that position about ten years. He now resides in New York city, and retains his mental and physical vigor in a remarkable degree. His son Grovenor was an eminent lawyer and judge, residing in Brooklyn. He died in 1883.
This family were distant relatives of John Adams and John Quincy Adams, presidents of the United States.
The Humphrey family have been quite prominent in this town since 1802. Alexander settled in Conesville, while Sylvester and Romanta lived on the mountain near Blakesley’s Notch.
Isaac Humphrey was a road contractor and assisted in the construction of the Susquehanna Turnpike which runs through the town. He located on the farm now occupied by Adelbert Newell. He was the son of Fredrick Humphrey, and was born in Connecticut in 1779, and died in West Durham in 1856.
He had seven sons and two daughters. Curtis married Caroline A. Benedict, daughter of Dr. Benedict, of Otsego county, and lived on the farm now occupied by his widow. He was a successful farmer and shepherd. He once wintered 1,000 sheep. In 1853 he was the supervisor of his town.
Ira D. Humphrey formerly lived in Conesville, but now resides in Durham village. In both towns he was held the office of justice of the peace, also in Conesville he was their supervisor.
Oscar T. Humphrey, long a resident of Durham, now of Catskill, was in 1877 a member of the New York Legislature.
The year 1803 witnessed a contraction in the limits of the town. The present town of Greenville received about one-half of her territory, and Cairo received about one-third of hers from the town of Freehold.
In 1805 the name of the town itself was changed from Freehold to Durham.
In or about the year 1806, Jacob Roggen came to Oak Hill and took up his residence. He was born in Kingston, Ulster county, and lived near Cooksburg, Albany county a little while previous to this. He married Nancy Thorp, and they lived where Walter Cheritree does. He was a successful business man, and was the supervisor of the town from 1812 to 1821. In 1816 and again in 1822 he represented his district in the Legislature. He did a great deal of business for others in the way of writing contracts of various kinds. He was employed in settling up the estate of Patroon Barker, who owned a large patent of land in this town and in the adjoining town of Cairo. He died quite young, July 1st 1824, aged 47. His widow married Abijah Pratt sen. and died March 15th 1849, aged 68.
Peter Roggen was the son of Jacob Roggen, and owned the farm now occupied by John A. Smith-the original Plank farm. He was a good farmer and a good citizen. He died January 6th 1858. His daughter, Cordelia, is the wife of Judge M. B. Mattice of Catskill.
Jacob Roggen, jr., is the youngest of these sons, and is highly esteemed by all who are acquainted with him. He was formerly engaged in manufacturing, at Oak Hill, and resides there now, although he spends his winters in Hudson. In 1849 he was chosen supervisor of the town.
The ancestor of this family, Franz Petrus Roggen, was a Huguenot, of French-Swiss extraction. He came to this country about the year 1740, and settled in Kingston, Ulster county. His only son, Petrus, married Annatje Masten, and Jacob Roggen who came to Oak Hill in 1806, was one of their nine children. He was an infant at the time Kingston was burned by the British. The family fled for safety to Hurley, in the same county.
The family are allied by marriage to the Pardee, Holmes, Hardenburg, and Schoonmaker families, of Kingston, to the Newkirks of Delaware county, and to the Goulds of Columbia county.
The year 1806 was remarkable for the great eclipse of the sun. That darkness has not been equalled since.
Cyrus W. Field was born in Durham, Connecticut, April 5th 1782. He was the son of Ambrose Field, who with Sarah Bates, his wife, came to this town very early in its history. They lived a part of the time on Judge Barker’s farm, now occupied by George Easland. They had six children. Cyrus married Ancy Stocking, whose father Stephen, was a pioneer settler, and also a pioneer singing master in the town.
They had one son and six daughters, viz: Mrs. Edward Johnson, Mrs. Collins Johnson, Mrs. Judson Chittenden, Mrs. H. B. Kirtland, Mrs. Peter Millar, and Mrs. Platt A. Smith. The son Oscar B., lived on the homestead until his death in 1870. It is now occupied by his sons, Cyrus W. and Oscar B., who are enterprising young farmers. Cyrus W. Field, sen., reached his 83rd year. His second wife was Mrs. Maria Best, an excellent woman, now living in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The Peck family, of Oak Hill, were prominent as manufacturers in the days gone by. Daniel Peck built the first tannery in Oak Hill. He was the father of Eli R. Peck, a prominent young merchant and manufacturer of Oak Hill, who died in his youth. He was the town clerk at the time of his death, in 1831.
Burwell Peck lived where Perry S. Kenyon now resides. He was the father of Henry J. Peck, the well-known manufacturer in Oak Hill. He (Henry) was supervisor in 1851. Wellington, his brother, was supervisor in 1858.
Lyman Tremain was the son of Levi and Mindwlll Tremain, and was born in Oak Hill, June 14th 1819. His parents came from Berkshire county, Massachusetts in 1812. Nathaniel Tremain, the grandfather, was a Revolutionary soldier, and died in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. The family eventually located on the farm now owned by Francis De Frate, where Mr. Tremain engaged in farming, and manufacturing on a large scale. Lyman attended school, and finally entered the academy at Kinderhook. At the age of 15, he commenced reading law with John O’Brien, of Durham village. He afterward studied with Samuel Sherwood Esq. of New York city. In 1840 he formed a partnership with Mr. O’Brien, and immediately entered upon an extensive practice. In 1846, he was appointed district attorney. In 1847, he was elected county judge, and was re-elected in 1851, but owing to some legal questions pertaining to the returns, he himself doubted his election, and , although the certificate was given to him, his sense of honor would not permit him to accept it. In 1853, he moved to Albany and formed a partnership with the late Rufus W. Peckham. In 1857, he was elected attorney-general on the democratic State ticket. Hitherto he had acted with that party, but on the breaking out of the great civil war, he identified himself with the republicans, and in 1862 he was nominated by them for lieutenant governor, but was defeated. In 1865 he was elected to the Legislature, and became speaker of the House. In 1872 he was urged to accept the nomination for governor, but declined, and was elected Congressman-at-large. This ended his official career.
As a lawyer, he stood in the very front rank, among the best of the Empire State. To him, probably more thank any other man, was due the conviction of Boss Tweed, the chief scoundrel of New York city. He defended Stokes for the murder of James Fisk jr. so successfully, that a final verdict of manslaughter, and four years of imprisonment, was the result, instead of the gallows.
But these severe labors had their effect upon his constitution. He went to Europe twice for his health, but the loss of all three of his sons wonderfully effected his spirits, so that he felt and often remarked that he had nothing to live for. He had long suffered from inflammatory rheumatism, and finally that terrible disorder, Bright’s disease, fastened upon him and he died November 30th 1878.
His wife was Helen Cornwall and they had four children. Frederick became lieutenant-colonel of his regiment and was killed at Hatcher’s Run in October 1864. Grenville, another son, a young lawyer of great promise, died suddenly in the spring of 1878. His youngest son died in 1868. The daughter, Mrs. Martin, and the mother still remain.
Joseph Blanchard was one of the best business men in Durham. He lived where A. C. Cowles, Esp., does. He probably bought the place of Deacon Benjamin Chapman in 1808. He not only had a good sized farm there which he managed, but at the same time he carried on the business of wagon-making and blacksmithing. He was a well learned physician, and was also a justice of the peace many years. That office was formerly filled by appointment, but in 1830 the towns began to elect their justices, and he was the first man elected in this town. His talents as a justice of the peace are often spoken of by the old men of the place. He was a very capable man. One of his daughters married William Tremain, a relative of Lyman Tremain, and another daughter married D. K. Olney Esp. of Catskill.
Among the many apprentices and journeymen who worked for Mr. Blanchard were William Pierce and Daniel Simmons, who are well known and highly respected citizens and tradesmen in the town.
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