Biographical Sketches of its Prominent Men
J.B. Beers and Co.
by Henry Whitemore
Transcribed by Dianne Schnettler, Arlene Goodwin and Annette Campbell
In the northeastern part of the county are seven towns, forming a triangle, of which Cairo is the center of the base. It is bounded on the north by Durham and Greenville, on the east by Coxsackie and Athens, on the south by Catskill, and on the west by Windham, Jewett and Hunter. The Potick Creek flows in a southwesterly direction along the eastern part of the town, separating it from the town of Athens. The town of Cairo was formed from Coxsackie, Catskill and Freehold (now Durham) March 26th 1803, as Canton; and on the 6th of April, 1808, the name was changed to Cairo. The name of Cairo was suggested by Asabel Stanley, a prominent citizen of the town, from Cairo in Egypt. By an act of Legislature, in 1803, “for dividing certain towns in the county of Greene” the boundaries are given as follows:
“Beginning at an oak tree on the bank of the Peetick Creek near the fulling-mill of Ezekiel Benton, in the town of Coxsackie; thence northerly along said creek, until it intersects the Schoharie turnpike road, at or near the dwelling house of Calvin Wright; thence westerly along said turnpike road until it intersects the west line of the town of Coxsackie; thence southerly to where it intersects the Susquehanna turnpike road, two chains south of the dwelling house of Daniel Crane; thence in a direct line until it intersects the Batavia road one chain north of the dwelling house of Bildad Hines; thence continuing said line to the summit of the Catskill Mountains; thence southerly along the top of said mountains until it intersects the line run from the place of beginning, which said line is south sixty degrees west; thence to the place of beginning * * * shall be and hereby are erected into a town by the name of Canton, and the first town meeting shall be held at the dwelling house of Mary Carbine.”
It is situated at the east foot of the Catskill Mountains, the crest of the mountains forming its western boundary. Its central and eastern parts are broken by several high, rocky ridges. Black Head, a peak of the Catskill, rises in the western part to an altitude of 3965 feet, and *Steuffel (or Stoprel) point (* So called from a hunter who dwelt in the mountains.), is said to be 3450 feet high. Near the foot of these is ** Round Top (** This is nearly a literal translation of the Indian name, Wawantepachook or Woweontupauke, meaning “round head place.”), or Dome Mountain, a rocky, isolated hill, 500 feet high. From along the slopes and tops of these mountains a most beautiful and picturesque view is obtained. Spread out before the beholder like an immense panorama, are little villages scattered through the valleys, with small streams wending in every direction, while hills rise one above another as far as the eye can reach; and, on a clear day, the Berkshire Hills and Green Mountains may readily be discerned. The principal streams are the Katskill Creek, the ***Shingle Kill (***A large business was done by some of the early settlers in making shingles, and what is now the village of Cairo was formerly called Shingle Kill.) and Plattekill, the Jan-de-Bakker and Potick Creeks. These have numerous small tributaries, which, rising in the mountains, find their way down the slopes until they reach the main streams in the valley below. The soil is a clay-ey, gravelly and shaly loam, fertile in the valleys, but of very poor quality among the hills.
The town contains 36,109 acres, about one-third of which is unimproved. With the exception of two decades there has been an appreciation in the value of taxable property of about 50 per cent for each decade, as follows: 1810, $191,043; 1820, $400,000; 1830, $247,256; 1840, $226, 499; 1860, $442,576; 1880, $859,142. The present population is divided as follows: males, 1080; females, 1179; colored, 12. The population during the summer months is much larger.
Nearly all the property within the present boundary of the town was included in the several patents obtained prior to the Revolution, an account of which is contained in the general history of the county. Very few of the old deeds containing descriptions of the property covered by these patents are now in existence; so that it is very difficult to locate their boundaries. Among the largest of these are what is known as the Salisbury or Catskill Patent, for land purchased of the Indians in 1678 by Sylvester Salisbury and Marte Gerritse (Van Bergen), for which a patent was granted by Governor Andros March 27th 1680; and the Barker Patent, granted to James Barker just previous to the Revolution for 6,000 acres extending from the little hamlet of Woodstock, nine miles north to the town of Durham, situated on both sides of the Katskill Creek. The following is a partial list of the patents issued:
A tract of 2,000 acres in Cairo and Catskill, petitioned for by Thomas Moore, Matthew Holland, and others April 6th 1768; subdivision of a tract in Cairo and Catskill, granted to James Coleman and others, dated April 13th 1768; two tracts in Cairo, containing 6,000 acres on both sides of the Catskill Mountains, surveyed for Donald McLean, Malachy Treat, and Neal McLean, August 24th 1768; tract of land in Cairo, surveyed by Thomas Moore and others, April 12th 1769; first and second tracts surveyed by John Morin Scott and his associates, 4660 acres in Cairo, June 28th 1769; 200 acres in Cairo, on the west side of the Katskill, surveyed for Robert Walter, October 24th 1788; tract containing 603 ½ acres in Freehold, now Cairo, under Catskill Mountain and on both sides of the Shingle Kill, petitioned for by Samuel Darby, Solomon Tice, and Ephraim Darby, May 5th 1791.
“Vol. XVII, page 106—December 23d 1761.—Indian deed to William Van Bergen, Marte Gerritse Van Bergen, and James Umphrey jr., for four tracts of land, containing together 2,141 acres; the first of which begins at a fall of water on the west side of the bronk called Kats Kill; the second lies near Batavia on the west side of the Catskill Mountains; the third lies about eight miles to the west of the last mentioned tract, on the west of a brook called ‘Schohary’ Creek, opposite the land formerly granted to Vincent Mathews and others, along ‘Schohary’ Creek, and on the north end of a small piece of low ground called Elks Plain, where a small run of water falls into ‘Schohary’ Creek; and the fourth tract begins at the most southerly bounds of the above mentioned tract granted to Vincent Mathews and others (Durham, Cairo, Windham and Greenville), with certificate of Isaac Vrooman, deputy surveyor, certifying that the said tracts were surveyed by him, and that the bounds described in the Indian deed were marked in the presence of the Indians.”
“Vol. XVII, page 145—June 8 1764.—Exemplification of an Indian deed to Henry Remsen of two tracts of land, adjacent to Catts Kill. (Cairo and Durham).
"Vol. XXV, page 143—June 29 1769—Return of survey for John Morin Scott, Henry Andrew Francklin, Martin Garritse Van Bergen, and their associates, of three tracts of land, containing 42,500 acres (Cairo and Coxsackie, Greene county, and Broome and Middleburgh, Schoharie county.) Map of same.”
“Vol. XXXI, page 30—March 9 1772—Return of survey for Thomas Millet, Phillip Lambert and Robert Davidson, of two tracts of land containing together 600 acres, the first of which lies on the Katskill and the second adjoins a tract granted to Thomas Moore and six other private soldiers. (Cairo). Map of same.”
“Vol. XLVI, page 11—October 24 1788—Certificate of location of Jacob Trumper, of 200 acres of land, to the west of Kats Kill, adjoining a tract granted to Thomas Millet, Philip Lambert and Robert Davidson. (Cairo).”
“Vol. XLVI, page 12—October 24 1788.—Certificate of location of William Cockburn, of 200 acres of land, to the west of the Cats Kill, adjoining a tract granted to Thomas Millet and others. (Cairo).”
“Vol. XLVI, page 13—October 24 1788—Certificate of location of Casper Walter, of 200 acres of land to the west of Cats Kill, adjoining a tract granted to Thomas Millet and others. (Cairo).”
“Map of three preceding lots. “
“Vol. XLVII, page 54—July 23 1789.—Certificate of location for Elnathan Fitch of a tract of 200 acres near the foot of the Cats Kill Mountains, on the head-waters of Shingle Kill, and southwest of Airy Point. (Cairo).”
“Vol. L, page 100—May 5, 1791—Proposal of Samuel Darby, Solomon Tice and Ephraim Darby for a tract of land containing 603 ½ acres in the town of Freehold at the foot of the Cats Kill Mountain, on both sides of the main branch of Shingle Kill, and beginning at the south corner of a tract granted to Elnathan Fitch. (Cairo). Map of same.”
“Vol. LIII, page 157—Map of three tracts of land and three islands in Hudson’s River, surveyed for Martin Garretse Van Bergen, Thomas Lynot, John French and others (1st tract is in Greenville and Cairo, 2nd in Cairo and Durham 3d in Ashland and Prattsville, Greene county, and Conesville, Schoharie county; the islands are opposite Coxsackie and are named the Dover Flatt, the Blinder Flatt and the Nutton Flatt, Greene county; (see Vol. 23, pager 155).”
“Another map of above exclusive of islands.”
“Vol. XXIII, page 155—June 23, 1767.—Return of survey for Martin Garetsen Van Bergen, and associates, and for Samuel Deal and Andrew Breedsted, jr., and John McKenney, of three tracts of land; also of three islands lying in the Hudson River opposite Coxhackie, called Blender Flat, Dover Flat, Nutten Island, containing in all 35,500 acres of land. (Cairo, Durham, and Greenville.) Map of same.”
“Vol. XXIV, page 108—April 13, 1768.—Return of survey for James Coleman, James Barker, John Black, Henry Greenshields, Thomas Cowens, James Scott, Jacob Johnson, Gabriel Woods, and James Smith, of nine tracts of land containing together 1,350 acres. (Cairo and Catskill). Map of same.”
“Vol. XXV, page 8—August 24 1768.—Return of survey for Donald McLean, Malachy Treat, and Neal McLean, of two tracts of land, containing together 6,000 acres of land, on both sides of the Katts Kill Mountains. (Cairo). Map of same.”
“Vol. XXV, page 106—April 12, 1769—Return of survey of Thomas Moore, Abraham Gallaugher, Donald Millson, Isaac Cotteril, Richard Shaw, Thomas Thallay, and William Bennet, of a tract of 350 acres. (Cairo). Map of same.”
A very important part of the town of Cairo is the tract known as Expense Lot NO. 3 in the Catskill Patent, and the boundaries are thus described in the survey and division of the patent:
“Beginning at a sassafras stake and stones, being six links north of a black oak sapling marked three notches and a blaze, on the three sides, standing on the North side and bank of Catskill, and runs from thence North 8 degrees 15 minutes East, 86 chains to a stake on a plain. Thence Sough 80 degrees West, 116 chains and 40 links to the heap of stones made near a water ash tree, marked three sides, three notches and a blaze. Thence South 4 degrees East 174 chains and 49 links to a heap of stones made by a red oak tree, marked on four sides as aforesaid, and on the south side 8. Thence South 80 degrees East, 70 chains and 20 links to a stake and heap of stones. Thence North 8 degrees 15 minutes East, 24 chains and 5 links to the place where it first begun. Containing 1,745 acres, as the same is particularly distinguished on our Map by the Title of Lot No.3, set apart to be sold to defray the expense of the Partition.”
This tract was sold by the commissioners appointed to survey and divide the patent, to Abraham and Francis Salisbury. A part of this lot passed into the hands of William Salisbury, and by will, dated February 22d 1800, he leaves “to the children of my son Laurence, all my part of the Expense Lot lying on the west side of Catskill, with the saw-mill thereon.”
By a deed partition dated December 4th 1800 the lot was divided between Abraham and Francis Salisbury. The deed states that they are the tenants in common of a part of Expense Lot No. 3, and they divide the said part as follows:
“Beginning at the southwest corner of the Expense Lot, and runs from thence along the south bounds of said Lot, 35 chains to a heap of stones. Then North 30 minutes East, about 93 chains to the land of William Salisbury. Then North 75 degrees West, about 47 chains to the west bounds of the Lot. Then southerly along the west bounds to the place of beginning containing about 368 acres.”
The part thus described fell to the share of Abraham Salisbury; the remainder to this brother Francis. The Katskill runs across the northeastern part of the lot, cutting off about 300 acres, and the portion which belonged to William Salisbury was that part. The deed of partition is now in the possession of William Newkirk of Leeds. The deed also stated that the said Abraham and Francis Salisbury were the joint owners of Lots 23, 7 and 11, in the Catskill Patent. Lot No. 7 is divided “by a line beginning at a heap of stones on the west side of the lot, 23 chains, 56 links from the northeast corner of Lot No. 6, thence running N. 81degrees 30’W. to the west side of the Lot.” Abraham had the north half, and Francis the south, the whole lot being about 500 acres. Lot No.11 was divided by a line run from he west side of point 15 chains, 75 links from the northwest corner, thence S. 81 degrees E. to the east line of the lot. Abraham had the south part, his half being 184 acres.
Settlement, - Trials and Hardships of the Pioneers
Although patents were granted for nearly all the land in the town, prior to the Revolution, it does not appear that any of the patentees except James Barker, known as the patron, settled upon or improved their lands, and the few settlements that existed prior to the Revolution were composed mostly of squatters, who built for themselves log houses, and held undisputed sway until the latter part of the last century. There is no evidence that any of the numerous clans or sub-divisions of the tribes of Indians that dwelt along the banks of the Hudson ever had a habitation in this locality. There is a tradition that a spot known as the “Indian Camping Ground,” in South Cairo, was an occasional rendezvous for the predatory bands of Indians that infested every locality where there were a few helpless white settlers; for the bounty of $40 a head offered by the British government during the war of the Revolution, to their Indian allies, for every man that could be brought into the ranks of that army, was a strong temptation to the savages, who had learned enough of the arts of civilization to appreciate the value of British gold. Little is known of the political views of the early white settlers, but the Indiana Kidnappers, in pursuit of their legitimate prey, did not stop to inquire of the objects of their search whether they were friends or enemies of Great Britain.
James Barker, the Patroon
This man, a prominent member of the English bar, was born in London, England, in 1727, and came to America a short time previous to the Revolution and settled for a time in Catskill. The romance of his early life, which to a great extent is veiled in obscurity, would prove an interesting contribution to the history of Greene county. A few facts and incidents, however, as related by his grand-daughter, Mrs Cornelia M. White of Acra, in the town of Cairo, will show the sacrifices made by this distinguished barrister, and his lovely and accomplished wife in leaving a home of luxury and refinement, to take up their abode in what was then a wilderness, inhabited by savage and wild beasts. Elizabeth Moore, his wife, was a lineal descendant of the Tudors, and while attending to her father's business as attorney, James Barker fell in love with her; and, as he was eminently distinguished for his social pleading, he won his case with her, but failed with her parents. She decided however to forfeit her rank, and sacrifice friends and all that was dear to her, and follow the man she loved. He also, forfeited his claim to a large estate to which he was heir, and after disposing of his property, he sailed for America, bringing with him twenty-three families, his former tenants. Soon after his arrival, he purchased a large tract of land lying in the town of Durham, and not long after this, his wife received a portion of her mother's estate, and with this he purchased an additional tract lying mostly within the town of Cairo. In what is now the little hamlet of Woodstock he established a homestead, put up dwellings for his tenants, and commenced clearing the land. He was a kind and considerate master, and sought by every means in his power to improve the condition of his tenants and slaves. Every Sunday they were called together and divine service conducted by him, after the form of the Church of England, his wife assisting in the service. The practice of his profession was not carried on to any extent after his arrival in this country. He engaged occasionally in great criminal cases, among which, was the celebrated case of Salisbury who was indicted for the murder of his slave. Mr. Barker, being a friend of the Salisburys, assisted in the defense, and probably through his efforts to a great extent, Salisbury was saved from the gallows.
Whatever views he may have held in regard to the relation existing between England and her American colonies, he took no part on either side. Like most of the early settlers in this locality, however, he was constantly exposed to the raids of the Indians, led by their white allies, who knew neither friend not foe, but considered both their legitimate prey. All his silverplate, together with large sums of money, were buried in different localities, much of which has never been found. Some years after his death, however, a jeweler in one of the western cities, purchased of a former tenant of Mr. Barker, some silver plate, which was identified by the family coat of arms. Nothing, however, has ever been recovered by the heirs. On the 7th of January 1818, Mr. Barker made a will bequeathing his property to his children and grandchildren viz: to John, the only son then living; to his grandson George, the son of Thomas Barker; to William Hubbell; to the children of his daughter Sarah Eicklor; to the children of his daughter Elizabeth Taylor; and to Nancy Salisbury and Jane Olmstead, his daughters; and the remaining one-sixth to the children of his daughter Mary Dedrick, one of whom was Cornelia M. Dedrick, now Mrs. Cornelia M. White, the widow of James White, from whom the foregoing was obtained. The wife of Mr. Barker died on the 18th of May 1796, aged 58, and his son John died December 14th 1835. Both are buried in the cemetery at Woodstock, a small burial plot, which is now part of a meadow owned by Mr. Charles McWilliams. In digging the graves in this locality, great difficulty was experienced by the water flowing in from the Katerskill Creek, and for this reason Mr. Barker gave another plot of land for a cemetery at Durham, where he requested that his remains should be buried. Some few years previous to his death he left the homestead and resided in Durham with Obadiah Every, one of his tenants, where he remained until his death. He lived to be 93 years of age.
The parents of James White were among the early settlers of Centreville, Durham. His father, Jeremiah White, came from Whitestone, Long Island, soon after the Revolution. He bought property and put up a tannery in Centreville, where he did a large business. He married Matilda Howell, and their children were Henry, James, Samuel, Oliver, Eunice, Amanda, Emma and Matilda. The oldest, Rev. Henry White, D.D. , was a professor of theology at Union College, New York. He died and was buried in the college grounds. Rev. Samuel White is a Presbyterian minister, located at Cornwall, New York.
James, the second child, was born in Centreville, town of Durham, April 12th, 1802. His father intended him for the ministry, and gave him a liberal education to fit him for college, but, on account of the failure of his health, he never entered. On leaving school, he commenced work on his father’s farm, and remained at home assisting his father for some years. On the 8th of September, 1831, at the home of his bride, in Cairo, he married the widow of James Wooster, whose maiden name was Cornelia M. Dederick. She was the grand-daughter of James Barker, the patroon, and was then living on a part of the estate bequeathed to her by her grandfather, this property forming a part of the Barker Patent. Their children were Matilda J, born January 18th, 1833; Charles E., born August 28th, 1835; Caroline A., born December 12th, 1837; William H., born July 21st5, 1840; Fidelia E., born March 19th, 1844; Oliver E., born December 21st, 1846. Had his physical been equal to his mental power, Mr. White would have distinguished himself in any vocation in life, where his inclination might lead him, but his feeble health prevented him from undertaking any enterprise that might tax his energies. He therefore led a quiet life, giving his whole attention to the management of the farm. In politics he was a staunch whig, and on the disruption of that party he became identified with its successor, the republican party. While he possessed qualifications that fitted him for any official position, he would never permit his name to be used for public office. He died at the homestead on the 22nd of July 1854. His youngest daughter, Fidelia A., was married to Lieutenant George L. Meade, of the U.S. Navy, on the 26th of August, 1863. He served with distinction throughout the war of the Rebellion, and was in several of the most important naval engagements. At the time of his death, which occurred on the 26th of November 1872, he was pay inspector of the navy, with the rank of Lieutenant Commander. Mrs. Meade, his widow, is now living with her mother at the homestead about one-half mile north of the village of Acra.
Most of the old landed proprietors continued to hold slaves up to the time of the final act of manumission, passed in 1823, and the books of the town clerk contain brief records relative to the births of the slaves, as follows:
February 1st 1802, Jack, a boy of Henry Person; June 14th 1803, Deon, a girl of James Gale; October 3rd 1803, Abraham, a boy of William F. Salisbury; September 19th 1804, Flora, a girl of Harry Person; November 19th 1804, Peg, a girl of James Gale; February 28th 1806, Samuel, a boy of William Salisbury; March 3rd 1807, Dine, a girl of James Gale; January 21st 1808, negro boy named Saxe, mother’s name Ann; January 21st 1808, Cesar, a boy of Wessel Salisbury; March 18th 1815, Nan, a black girl belonging to James Gale.
Growth and Progress of the Town
The earliest settlements of the town appear to have been in the southwestern part, now known as Round Top; and the first log house built was probably that of the Strope family, who were massacred by the Indians. Ebenezer Beach settled in the same locality in 1778, and owned the place now occupied by Harrison Jones. These, with a few scattering families, and the tenants of James Barker the patroon, were the only settler previous to 1790. About this time the tide of immigration commenced. Tanneries sprung up in different localities, and settlers from Connecticut, Long Island and other parts of New York State, were attracted here by the immense forests of hemlock, the bark of which was used for tanning purposes. Rapidly the forests disappeared. The hemlock trees were cut down and stripped of the bark; saw-mills were erected, and the lumber used for building purposes; but so great was the demand for the hemlock bark that it became difficult to utilize the immense quantities of timber cut down. Much of it was burned and wasted. It finally opened the way for a new industry, and many of the farmers turned their attention to the manufacture of shingles. The process was very simple. The logs were sawed up the proper length, and, with a peculiar shaped knife, they were chopped up into shingles.
Among the early settlers, about the beginning of the present century, was the father of Thurlow Weed. It is said that he settled near the present race track, and erected a log house, but all traces of it have long since disappeared, and the location is a matter of dispute. That Thurlow Weed was born in the town, however, is a settled fact, and it is said that he visited here some years previous to his death and tried to locate the spot where the homestead stood.
The first orchards planted were by David Brewster and Joseph Shepherd, who came here from Connecticut about 1795. Some of the trees of the Brewster orchard are still standing.
Roads, Highways and Bridges
Wheeled vehicles were comparatively unknown by the early settlers, and the only landmarks to guide travelers passing to and fro through the wilderness, were the cuts, called blazes, on the trees, made with the ax. The first described roads found on the records are as follows:
“This may certify that the Commissioners of Highways in and for the town of Catskill, did on the 30th day of August 1799, Lay out a Private road two Rods wide – Beginning on the East Kill Road East of the Widow Stuarts thence Northward to the House of Jacob Phillips, as near the ground will permit and from thence as the Road then run until it Intersect the road that leads to the forge.
“I certify the Above to be a true Copy from the records of this Town for the year 1779.
“Catskill, March 24th 1806.”
The following is taken from a loose slip of paper on which the handwriting is so much faded as to render it extremely difficult to decipher.
“Be it known that on the Seventh day of May 1794, the following Rode was Lawfully laid out and established. Viz. one Beginning at that Maple Tree standing on the South side of the old Rode from Woodstock to Shingle Kill, said to Be Marked for the Line Between Freehold and Coxsackie towns; thence to Run Nearly on the Now traveled Rode to the High Bridge a Cross Catskill and from thence as the Rode is now traveled By the house of James Cooper to join the old Freehold Rode near a Whiteoke tree Mark, and standing near a Mkd bridge on said Freehold Rode and Likewise that other Rode Beginning at Dock Tobe’s Corner Easterd of his house thence to run across the Barren Rock and on the Best ground to the top of the first Ledge to the East end of said Rock near to join the old Rode that run from North Woodstock, thence to run nearly as the old Rode Ran and on the Best ground to join the above Described Rode at the foot of the hill about twelve Rods to the Southward of the Newbridge.”
From 1794 to 1809, a number of roads were laid out and worked, and in 1809, when the name was changed from Canton to Cairo, there were 32 highway districts in the town.
From the Town Records
“At a meeting of the Inhabitants of Canton held at the house of Mary Carbine, on Tuesday the 5th of April 1803, for the purpose of choosing Town officers. The following were chosen:
Supervisor, Daniel Sayre; town clerk, James Gale; assessors, Wessel Salisbury, Samuel Foster, and Benjamin Hine; collector, Joseph Shepherd; poor masters, Henry Person, Jonathan Nickerson; commissioners, John L. Darby, Joseph Reed, Ezra Rundel; constables, Joseph Shepherd, Samuel J. Haight, Stephen Olmsted; fence viewers, Oliver Palmer, Jonathan Allenton, Goodman Noble, Benjamin Foster; poundmasters, Stephen Bentley, Jonathan Allenton, Warren Hamlin.
List of supervisors and town clerks from 1803 to 1883.
Supervisors: -- Daniel Sayre 1803, 1804, 1807; Benjamin Hine, 1805, 1808-14, 1816, 1818-20; John E. Darby, 1806; Joseph Reed, 1815; James Gale, 1817; Alpheus Webster, 1821, 1823, 1825; Moses Olmstead, 1822, 1826; George A. Crooker, 1824; Ira T. Day, 1827-31, 1841, 1842; Daniel Lennon, 1832; Samuel L. Hayes, 1833, 1834; Isaac Bogardus, 1835, 1838, 1839; Horace Austin, 1836, 1837; Oliver Eggleston, 1840; Leonard Yeomans, 1843; George Wickes, 1844-46; Joseph H. Bowman, 1847, 1848; Amasa Keith, 1849, 1850; Joel Wickes, 1851; Peleg C. Mattoon, 1852; Elias L. Dutcher, 1853, 1854, 1863, 1871-74; John Greene, 1855; Horatio L. Day, 1856, 1857; Luke Roe, 1858, 1859, 1865, 1866; Ambrose L. Walters, 1861, 1862; Edward C. Stevens, 1864; Edwin E. Darby, 1867, 1868; Charles W. Weeks, 1869; Edward C. Stevens, 1870; Augustus Hill, 1875, 1876; D. Alanson K. Stevens, 1877; Egbert Paddock, 1878; F.S. Decker, 1879; George Wickes, 1880; J. Leroy Jacobs, 1881, 1882; Edward C. Stevens, 1883.
Town Clerks: -- James Gale, 1803-10; Simon Sayre, 1811-23; William Pierson, 1824-30; Samuel L. Hayes, 1831, 1832; Benedict W. Hazard, 1833-37; Levi King, 1838; George Wilkes, 1839, 1841-43; Peleg C. Mattoon, 1840, 1844; Ira B. Day, 1845; George W. Noble, 1846-48, 1852-58; Philander Stevens, 1849, 1850; Horatio L. Day, 1851, 1876, 1877; David Johnson, 1856-59; Edward C. Stevens, 1860-62; Wesley A. Shaw, 1863; Daniel P. Tremain, 1864-67; Frederick H. Ford, 1868, 1869, 1871, 1872; James G. Wooster, 1870; D. Alanson K. Stevens, 1873, 1874; George Wickes, 1875, 1879; A.B. Stevens, 1878, 1882; George R. Patrie, 1880; Hiram S. Stevens, 1881; A.B. Stevens, 1882.
Justices of the Peace from 1811 to 1883: -- Daniel Sayre, 1811-19; Wessel Salisbury, 1811-13; Jonathan Nickerson, 1812-17; James Renne, 1813-20; Neri Stoddard, 1813; John C. Burhans, 1814; Aaron Dibol, 1815; Watson Dimond, 1816; Alpheus Webster, 1820, 1821, 1834-37; J.G. Prout, 1821, 1822; Joel Curtis, 1822-23; James Earl, 1823; James C. Blanchard, 1825-36; J. Stoutenburgh, 1828-1829; William Burroughs, 1830-34; James C.V. Hammond, 1831; William Pierson, 1832-38; Lewis Northrup, 1833; William Burroughs, 1834; James C. Blanchard, 1834-36; John Rouse, 1836-39; Henry P. Darby, 1836; Robert C. Field, 1838; Ira Morrison, 1839; Stephen Ryon, 1840; Leonard Yeomans, 1840-43; Elisha Blackman, 1842-46; Clark Beckwith, 1842-50; William Telfair, 1843-49; Joseph H. Bowman, 1844-53; P.C. Mattoon, 1846-52; Alanson Lathrop, 1847-83; Gilbert Merritt, 1848-52; Augustus Hill, 1851-73; William Pierson, 1852-56; George W. Mead, 1853; Francis Elting, 1855-58; Daniel S. Lennon, 1859; Lucius D. Hill, 1863-83; Jasper N. Bennett, 1867-70; George W. Renne, 1868-76; Egbert Yeomans, 1871-75; Frederick H. Ford, 1873-80; Edward Adams, 1878-83; Alfred Bennett, 1878; O.T. Schermerhorn, 1882; W.B. Hall, 1883.
The present town officers are Edward C. Stevens, supervisor; Amos S. Cornwall, town clerk; Edward Adams and W. Burr Hall, justices of the peace; Martinus Laraway, assessor; Philo Richards, commissioner of highways; Orlando Post and John G. Olmstead, overseers of the poor; S. Merrit Jones, collector; William H. Race, Robert Apjohn, George Palmatier, and Hiram Groat, constables; William Smith, excise commissioner; Henry B. Whitcomb, Melford Coffin and Leonard White, town auditors.
“State of New York, Greene County.
“Statement of votes taken in the town of Canton at the anniversary election in the year 1804, for Governor, Lieut.-Governor, for this State, and two Senators to represent the middle district in said State.
“Governor. MORGAN LEWIS, eighty –one, AARON BURR, fifty-four votes.
“Lieut. –Governor. JOHN BROWN eighty-one, OLIVER PHELPS, fifty-four votes.
“Senators. SAMUEL BREWSTER, eighty, STEPHEN HOGEBOOM, eighty, PETER VAN NESS, fifty-two votes.
“We, the undersigned, having canvassed and estimated the votes for Governor, Lieut.-Governor, and Senators, do certify the above to be a true statement.
“Done at Canton this 25th day of April 1804.
“DANIEL SAYRE” “JAMES GALE” “JOSEPH REID” “BENJAMIN HINE” “ELI BROOKS” Inspectors.
“State of New York, Greene County.
“Statement of the votes taken in the town of Cairo at the anniversary election for one Senator, to represent the middle district in this State.
“MARTIN VAN BUREN, fifty-one, EDWARD P. LIVINGSTON, eighty-seven, ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON, one votes.
“We the subscribers, having canvassed and estimated the votes for Senators agreeable to the Statute, viz., The Act entitled an Act for regulating elections, do certify the above to be a true statement.
“Done this 30th day of April 1812.
“BENJAMIN HINE” “JOSEPH REID” WM. R. HAMLIN” “JONATHAN NICKERSON” Inspectors.”
Town Divisions - Villages
The present town contains eight villages or hamlets, with a population varying from 80 to upward of 300 each.
Cairo (formerly called Shingle Kill), the largest and most important village, is located near the center of the town on the old Susquehanna Turnpike, ten miles west of Catskill Landing on the Hudson River. It has a population of 323 – 128 males and 195 females; three churches – Presbyterian, Methodist, and Episcopal; a district school, two hotels; several stores and small manufactories; a post-office, telegraph office, and meat market. The first frame house erected within the boundaries of the present village, stood on the site now occupied by Mrs. Rickerson. It was built by Mr. Zebulon (or Francis) Carbine, who was killed by a shed falling on him. The second house was built by Colonel Ira T. Day near the Episcopal church. The first hotel was built and occupied by Major Dewey. It stood at the lower end of the village.
The fair ground and race course used by the Greene County Agricultural Society, is situated about one-half mile north of the village on the Durham Turnpike.
The new county poorhouse stands in a hollow about one-quarter of a mile south of the village. It was completed in 1883 and opened for the reception of the poor.
The entire building is of brick, two stories and basement, on a stone foundation, 140 feet front, with a center pavilion 56 feet deep by 40 feet front, three stories high. There are two wings, each 42X50 feet. The basement is eight feet high under the entire building, the wall being of masonry two feet thick. On the first floor the center or pavilion will be occupied mostly by the keeper and family. The rooms in this part include a general office, doctor’s office, reception room, dining room, kitchen and three bedrooms, large clothes presses, pantries, etc. The southern wing will be devoted exclusively to males. It has corridors seven feet wide running the entire length. Platform staircases five feet wide, at right angles, lead from the corridor to the second story. The rooms in this wing are dining-room, sitting-room, bath and wash-room. The north wing will be occupied by females, and is similar in every respect to the south wing. On the second floor of the wings are large dormitories and small rooms, wash-room and infirmary. The third floor (in Mansard roof) of the pavilion is a very large and pleasant room that can be utilized for various purposes.
Woodstock is a small hamlet situated about one mile north of Cairo village bordering on the Katskill Creek. The first settlements were by James Barker, the patroon, and his tenantry of twenty-three families. The Woodstock and Durham Turnpike that passes through here, was constructed in 1800 by Moses Olmsted. The same year, the Woodstock Bridge was constructed by the Canton Bridge Company. In 1810 the bridge broke down under the weight of a herd of cattle which were passing over, of which 30 were killed and several wounded. The bridge was rebuilt in 1810 by the same company; the name of the company, however, was changed to The Woodstock and Durham Turnpike Company. It was twice washed away by freshets within thirty years. The present bridge was constructed in 1840. It is 30 feet high with 170 feet span. Three or four factories have been erected here at different periods. The only one remaining is a paper-mill.
Acra is a small hamlet of about 80 inhabitants situated four miles northeast of Cairo village, on the Windham Turnpike. It contains two churches (Baptist and Methodist), one store, a hotel or boarding-house, a black-smith’s shop, and a cider mill. The people of this locality claim that Thurlow Weed was born a short distance east of the present settlement. It is said that Moses Olmsted kept the first hotel in this locality, and Joseph Lyons the first store. There are three mineral springs near this village, which attract a number of visitors during the summer season. They are said to possess valuable medicinal qualities.
The school-house here and building site for the same cost $800.
The Forge, so called to designate the locality of the iron forge, made by Enoch Hyde and Benjamin Hall, in 1788, is situated one mile south of Cairo village. The Shingle Kill, which runs through the village, affords abundant facilities for manufacturing purposes, and several mills have been erected at different periods. The earliest settlers of the town erected their log houses in this locality before the Revolution, and the first school was kept, and the first religious services held in log-houses, vacated by their owners. Mr. Orrin Slater, an old man 81 years of age, living here, attended school and religious services when a boy in the old log-houses. There are at present several dwellings, two groceries, a school-house, a saw-mill and grist mill. Mr. Rufus Byington built a tavern here in 1813. The building is still standing, owned and occupied by his son, Lucius Byington, as a dwelling-house.
When Mr. Hyde, the proprietor of the forges, erected his first dwelling, he carried the slabs of timber on his back from the mill to his house, which he built himself. He was quite a wag in his way, and an amusing incident is related of him, showing how he got the best of one of his neighbors. He called at the country store one day, which was kept by a man named Stone and inquired of him what he would charge for a jug of New England rum, a popular drink at that time among the farmers. Stone replied “one dollar.” Hyde then procured an oil jug holding four or five gallons and, handing him the money and the jug, said: “Here’s your dollar; fill it.” This was rather more than Stone bargained for, but he kept his agreement and filled the jug. Instead of drinking it himself, Hyde bequeathed it to his posterity, by burying it in his cellar, and several years afterward, it was found, the spot being indicated by a stone, on which was the following inscription:
stone a brown jug lies,
Filled with New England rum,
To treat Hyde’s friends when ere he dies –
God grant the time may quickly come.”
It would appear from this that he was in a hurry to “shuffle off the mortal coil,” but he lived for many years to enjoy the grim joke of which his friends were kept in blissful ignorance, knowing nothing of it until after his death.
Round Top is a small settlement in the vicinity of Round Top Mountain. It was here that the massacre of the Strope family occurred in 1780, and the log house in which they lived is said to have been the first house erected in the town of Cairo. There are now a few scattering houses, a Methodist church, and a school-house.
Sandy Plains is a very old, but small settlement comprising a part of the Salisbury Patent. It is situated about four miles southeast of Cairo village, between the Katskill and Potick Creeks. A Methodist church, probably the oldest in the town, and a school-house are the only public buildings. There are a number of dwellings which are scattered over a large tract of country. The farmers in this locality have always been very prosperous, and the soil will compare favorably with that of any locality between here and the Hudson River. Several members of the Salisbury family reside in this locality.
Indian Ridge is simply a name used to designate a locality which, tradition says, was at one time an Indian camping ground. It is situated on the east bank of the Katskill Creek, just north of the village of South Cairo, and is included in what is known as Sandy Plains.
South Cairo is situated about four miles southeast of Cairo village, on the Susquehanna Turnpike, and borders on the town of Catskill. It contains a post-office, two hotels, and several fine dwellings. It is a beautiful rolling country, and the well kept farms and pleasant surroundings indicate that the inhabitants are a thrifty, enterprising people.
earliest religious movement of any kind in this town was the Sunday services
held by James Barker and his wife to give religious instruction to their slaves
and tenants. Four out of the six churches in the town, were organized about the
same time, the Methodists at Sandy Plains claiming the precedence of two or
three years over the others. It was many years, however, before any of them had
settled pastors, the town being so sparsely populated that to one man in each
denomination was assigned the charge of three or four and sometimes more
churches. While the number of churches, with a single exception, has not
increased during the last eighty years, the growth and development of each has
kept pace with the growth of the population. Unfortunately, the devouring
element of fire has swept away the records of some; others have been imperfectly
kept, or removed with each change of pastor. The Episcopal church alone has full
and complete records of its organization and growth from the beginning down to
the present time.
Calvary Episcopal Church
On the 13th of August 1832, in pursuance of notice duly given, the male members of the Episcopal congregation of Cairo met at their place of worship for the purpose of incorporating themselves, at which meeting the name or title of “The Rector, Church Wardens and Vestrymen of Calvary church, in the village of Cairo,” was adopted as that by which the church or society should be known, and Monday in Easter week was selected as the time for the annual election of church wardens and vestrymen. Rev. Ephraim Pundersen presided over the meeting. Eli Brooks and George Wickes were elected church wardens, and Ira T. Day, Horace Austin, John Lennon, Amasa Mattoon, Henry E. Hotchkiss, Hiram Hine, William C. Howell, and Horatio Hine, Vestrymen. On the 5th of September the certificate was signed, sealed and sworn to, and recorded in the clerk’s office September 12th. On the ninth Sunday after Trinity, August 4th 1833, the church was consecrated by the Right Reverend Dr. Onderdonk, bishop of New York. In 1834 $500 was received from Trinity church, New York toward the building fund. The total receipts toward the building fund were $1,950, out of which was expended $1,892.72, several subscriptions still remaining unpaid. From 1835 to 1837 there were eight communicants. June 10th 1841, the bell was bought at a cost of $175. On June 1st 1853, Rev. Robert B. Fairbairn, S.T. D., L. L. D., became rector of the parish. The population at this time was small and scattered, and he supported himself by teaching a classical school in Catskill. After eleven years of faithful labors, he passed to his rest June 10th 1864. In 1869, $800 was expended in church improvement. A contribution to the parish of $500 was received from Hon. Henry Meiggs. Several seats were added to the church in 1876. The remaining indebtedness of the church amounting to $352.83, was paid by Mr. George Wickes. Stained glass windows were added in 1882 through the liberality of Mrs. Elizabeth H. Wickes. On the 3d of August 1882, Henry E. Hotchkiss who had been associated with the church from its organization, entered into his rest. The number of communicants on January 1st 1882 was 58. The following clergymen have been connected with the parish as rectors or missionaries since its organization: Ephraim Punderson, August 1832 to February 20th 1834; Moses Burt, 1834 to 1837; Henry H. Prout, February 26th 1837 to 1838, and October 1st 1838 to April 1st 1868; George Sayne, January 22d 1840 to 1844, and April 1851 to 1852; William Walsh, September 1845 to 1847; Norman C. Stoughton, June 1847 to June 1850, and 1852 to 1853; Robert B. Fairbairn, June 1st 1853 to October 1862; Robert B. Croes, April 3d 1864 to November 1864; Charles H. Gardiner, November 27th 1864 to October 1866; Edward Pidsley, July 1st 1868 to July 1st 1870; Erastus Webster, July 1st 1870 to April 1st 1872; E. H. Saunders, May 1st 1872 to March 4th 1873; William Charles Grubbe, May 4th 1874 to October 4th 1875, and April 1st 1879 (present rector); Richard Harding October 5th 1875 to October 5th 1877; F. B. Cozier, May 12th 1878 to February 1879.
Sandy Plains Methodist Episcopal Church
This society was organized in the early part of the century when the country was new. One of the first preaching places was at the house of Henry Wickes on Indian Ridge, who was the class-leader. The “circuit rider” came around once in four weeks and preached on Wednesday evenings. At length the circuit was divided, and there was preaching once in two weeks. As the country became settled and the inhabitants more numerous, the places of meeting changed to the house of John Pine who was appointed class leader in place of Mr. Weekes. The meetings were held here till 1837 when the present house of worship was built. The first Board of trustees consisted of J. S. Wolcott, William Fullagar, and John Pine. Services were then held every Sunday morning, by the same minister that preached in Catskill, until 1856 when the Leeds Methodist Episcopal church was built; then it was united to Leeds and the same minister preached in both churches. In 1882 the house was repaired and refitted at an expense of $900.
information was furnished by Rev. W. W. Shaw, the present pastor of the church.
The records of this church have been three times destroyed by fire: first in the house of Daniel Sayre, January 28th 1808; second in the house of Jason Stevens September 1st 1862; and last in the house of Ezra M. M. Stevens April 19th 1864.
The following are copied from old records and memory by Jason Stevens, church clerk.
The Presbyterian Church of Christ in Cairo was organized by the Rev. Beriah Hotchkin of Greenville, May 22d 1799. There were three male members: William Hoyt, Peter Halsey, and Daniel Sayre; Mr. Hoyt by letter from a church in Wilton, Connecticut; Messrs. Halsey and Sayre by letter from a Presbyterian church in Southhampton, Long Island.
The female members were Mehitable Howard, Joyce Sayre, Comfort Olmsted, Mina Halsey, and Elizabeth Woodruff.
The following is a copy of a letter written by Daniel Sayre to a friend about 1839.
“The Presbyterian church in Cairo, was organized May 22, 1799, with eight members. A revival took place the summer following and about ten were added to it. A greater number to the Baptist church. In October of the same year the Presbyterian society was organized according to law, and then proceeded to the building of the meeting-house in Acra (now called the Baptist meeting-house). All this while we had no steady preaching, but meetings upon the Sabbath were constantly attended, and small additions were made to the church from time to time. After selling the meeting-house in Acra, in 1805, the meeting-house in the village [Cairo,] was built. There was no steady preaching, but meetings were held on the Sabbath, and small additions continued to be made. The church records were burnt in my house January 1808, and the precise number of communicants then in church I cannot tell, but think it probably 50 or 60.
1812, Rev. Richard Williams was settled here and continued with us three years.
While he was with us, perhaps as many as 30 more were added to the church. But
between the leaving of Mr. Williams and the settling of Rev. Mr. Beers, there
was a little revival, and perhaps 30 more were added to the church. Mr. Beers
was with us nine years, and in that time there were added, by profession and
letter, 49. Mr. Buck came in the fall of 1829, and while he was with us 49 or 50
were added by profession and letter. But by death and removals, the number in
the church in the last report of Mr. Buck to the Presbytery was only 97. Mr. Van
Dyke was with us over three years, and 17 were added by letter and two by
profession; and in looking over our records, I find there are only about 50, or
at most 55, that are here, and some of that number no able to attend, or do not
attend, meeting with us. The number of members never has been so few in more
than 25 years. What a sorrowful thought and lamentable state this church is in!”
The pulpit of the Presbyterian church was occasionally supplied by missionaries from its organization till the installation of Rev. Richard Williams, who was pastor of this church three years.
The following have been pastors of this church:
Rev. Richard Williams, 1812-15; Rev. Mr. Beers, 1817-26; missionary supply, 1826-29; Rev. J. J. Buck, 1829-35; supplied by Rev. Mr. Huntington, 1835-38; Rev. Mr. Van Dyke, 1838-42; Rev. Mr. Woodbury, 1842-44; Rev. Mr. Clark, 1844-45; Rev. Mr. Snyder, 1845-49; Rev. Mr. Niles, 1849; Rev. Mr. Humphrey, 1849-51; Rev. Sanford Roe, 1851-59; Rev. A. O. Peloubet, 1859-63; Rev. A. O. Powell, 1863-64; Rev. A. P. Freeze, 1864-65; Rev. W. S. Drysdale, 1865-67; Rev. Mr. Hammond, 1867-68; Rev. A. P. Freeze, a portion of 1868-72; Rev. P. J. Burnham, 1872-74; supplies and vacancy during the year 1874; Rev. A. P. Freeze, a portion of 1875; Rev. Mr. Wooley, 1875-76; Rev. A. P. Freeze, 1876-81; Rev. C. L. Offer, 1881-83; Mary 1st 1883, Rev. Sanford W. Roe became pastor of this church. The church now numbers 70 communicants.
The value of the church, parsonage and session-room is $6,000.
The first Bible presented to this church was by Rev. Peter Labagh. On one of the fly leaves is found the following: “This sacred volume was presented to the Presbyterian Church at Canton by their friend and servant in the gospel, Peter Labagh, 3d Dc. 1807.”
A flourishing Sunday-school is connected with this church.
“At a meeting of the following named persons: John S. Betts, Nelson Shawman, Benjamin Roe, Abner Alden, Augustus Hill, Harvey Hine, David Johnson, John Feeney, Levi King, George Wickes, E.F. Stevens, J.B. Webster, Charles Alden, L.C. Bennett, Henry Sted, H.E. Hotchkiss, E.L. Dutcher, A.W. Plank, H.S. Day, J.H. Person, H. Leet, D.P. Bennett, Thomas Cornwall, and Jason Stevens, held at the hotel of John H. Person (pursuant to notice duly given), on Monday Oct. 27, 1856. George Wickes was chosen chairman of the meeting and J.B. Webster secretary. On motion of Henry E. Hotchkiss: --
“Resolved, that this meeting proceed to organize themselves into an incorporated body to be called the Cairo Cemetery Association. On motion of David Johnson – Resolved, that the number of trustees of this association shall consist of six persons.
“On motion of Augustus Hill, the meeting proceeded to ballot for trustees, and the following persons were unanimously elected: -- Matthew Sayre, Levi King, A. Alden, George Wickes, H.L. Day, and H. E. Hotchkiss. The chairman and secretary then proceeded to divide by lot the trustees for the term of their offices, with the following results: -- H.E. Hotchkiss and Levi King for one year; H.L. Day and M. Sayre for two years; George Wickes and Abner Alden for three years.
“Resolved, that the annual meeting of this association shall be on the first Monday in December of each year at 7 o’clock P.M.”
“J.B. WEBSTER, “Secretary.”
“State of New York, County of Greene.”
“On the 28th day of October in the year 1856 George Wickes and Jonathan B. Webster to me known to be the persons mentioned intended and described in, and who executed the within instrument, personally came before me and severally acknowledged the execution of same.”
“Justice of the Peace.”
“Recorded October 29th 1856 at 2 P.M. in the Greene County Clerk’s office on page 201 of Miscellaneous records.”
“J. AT. COOK, Cl’k.”
“At a meeting of the trustees of the Cairo Cemetery Association held at the house of John Person October 27th 1856. George Wickes was appointed chairman and H.L. Day secretary. On motion, Levi King was duly elected president, Henry Hotchkiss, vice-president, George Wickes, treasurer, and Horatio L. Day, secretary of said association. On motion, Resolved, that we purchase the lands for the said association of George A. Crooker. On motion, Resolved, that the chair appoint two trustees to circulate a subscription paper for the purpose of obtaining funds to pay for the land to enlarge the cemetery and to fence and improve the same. The chair appointed H. E. Hotchkiss and H. L. Day. On motion adjourned.”
“H. L. DAY, “Secretary.”
The present officers are Henry Steele, president; Seymour Adams, vice-president; George Wickes, treasurer; Jason Stevens, secretary.
Prior to the incorporation of this cemetery it contained only three acres. For the purpose of enlarging it an additional plot of three acres, adjoining the old plot, was bought at a cost of $100 per acre, and the whole plot of six acres enclosed by a substantial wall. It contains quite a number of attractive and costly monuments. The following inscriptions were taken from the tombstones:
“In memory of Uzal Cory, Esq., who departed this life on the 23rd day of March A.D. 1802, aged 44 years.”
“In memory of Francis Carbine, who died the 7th of May A.D. 1795, aged 63 years.”
“In memory of Daniel Sayre, Esq., who died Nov. 15 1840, aged 75 years. He was an example of all the social and Christian virtues, and, in the near prospect of the dissolution, said, in the confidence of assured hope, ‘I know that my Redeemer liveth.’”
“Levi King, M.D., born May 31st 1799; died July 10th 1878, in the 80th year of his age. For more than 50 years his home was in yonder village, honored as a citizen, and trusted as a skillful and faithful physician.”
The Barker burial plot is located about one and one-quarter miles north of the village of Cairo, and covers a small portion of a meadow at present owned by Mr. Charles McWilliams. The following inscriptions are copied from the tombstones:
“In memory of Elizabeth, wife of James Barker, Esq who died May 18th 1796 AE 58. Erected by John Barker.”
“John E. Barker,
born in England Dec. 14th 1764; died in America Dec. 19th
1835 aged 72 years and 5 days. ‘The just shall be had in everlasting
“James, son of James and Elizabeth Barker died Sept 27th 1767 AE 1 year 1 month.”
“Sarah Deddrick, died Oct 21st 1792 AE 1 year and 4 months.”
“Mary, wife of Frederick Deddrick, died Feb. 18th 1831 aged 70 years.”
“This monument was erected in memory of Thomas Taylor who departed this life March 17th 1813 aged 47 years.”
“This monument was erected in memory of Elizabeth Taylor who departed this life Aug 7th 1802 aged 38 years.”
The above were all members of the Barker family.
Acra Cemetery comprises about two acres of ground. The following are some of the inscriptions:
“In memory of Samuel Webster, died November 25th 1800, aged 44 years, 9 months, and 4 days.” “In memory of Abigail, his wife, died at Norwich, Conn., August 26th 1800, aged 44 years, 1 month, and 11 days.”
“In memory of Doct. Benjamin Allen Upham, who departed this life January 8th 1799, aged 43 years. “They build too low, who build beneath the skies.”
“Erected by the citizens of Acra to the memory of Elder Joseph Harrold, who died December 21st 1825, aged 58 years.”
About three-quarters of a mile east of Cairo village is a small inclosure containing about 15 graves, with common headstones, most of which contain no inscription. According to the following inscription John Balis was the first one buried in the village of Cairo of which there is any record.
“Sacred to the memory of Mr. John Balis who died Dec. 10th A.D. 1789 in the 48th year of his age.
“In silent shade,
here lies the dust,
Of him who made the Lord his trust.
O! what a sudden, dreadful stroke,
‘Twas when the thread of life was broke.
But children dear prepared be,
For you must die and follow me.”
The Hollow Cemetery is located nearly two miles north of the village of Cairo, and covers about half an acre of ground. It is an old burial ground, and nearly filled. It contains a number of unmarked graves. Here rest the remains of one of the first settlers of this town, David Brewster, and his beloved wife, marked by simple stones, with the following inscriptions:
“In memory of David Brewster, who died Aug. 19th 1836, in the 83rd year of his age.”
“Hannah, wife of David Brewster, died July 4th 1856, aged 96 years and 8 months.”
Sandy Plains Cemetery is at the southeast corner of the town about half a mile north of Cairo village. This plot has been neglected and is much overgrown with weeds and bushes. It contains the remains of a few of the early settlers in this locality, indicated by the following inscriptions:
“Samuel Earl, died Dec. 29th 1858, aged 100 years 11 days.”
“Catharine, wife of Samuel Earl, died Nov. 29th 1856, aged 92 years, 1 month, 14 days.”
“Silas Weeks, died March 14th 1864, aged 64 years and 21 days.”
“James Earl, died Dec. 17th 1860, AE 82 years, 8 months, 17 days.”
“John Pine, born Dec. 20th 1773; died April 20th 1861.”
There is a small family burial plot inclosed by an iron railing, situated on what is known as the Indian Camp Ground. It contains some 15 graves.
The opportunities afforded the early settlers in this town for acquiring even a common school education were very limited, and for the first few years there was but one school-house in the town, and this was kept open only a part of the year. The salaries paid to teachers at that time were less than the wages now paid to common farm hands. From $7 to $8 a month and board was a fair average of the salaries paid. There are now 14 school districts in the town, each provided with good, comfortable buildings, and the schools are kept open for nine months in the year. Considering the population, the educational advantages enjoyed by the people of this town, compare favorably with those of other towns in the county.
“At the annual meeting of the inhabitants of the town of Cairo, convened at the house of Peter Van Orden, on the 6th day of April 1813.
“Notice being given of the distribution of the public school fund, thereupon
“Resolved, that this town will comply with the requisition of the act for the support of common schools.
“Resolved, that three school commissioners be appointed by ballot.
“Resolved, that five school inspectors be chosen.
“Resolved, that there be but three assessors chosen for the present year.
“Resolved, that there be but four constables appointed in the town for the ensuing year.”
The following were the school commissioners elected: Simon Sayre, Benjamin Hine, and James Renne.
School inspectors appointed were Benjamin Hine, Ashabel Stanley, James Renne, John C. Burhans, and Joseph Reed.
Cairo school district No. 1. Mr. Jason Stevens, of this village, has kindly furnished a history of this school, the early records of which were destroyed by a fire which occurred April 19th 1864. School district No. 1 of the village and town of Canton (now Cairo) was organized, and a frame school-house built on the place now occupied by the post-office about 1795; this was the only school-house in the village of Cairo, or, as it was then called, Shingle Kill. About 1809 a new frame school-house was built on or near the ground now occupied by the Methodist church, and was the only school-house in the village up to 1830. The village was then divided into two districts. The school-house in district No. 1 was built on Bross street, at the upper end of the village a short distance from the turnpike. The district school-house No. 54 was built near the Shingle Kill, about 90 rods north of the turnpike. These schools with the addition of two private and one public school, which were kept open only a part of the year, afforded the only educational advantages enjoyed by the people of this locality previous to 1858. During the winter of that year the school-house in district No. 1 was destroyed by fire. A union school meeting was held at the school-house in district No. 54 to consider the feasibility of uniting the two districts in one, and of building a large and suitable school-house near the center of the village. David Johnson was appointed chairman, and Jason Stevens clerk of the meeting. Resolutions were passed favoring such a union. In course of time a plot of ground was purchased in the rear of the Baptist meeting-house. Plans for the building were submitted in 1860, and the contract subsequently awarded to Walter Mead, the cost of the building being about $1,500. The school has since continued in a prosperous condition. Jason Stevens has filled the position of clerk of this school district since 1856.
Lodges and Societies
St. John’s Lodge, No. 196, F. and A. M., was the first lodge of master masons organized in this town. The grand lodge of the State of New York granted a dispensation for its organization in 1801 or 1802. The officers were John C. Burhans, W.M.; Amos Cornwall, S.W.; Rufus Byington, J.W. The lodge continued its communications for some years, but finally surrendered or forfeited it charter during the Morgan excitement. The members were doubtless influenced to a great extent by the Albany Evening Journal, published at that time by Thurlow Weed, who was a native of this town.
Kademah Lodge, No. 693, F. and A. M., was organized on the 30th of January 1859, by a dispensation of the grand lodge of the State of New York, granted January 19th of the same year. The charter members were Elias L. Dutcher, Luke Roe, Seymour Adams, J.S. Miller, Benjamin H. Waldron, Z. Beckwith, T.L. Woods, Edward M. Lennon, D.S. Eckler, Elijah Utter, John Story, Noah B. Wood, Daniel P. Tremain, Augustus Hill, Edward Pidsley, Henry Steele, George Wickes, George W. Mead, R.W. Green, Frank G. Walters, Solomon Christian, Edwin E. Darby, Dennis M. Stewart, John A. Mower, L.K. Byington, Martin Smith, Robert Bridgen, A. Timmerman and A. L. Walters.
The first officers were, Elias L. Dutcher, W.M.; Egbert Yeomans, S.W.; Edward Adams, J.W.; Seymour Adams, treasurer; Luke Roe, secretary; J. Seymour Miller, S.D.; Benjamin H. Waldron, J.D.; Levi K. Byington, tyler; Rev. Edward Pidsley, chaplain; Zenoni Beckwith and Thomas L. Wood, M. of C.
The regular communications of this lodge are held at the lodge rooms, at Walter’s Hotel, the first and third Saturday in each month. The present membership is 61.
The officers elected December 15th 1883, were as follows: J.H. Cammer,W.M.; Reuben W. Green, S.W.; J. A. Mower, J.W.; Henry Steele, treasurer; F.H. Ford, secretary; Masten Smith, chaplain; J.N. Smith, tyler; A.B. Stevens, S.D.; Noah Wood, J.D.; J.L. Jacobs, marshall; Dr. G.H. Noble, S.M.C.; Henry B. Whitcomb, J.M.C.
Catskill Division, No. 73, Sons of Temperance, met at Cairo, and opened in due form, with Warren Rockwell D.G.W.P. of the grand division, present, and instituted a division to be known as the Cairo Division, Sons of Temperance. The following is a list of the charter members and first officers: Alonzo Pennoyer, W.P.; Philander Stevens, W.A.; Augustus Hill, R.S.; Amos S. Cornwall, F.S.; Samuel S. Hayes, I.S.; John Tator, C.; Asa Hitchcock, A.C.; R. Robbins, O.S.
This organization continued till the latter part of the year 1850, when it ceased to exist.
The Good Templars organized June 15th 1883, with the following charter members: Sanford W. Roe, D.D.; Mrs. M.L. Roe, Rev. A.H. Haynes, Mrs. F.H. Haynes, W. Burr Hall, Mrs. A.A. Hall, Orlando Post, Mrs. Johanna Post, Oliver F. Schermerhorn, Charles Howard, Miss Sadie Van Cott, James Cannise, Mrs. E.G. Hill, Miss May Schermerhorn, Mrs. E.C. Stevens, Miss Anna Cornwall, and Robert Greene.
Officers – W.C.T., Rev. S. W. Roe; W.V.T., Mrs. A.A. Hall; W.S., W. Burr Hall; W.F.S., Mr. Orlando Post; W.T., Mr. Oliver Schermerhorn; W.C., Rev. A.H. Haynes; W.M., Miss Sadie Van Cott; W.G., Miss May Schermerhorn; W.S., James Cannise. This society meets every Friday evening.
The Cairo Literary Association was organized December 12th 1882, with Rev. William Greene as chairman.
The officers of this association are, Frank Burnham, president; S.W. Roe, D.D., vice-president; Miss Rose Palen, secretary; Miss Hattie Smith, assistant secretary; Miss Lottie Smith, treasurer. This association meets every other Tuesday evening. Its present number is 50. Object, mutual improvement. The election of officers takes place quarterly.
From the earliest settlement of the town the people have been engaged in raising stock (mostly sheep), tanning hides, and general farming, although there have been at different periods, spasmodic efforts made to establish manufactories. With the exception of those that were started to supply the demands of an agricultural population, these have not been a permanent success, owing, to the difficulties of transportation, and other incidental causes. The general rotation of crops has been the usual method of farming here, and, until within the past few years, not much attention has been given to the raising of special varieties of fruit, farm, or garden products. The exhibits at the county fair, held here annually, under the auspices of the Greene County Agricultural Society, have stimulated efforts in this direction, and several of the farmers in this town have taken the first premiums for the best varieties of fruit and farm products. The soil of the lowlands which is enriched by the overflow from the immense freshets in the spring, produces heavy crops of grass, and the baling of hay for shipment to New York and other markets has proved quite a source of revenue to the farmers for many years. The low prices, obtained in late years for this product will doubtless convince the farmers that it is far more profitable to feed it to their stock.
The soil of the highlands and the mountainous region of country seems better adapted to sheep raising than for any other purpose, hence the early settlers, who were unable to purchase from the landed proprietors, the rich, productive farms of the lowlands, gave their attention to sheep raising, which is still carried on to a large extent; but that invariable pest of the farmer, the dog, has proved a serious detriment in this locality and discouraged many who would otherwise have been successful.
The first manufactory in the town of which there is any record, was the forge erected by Enoch Hyde and Benjamin Hall, who came from Litchfield, Connecticut, about 1788. This stood on the property now owned by George Stoddard, which was formerly known as the Joel Curtis place. They subsequently built another forge on the present site of Decker’s grist-mill. The iron, which was of a very superior quality, known as charcoal iron, was brought from Ancram, Columbia county, by vessels on the Hudson River, and hauled from thence by mules to the Shingle Kill. Here it was subjected to the usual process for producing wrought iron. It was then forged into bars of the proper dimensions, and used by black-smiths for making horse shoes, wheel tires, etc. The whole product of the two forges was consumed by the farmers in this locality. Some years later Mr. Hyde built a grist-mill on the site of the Shingle Kill forge. This was subsequently carried away by a freshet. In 1857 it was rebuilt by John B. Webster, and in the year following destroyed by fire. It was soon after rebuilt by John A. Galateau and is now owned by Ex-Assemblyman Frank S. Decker. It is run by water power with a grinding capacity of 450 bushels of grain per day.
Early in the present century a bell foundry was established near South Cairo on the Susquehanna Turnpike, by Beelzebub Barton, for casting church-bells, sleigh-bells and other goods of the character. These were cast at the foundry and finished up at the forge on the Shingle Kill. One of these bells has for many years hung in the Presbyterian church at Cairo ringing out in solemn peals each Sabbath to call the good people to church, and doubtless this same bell tolled the solemn requiem as the remains of the maker were conveyed to their last resting place.
The facilities afforded by the water power of the Shingle Kill attracted other manufacturers, and, within the recollection of many persons now living, a clock factory was established by Captain Byington and one Stanley, for the manufacture of wooden clocks. A thriving business was done by them for many years, and their goods were shipped to all parts of the country, but the solemn tick, tick, tick, of grandfather’s clock, which cheered the good farmer and his wife during the long winter evenings has ceased its beats; and the click, click, click of the modern brass timepiece, which has taken its place, reminds the traveler that old Father Time, to all appearance, is travelling at a more rapid pace. One of these wooden clocks was put up in the steeple of the Presbyterian church at Cairo, and still continues its diurnal rounds, indicating only the hours to the passer-by, the minute hand having long since disappeared. The good people of the town are doubtless satisfied to take care of the hours and let the minutes take care of themselves.
A nail factory was carried on at the Forge for a time, but the invention of machinery which superseded the old hand process of manufacturing nails from the wire, rendered the business unprofitable.
The manufacture of spinning-wheels was carried on here for a few years by Alpheus Webster and finally passed into the hands of Anson Curtis, but, with the death of the last proprietor, disappeared this ancient “heir-loom.”
A saw-mill built by Enoch Hyde on the Shingle Kill, in 1808, and subsequently owned and run by Lucius Byington, the present proprietor, has continued to do service for three or four generations, and in 1883 Mr. Byington added a circular saw.
A building was erected here by Egbert Paddock in 1864 for the manufacture of grain-cradles, hand-rakes, well-curbs, etc., designed especially for the southern trade. About 10 hands are employed and 6,000 grain-cradles produced annually.
On the site occupied by the old iron forge, Mr. A. Wright started the business of furniture turning, some twenty years ago, which is still carried on successfully by him.
A cooperage or “bucket shop” for the manufacture of well-buckets was established early in 1883 by Eagleston, Porter & Akeley. On September 25th of the same year the business changed hands and is now carried on by Horton & Akeley. The produce annually about 5,000 buckets. The property is owned by Mr. Byington.
Mr. Hyde, the proprietor of the forge started a brick-yard about 1808 or 1810 on the property now owned by John Mower on the Susquehanna Turnpike near Alden’s.
About 1809 a scythe factory was established near the residence of Paul Raeder, a few rods north of the village of Cairo, by Daniel Campbell. At the end of three years he sold out to Plina Barton, who continued the business for about 20 years.
The grist-mill now owned and run by Paul Raeder was built by a Mr. Crooker about 1790. Some 60 years ago, the building was taken down by Samson Crooker and moved to its present location. It is run by water power, with a capacity of 350 bushels of grain a day.
A distillery was built at Woodstock in 1806 by Montgomery Stevens, who continued the business for 15 years. Whether he manufactured the famous “Jersey apple jack” or New England rum is not stated. Another distillery was started in the village, about 1835, by Elisha Bishop. His failure in business, which occurred a few years later, was probably owing to the decrease in the consumption of the article.
Mr. Daniel Sayre, one of the most prominent and enterprising of the early settlers, shod the people for a number of years from his large shoe factory in Cairo village, where he employed a number of hands. This was before the days of sewing machines, when everything was done by hand.
The first tannery established in the town was by one Palen, in the year 1832, on the Shingle Kill, one mile southwest of the Forge. Another was built in 1834 by Colonel Ira T. Day on the same stream, about one-half mile north of Cairo village. From these two tanneries 18,000 sides of sole leather were produced annually, requiring the bark of 18,000 cords of hemlock timber. A branch of the Palen tannery was established at Acra, which did a successful business for many years. This was started by James M. Sanford, who sold his interest to Palen. The immense quantities of wood consumed soon exhausted the hemlock timber and the business was discontinued.
In 1879, a manufactory of wooden fancy goods was started by Chester E. Whitcomb, which he calls “Souvenirs of the Catskills,” embracing fancy vases, napkin-rings, alpenstocks, etc., made from foreign and native woods.
It is claimed by the people of Woodstock that the first grist and saw-mill ever erected in the town was built on the Katskill Creek at that place. The building was destroyed by fire previous to 1816. In that year a woolen-mill for the manufacture of woolen cloth was built by Judge Moses Austin. The property changed ownership several times, Hon. Lyman Tremain being among the number of owners. In 1871 it was started as a paper-mill, and continued for some years with indifferent success. In 1879, the property was bought by Charles J. Case of New York. The buildings were then in a very dilapidated condition, and the dam almost useless. He built a new dam, 200 feet long, 14 feet high and 30 feet wide, of wood and stone, employing the best men, and using the best material that could be found. The buildings were thoroughly overhauled and repaired, new machinery added, the capacity increased, and other extensive improvements made. Upward of 18,000 tons of a fine quality of wrapping paper are produced annually, consuming nearly 3,000 tons of straw, and requiring the labor of some 30 hands.
Hotels and Boarding Houses
The White Sulphur Springs boarding -house was built by the present proprietor, Walker N. Lennon, in 1868. It is situated on a spur of the mountains, one and three quarters miles west of Cairo village, and affords a fine view of mountains and valleys. The house accommodates 80 guests. The White Sulphur Springs are widely noted for their medicinal qualities.
The hotel of Sherwood H. Camp, near Acra, is known as the Blanchard stand. It was built by Isaac Coffin about the year 1810. Since that time it has passed through many hands. This is one of the old hotels on the Catskill and Windham stage route, and its nearest post-office is Acra.
The Winter Clove House was built in 1838 by Elihu Slater and subsequently owned by the sons of Mr. Slater, who were succeeded in 1863 by the present proprietor, H. B. Whitcomb. The house is situated in the south-western part of Cairo, and has a capacity for 60 guests.
The Catskill Creek House was built in 1816 by Elijah Blackman. The hotel is situated on the Catskill Turnpike at South Cairo, and furnishes accommodations for 50 guests.
The hotel of G.B. Holcomb is situated on the Catskill Turnpike, near South Cairo station. The Katskill Creek, in rear of house, affords good boating and fishing. The house accommodates 40 guests.
The boarding-house of Mrs. Maria P. Raeder was built in 1834 by John Crooker. It is pleasantly situated on the Shingle Kill, one-half mile north of the village of Cairo, and accommodates 45 guests, and affords employment for eight persons.
The Indian Ridge House was built in 1875 by the present proprietor, E. Winie. It stands upon the site of the old Weeks House, which was built in 1774. It is situated upon Indian Ridge at South Cairo, at an elevation of 1,200 feet. The house furnishes entertainment for 35 guests.
The Overlook Home is situated on a high plateau, two and one half miles from South Cairo station. It was built in 1843 by Kinner M. Wilber, who was succeeded by the present proprietor, T.N. Wilber. Entertainment is furnished for 25 guests. The post office address of the proprietor is Leeds.
The Brookside Farm house, situated at the base of the mountains in Acra, was erected in 1811 by John C. Burhans. It has a capacity for 36 boarders. The present proprietor is Mrs. Julia A. Burhans.
The boarding house of Abram W. Abeel is situated on a farm of three hundred acres, three and one half miles from the Village of Cairo. It was built about the year 1818 by a Mr. Dedrick. 25 guests are accommodated.
The farm house of Frederick Salisbury, at South Cairo was built in 1855. 20 guests are furnished with excellent board during the summer season.
The boarding house of P. S. Pine, at South Cairo, was built by the present proprietor in 1861. It is pleasantly situated one and one half miles from the station, at an elevation of one thousand feet, affording a magnificent view of the mountains and surrounding country. It has a capacity for accommodating 20 guests.
The Amity House, at Acra, was built by Dr. William Tellfair about the year 1840, and was subsequently owned by Edward Spring, William Nagle, Mrs. Peter Jacobs, and the present occupant, E. Thomas. It furnishes accommodations for 20 guests.
The Mountain Brook House was built in 1837 by James Lennon, and is at present owned by William S. Lennon. It is situated at the base of mountains in Cairo, and accommodates 15 guests.
At the farm-house of Martin W. Fiero, at Acra, 14 guests may find accommodations for the summer season. The house is situated upon the Windham Turnpike, one half mile from post office.
The farm-house of George H. Meddaugh was built in 1882 by Edward Meddaugh. Fifteen guests are accommodated during the summer season. The house is pleasantly situated on high ground, one mile from the base of the mountains in Acra.
[Nathan B. Fiero is the proprietor of a boarding house about one half mile east of South Cairo, on the old Susquehanna Turnpike, near the Katskill Creek. The house was built in 1866 by Peter Earl, and was bought by the present owner in 1870. Accommodations are furnished for about 30 guests. The waters of the creek afford good boating, fishing and bathing.
The Rural Home of Harmon Cole is located on the old Susquehanna Turnpike, one half mile east of South Cairo, and was built in 1843, by Benjamin Tundell. The Katskill Creek flows through the farm, affording fine fishing, boating and bathing. The rooms are commodious and pleasant, accommodating about 30 guests. Post office address of the proprietor is South Cairo, NY.]
This man came from a long line of distinguished ancestors, who were identified with the earliest settlement of Greene county. He was born in Cairo, in 1787, at the old homestead (his father being Wessel Salisbury who inherited some 1400 acres of what was a part of the Salisbury Patent) situated about three miles east of Cairo village, on the mountain road, and now owned by Henry Singerland. Here he spent his childhood. The old log school-house which stood on the farm now owned by John Palmitier, where Mr. Salisbury received his early education, has long since disappeared, together with other old landmarks and interesting associations connected with the Salisbury family. Arriving at the age of manhood, a change in the wheel of fortune left him dependant on his own energies, and, though raised in luxury and indolence he went manfully to work and retrieved much that had been lost. In the course of a few Years, he received his portion from the sale of his father's estate and with this, in connection with Mr. Newkirk, opened a store in Leeds where for many years they did a thriving business in general merchandise, and in buying and selling produce. On the 29th of December 1812, Mr. Salisbury married Christiana Smith, by whom he had 3 children: the oldest Wessel, born 29th March 1814; Frederick, born May 28th 1819; and Rachel Ann, born August 28th 1826. He purchased of his sister, in 1826, the farm of 88 acres, now occupied by his son Frederick, where he spent the remainder of his days and died in 1872. This farm is a part of the Salisbury Patent, and is situated within about three-quarters of a mile of what was formerly the Salisbury homestead. Mr. Frederick Salisbury, the son still clings to the fondness of these early associations, but withal, is a successful farmer, and has accomplished more than his ancestors toward the improvement and development of the land.
Hon. Augustus Hill
Among the representative men of Greene county there is not one who is more justly entitled to the honors awarded him by his fellow-citizens than Hon. Augustus Hill. He has a genealogical record record of which any man might feel proud, but it is not to birth or fortune that he owes his success in life, for he is a self-made man.
On his father's side he inherits many of those traits of character which distinguished the early English settlers of America, but the indomitable will, pluck, and energy that have enabled him to overcome all obstacles, he inherits from his Scotch ancestry on his mother's side. He was born in Waterbury, Connecticut, April 14th 1816. When only eight years of age he came with his parents to Durham, and six years later moved to Cairo. The only advantages he enjoyed in early life were those afforded by a few months attendance each year at the district school, but in order to satisfy his thirst for knowledge he went manfully to work to earn his daily bread. He learned the tailor's trade, and with his earnings he was enabled to meet the necessary expenses to fit him for the profession he had chosen. He commenced to study law with Mr. P.C. Mattoon, of Cairo, in 1848, working at his trade at the same time. He received his diploma and was admitted to the bar in 1855, and commenced practice in Cairo at once. His reputation as a lawyer was established by his connection with the celebrated case of "Rickerson vs. Raeder," in which he was council for the plaintiff. The case was tried first in one court and then in another, and finally, after about eight years, the Court of Appeals decided in favor of the plaintiff. The practice of Mr. Hill largely increased during this period; and at the same time he took an active interest in politics. In 1850 he was elected justice of the peace on the democratic ticket, which office he held for 28 years.
During the war of the Rebellion he made himself conspicuous as a war democrat, and incurred considerable odium among members of his party because of this course; but adopting the motto of the illustrious Clay, "I would rather be right than be president," he continued his patriotic efforts. He addressed the first war meeting held in Cairo, and throughout the entire struggle he was active in behalf of the Union cause. In the fall of 1871 he was selected by the members of his party as their standard bearer, and was elected to the Assembly by a majority of 355. In the following year he was re-elected by a majority of 780. As a public debater he was honest, frank and logical, and was regarded as a gentleman of no mean ability by his compeers. He was always found on the side of honest legislation, and a bitter opponent of the numerous bills that were introduced to rob the people.
He introduced a bill asking for an appropriation of $10,000 for the improvement of the Katerskill Creek. His eloquent and earnest presentation of the matter secured its passage in the Assembly, but it was defeated in the Senate, on the plea that it would establish a precedent that other cities and towns would take advantage of. The trustees of the village of Catskill held a meeting not long after this and adopted resolutions expressing in the strongest terms their appreciation of his efforts to secure this much needed improvement.
He was a member of the committee on railroads, roads and bridges and a sub-committee of the whole. As an evidence of his popularity it may be stated that he has never yet been defeated for any public office. He was twice elected a member of the board of supervisors, the second year he was chairman.
October 5th 1843 he married Miss Maria T. Prout of Cairo, who for years has been an invalid. By her he had two children, both of whom died in infancy. Mr. Hill's father, Harvey Hill, was of English descent, and his mother, whose maiden name was Sally McDonald was of Scotch. To them were born four children, viz: Lucius D., born February 5th 1810, a lawyer by profession, now much enfeebled in health; Susan J., born February 3rd 1812, died February 14th 1837; Richard, born January 12th 1814, died March 15th 1882; and Augustus. Their grandfather Obadiah Hill, was with Colonel Lamb's regiment of Artillery during the war of the Revolution, and was present at the execution of Major Andre, the British spy, at Tappan, on the 2nd of October 1780. His father was a volunteer in the war of 1812, under the command of Captain Luther Hotchkiss of Waterbury, Connecticut, and was stationed at New London, where an attack from the British squadron under Commodore Hardy was daily anticipated. He served throughout the war and died in 1841, aged 54. Mr. Hill's mother spent a long and useful life in this community and her death at the age of 90, which occurred on the 4th of December 1873, was lamented by all who knew her. Mr. Hill has been for years an active member of Kedemah Lodge, F. & A. M., of Cairo, filling all the positions from J.W. to W. M. He shows none of the effects of advancing years save his venerable gray hair, and judging from his appearance, his mental and physical powers will enable him to serve his party, to which he is faithfully devoted, for many years to come.
The Narrative of Frederick Schermerhorn
In the little village churchyard at Round Top repose the remains of Frederick Schermerhorn, whose capture by a party of Mohawk Indians, in the summer of 1780, and whose subsequent trials and sufferings during his life among them, form one of the most thrilling narratives of the Revolution, ever written. Josiah Priest, author of "American Antiquities," and who was at one time a resident of Cairo, has given a vivid description of the affair, which was written by him in 1839, while Mr. Schermerhorn was still living.
About twenty rods east of the Round Top cemetery, and about twenty-five rods south and directly in front of Charles Johnson's residence, near the foot of a twin apple tree, is said to be the spot where the massacre of the Strope (or Stroop) family occurred, and where Frederick Schermerhorn was captured. The ancestors of Frederick came from Holland and settled in the county, it is supposed, in the town of Athens, some years prior to the Revolution; as they were living in that town at the time these events occurred.
During the war of the Revolution, the Dutch settlers in their intercourse with the Indians, frequently incurred their displeasure, and on the slightest provocation, the savages would swoop down suddenly upon the defenseless inhabitants, burning their houses, murdering the people and carrying away captive their children.
Among these hardy pioneers, who, from long intercourse with the Indians, had become alike indifferent to their enmity or friendship was an honest old Dutchman named Strope, who lived on what was then known as the Shingle Kill (the same locality now known as Round Top) with his wife, who was his equal in courage and hardihood, and two grown children, both of whom were married. The Stropes were too busily engaged in cultivation of their farm to care whether they owed allegiance to Great Britain or America.
Jacob, a brother of Frederick Schermerhorn, had married a daughter of the Stropes, and lived with them. When Frederick Schermerhorn, the subject of the present sketch, was but seventeen years of age, his father sent him one day in midsummer to obtain the aid of Jacob in driving some sheep from the Shingle Kill. It was in the afternoon, and the sun was about two hours high, which would give time to reach Strope's house, about eight miles distant before dark. His large dog, which was his daily companion, refused to follow him on this occasion, and howled piteously, as if to warn his young master of impending danger. It troubled the lad and caused him great anxiety, but probably through fear of being ridiculed by his father or brother, he kept his thoughts to himself. He was awakened the next morning by the screams of his sister-in-law, apparently some distance from the house, she and her parents having arisen quite early. Her screams were caused by the loud barking of Strop's dog, which ran toward the woods. Turning suddenly in that direction, she beheld a party of savages, in their war paint, approaching the house. They had previously been seen by Strope as he was going to his field to work in the early morn, but as they were then leaving their place of ambush near the house, where they had probably spent the night, he apprehended no danger. It was supposed that at first the Indians only intended to kill a son of Strope, named Bastiaan, who had some time before offended them; but finding him absent, they determined to gratify their revenge by murdering the whole family. Bastiaan, with his wife and family, had been taken captive by the Indians near the Otego Creek, when he basely fled, leaving his family behind him, and, as supposed, stealing from the Indians a choice rifle, a tomahawk, ammunition, and other articles of value.
Frederick Schermerhorn was called suddenly from his bed by his sister-in-law, who cried to him that the Indians were coming. When the savages entered the house they appeared quite friendly and shook hands with the family. Discovering Strope's gun which hung on the wall, they took it down and drew the charge. Strope, who was still in the field working, did not at first apprehend any danger, as, being a tory, he was supposed to be friendly to the Indians as well as the British. He suddenly remembered, however, seeing one Wampehasse among them, who he once knocked down and kicked out of doors for drunkenness and impudence. Strope started for the house, but before he reached there the Indians had seized several articles of clothing, which Mrs. Strope, who was a strong, fearless woman, attempted to prevent them from taking. One of the Indians, with his hatchet, broke open the lid of a chest which contained the family linen. Taking up a piece of linen, he said: "Make Indian good shirt." Mrs. Strope attempted to take it from him, when young Schermerhorn interfered saying: "Vor Got's sake, let dem haff vat dey vills. or you may loose your life." She continued to resist, however, and the Indian, with one blow of his tomahawk, killed her. Just at this moment her husband entered, exclaiming "Got Almighty!" The words were hardly out of his mouth before he fell beside her, a corpse.
After setting fire to the house the Indians seized young Schermerhorn saying, "You go me." On the first approach of the Indians his sister-in-law seized and dressed her two children, one an infant, the other two years old, and calling after her two older children, who were playing near the house, she fled and his herself in a field of rye not far distant. Here she remained for some time until the Indians were out of sight, and from her hiding place witnessed the flames from the burning building.
She finally started for the house of one Timmerman, who lived near the mouth of the Kiskatom Creek, and arrived there the same day.
Her husband had gone the day previous to Wynkoop's mill, on the Katerskill, and knew nothing of the terrible catastrophe until, on his return the day following, he saw the smoking ruins of the house, and the charred remains of two human beings. He soon after found his wife, from whom he heard the horrible details of the affair.
The father of young Schermerhorn becoming anxious about his son, started the next day on horseback to find him. Meeting Jacob on the way he learned from him the details of the sad affair. He heard nothing, however, of the fate of his son until about a year afterward, when word was sent to him through a tory.
The Indians took the boy over the mountains by a circuitous route to prevent his recapture, and as a further precaution they removed his shoes, which were replaced by an old pair of moccasins. Had they allowed him to retain his shoes which he wore it would have been an easy matter for his pursuers to follow the trail. At night the boy was bound by a cord between two Indians to prevent his escape. These precautions were continued for the first three days, when he was given his liberty, but was closely watched. Having deprived him of his hat he suffered severely from the scorching rays of the sun. His complaints were met by their brandishing over his head a tomahawk, telling him it was good for a headache. To further frighten the boy they stretched the scalps of Mr. & Mrs. Strope between two twigs to dry, and then held him up by his hair, brandishing their knives as though they intended to add his scalp to their other prizes. They took his coat from him and replaced it with a shirt of two cloth which they had taken from a man they had previously murdered. The shirt was bloody and had the initials of the owner marked on it. After two days travel down the river in their canoe, which they hid in the bushes, they started through the woods for Tioga Point on the way to Fort Niagara. Bareheaded and footsore, after several days journeying through the wilderness they came to Tonawanda Creek, where there was an Indian Settlement. Here they halted, and with a yell they exhibited the scalps which they had taken, and for which they were to receive a reward of $8 for each scalp, concealing the fact that they were taken from friends instead of enemies of England. Here the boy was frequently knocked down and roughly treated by his captors. After his arrival at Fort Niagara he was given a choice of enlisting as a soldier in the British army or remaining with the Indians. Anything was preferable to the tortures he had already undergone. He finally enlisted, buoyed up by the hope that he might yet find an opportunity to escape. His captors received 40 Spanish dollars for their prize, this being the reward offered by the British government for every young man from the colonies who enlisted as a soldier under the king. Being provided with the British uniform he joined a company called Foresters, under Guy Johnson, and served with them four years. During the first year he went on an expedition commanded by Lieutenant Doxtater. a Dutchman from the Mohawk, a relation of Butler, the companion of the notorious Brandt. There were in the company about 50 white men and 100 Indians, whose sufferings from hunger compelled them to kill and eat their pack horses. When they reached a place called Currytown, in what is now Montgomery county, they captured six men, a negro boy, and a small white girl. While here Doxtater ordered Schermerhorn to set fire to a barn, which he refused, saying, "I cannot find it in my heart to destroy the property of my people." Here he attempted to make his escape but failed. Among the 50 white men who enlisted with Doxtater, (a tory from the region of the Mohawk) were several tories from the same part of the country, who blacked and painted their faces like the Indians, that they might not be known by their former neighbors. They advised Schermerhorn to do the same but he refused, saying, "If I am to die in battle, let me die like a white man." He was subsequently sent as one of the body guard of Captain Dase to Michigan and thence to Canada, where he remained with the British army until some months after the close of the war.
When he first enlisted, his three captors told him they were going back to bring his father and neighbors. They soon after returned to the locality of the Shingle Kill, where they succeeded in capturing a negro man and a white boy. With these new recruits they again started for Canada. The negro was bound with heavy cords in the day time and when they lay down at night he was firmly tied to one of his captors. The boy, who was too small to attempt an escape alone, was given his liberty. On the third night of their journey when his captors were fast asleep the boy rose quietly and cut the cords that bound the negro to his Indian captor. The negro then took the tomahawk of one of the Indians and killed two of the number, but the third escaped, and from the lips of this one, young Schermerhorn subsequently learned of the retributive justice that had overtaken two of his savage foes. Schermerhorn's informant was quite friendly and offered to guide him on his journey home but, as he expressed it, "Me no trust Indian again." He finally found his way back to Athens where he formerly resided, but learned from the neighbors that his parents had removed to Hudson, Columbia county. He was dressed in the uniform of a British soldier, and, with the changes, resulting from exposure, hardship and advancing years, none of his neighbors recognized him. The young men ridiculed and made fun of him, but he would not make himself known. He went to Hudson and found his father and brothers at work in a brick-yard. They, too, with the other young men made fun of him. It might have resulted seriously but for the appearance of his father. Young Schermerhorn recognized him at once, and grasping him by the hand, exclaimed, "Isn't this my father?" The old man caught him in his arms and embraced him again and again, exclaiming, "Frederick, my son! my son! my long lost boy! “ His two brothers, without waiting to speak to him, ran to the house and informed their mother, who fainted away and remained for some time insensible. He remained for some months with his parents, and soon after his marriage he removed to Stockport, two miles north of Hudson, where John, his only son, was born. He removed from there to the place occupied by Frederick Barringer, in the town of Catskill, and from thence to Kiskatom, and finally to Round Top, in the town of Cairo, where he bought a farm of 100 acres (a part of the Greene and Biddle Patent). He built first a log house and afterward a frame house, about one mile from the Round Top church, and within a short distance of the place where he was captured by the Indians. Here he remained for upwards of 50 years, and during the long winter evenings he entertained his friends and relatives with the narrative of his adventures, and when time had marked its furrows on his cheeks, and his form was bent with age, he would sit by the fire and often remark, "Me bring forty dollar once, me not bring dat now." His children were Betsey and Gertrude, twin sisters, John, Laney, and Sally. He lived to see his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren grow up around him. He died on the 13th of February 1847, at the house of his son-in-law, Miller Jones, one mile west of the Round Top Methodist church, aged 84. His grave is marked by a plain uncut slab without any inscription. By his side rest the remains of his wife, indicated by a plain marble slab with the inscription: "Sarah, wife of Frederick Schermerhorn, died October 16th 1846, aged 76 years." His youngest child Sally, is still living and spends her time with her children and grandchildren.
John, the only son of Frederick Schermerhorn, married Sally Barringer in 1815, by whom he had nine children, viz: Frederick, born November 16th 1816; Gertrude Ann, born June 1817; John Henry, born 1818; William, born 1820; Simon, born 1822; Delia, born 1824; Jacob, born 1826; Peter, born 1828; Jeremiah, born 1830.
He was a volunteer in the war of 1812, and was stationed for sometime at Sackett's Harbor.
From Frederick, the oldest son of John Schermerhorn, now living in the village of Cairo, the principal facts in the forgoing narrative, were obtained.
Frederick Schermerhorn, the second child of John Schermerhorn, and grandchild of the elder Frederick, was born on the homestead of his father and grandfather at Round Top. He attended the district school about six months of the year until he was about 18. This was considered a liberal education. He remained with his father and assisted on the farm until he became of age. Soon after this he went to Herkimer county and hired himself to a farmer for $14 a month. Sometime after this he worked at different places as a carpenter. He next took up painting, and continued at this occupation for twelve years, and with fair success, when, his health failing, he tried for three years the livery business. Having acquired a snug little capital he went into the business of buying and selling cattle. This seemed to be his true forte, for he threw all his energies into the business and was successful in all his ventures. He was a good judge of stock and watched closely the changes in the market. He made money rapidly, and soon acquired sufficient to purchase 25 acres and the homestead where he now resides.
On the 14th of November 1844, he married Lydia Ann Fuller of the town of Jewett in this county, by whom he had three children, one daughter and two sons. One of these, Oliver, is engaged in the business of dry goods And general merchandise, and is one of the most enterprising and successful merchants in the town of Cairo. He was married on the 23rd of December 1871 to Adeline Webber, daughter of William Webber of Coxsackie, a representative of one of the oldest families in the county.
Among the earliest settlers in the location known as Round Top was Elias Dutcher, the father of Seth Dutcher. He was born in Dover Hollow, Dutchess county, New York, October 11th 1755, was among the first to volunteer in the War of the Revolution, and was with General Israel Putnam in several engagements. He was married on the 26th of April 1776 to Mary Rose, by whom he had five children: the eldest, Catharine, born February 4th 1777; Sarah, born August 24th 1779; John, born August 16th 1781; Elizabeth, born May 18th 1783; Mary, born Mar 25th 1786. His first wife Mary Rose, died April 5th 1786. He married his second wife, Elizabeth Felae, Oct 14th 1787. He removed to Cairo about 1790, and purchased the property now known as the Dutcher farm (at present owned and occupied by John Boice and William Johnson), situated under the mountain, near what was called Steuffel's Point, not far from Round Top Hill, and comprising 191 1/2 acres of the Greene and Biddle Patent.
On the 15th of March 1796, Seth Dutcher, the subject of this sketch, was born in a little log cabin which constituted the homestead, near the site of the present school-house at Round Top, at this place. His early education was in the log school-house, and was limited to three months of the year, which in those days was considered a liberal education. Here he grew to manhood, and by his industry, perseverance, and economy, was ere long able to purchase a place for himself. On the 21st of November 1818, he married Mary Salisbury, who was descended from a long line of illustrious English ancestry. She was born in the town of Hunter, Greene county, April 22nd 1798. By her he had nine children: the eldest, Elias L., born April 22nd 1820; Edmund P., born November 21st 1822; Simeon L., born April 27th 1825; George H., born August 3rd 1828; Elizabeth, born May 23rd 1831; Ambrose P., born April 6th 1833; John M., born December 12th 1835; Cyrus A., born April 21st 1838; William L., born January 27th 1841. All but two are now living---Simeon L. died October 6th 1877, and Cyrus A. died June 10th 1840.
He was an active member and a liberal supporter of the Round Top Methodist church. He was beloved and respected by the community in which he lived for so many years, and left an unblemished record. In 1855 he moved to Ellenville, Ulster county, where he remained until his death which occurred on the 14th of January 1860. His widow is still living at Ellenville, Ulster county, N.Y.
Elias L., the oldest son, remained on the homestead property until 1857, when he purchased the farm where he now lives. He is a large owner of the land which formed a part of the Greene and Biddle Patent, a portion of which was acquired through Colonel Nathaniel Pendleton an aid-de-camp of General Greene, from whom the county was named. Mr. Dutcher is an active member of Kademah Lodge, F. & A.M., of Cairo, of Mountain Chapter of Windham, and Lafayette Commandery of Hudson, N.Y.
The Hotel Kaaterskill on South Mountain, said to be the largest mountain hotel in the world, was built under the supervision of Mr. Dutcher, who supplied a large amount of material for it.
Hon. Luke Roe
"Nothing succeeds like success." There are few men to whom this saying applies with greater force than to the subject of the present sketch. Born of humble parentage, and with only the advantages of a common school education, he has risen step by step until he has filled nearly every position of trust in the town where he now resides.
He was born in the town of Athens, November 30th 1824, where he attended the district school about three months in the year, working the remainder of the time on the farm until he was 16 years of age. At this time he commenced his business career as clerk for A. & J. Baker, Coxsackie, where he remained two years. At the age of 24, by strict attention to business, and economical habits, he had laid up enough to purchase a farm near the Forge in the town of Cairo, where he now resides and carries on an extensive lumber business in connection with Elias L. Dutcher.
He was overseer of the poor for nine years; was supervisor of the town in 1858, 1859, 1860, 1866 and 1867; was loan commissioner from 1868 to 1872; and was a member of the Legislature in 1862, during one of the most exciting periods of the war. The Legislature was equally divided at this time and the contest for the speakership lasted for several weeks. Mr. Roe remained true to his party, and voted accordingly. He was married to Emeline Stewart, of Cairo, by whom he has had two children, both married and still living.
Levi King, M.D.
The subject of this sketch was born at Rensselaerville, Albany county, May 31st 1799. He was the son of a Massachusetts farmer, whose limited income would not enable him to give his children a classical education, therefore the only advantages possessed by the younger King were those afforded by the common school. He soon mastered the rudimental branches and by teaching school in the daytime and a class in singing at night, he was able to make such advancement in his studies as would enable him to commence the study of medicine. While teaching school at Oak Hill in the town of Durham, Greene county, he commenced the study of medicine with Dr. Hamlin and subsequently continued his studies with Dr. White of Cherry Valley, Otsego county. He next attended the Medical College of Herkimer county, New York, from which he received his diploma.
While teaching school at Oak Hill, there was one of his pupils, Miss Lovisa Peck, daughter of Daniel Peck, to whom he whispered words not contained in the "lessons for the day," the result of which was a union for life which commenced on the 30th of October 1876(obviously a typo-should be 1826). He commenced practice as a physician in Cairo in May 1826, and soon after bought out the practice of Dr. Shepard. There were at this time two other practicing physicians in the village of Cairo; Drs. Huntington and Doane. The retirement of one, and the death of the other, left Dr. King for many years the only physician in the village. He was very successful in his practice and enjoyed the confidence of the whole community. Several physicians located in different parts of the country, many of whom are now dead, were taught by him. He was active in all works of benevolence and reform, and was one of the pioneers in the temperance cause in this locality. He was a constituent member of the first temperance society ever organized in Cairo, a society which accomplished great good in its time. He was prominent in politics, at first a whig, and, being a strong anti-slavery man he was among the first to identify himself with the republican party.
His father served with distinction in the war of the Revolution. His father and mother were both members of the Presbyterian church and held strong Calvinistic views.
Dr. King had nine children: the oldest, Caroline Amelia, was born April 11 1828; Margaret Emeline, born June 15th 1829, Frances Rosalie, born August 22nd 1831; Charles Volney, born June 17th 1833; Lyman Edwin, born September 27th 1836; Lyman Edwin 2nd, born April 5th 1838; Salem Edwin, born January 26th 1841; Rufus, born June 1st 1842; Levi Laroy, born February 19th 1845. In 1876 he celebrated his golden wedding, which was also the 50th anniversary of his professional career in this village. The affair, which was a very happy one, was a surprise to him, gotten up by his two daughters (the only children of his living at this time), Mrs Caroline Amelia, widow of Gilbert Palen, and Margaret Emeline, wife of Rev. A. O. Peloubet.
He died July 10th 1878, having spent 52 years as a practicing physician in this village. His widow is still living at the old homestead where they spent 52 years of their married life. Mrs. Caroline Amelia Palen, her widowed daughter, resides with her.
John Pine Jr.
John Pine Jr. was one of the few persons who settled in this part of the country when it was a wilderness, and the only means of communication between neighbors was on horseback guided by the marks on trees. Mr. Pine was born in Rye, Westchester County, New York, December 20, 1773. Inured to hardship and sufferings by his early surroundings, he was eminently fitted for the life which circumstances compelled him to choose. His father was located, during the Revolution, between the two armies, and was constantly subjected to the raids of the skinners and cow boys, and finally at the close of the war he had become so impoverished that he was compelled to part with his farm, and commence anew the battle of life. This was the beginning of John Pine Jr.’s career. In 1788 he moved with his father to Greenville, this county, and in 1795 his father purchased the farm of 150 acres (being a part of the Salisbury Patent) situated about 4 miles east of the village of Cairo at what is know known as Sandy Plains. Here, amid the wild beasts of the forests, John Pine Jr. spent his childhood and grew to years of maturity, the only educational advantages enjoyed by him being three months schooling for the entire period. With these limited advantages he could read and write and was an excellent mathematician and could calculate with great rapidity the number of bricks required in a building. He had a very retentive memory, was a close observer, and these faculties made up for lack of early opportunities. His father, John Pine sen., married Catherine Chadeayne, November 14th 1769, by whom he had seven children: Phoebe, born October 30th, 1770; Mary, born December 13th, 1771; John, born December 20th, 1773; Elizabeth, born July 6, 1777; Daniel, born December 2nd, 1779; Catharine, born October 24th, 1783; and Sarah, born June 2nd, 1785. He continued to live on the homestead in the town of Cairo until his death, which occurred September 16th 1832.
John Pine Jr. remained with his father until he married, when he purchased the farm near what is now Lake’s Mill, on the Jan-de-Bakker Creek. After remaining there nine years, he sold the farm to his brother Daniel, and returned to the old homestead, which he purchased in 1813, where he spent the remainder of his days. He was the pioneer in all public enterprises, and one of the first places in which the Methodist Society held their meeting was at the residence of John Pine Jr., which is still standing, and when the society built its first house of worship, he was one of the largest subscribers to the fund, and continued to be one of the most ardent supporters of the church during his life, and a few years after the building was erected, the church still being burdened with a portion of the debt, he assumed the entire indebtedness, giving his individual note in payment.
In 1802 he married Esther Sutherland of Greenville, by whom he had seven children: Elizabeth, Angeline, Walter, Hiland, Lydia Ann, Platt S., and Harriet E., two of whom are now living, Angeline and Platt S.
He remained on the farm until his death, which occurred April 20, 1861. His wife died July 31st, 1844.
Platt S., the son of John Pine Jr., purchased the homestead property of his father in 1853. He has made great improvements on it, and is one of the most prosperous and successful farmers in the locality. On the 9th of June 1847, he married Mary C. Nelson of Saratoga Springs, by whom he has had five children; John N, Elizabeth A, Sarah, Charles and Freddie; three of whom are now living, John N., Elizabeth and Sarah. John N. married Louisa, daughter of Hiram and Caroline Wetmore, of Durham, Greene County, New York. Elizabeth and Sarah reside at home, with their parents, on the old homestead.
Mary C. Nelson, wife of Platt S. Pine, was the sixth child of Gilbert and Sarah Nelson of Dutchess County, New York. Her parents had six children; Susan, Hannah, James, Benjamin, Elizabeth and Mary C., all of whom are now living except Elizabeth. Her father served in the war of 1812. At this period he was residing one-half mile east of Gayhead, Greene County, New York. He was born June 17th 1783, in Dutchess County, New York, married Sarah Delamater of Dutchess County, New York, about 1808. Gilbert Nelson died in April 1871. His wife Sarah died in the fall of 1827.
Hon. Frank Stoughton Decker
The ancestor of this family was Abraham Decker, who came from Germany and settled in New Jersey. He is said to have had eleven children, three of whom lived to the age of 100 years. His wife was Hannah Marston. All of these children settled in this state. One of them, Reuben, married Mary Snyder, and died in Ulster county at the age of 85. Their children were: 1. John S., who married Mary Marvin, and has two children, James L. and Charlotte S.; 2. Phebe Ann, who married Noah Elmendorf, of Ulster county; 3. Stephen; 4. Uriah, who married Cornelia Barton, family in Ulster county; 5. William, who married Mary Elmendorf, and resides in Ulster county; 6. Lewis, now living in Ulster county; 7. Henry, who married Rebecca Hasbrook, living in Clintondale, Ulster county; 8. David, who died unmarried in 1878.
Stephen married Sarah Ann Fowler; the offspring of this marriage were seven children: Frank Stoughton; Marcus Lewis; Reuben Henry; Anna Maria, wife of Benjamin B. Harper, and residing in Jersey City; Abram VanWyck, who married Rose Chichester, and now lives in Cairo; Arthur Heaton, now student in Columbia College; and Amelia, who is unmarried, and lives at Plattekill.
Marcus Lewis, the second son, is unmarried.
The third son, Reuben Henry, married Susan Eckert, and lives with his brother at Highlands.
Frank Stoughton Decker, the subject of this sketch, was born in the village of Modena, Ulster county, New York, January 7th 1845. He received his education in the schools of his native town, and lived with his father on the farm till he arrived at the age of 18, when he went to New York and entered the commission house of C. Parson & Sons, Barclay street. He remained there about two years when he returned home for one year, but soon went back to the city and entered the employ of the Belt Railroad Company, first as conductor, and afterward as general inspector, and remained four years. He was for the four succeeding years receiver for the company in the general office. His health failing, he went to his native county and purchased a fruit farm, upon which he remained four years. During his life in New York he married Sarah Frances, daughter of Thomas Bailey, January 23rd 1871. He was also extensively engaged in the restaurant business, at which he was very successful. In 1875, he came to Cairo and bought the mill property of John Galatian, on the Shingle Kill, at the Forge, where he still resides. Since his residence in this county he has been in many positions of public trust, among which may be mentioned marshal of the Greene County Agricultural Society, and director of the Cairo Mutual Fire Insurance Company. He was elected supervisor in 1879. In the fall of 1882, he received the nomination of the democratic party for member of Assembly, and was elected by a majority of 227. While in the Legislature he was on the committees of civil divisions, villages, and sub-committee of the whole.
Mr. Decker is a fair representative of the young men of progressive views, who make their power felt wherever they may be. In the words of one who knows him well, "He is not the man to sit on a back seat."
The ancestor of the Bailey family is said to have been Gilbert Bailey, of England, who, when a young man, went to France, and from thence came to America, where he settled in Putnam county, NY. He had a son, Devoue Bailey, born March 18th 1751. His wife was Elizabeth Smith, of Long Island, who was born March 4th 1760. They were married January 22nd 1783. Their children were; Stephen, born July 12th 1784, died 1812; Benjamin, born May 24th 1785, died 1823; William, born November 27th 1786; Levi, born June 10th 1788; Horace, born June 8th 1790; Daniel, born January 12th 1792; Ira, born January 26th 1794; Hester, born October 18th 1795, died 1846; Isaac, born May 26th 1797, died 1825; and Thomas, born January 6th 1799.
Devoue Bailey died October 6th 1823; his wife Elizabeth died October 12th 1830. Thomas, son of Devoue Bailey, married Hester, daughter of Dr. Stephen M. Selleck, June 3rd 1838. Their children were:
Mary Alice, married Jesse Bishop, June 27th 1863; Elizabeth, married Abram J. Quimby, November 28th 1866; Daniel W., married Caroline A. Washburn, December 19th 1866; Sarah Frances, married Frank S. Decker, January 23rd 1871; George S.; Maria L.; Lucy S.; and Charles.
Mr. Frank S. Decker has three children; Mineola, born October 20th 1871; Percy Will, born July 14th 1873; Louis Bailey, born June 5th 1875.
Mrs. Decker's grandfather, Dr. Stephen M. Selleck, was a son of John Gould Selleck, who came from England and married Elizabeth Miller. They settled near Peekskill. Their son Dr. Stephen, married Charlotte De La Strange, daughter of Colonel Gilbert De La Strange, who came from Paris. His wife was Hester Haviland and they settled at Yorktown, N.Y.
Francis G. Walters
Statistics show that 99 out of every 100 men fail in business at some period of their lives, and where an exception occurs, it usually follows that there were elements of success combined in the one, not found in the 99 others. Mr. Walters commenced his career in life with the same advantages enjoyed by hundreds of other young men in Greene county, and yet where thousands have failed, he has been uniformly successful. He was born in the town of Cairo on the 16th of December 1832, the youngest, but one of a family of 10 children. His father was born in Dutchess county, New York, in 1789, and came of the old hardy, pioneer stock. He moved to Cairo about 1816, and became a heavy stock dealer. On the 25th of December he married Margaret Howard, daughter of Jonathan Howard of Cairo. By her he had ten children, viz: Julia Ann, born July 18th 1811; Sarah, born July 8th 1813; Araminta, born January 29th 1816; Phoebe, born April 20th 1818; Tamnery, born August 26th 1820; Maria, born March 20th 1823; Ambrose L., born January 14th 1826; Zera J., born July 20th 1828; Francis G., born December 16th 1831; Lydia K., born April 1st 1835.
The father accumulated some property and lost it, and at the time of his death which occurred in 1845, the homestead property was heavily encumbered. Young Walters was then but 13 years old, but at that early age he felt the weight of responsibility resting on his shoulders. Instead of separating, the family decided to live together. At the age of 24, young Walters sold his interest in the farm (the debt in the mean time, mainly through his exertions, having been removed) to his brothers, and realized as his share $725 and a cow. With this amount he purchased a farm for $2,350, for which he was to pay the cash in 15 days or forfeit $500. He raised the money and paid for the farm. He made other ventures from time to time, in every one of which he was successful. In 1869 he bought the hotel in Cairo which now bears his name, and took his brother in as a partner. Under their management it has become one of the most popular places of resort for politicians and public men in the county. Each year Mr. Walters has grown in popularity, the secret of which is, that he has endeavored to live up to and practice the golden rule. In the fall of 1882, without his knowledge or consent, his friends nominated him on the republican ticket for sheriff. As the county was strongly democratic there was little hope of his election, but he assumed the leadership of his party and forced a victory; and while the democratic governor received a majority of 1,678 in the county, Mr. Walters, as the republican nominee for sheriff, received 234 majority. He is a man of great force of character, and is able to command as well as to win the respect and esteem of all who are brought in contact with him. His purse strings are always open, and his numerous deeds of charity and benevolence are known only to the recipients. In 1857 he married Mary Ann Schofield, daughter of James Schofield, of Cairo. By her he had but one child, which died in infancy. His wife died in 1859, only two years after they were married, and he has since remained single.
Abraham Coffin was born in Albany county near Bethlehem, February 15th 1803. When he was quite young, his father, Isaac Coffin, moved to Acra and bought a farm adjoining what is now known as the Timothy Webster farm, and there kept a hotel which was quite a resort for the enlisted soldiers at the beginning of the war of 1812. Abraham lived with his father, assisting him in the hotel and on the farm. He acquired a fair education at the public schools, which he made good use of in after life. On the 11th of December 1823, he married Mabel, daughter of Timothy Webster of Acra. She was born October 30th 1800. Seven children were the issue of this marriage; William, born October 4th 1824; Isaac, born January 25th 1826; Reuben, born December 20th 1827; Angeline, born December 22nd 1829; Caroline, born July 5th 1831; Adeline, born April 15th 1833; and Edwin, born February 7th 1838. Not long after his marriage, he moved to Roxbury, New York, and continued farming. He subsequently moved to Windham, and bought a farm of 216 acres, put up a mill, and started the lumber business. He was very successful at this, and continued there for nearly 20 years, when he sold the farm and lumber business, removed to Acra, and purchased his father-in-law's farm consisting of 125 acres which formed a part of the Barker Patent. Here he was equally successful and soon had one of the best farms in the county. In politics he was a staunch whig, and subsequently a republican. He was very popular in the community and might have held office had he been disposed, but preferred to give his whole attention to his farming interests. He was honest and upright in all his dealings. His wife died in 1852, and he afterward married Mary Foote. She died in 1866 without issue. In 1868 he married Maria, daughter of Ebenezer and Mary Finch, and she was his devoted companion during the remainder of his life. She was born March 12th 1817. After the death of Mr. Coffin, which occurred December 29th 1868, she married Theodore VanTassell, June 8th 1883. Mr. VanTassell's former wife was Vilitta Rockwell, daughter of Martin and Abigail Rockwell, and of this union were born eight children: Annie, Martin, Eliza I, Burns, Alida, Newman, Rhodelle, and Emma; six of these are now living. Mrs, Vilitta VanTassell died in Cairo, September 7th 1881.
The children of Ebenezer and Mary Finch were: Eliza, Maria, Ruth Ann, Abigail, Marrietta, John C., Sarah A., and Angeline. Of these, Maria and Ruth Ann alone survive.
William T., eldest son of Abraham Coffin, was born in Cairo, October 4th 1824. When four years old, he moved with his parents to Roxbury, Delaware county, and remained four years, when he removed to Big Hollow, in the town of Windham, where he lived for twenty years. He then removed to Middle Valley, in the town of Cherry Ridge, Wayne county, Pennsylvania, and remained for nearly 24 years in the employ of S. A. Robertson & Co., tanners. In the spring of 1876 he went to Warren, Pennsylvania, where he is now residing, and extensively engaged in the tannery business. On September 30 1862, he was married to Jane M. Knapp, at the house of Walter Knapp, in Cairo, Greene county. She died at the residence of her sister, Mrs. Thomas Churnges, in Orange, New Jersey, July 12th 1871. Mr. Coffin married Julia Hitchcock, at the home of her sister, Mrs. F. P. Sargent, Brooklyn, N.Y., November 28th 1882. She died April 5th 1883, and Mr. Coffin's family now consists of his two daughters, Mabel Anna and Florence Warring.
The second son of Abraham, Isaac A., married Mary E. Runyan, of Windham, February 5th 1852. She was the daughter of Stephen Runyan, of Cairo, and Margaret Allen, of the town of Broome, Schoharie county. Margaret Allen, the mother of Mary E. Coffin, was the daughter of Jacob Allen and Phoebe McKinsey, who had 18 children, 12 of whom have married and raised children, and each year there was a large gathering of them at the old homestead.
Isaac A. and Mary E. Coffin had one child, Melford, born October 14th 1856. He was a steady, faithful boy, and remained with his father on the farm. On the 16th of May 1883, he married Dora, daughter of Ezekiel Thomas and Sarah Thompson.
The parents of Mary E. Coffin were Stephen Runyan, of the town of Cairo, Greene county, New York, and Margaret Allen, of Broome, Schoharie county, New York; to them were born two children, George Addison and Mary E. Stephen Runyan died July 24th 1830, and George Addison, his son, died March 28th 1883.
The grandparents of Mary E. Coffin were Evin Runyan and Deborah Worth. They had 9 children, only one of whom, Deborah, aged 84 years, who was the wife of Elisha Shore, is now living. She resides at Cairo.
Reuben, the third son of Abraham Coffin, married Catharine Olmstead, and has two children, Amanda and William. Angelina, the daughter of Abraham Coffin, married John Spelman. They have 9 children: Evalyne S., Charles W., John L., Amasa B., Arabell A., William C., Katie D., Jennie M., And George H.
Caroline, daughter of Abraham Coffin, married Nelson Lennon. They have two children, Mary and Jennie.
Adeline, daughter of Abraham Coffin, married Dorr Olmstead. They have nine children, viz: Henry, Alverette, Isabell, Edgar, William, Frederick, Lincoln, James, And Minnie.
Edwin, the youngest child of Abraham Coffin, died in 1852.
One of the most remarkable men that ever settled in Greene county was Samuel Earl. He was of that tough, hardy material of which pioneers are made. He was born in Dutchess county, New York, and came to Cairo about 1793. He bought 170 acres of land lying in the southwestern part of Cairo, being a part of the Salisbury Patent. He built a log house and cleared the land, and from his first crop of wheat made enough to pay for his farm. He led a bachelor's life until he was 36 years of age. He married Catherine Hallenbeck, daughter of Michael Hallenbeck, who came with her parents to Cairo when she was 15 years of age. Her father purchased 200 acres in the same locality as Mr. Earl, being a part of the Salisbury Patent. Mr. Earl had 8 children, all worthy representatives of their honored sire: Michael, born December 18th 1795; Rufus, born November 12th 1797; Solomon, born August 15th 1802; John, born May 8t 1803; Peter, born August 9th 1808; Orrin, born May 10th 1812; and James, born September 20th 1814.
The father outlived all his children. During his life he continued to purchase land until he finally owned about 900 acres. As his children grew up and were able to manage for themselves, he divided up a portion of the property among them, giving each a share. He continued however to hold 450 acres near Gayhead, in the northern part of Cairo, bordering on the town of Greenville, until a short time before his death. For several years previous to his death he lived with his son Rufus, at Sandy Plains. He was always an active and consistent member of the Baptist Church. He outlived his wife (who died at the age of 90), attaining the ripe old age of 100 years and 3 months. He rests beside his wife in the cemetery at Sandy Plains. His death occurred on the 20th of October 1872, just 2 years after his wife.
Men are frequently found in the humbler walks of life who possess all the elements of true greatness, but, never having had the opportunity of developing their natural abilities, they have passed away, remembered only by a few friends, and those to whom they were endeared by ties of relationship. Such a man was William Weeks, born in the town of Cairo in 1833 of good old Revolutionary stock on his grandfather's side, he commenced his career like most other boys by availing himself of the only means of education afforded by the district school in his native village. He was not slow to learn, and acquired a fair education, which, as he grew to manhood, he turn to good account. He worked on the farm until he became of age.
Being of an ingenious and mechanical turn of mind he went to work by the day as a carpenter. It was not long before he commenced taking large contracts for building houses, and some of the finest houses in the town of Cairo were built by him. In 1858 he married Elisabeth, daughter of John Earl, of that remarkable family whose early history is so largely identified with the growth and prosperity of the locality. To her sound judgment and clear head he was largely indebted for his success in life. In the course of a few years he accumulated a sufficient sum to purchase a part of the farm formerly owned by the Earls. His wife made a search of the records in Albany and discovered that this was a part of the old Salisbury Patent purchased by Mr. Weeks' great-grandfather, Mr. Fish, consisting of 733 acres. It is also a part of Lot No 21 which was purchased by the nine partners of Dutchess County, consisting of 2,123 acres belonging to the Salisbury Patent. The purchase of this farm by Mr. Weeks brought about a remarkable union of old family interests. Mr. Weeks' success as a farmer was fully equal to that achieved in his other matters. He had two children: Charles Henry, born April 22nd 1860; and Mary Lina, born in 1864. Mr. Weeks died June 16th 1868. His widow not only manages this homestead farm, but has another farm of 200 acres in Rensselaer county which requires her frequent attention. There are few better cultivated farms in this locality. She conducts all her own business affairs, in which she displays great ability and sound judgment.
Rufus Earl was the second son of Samuel Earl, and inherited from his father many of those distinguishing traits of character which, under favorable circumstances, would have made him a great man. Even with the limited opportunities he had for acquiring an education, he made great progress, and became one of the most efficient teachers in this locality. In one district where he taught, the boys had been in the habit of amusing themselves by setting the teacher on a hot stove, and turning him out of school whenever they felt disposed. When Mr. Earl was appointed, he learned that another teacher had also received the appointment, but Mr. Earl arrived first and took possession. Soon after this the other teacher arrived, and commenced teaching the children. He was ordered to be seated. On his refusal, Mr. Earl took him by the coat collar and lifted him out of the school room. The teacher surrendered at discretion, and the boys were soon convinced that they had their master, and did not attempt their favorite amusement.
Mr. Earl was born on the 12th of November 1797, and lived with his father at the old homestead near Gayhead until about five years before his father's death. About 1867 he purchased a farm of 120 acres at Sandy Plains, and brought his father and mother to live with him, where they remained until their death. Rufus never married. He was a man of great ability and was successful in all his operations. While working on his father's farm, he went largely into stock raising for supplying beef to the butchers in different localities, his sales in a single year amounting to over $6,000. He took an active part in politics, and was qualified to fill important positions, but he invariably refused to allow his friends to use his name, preferring to give his whole attention to his business. He was a born leader, and all his friends and relatives sought his advice and relied on his judgment. His two nieces, Mrs. Elizabeth Weeks and Catharine Earl, daughters of his brother John, kept house for him for some years previous to his death. During the last ten years of his life he lived at Gayhead with his niece, Catherine Earl, and just before his death he gave her a deed for the property consisting of a substantial frame dwelling and 49 acres of land.
He became a Christian when he was but 12 years of age, and although he never united with any church, he led a consistent Christian life, and was a bright example to those around him.
Judge Daniel Sayre
The oldest English town in the State of New York is Southampton, Long Island. Here a settlement was made in June 1640, and one of the original settlers was Thomas Sayre, whose house, built in 1648, still stands on the main street of the village. His son Francis had also a son of the same name, and he in turn had a son Matthew, who married Mehitabel Herrick, and was the father of the subject of this sketch. Judge Sayre was born in Southampton, May 10th 1765. He joined the Presbyterian church in that place in 1785, and was chosen ruling elder in 1792. He married Joyce Huntting June 25th 1789, and in 1794 he removed to what is now the village of Cairo, in Greene county. Here he purchased a farm of 100 acres on the Shingle Kill, and commenced the business of tanning and shoe making, which he carried on successfully for many years. May 22nd 1799 a church was organized by Rev. Mr. Hotchkin, which consisted of three male and five female members. Mr. Sayre was deacon. The church building was in Acra, and in 1804 it was sold to the Baptists, and a new church built in Cairo in 1805. From the time of his coming to this place, Mr. Sayre was a prominent man. In 1800 he was appointed justice of the peace, and held the office 21 years. In 1803 he was appointed assistant judge, was elected to the Assembly in 1804, and in 1806 became judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Greene County. On the night of the 28th of January 1808, his house was consumed by fire, and four of his children perished in the flames.
Judge Sayre was married four times. His second wife was Cynthia Huntting, of Hartford, Connecticut whom he married September 7th 1806. She died October 26th 1817, and he married Deborah Kneeland April 27th 1818. She died September 23rd 1820. His fourth wife was Desdemona Willis, whom he married February 20th 1821. He was the father of eight children, four of them perished on that fatal night. Of the remaining children, Hetty married Elisha Wise, whose son Elisha now lives in Decatur, Illinois. Benjamin has a family in Montrose, Pennsylvania. Abigail married James Catlin, of Matthew, the remaining son, a more complete sketch is appended.
The house built by Judge Sayre, on the site of his former dwelling, is standing at the north end of the village of Cairo, on the west side of the road to Freehold, and on the east bank of Shingle Kill. It is now owned by Leonard White. Judge Sayre's remains rest in peace in the quiet village burying ground.
Captain Matthew Sayre was born at the homestead, May 13th 1795. He acquired a fair common school education and probably worked for a time in his father's shoe factory, but most of his time was spent on the farm. At the breaking out of the war of 1812, being then but 17 years of age, he enlisted with a company, which formed a part of the regiment of Greene county and remained in the army until the close of the war. He then tried farming again, but his failing health and his love of adventure led him to seek a life on the ocean wave. He shipped on board of a whaler from Sag Harbor, Long Island, which probably went on a two or three years' cruise, for on the next voyage he was made second mate and not long after this was given the command of a ship. He was very popular with the owners, and numerous letters from the missionaries to the Sandwich Islands who were passengers with him, attest the love and esteem they entertained for him. At this time the Sandwich Islands were used as a rendezvous for the whalers, and the inhabitants of the island were still in a state of semi-barbarism. On one occasion a chief, with several of his men, boarded Captain Sayre's ship---it was supposed with the intention of murdering him and his crew---but they were so well received and so kindly entertained that they remained all night on board and the next morning the chief took from his neck a large shell which he wore and presented it to the captain, which was the highest mark of esteem that could be conferred. Captain Sayre became very popular with the natives of all the islands, and one of the islands which he probably discovered is named in honor of him. The log book kept by Captain Sayre on the different vessels he commanded--viz: the "Marcus", "Arabella" and "Telegraph"---would of itself be an interesting volume. At an advanced age he retired from a seafaring life and returned to Cairo, his native place. During this period his father failed in business and Captain Sayre purchased most of his fathers property. In 1850 he was appointed superintendent of the Sailor's Home in New York city. He remained in that position for three years and then tendered his resignation. The board of managers at their regular meeting adopted resolutions expressing their highest appreciation of his admirable management of that institution. The home had for many years been burdened with debt, and a final contribution from Captain Sayre in 1864 elicited the following acknowledgment from the "Sailor's Magazine" under the date of May 1864:
"We are most happy to make the announcement that the last shot which settled the sinking iron clad pirate that has for 22 years been threatening the Sailor's Home was the Five Hundred Pounder from the locker of the old Blind Sailor."
Captain Sayre was married twice. His first wife was Lucretia C. Briggs of Sag Harbor, a widow whose maiden name was HEDGES. By her he had four children, viz: Maria B., born January 23rd 1826; Simon Matthew, born May 13th 1828; Robert Minturn, born April 15th 1835; Daniel Hedges, born December 6th 1836. His first wife died in 1861. He married his second wife, Harriet King of Freehold, February 19th 1862. She is the daughter of Hon. Perkins King who held the office of county judge for years. She was a faithful and devoted wife to Captain Sayre during his declining years. He died on the 1st of October 1875. Near the center of the village of Cairo stands a simple block of white marble, on the top of which rests a book representing the closed log book, indicating that his life work is done, on the corner of which is carved a compass with the four cardinal points. On the front side of the block are these simple words. "My Husband."
None of his sons had children and the name is now extinct in Greene county. Simon is now living at Montrose, Pennsylvania. Maria married Nelson Sherman.
John Howell, the subject of this sketch, was a friend and companion of Judge Sayre in the new settlement of Shingle Kill or Cairo. He was a great-grandson of Edward Howell, the founder of the town of Southampton, Long Island, and came to this county in 1794. He bought a farm at Acra and then built the old Howell homestead which is now standing. The farm was Lot No. 48 in Van Bergen's Patent, and was bounded on the east by the line which separated Van Bergen's Patent from the patent of James Barker. The old house is on the east side of the road from Acra to Centreville, about a mile and a half from the former place, and is now owned by George Simpson. The larger part of the farm is on the west side of the road. Mr. Howell was the founder of the first church in Acra which was built in 1795. His wife was Mehitabel, and their children were: Charles, who married Jerutha Judd and died a few years since without children; Matilda, wife of Jeremiah White; Lucretia, who married Frederick Kortz and had two children, Maria, wife of John Taylor, and Adelaide, wife of Richard B. Taylor, now living in Kansas; John, who married Mary Saltmarsh, and had a son Frederick (a late well known citizen of Southampton, Long Island, whose son William F. Howell is a prominent lawyer at Corydon, Iowa), and other children whose descendants are in various parts of this State. A tombstone in Acra burying ground has the following inscription; "In memory of John Howell who died April 4th 1815, aged 71." His wife, Mehetible, died January 3rd 1818, aged 81. His son John, died March 12th 1835, aged 66. His daughter, Matilda White, died 1863, aged 88.
Peter S. Evory
The subject of this sketch is a model farmer and a fitting representative of that class of men who constitute the real wealth of the county. For upwards of thirty years he has been an active member, and for the last nine years vice-president of the Greene County Agricultural Society. In nearly every exhibition he has taken premiums for some of the products of his farm, and at the last annual exhibition he took the premium for the finest pair of draught horses (Norman stock) in the county. He was born on the old homestead of his father in East Durham, on the 20th of February 1826. This homestead was a part of the land conveyed to his father by James Barker, the patroon. His grandmother on his mother's side was Alche Vermilyea, a grand-daughter of Johannes Vermilyea who received his land grant in New York city from Governor Dongan in 1658, which included the property extending from the Forthy-second street depot to McComb's Dam. John Evory, the father of Peter S., was born April 16th 1800, in the town of Durham. He married Maria Snyder, who was born March 30th 1799. By her he had but two children: Alche, born April 14th 1822; and Peter S. After the death of his first wife he married Susannah Ferris, by whom he had eight children: Abigail, Obadiah, Alexander, Susan Jane, Orlando S., John C., Malbone W., and Henry B., all living except Malbone W. When Peter S. was but 4 years of age his father moved into an old log house which stood on a part of the Barker Patent. Here the young man received his first start in life. Soon after he became of age, with only $8 in his pocket he struck out for himself. In the course of a few years he accumulated a sufficient sum to purchase the old homestead, which he improved and held for a few years, when he sold it at a large advance. On the 15th of February 1851, he married Mary Ann Morehouse, by whom he had five children: William M., Henry S., Frank W., Minerva, and Alida M. After the death of his first wife, he married Sarah J. Slater of Greenville, who was born March 1st 1844. Mr. Evory bought the farm where he is now living in 1859. He erected new buildings and made extensive improvements and now has one of the finest farms in the county. He has been for many years an active member and a liberal supporter of the Christian Church at Freehold. The beautiful shade trees in front were planted by him. He has been frequently urged to accept public positions of trust but has invariably declined. The farm now owned by him is a part of one bequeathed to Richard B. Taylor by James Barker, the patroon.
This man came from the old stock of hardy pioneers that were among the earliest settlers of this locality. He was born in Potter's Hollow, Albany county, September 30th 1802. He early developed those qualities of mind and heart that go make up great men, and even with the limited means of education he possessed, he developed those characteristics that made him successful in all his undertakings. He purchased the large farm of 240 acres now owned by his widow. The productions of his farm were equal to those of any other in this town. Much of his success was due to his faithful wife, who was to him a guide and councellor, and assisted him in all his undertakings. Her maiden name was Julia Ann Eighmey. She was born in Durham, Greene county, November 15th 1814, and was married October 21st 1839. Four children were born to them: Mary, born November 15th 1840; John, born 31 Mar 1842; Emily, born March 4th 1844; and Sarah C., born December 16th 1845.
The father of Mr. Burhans, John C., was born near Kiskatom, town of Catskill, and died April 19th 1859, aged 84 years. His mother Clarissa C. Peck, was born at Litchfield, Conn., and died February 25th 1866, aged 82 years. His ancestors distinguished themselves in the war of the Revolution, and his love of country and interest in all public affairs, prove that he was a worthy descendant. He was a consistent member of the Centreville Presbyterian church up to the day of his death. His daughter, Sarah C., was married, July 17th 1869 to John Simpson.
Harvey H. Peck
This man, though he never distinguished himself in public life, was entitled to far more credit than many whose names are emblazoned on the pages of history; for, as a public educator he has helped to mould the character, to guide the intellect and to direct the understanding of the youth of our country, who have won fame and honor in the various walks of life, many of whom doubtless remember with gratitude, the teacher, whose encouraging words and timely assistance often raised them out of the "slough of despond," and helped them to win the prize in the great battle of life.
He was born on the 25th of April 1799, and came to Durham with his parents in the early part of the present century. His father purchased a farm of 100 acres between Oak Hill and Durham village, which the son, as soon as he was old enough, helped to cultivate, at the same time making use of every spare minute to acquire an education. As soon as he became of age he commenced teaching, and in order to perfect his education he went West, where he attended a large school and taught at the same time. He continued teaching for about 14 years, and in 1827, he married very estimable lady, Miss Martha Finch, a daughter of Amos Finch, then residing at Indian Ridge in the town of Cairo. Mr. Finch was one of the most ardent patriots of the Revolution, having volunteered before he arrived at an age when he would be subject to military duty.
In 1834 Mr. Peck purchased the farm of 100 acres, a part of the Salisbury Patent, and built a house where his son now resides. His methodical habits as a teacher made him successful as a farmer, and the farm which was then in poor condition and hardly worth cultivating, he, by his industry and perseverance, soon rendered valuable. He cleared and fenced it with over 800 rods of stone wall, and made other extensive improvements.
He was an active member of the Presbyterian church, and filled the office of deacon for many years; and was also superintendent of the Sabbath school. He was beloved and respected by all his neighbors. He had three children; the oldest William R., was born September 8th 1830; Mary Elizabeth, born July 27th 1832; and Charity Cordelia, born August 20th 1836, died in 1839. Mr. Peck died May 20th 1879. His widow is still living. His son, William R. (who is a graduate of Union College, and who taught school for many years) succeeds him on the farm, and has been one of the most successful farmers in this locality. He took the first premium at the county fair in 1882 for the six best varieties of apples; and in 1883, he took the premium for the best twelve or more varieties. He has one of the finest orchards in the county, and in all his undertakings has been eminently successful. He taught in the Asbury College in Warren county, New York; and in the Johnstown Academy, Fulton county, New York; and in the Fishkill Collegiate Institute, at Fishkill, Dutchess county, New York.
The Rouse Family
John Rouse, the ancestor of this family, was a native of Half Moon, Saratoga county. He had a son Peter, who was born January 1766. He married Rachel Salisbury April 16th 1800. The children of this family were: Abraham, born April 6th 1801, two children; Mary, wife of William Wolcott; Harrison, now living at Leeds; James Hasbrook, born July 17th 1807; and John, the subject of this sketch, who was born September 10th 1803. His father, Peter, died August 4th 1846, and the death of his grandfather is thus recorded: "John Rouse departed this life June 23rd 1801, at Half Moon, and is buried in High People's burying ground in the 63rd year of his age." John Rouse married Elizabeth, daughter of John Pine, February 2nd 1830. She was born February 25th 1805. The children of this marriage were: David L., born November 7th 1830, now a professor of languages in New York; Lydia A., born February 11th 1833, died young; Emily, born November 20th 1839, married Jeremiah Overbaugh; John P., born May 28th 1837, married Minnie Thompson; Ann E., born March 25th 1840, married 1st Cornelius Brink, 2nd Minas Plank, died 1882; Rachel, born April 16th 1843, married Lewis Story, of Saratoga.
Mr. Rouse was married a second time to Miss Mary B. Fullagar, daughter of William Fullagar, August 8th 1844. Their children were: William, born July 7th 1845, married Lucy Clow, and now lives in Jersey City; Nelson, born May 10th 1848, married Marietta Finch, and is now living in Cairo; Mary Ellen, born November 3rd 1850, married Arthur Colby, and lives in Brooklyn; Orville, born August 20th 1854, died April 4th 1883; Justin M., born May 17th 1857, received a collegiate education at Columbia College, and is now a physician in Cairo; John C., born September 23rd 1863, and now living on the paternal homestead.
In the early part of his life, Mr. Rouse went to Saratoga, and engaged in store keeping, and carried on a large farm. He returned to his native place in 1863, and was until the time of his death, a very prominent citizen of Cairo, and justice of the peace for many years. He was a deacon and active supporter of the Reformed Dutch church of his ancestors at Leeds, and ever bore the reputation of a sterling, substantial citizen, and a good and true man. He died January 21st 1875.
The family of Mr. Rouse perpetuates the race of the Salisbury's, the original owners of the Catskill Patent. Rachel Salisbury, who was married to John Rouse, was the daughter of Abraham Salisbury, and was born October 19th 1775. Her father (who was the son of Abraham Salisbury, the first) died February 22nd 1808, aged 63 years, 2 months and 17 days, and was buried at Leeds. His wife was Elsje, the daughter of Abraham and Catherine Hasbrook; she died June 11th 1812, aged 70 years, 3 months and 24 days.
The homestead of the family is a part of the Catskill Patent, inherited from their ancestors, and a deed from Peter Rouse to is son John, dated February 8th 1832, describes it as "All that parcel of land which was devised by Abraham Salisbury to his daughter Rachel in his last will and testament, to wit: all his share of the Expense Lot No. 3, lying at the Mine Kill, that is to say all that part of the lot lying on the north side of the Catskill." This lot containing 1,700 acres was sold to Abraham and Francis Salisbury, by the commissioners who divided the patent. The deed is now in possession of Luke VanVechten of Leeds, and the deed of partition of the lot is in the hands of William Newkirk of the same place. Peter Rouse, the grandfather, had three brothers, David, Henry, and Gerardus, and a sister, Catherine, wife of John Taylor.
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