Biographical Sketches of its Prominent Men
J.B. Beers and Co.
by Edwin C. Holton
Transcribed by Dianne Schnettler and Arlene Goodwin
The territory comprised within the present boundaries of this town was a part of that large grant of land made by Queen Anne in the fourth year of her reign to Johannes Hardenbergh and six other (April 23rd 1708), lying mostly west of the mountains. The legality of this grant was contested by Lieutenant-Colonel Bradstreet in 1771 in a petition to the governor of New York, the Earl of Dunmore, in which he represented that this patent, commonly called the Great Patent, was “issued on false suggestions,” and without forms that were necessary to make it legal and valid. He hotly contested the case, and was granted as a compensation for the expense he had incurred in endeavoring to prove the facts he alleged, 20,000 acres from said patent. In a letter of the earl’s to the Earl of Hillsborough, after acquainting him with this fact, he adds: “It is necessary to observe to your Lordship that the patent, which contains about 1,500,000 acres, was granted to seven persons only, and no more than three pounds annual quit rent reserved, whereby a manifest prejudice is done to his majesty’s revenue, and the patentees have been in possession of the land since April 10th 1706; yet there are not ten families settled thereon at this time.: The answer to this severely censured the council in granting 20,000 acres to the petitioners from the defendant’s grant, and objected to advising the king to grant the petitioner’s prayer.
In a letter from Sir William Johnson to Colonel Bradstreet, December 23rd 1771, it is shown that the latter’s defense of his right to the lands “was through the declaration of the chiefs of the Six Nations who, declared that their lands extended to the Popaghtunk branch of the Delaware, and therefore that the lands over, or to the northwest of that branch claimed by Mr. Hardenbergh’s Patent was their property, and had never been sold by them, or an other Indians, but they sold them to you [Colonel Bradstreet] that you might patent them, and would consider the land between the Mohawk and Popaghtunk as your property.”
In chapter IV of the general county history, the history of the several patents granted by the crown to the settlers, for acknowledged military services, may be seen, together with their surveys and subdivisions especially of the great Hardenbergh Patent, and the relation these great lots have to the several towns situated within their original bounds. Hunter, as will be seen, comprises portions of Great Lots 23, 24, 25 and 26, and all of 43. These original lots were purchased during the latter part of the last century by Tomlinson, Day, the Livingstons, and John Hunter, for a speculation in leases. These great lots are now commonly called patents, after the names of their first purchasers; such as the Livingston Patent, Tomlinson Patent, Ludlow Patent, etc. These men sub-divided it into various sized lots of from 60 to 1,000 acres. These surveys were made about 1780-90 by William June. James Bushaw and Anthony Loucet owned the greater part if not all of Great Lot 23; Edward Livingston, Robert Livingston, and Charles McEvers, the greater portion of 24; and John Hunter all of 25.
A somewhat definite history of this latter lot can be given in an abstract form. Containing 12,500 acres, it was surveyed as early as 1790 into small lots, and leases given not earlier than 1800. Purchased by John Hunter of New Rochelle, it was deeded by himself and his wife Elizabeth, to Henry Overing and his wife Charlotte Magdeline, daughter of James Debross, in 1811. In 1829 Henry Overing sold the whole lot back to John Hunter, after which it never passed out of the hands of the Hunters until the remaining 7,000 acres unsold were purchased by Isaac Showers November 1st 1879, at 62 ½ cents per acre. Upon the death of the original John Hunter it reverted to Elias D.; at his demise to his son John; at John’s death to his son John, and daughter Elizabeth, who sold it to Mr. Showers. It was leased as three life leases, named in the lease, or seven years without rent, after which at a rent of one shilling an acre as long as the lessee should live. “If they had sown so should they reap,” “As long as wind blew and water ran,” “Forever and forever,” were expressions which entered into some of the different leases. There are at present but two leased farms from original owners or their heirs, in the town.
The first settlements in this mountain wilderness were made by men said to have been tory cow-boys, but whether they merited this obnoxious title, or were unjustly forced to leave Putnam county is conjectural. Whether they had made themselves troublesome, or whether the increasing earnestness of the patriots as the war progressed produced the same effect, there is no means of knowing. But it is a fact, that Putnum county citizens would no longer tolerate them, and so without ceremony they were forced to secure safety by seclusion in the unexplored fastnesses of these mountains and their then hidden valleys. They were Samuel Elisha, and John Haines, and Gershom Griffin. The date of their settlement is not definitely known. They entered the mountains by way of Kingston and Mink Hollow, and settled on Schoharie Kill. Their location was discovered some years afterward, about 1786, by some Dutchmen who came there from the east side of the mountains while hunting for bears. About this date they were followed by Samuel Merrit, Jacob Carl, and a number of Shay’s followers from Massachusetts, who, on their defeat by the troops under General Lincoln, fled for safety.
Other early settlers were from Connecticut, and they brought with them those Puritanic traits of character for which the colonists of the State were noted, and which their descendants retain to a worthy degree. But prior to 1800, the population of this portion of Windham was exceedingly sparse. While the county below, through the clove to the eastward, was quite thickly settled, and even that portion of the town now Lexington, West Kill, and Bushnellsville—the western portion of what is now this county, boasted of a church organization in 1790, of some 70 members—with the exception of a few scattering pioneer’s cabins near Hunter, and by the lakes, the few proscribed settlers made up the population. As the acreage in Catskill town advanced in price in proportion to the decrease of the unimproved lands, the emigrants from New England and the lower counties were forced to attempt the reduction and subjection of these mountain lands to a state of cultivation. But this mountain town must credit its development to the energy and enterprise of a few men interested in the tanning business, the most prominent of whom was Colonel William Edwards. In the history of all trades, eras of great enthusiasm are common, and by such a one was Hunter first brought into anything like active life. This interest had its birth about 1815.
The wide-spread growth of hemlock, covering nearly all of the Catskills from base to summit, made the region a center for the prospecting tanners, who were not slow to see that, as a whole, the country was naturally adapted to their wants. All around was one great forest, which could be converted into lumber, and through which, in an untamed sort of a manner, wildly tumbled numerous mountain streams, with an abundance of water, affording admirable mill sites. The valleys of the principal creeks teemed with numerous and extensive tanneries, and a large, active laboring population, and the solitude of the deep mountain passes and valleys was made vocal by the hum of industry, the buzz of water-wheels, the crunching and grating of the “up and down” saws, and the rattling of machinery. The admirably written, neatly and systematically kept records of old Windham, by Samuel Gunn and Munson Buell, the first two town clerks, make it an easy and pleasant task for the inquirer into the early acts of our ancestors. From these some facts have been gleaned concerning Hunter, prior to its organization as such. In 1798, the name of Samuel Haines appears as path-master; and again as such in 1799, for district No. 29, with Herman Mason for No. 30. But in this portion of that town, the surveys of public highways were not ordered until after those in others. In what is now Jewett, the records of highways are quite numerous, with also a few in Lexington. Owing to the sparsely settled condition of then “cold lands” (Hunter), but little attention was given to them, either by settling pioneers, or by the inhabitants, though undoubtedly there were some sort of marked roads to the different clearings, to the lakes and cloves, and to the Olmstead settlement and grist-mill, which, according to French’s gazetteer, was running in 1794, though his name does not appear on the town books until much later. The first record of a road in these parts appears as follows.
“This may Certify whom it may Concern that we the Subscribers, Commissioners of Roads, have Established a Road on the Easterly part of the Town of Windham for public use, Sd. Road leaves the old Lake road a few Rods West of Mr. John Wilmont’s House and is bounded West at a Large Rock on the Corner of Phineas Goodwin’s land at the Cawters Kill, thence a southerly course in a line of markt trees across a Corner of Charles Mason’s land then across Peter Britt’s land thence Easterly in the same direction as the Cawters Kill Runs—leaving the Kill on the South Side of the Road about two miles from the first mentioned Bounds, then the Road Crosses the Kill to the South Side and Runs along the Kill until it Crosses the Kill to the Northerly Side and Keeps the same course that the Kill Runs till it strikes Kingston line. “
“HENRRICK BERKER }
“JOSEPH HADDEN } “Commissioners of Highways”
“JUSTIS SQUIERS }
“Windham, Mary 29th, 1799.”
At best, these early roads to neighboring settlements and to Catskill were of the rudest kind, running, as they must have done, through miles of unbroken forest, and over rocks, stumps, fallen trees, and stony knolls. Several days were required for a trip to Catskill, then the third largest city between Albany and New York. There were horses in the settlement from the first, having been brought from Connecticut, but oxen were more common beast of burden. Wagons or carts were seldom to be seen, the rough-made and well shod bob-sled taking their place, on which even their hay was carried. These were more convenient among the stumps and logs, and short turns of those wild, primitive paths up and down the mountains and through the cloves, which, in fact, precluded the advantageous use of any wheeled vehicle. It must have been no uncommon sight in Catskill, early in this century, to have seen dozens of these sleds, with their several yokes of oxen to each—as a successful return trip up the mountains demanded them, when off from the Susquehanna post route. They were always heavily loaded, the driver being agent for the purchases of a wide extent of country, not the least among which being gallons of good old Jamaica rum. The ceding of the leading highways to turnpike companies between 1820 and 1830, immediately inaugurated a new era in this direction. The tolls created funds wherewith the needed improvements were made, which soon rendered the roads passable for wheeled vehicles, though the use of oxen on long journeys was not discontinued till many years later, but now these genial knights of the sled, whip, and goad, are no more, and can only live in history. The roads and bridges throughout this town to-day, although not as well worked as the influx of summer guests and the accompanying revenues should warrant, are quite passable. The turnpike for many years called the Hunter Turnpike being the best. For long years the property of a stock company, it has lately been purchased, or is, at least, controlled by Mr. George Harding, the magician of the region, so far as modern transformation may go. For, as late as 1880, what is now the beautiful Kaaterskill Park, was in its wild, unbroken state, dotted here and there only by the woodman’s path, or a small trail to some outlook. In less than ten months a magnificent park was constructed with beautiful drives over fine roads, and pleasant shady paths. In the center of this park stands the Hotel Kaaterskill, undoubtedly the finest and largest mountain hotel in the world. Standing on the broad and smooth plateau of Kaaterskill Mountain, 3,000 feet above mean tide level at the river, eight miles distant. In this park, leading to and around the house, there are now completed, or in the course of construction, 20 miles of the most perfect roads extant in the Catskill region, the principal one of which being the Mountain Turnpike leading from Palenville. In the location of this road the skill and experience of some of the most noted railroad engineers of the country were called into requisition to supply plans for its construction; but they were all found either impracticable or to costly, and the plan of one of Hunter’s sons, Edward Dibble, “a native mountain engineer, “ was finally adopted. A little anecdote will explain his method of working. Instead of running trial lines, they went to the mountain, which directly faced the park, and standing there, with the thermometer at zero and with snow drifting over their paths, with glass in hand, surveyed with their eyes the route they wished to take, and returning, they staked almost the identical line they had “surveyed.” The choice could not have been a better one, as the result proves; from among the most famous of the mountain roads of Switzerland, including few with more seemingly dangerous precipices. The park comprises within its bounds nearly 21 square miles, over which Mr. Dibble has acted as chief engineer.
Formation of Hunter
The following is from the statutes of 1813:
“And that all that part of the said county of Greene, bounded south-easterly, southerly, westerly and northwesterly by the bounds of the county, easterly and northeasterly by a line running from the northwest corner of the town of Saugerties, in the county of Ulster, so as to include all those several parts of the county of Greene lying west and southerly of the summit of the Catskill Mountains, shall be and continue a town by the name of Windham.”
This was old Windham, from which the towns of Windham, Ashland, Hunter, and Lexington were erected.
Ambrose Baldwin, now about 90 years of age, boasts of having lived in two counties and no less than five towns, and that he has never lived two miles from his birthplace.
The following quotation explains itself:
“Chap. XV. An Act form dividing the town of Windham into three towns, passed January 27th 1813.
“I. Be it Enacted by the People of New York, represented in Senate and Assembly:
“That all that part of the town of Windham, in the county of Greene, lying east of the easterly line of great lot number twenty-two in the Hardenburgh patent, and south of the height of land between the East Kill and the Great Hollow, be erected into a separate town by the name of Greenland, and that the first town meeting of the said town of Greenland be held at the house of Daniel Bloomer in said town.:
The other two were Windham and Lexington. The recorded history of the town after its erection from Windham is uninteresting. The earlier notes record the annual by-laws and the brief-like bounds of the various and numerous roads. At this remote day, the recording of bounds by dead trees, marked trees, stones, saplings, and brooks, seems a curious oversight and carelessness on the part of those usually precise fathers. The first records to be seen on the clerk’s journal are of the first annual meeting, and are as follows:
“Pursuant to the act erecting the town of Greenland, the first annual town meeting was held in the town of Greenland and county of Greene, at the house of Daniel Bloomer, on the sixth day of April in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirteen.”
“Resolved to have three assessors in this town; one collector, three constables, one pound, near the house of Daniel Bloomer, and nine fence viewers.”
“Road Masters: No. 1, Benjamin Jones Jr.’ No. 2. Sumner Parmenter; No. 3. David Ingerson; No. 4, William Miller; No.5 Dunken McGregor Jr.; No. 6, William Adderson; No. 7, Robert Patten; No. 8, Samuel Hanes; No.9, William Shaw; No. 10, Edward Hanes; No. 11, Jeremiah Smith; No. 12, James Prichard; No. 13, Robert Bridgsel; No. 14, Aaron Brewer; No. 15, Ephraim Lion ; No. 16, Asa Lord; No. 17, John Johnson; No. 18, Harvey Fairchild; No.19; James Miller; No. 20, Lemuel Woodworth; No.21, David Loter; No. 22, John Wilson; No. 23, Benjamin Demett; No. 24, Harlom Bawlding; No. 25, Caleb Carr; No. 16, ____ ______; (New District).” * * *
“Fence Viewers: Asa Lord, Dunken McGregor, Joshua Parmenter, Samuel Hanes, Joseph Chatterdon, Joshua Wolven, James Osterhout, William Whittaker, John J. Artman.”
“Lawful fence to be four feet and half high—well stopt.”
“After canvassing the votes find the election as follows: Daniel Bloomer, Supervisor; Sumner Parmenter, Town Clerk.
“Assessors: Samuel Hanes, Nathaniel Miller, Neven Wilson.
“Commissioners: John Wilson, Matthew Winters, Benjamin McGregor.
“Poor Masters: Samuel Hanes, John J. Artman.
“Constables: John Wilson Jr., Benjamin Jones Jr., Calep Carr.
“Collector, Neven Wilson.”
The orthography throughout the earlier records of this town is quaint, but strictly phonetic. Special meetings, records of new highways and school districts, surveys, records of individual ear marks for stock etc., in a confused state, are to be found, and are unimportant as historical facts.
At a special meeting held at M. S. Palmenter’s residence, march 22d 1814, the subject of dividing the town of Greenland was brought up for discussion and put to vote with a result in the negative.
The second town meeting, held at the house of William Shaws resulted in the elections of the following: Abijah Griffin, supervisor; Daniel Bloomer, Lemuel Woodworth, Nathan Salisbury, assessors.
At this meeting, it was voted to pay the town clerk $7 per year for his services; to pay a bounty of $10 to the catcher or killer of each wolf above one year old; to give the clove road to the turnpike company; to pay the school commissioner $6 annually; an to raise $175 for the poor. In 1824 it was voted to relinquish the road between Perkins’ and the New York Tannery to the Hunter Turnpike Company.
In the entry dated October 31st 1814, wherein is recorded a meeting of the school commissioners and the re-districting of No.3 and No. 4, the word Hunter, as a prefix, is first used; nor does the work Greenland again appear as such.
In 1826 the bounty on wolves was raised to $15, and on panthers to $20; wild cats $2, and foxes 50 cents.
The presidential election, November 5th 1832, seems to have been a very warmly waged one. The aggregate number of votes cast for the several candidates were: for governor, 375; lieutenant-governor, 375; senator, 375; U. S. representative, 746; for presidential electors, 15,777; the latter vote representing some 100 ballots. The election lasted three days, and undoubtedly not a little rum was punished.
The records of Windham, and their duplicates for the inhabitants of Greenland, show, recorded according to law, the individual earmarks used upon their live stock. lthough fences were numerous, and by-laws regulating the height of fences annually passed, they were slight affairs, as the estrayal notices recorded go to prove. The first few records of this sort are as follows: April 10th 1813:
“John Wilson’s mark is a crop on the near ear and a slit in the off one.”
“Samuel Hanes’ mark, Greenland, April 20th 1813, is a happenny under the left ear.”
“Woster Perkinses mark, Greenland, April 20th 1813, is a swallow fork in the left ear.”
“Mathew Winter’s mark, Greenland, May 4th 1813, is a crop and fork on the left ear.”
The usual pioneer poverty of a new settlement swept away all distinctions, and from this general level a kindly fellowship prevailed among those men. They helped one another, and poor as they were, annually voted from $100 to $300 for the extremest of the indigent emigrants, a few of which will always float into every new settlement. Both before and after the Revolution, it was customary throughout their native New England towns, having no work-house, to let out their paupers to the lowest bidders. Being obliged to support the poor, they wished to do it as cheaply as possible, and the person who would support the pauper for the smallest sum, paid out of the sum raised for such a purpose, would have that opportunity. The paupers were sold at public auction, and their treatment under this arrangement depended solely upon the character of their purchaser. In some instances, individuals were treated with great harshness. There was, perhaps, some excuse for this practice, but gradually public sentiment caused it to be discontinued. In several of the Southern States, the same practice prevails to-day. This practice must have been known to the New Englanders who settled here. And this knowledge undoubtedly caused them to suspect all plans, other than the proper town authorities caring for their poor. The establishment of a county poor house was before the people, at different years, but was strongly opposed by this section of the county, and resolutions of remonstrance were several times passed against it adoption. And even after its adoption, the working of its system was assiduously watched and attacked. To show the metal of these early advocates of equal rights, at a special town meeting, held at the house of Harlon Perkins, January 8th 1828. “For the purpose of taking into consideration the acts of the Board of Supervisors of the County Poor House,” who, it seems, voted to levy a tax for the maintenance of religious services at said institution. A committee, consisting of John Beach Jr., Daniel Bloomer, William Miller, and Jedediah Hitchcock, was appointed to draw up a series of resolutions, remonstrating against such a tax. The resolutions were as follows, and show them to have been men of ideas and education:
“Resolved: That as citizens of the most enlightened and free government on Earth, we ought to venerate and respect our constitution, which secures to us our rights and liberties as freedom:
“Resolved: As the sense of the meeting that the right of the full and free enjoyment of religious liberty, uncontroverted by any manor set of men, we esteem as one of the greatest blessings any people can enjoy. And which we deem to be secured to us by our excellent Constitution:
“Resolved: that we must believe it the duty of any people having those rights secured to them, to fully and freely examine into, and expose any and every attempt to filch from them those rights-whether it be done under pretense of law or by any arbitrary strength of assumed power:
“Resolved: That we deem any compulsory tax to pay for preaching any religious doctrine whatever, to be contrary and subservient of our Constitution and any law authorizing such a law to be unconstitutional:
“Resolved: That we look in vain into our Statute Book for any law authorizing our Supervisors to impose a tax on the inhabitants of the County of Greene to pay for providing preaching at the County House in said County:
“Resolved: That we deem the tax voted on the inhabitants of said county the last year by seven Supervisors, to pay for preaching at the County Poor House, as an unwarrantable stretch of arbitrarily assumed power and contrary to our Constitution and laws.
“Resolved: That as preaching at public expense at our State Prison is the only precedent for the same at a County Poor House, we deem our Supervisors, by taking that as a precedent, as virtually degrading our unfortunate poor to a gang of miserable fellows:
“Resolved: That in our opinion the County Poor House is a charitable institution, and its inmates not generally connected with crime, and that they ought no to be so imprisoned that they may no reasonably attend the worship of Almighty God agreeable to the dictates of their own consciences:
“Resolved: That those Supervisors who voted against the imposition of the aforesaid, are for the act entitled to the thanks of an interested community:
“Resolved: That we incorporate the sentiment expressed by our fellow citizens of Catskill in a toast drank by them at the late celebration of the Battle of New Orleans, in that village, to wit: “the charter of our liberties: may be who first presumes to pass the Rubicon, encounter the dagger of a Brutus:
“Resolved: That a copy of the above resolutions be forwarded by the town clerk to the Catskill Recorder and Green County Republican, with a request that they publish the same in their respective papers.”
true copy. Attest,
“D. Stow, Town Clerk”
The ultimate result of this remonstrance is unknown, but it certainly shows vigor of thought and independence of spirit. It is thought the draft was made by John Broch Jr., a lame man of Jewett, who is said to have been exceedingly clever in judgment, and active in all public affairs, original and far sighted. Hunter had had but few paupers.
In the days when William Faulkner “rode the post” with his horse, pouch and horn, and his 25 cents postage on mail from New Haven, with a route from Hudson, to Jewett Center, Lexington, and Hunter, letters from relatives left behind in old Connecticut, were few and far between. In the Catskill Packet of date, 1798, are found the names of early settlers advertised as having letters in that post town; Seth Green, Munson Buel, and others. But upon the advent of Colonel Edwards, Foster Morss, and the Hunter Turnpike, with the others, a route was established with a regular mail. Colonel Edwards was the first post-master. Mails have been weekly, semi-weekly, and tri-weekly, and since the completion of the railroad to Hunter, and to Tannersville, the citizens have enjoyed daily mail advantages, between April and October, there being two mails daily. Both Tannersville and Hunter are money order offices. The post-masters at Hunter village have been: William Edwards, David Ingersoll, Hiram Hatch, William W. Edwards, H. S. Lockwood, Alfred E. Green, Frederick Beach, James Douglas, and J. Frank Lockwood, the present incumbent.
Game and Hunters
The deep, dark, and widespread forests, the rough mountain cliffs, the wild ravines, gorges, and caves of the mountains in Hunter, have been from time immemorial a chosen and favorite resort of lynx, panthers, wolves, bears, deer, and large venomous snakes.
Among the most celebrated of the early hunters in this town were the Haines, Seth Green, and Samuel Merritt; and later, John Goodsell, Captain Harmon Dibble and his brother Edward, Edward Lane, and Aaron Roggen. “The woods are full of bear stories,” some of which show pluck and bravery on the part of the participants. Captain Dibble is said to have entered a bear’s den in which were an old bear and several cubs. With an axe he killed the mother bear, bringing bear and cubs home. Isaac Showers is known to have captured a yearling bear, and by physical force to have driven and dragged it some six miles. Seth Green, who, as early 1765, was a resident of the lands now Hunter village, shot a panther in an old hemlock tree which stood on the spot where the new Katzberg Hotel stands. At this point in Hunter was a favorite resort for all wild beasts in crossing the Schoharie Kill. The large laurel swamp near the base of the South Mountain was a favorite feeding spot for the deer when the snow was deep. From this spot there was a great “run,” track, or trail for the deer, near the upper end of Kaaterskill Clove, and thence along the ravine, near the falls, below the Laurel House. Hunters here, as elsewhere, had favorite stands, where they concealed themselves and shot the deer as they were driven past them by the hounds. The wolves, too, were very numerous. Their favorite meat was the flesh of the deer, which they often chased, hence the wolves and deer disappeared about the same time more than 40 years ago. Among the by-laws of each of the early annual town elections can be found the records of bounties as follows: “A bounty of ten dollars to be paid to catcher or killer of each wolf above one year old, and the same sum for each panther caught or killed after they are pupped.” $40 has been paid as a county bounty on wolves alone. Both were quite troublesome, especially the wolves, which were so destructive to domestic animals that it was often necessary for the pioneer to rise from his couch at midnight and drive them off the clearing, to either build a fire or to closely confine his stock in pens at night. The cougar or American panther, or painter, as this animal is often called (painter being a corruption of the word panther), belongs to the feline or cat species, and is found from Patagonia to the northern bounds of the State of New York. There were never many of them in the mountains of Hunter, though a number of fine specimens have been killed by the more bold and intrepid hunters. The wildcats were subjects for bounties, and are yet met with in the deeper woods and are frequently killed there. Forty or fifty years ago the howling of the wolves could be heard in all directions, and travelling by blazed trees, or rude and badly worked roads, through the dense forests at night, must indeed have been doleful enough. Copperheads, blacksnakes, and rattlesnakes, used to abound in the mountains, but with the exception of black snakes, which are not poisonous, are now rarely met with. Bears are yet hunted, and a few are killed each winter.
The settlers of these lands made early and as full provisions as possible for the education of the rising generation. There was some sort of a school kept in the Olmstead district, one near the Haines settlement, and one in what is now Hunter village, called the “Nigger House.” Upon the division of Windham, a special town meeting was called, and held at the house of Sumner Palmenter, in what is now the overflow house of Breeze Lawn. Daniel Bloomer was chosen moderator, and Mr. Palmenter elected clerk. This was called to comply with the State school act for the nomination of three school commissioners, and four inspectors. Through the appointed nominating committee of Charles Chase and William Shaw, Wooster Perkins, Charles Chase and Matthew Winters were nominated commissioners; and William Shaw, John Wilson, John J. Artman, and Lemuel Woodworth, inspectors; and the same were elected September 11th 1813.
The commissioners thus elected, at a meeting at Mr. Palmenter’s house, divided the town into seven school districts. These districts were subdivided, changed and united as the settlement of the town demanded.
Among the first teachers in the small log house which stood where Dr. Mead’s house is located, as early as 1810, were Catharine Carman, Nicholas Gass, and a lame man named Warren. A rough frame building was substituted for this log house, in which Burt Carle and Barney Hayes were knights of the birchen switch. In other districts occasional schools were kept. The school-masters were usually strict disciplinarians, and during the first week of the term some of the wildly mischievous lads received sundry raps over the head from a switch in the hands of the teacher. Before the perfection of the present system of common schools, all through the town teachers were employed and schools were taught on a sort of private plan, in private houses, and not infrequently in barns, and the furniture was anything but conducive to comfort or the development of body or limb. The teacher boarded around, that is, divided the number of days length of the school by the number of pupils, determining thereby his stay with each family. These school-houses were often the scenes of much sociability many of the winter evenings; old and young gathering for a spelling match, or a singing school, and at other times a lyceum, wherein debates on important questions were warmly discussed by the elder people for the edification of the young, the test of argument being left by vote to those present. “Pieces were spoken” by the pupils, a paper read by the editors, wherein sly jokes and hints and conundrums made merry the listeners. A spelling match usually closed the innocent gatherings of these staid-going country folk.
Like all new settlers, the people of Hunter suffered great inconvenience for want of a circulating medium wherewith to transact their business. There was but little of what could be called money in the settlement during the earliest days. And yet they were not wholly destitute. Though the market town was Catskill, they managed to gain in cash over their barter, and many with trades, worked by the day for the more wealthy Dutch in the valleys, until the advent of Mr. Edwards.
This want of money retarded the establishment of churches and schools, a want keenly felt. If records are guides, it was almost the first thought that came into the minds of the fathers, when they began the settlement of the town, after they had built their log houses, and put the first crops into the ground for future subsistence. But, notwithstanding the scarcity of money, an amount equal to the State’s allowance was voted to be raised for school purposes, and Hunter can be said to have boasted of the earliest school building in the town, and at present the best, costing some $3,000.
Not until 1822 were steps taken to establish a church. In an appendix to the published sermon preached at the dedication of the Presbyterian meeting-house in Hunter, November 12th 1828, by David Porter, D. D., pastor of the Presbyterian church at Catskill, printed at Williamstown, 1829, he says:
“The society is confined almost entirely to a part of the town of Hunter, known
by the name of Edwardsville. This spot, previous to the year 1817, was little more than a forest, but two or three families residing within its limits. Owing to its water privileges it was selected by Colonel William Edwards as a proper place for a large leather factory. February 13th 1822, the church was organized, consisting of seventeen members, and a room was gratuitously furnished and fitted up as a place of worship. For a considerable time the church did not enjoy the stated preaching of the gospel; nor was a pastor settled over them till 1825. As late as the commencement of the year 1828, the number of communicants was but 28. The present pastor began his labors in October 1827, and was ordained the April following. During the month of February 1828, there began to be encouraging appearances of a revival. The church manifested deep feeling, and great contrition in view of former neglects. They seemed dispose to arise and call upon God, if so be God would think upon them, and the multitude around them, that they perish not. During the latter part of February and the month of March, eternal things maintained a strong hold upon the thoughts and feelings of this community. In the course of this year, 29 were added to the church, so that it now consisted of 57 members. A useful lesson, it is thought, might be learned from this little society by others far wealthier and numerous. Besides honorably supporting the gospel among themselves, they maintain a beneficiary in a course of preparation for the ministry, at an expense of seventy-five dollars a year, and from time to time have contributed considerable sums to aid the benevolent object of the day.”
Among the members of this, the first church organized in Hunter, were Colonel William Edwards and wife, from the Congregational church of Northampton Massachusetts; John Bray, then one of the leading spirits of Lexington; Samuel Henson and wife, from the church at Windham; and 12 from the church of Lexington. The first services were held in a rudely fitted and furnished room, made in the tannery loft, by the Colonel, which was used until the new building was completed, in 1828. Dr. Porter took for his text at its dedication, I Kings, VIII, 27:
“But will God indeed dwell on earth? Behold the Heaven and the Heaven of Heavens cannot contain Him! How much less this House that I have builded.”
It was an
eloquent and fervent discourse. In closing, he said:
“And let the subject come home and be deeply felt by this church and congregation, that, Christ strengthening you, you can do all things. Be stimulated to take strong hold of every good work for Christ and the glory of His kingdom. And now, O Thou, adorable Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, we do most solemnly and most willingly, and with our whole heart, dedicated this house to thee and thine forever. Accept the offering of Thy unworthy servant, of God. Arise, oh Lord, into thy rest; thou and the ark of thy strength. O Thou Almighty Redeemer, help thou us to inscribe thy name upon this pulpit, upon these seats and upon these walls, in characters that never shall be obliterated, and whenever thy people look toward this house, may they think of it as thine own; may they never forget that they enter upon holy ground. Divine Spirit, by thy kindly influence at this interesting moment, breathe on every one of thy servants and cause their dedication to the simple, and entire, and unreserved. Eternal and everlasting God, this house is thine, not, henceforth and forever, and especially so by our free act of dedication to thee. An oh, let the pillar of the cloud hang over this tabernacle by day and by night, as a signal of thy presence and benediction. Let this house be thine to bless, to the latest ages. Here, oh God, let thy church, planted by thine own hand, live and flourish and extend her branches, and be fruitful as Eden, and green like a cedar of Lebanon. In this dedication, we would, of God, comprise all that we have and are, and entreat that we may be owned by thee, not for our sakes, but for thine own name’s sake; and thine, eternal Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, shall be the glory, forever and ever. Amen.”
The year of dedication, a successful effort was made to build a parsonage. Colonel Edwards gave the land, and resolutions of thanks were tendered him, who, though burdened with the cares of a great business, stands out strong and clear, like a beacon light in the annals of this church.
edifice was thoroughly repaired in 1864, and a new bell added in 1867. The
following names clergymen have served as pastors: David Porter D. D., Seth
Chapin, Calvin Durfee, J. J. Buck, J. F. Ingersol, Henry Osborn, J. R. Fish, C.
Reynolds, F. F. Judd, A. Parson, and the present pastor, R. H. Wilkinson, a
graduate of Columbia College. It has on numerous occasions contributed toward
the needy resident citizen. It is in a prosperous condition at present, and with
good prospects for the future.
The Methodist Episcopal Church
This church dates its first class meetings from about the beginning of the second quarter of the present century. The absence of all its first records precludes a possibility of chronicling its early history. It is known to have been in a flourishing condition in 1830, and that a revival took place in 1843. It was first within the Windham circuit, which was divided about 1845, and a new circuit erected, termed the Lexington division to which Hunter was attached. Among its first circuit riders was a gentleman named Osborne, who came from Windham, by the way of Parker Notch, every two weeks. Another was a Mr. Hull, said to have been a very clever exhorter; John Davy, Daniel Wright, Daniel Bullock, and a Mr. Davis followed him. The class of 1844 consisted of 86 members, chiefly farmers, lumbermen, and tanners, with their families. Valentine Buck was presiding elder for several terms. After this class belonged to the Lexington circuit, Stephen Marlendale and William B. Mitchell were exhorters. It is believed that no regular pastor was ever in charge as a settled preacher. This class was formed and held its meetings near the old Olmstead settlement, adjacent to the Tannersville cemetery, west of the Plaaterkill road. This class, in 1835, had a comfortable building in which it held its fort-nightly meetings—not always upon a Sabbath day, but as best suited the itinerant preacher. The discontinuance of the tanning industry, scattering and thinning out the population of Hunter, soon caused the disbandment of the class, and cessation of preaching. The building was razed to the ground many years ago.
A few years later, the more zealous of this disbanded class, who remained residents of the town, reorganized the class, which is now known as Haines Falls Methodist Episcopal church. Notes taken from Levi Haines show the organization of this branch to have taken place some 30 years ago, and until 1880, the society held their meetings in the school-house of that district. The present place of worship is in the new and neat edifice, built in 1880, on land donated by Levi and Samuel Haines.
Episcopal church in Stony Clove was organized in 1851, with a membership of 12,
under the leadership of John Chase, a local exhorter. Their meetings were held
in the school-house near Nealville until November 1879, when a happy effort
secured the present suitable and appropriate church building at this point. It
was dedicated November 9th 1879, by Rev. William Green, who took for
his text, “Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces.”
The Methodist Episcopal church building at Hunter village was built in 1861. There had been a class for some time previous to this. The absence of authentic records pertaining to early history of this sect, in the town of Hunter, necessitates but a brief mention. There are to-day three societies of this church in the town, and the Nealville and Haines Falls societies attached to the Hunter village charge.
pastor in charge of this church was the Rev. William Fiero. Among the trustees
of the church are found the names of John Martin, James Douglas, H. C. Rundel,
Orrin Burgess, and Robert Smith. On the 23d of March 1883, the church building
was burned. An immediate effort was made, and through the energy and
perseverance of a few leading members, a new building rose on the former site,
and was dedicated August 23d of the same year. It is, undoubtedly, the most
commodious and convenient, as well as the best designed and costliest ($5,000)
church structure in the town. The parsonage is adjacent, as well as a cemetery,
in which many of its former members are interred. Under its present pastor, the
Rev. J. P. Race, it is in a prosperous condition.
The Roman Catholic Church
The history of
the Roman Catholic church dates back to about 1830, when Father Farrell made
occasional visits to the tanning village from Albany. It was not established as
a mission, however, until 1836 or 1837. The ground for the church and cemetery
was given by James Kerr, the lumber was furnished by Wooster Perkins, and the
contractor and builder was a gentleman named Mac-donald. This was in 1837. The
first priest settled here was Father Gilbride. In regular succession the fathers
have been as follows: Fathers Constantine, Carroll, Myers, Gratton, Riley,
Murphy, Cannane, and the present incumbent. The house has been thrice repaired.
Father Delehanty is the present incumbent.
The Protestant Episcopal Church
services have been frequently held in the parlors of the Blythewood Boarding
House for a number of seasons. Efforts were made last season to raise a sum
sufficient to build a small stone chapel, which have been generously responded
to by interested parties, and work is now bringing to completion a neat stone
building of gothic design. As it is intended only for summer services, visiting
clergymen officiate, as they happen to be in the neighborhood.
Hunter Camp Meeting Grounds
“The groves were God’s first temples. Ere man learned
To hew the shaft, and lay the architrave
And spread the roof above them--ere he framed
The loftly vault, to gather and roll back
The sound of anthems.* * * * Ah, why
Should we, in the world’s riper years, neglect
God’s ancient sanctuaries, and adore
Only among the crowd, and under roofs
That our frail hands have raised? Let us, at least,
Here in the shadow of this ancient wood,
Offer our hymn.”
And what fitter, more naturally adapted spot in which “to kneel down and offer to the Mightiest solemn thanks and supplications,” what more appropriate temple of God than the grand old amphitheater formed by the two projecting spurs high up in the heart of this forest clad monarch, Hunter Mountain, with its battling cliffs rising hundreds of feet as a back ground of pillar-work, its icy caves, and towering, twisted trees of hemlock and of giant maple.
Several gentlemen closely identified with the interest of the Methodist Episcopal church at large, formed themselves into a company early in 1883, and bought some 200 acres of these lands, as the site of a national Methodist Episcopal camp meeting ground. In the summer of 1883 they were laid out into lots, and a road built to the village. It is intended to erect suitable and permanent buildings, and to make it of national interest to this sect. Its location cannot be equaled. Some 6,000 souls sought these clam shades to meditate this season. The Hunter Camp Meeting Ground will certainly be historically interesting to thousands in years to come.
The materials for romance are meager in the life of a community like the early one of Hunter. Their life was too busy and practical for visionary musing. Transactions were too important, dollars too scarce. But they had no doubt, their humorist, with his jokes; the story-teller with his long tangled-up bundle of Indian stories, hair-breadth escapes; tales of tory atrocities committed in the lower counties, and the like. The years passed slowly on, and outside of the dull routine of their farm work and the tannery, the times were monotonous and uneventful. Such speech as was embalmed by Lowell in the Bigelow papers flourished with remarkable vigor, shadings of which can be easily traced to-day. There has ever been a certain shrewdness of character, and an unusual amount of physical pluck displayed among this people, which have made them somewhat independent and adverse t o the opinions of others.
As the Hunter of to-day is a town of hotels and boarding houses, of hosts and hostesses, combining in the majority of cases natures frank, hospitable and generous, with great patience, all going at once in a legal manner as a stock in trade, so Hunter of ye olden time of inn-keeping, before this nineteenth century had begun to roll along, when Olmstead, and Sumner Palmenter, and Wooster Perkins, and dozens of others had kept open doors to the thirsty if not hungry traveler, was equally as hospitable in its own peculiar way. If its guests are noisy now, they were noisy then; if its guests are merry now they were most certainly as much so then – in those days of pure Jamaica and Medford at 25 cents a gallon. But if now the majority of its guests are not jolly from strong drinks, but from glad and merry spirits, they were jolly then, they were glad then, they were merry and didn’t care then, if lucky enough to imbibe of any landlord’s spirits. Old settlers affirm that spirits ran as free then as now; now before the bar; then very free from behind; in fact every other house sold rum, cherry-brandy, and cider; that they have seen a dozen men in one grand knock-down fight, in the manner of an old-styled “ring wrastle.” Of course this was due to the foreign element engaged in lumbering and tanning. But the evil of intemperance was then unnoticed by press and even pulpit. Temperance among the best men consisted of not getting drunk, but a little boozy.
Stated holidays were especial seasons for replenishing the tavern-keepers coffers and the outflowing of his spirits. This was the case more particularly with those so fortunate as to be located near what is now called the Four Corners, at which point many of the annual and special town-meetings were held, and where, for years, the annual training occurred. These were grand holidays and both old and young went to see the “trainers,” to hear the fife and drum, to become excited at the sham battle, and to feast on molasses candy and gingerbread. It was the gala day of those years, as the county and town fair days are to the present generation. Hunter’s company training ground was what is now the orchard in front of Aaron Roggen’s Mountain Home. The old militia laws demanded the enrollment of every male liable to military duty. In due season he was warned to appear for company training, and only sickness was allowed as an excuse for absence. Absence without a reasonable excuse, or without permission, called for a court martial. The sheriff was sent for the truant, and he was fined from three to ten dollars, in default of which he was remanded to jail. But few, however, were defiantly truant. Hunter’s quota was about 150 men. These were assigned to two companies. The regular one, organized and drilled by Colonel William Edwards, was called the Rifle Grays. He was its first captain, and was afterward colonel of the regiment to which it was attached. The uniform consisted of a grey suit, and black cap with a big black feather. They were well armed and drilled. The other company had no regular uniform, no arms, and no organization; but coming together in early September, they drilled in their blouses and shirt sleeves; some with hats, some with caps; some with long barreled shot guns, others with short ones; others with brooms, and some with sticks and saplings, This company fairly represented the motley crowd that constituted the continental militia, dubbed Yankee Doodle by the British. After company trainings were over, a general good time and a hilarious spree were indulged in by the more thoughtless. General or regimental and brigade trainings were held in some of the river towns a few weeks later. Among the captains of this militia company were “Captain Pete” (Peter B. Haines); “Captain Zeb” (Z. Parker); “Captain Dave” (David Curtis). On these occasions, all, with scarcely an exception, imbibed freely of cider, rum, and cherry brandy, until story telling and social hilarity became general.
In addition to these stated holidays the young people had their huskings, bush-cuts, singing-schools, and spelling-matches, quilting, spinning bees, and apple cuts. At all of these, some work, a great deal of fun, much “sparking,” and love making, singing, etc., made merry the hearts of the participants.
Staging, prior to the coming of the iron horse, in and about the town of Hunter, in all parts, has been a source of much revenue to the owners of the numerous lines and stages. A regular United States post route was established as early as 1830 from Prattsville to Catskill, via Lexington, and Hunter. This route lasted many years. On the completion of the Ulster and Delaware Railroad, the route was abandoned between Prattsville and Lexington. Since the completion of the different railroads to the mountains it has been discontinued as a mail route from Lexington to Hunter. A post route is yet maintained daily between Tannersville and Catskill, and stages run from Hunter to Lexington to West Kill, upon the arrival of each train, meeting them at departure. A continuous accommodation stage route is yet maintained between Catskill and Lexington, tri-weekly. The first main route was many years owned by Israel and Chauncey Chamberlain who also drove. Among other owners of this route have been Frank Layman, John Thompson, Horace Foster, Daniel Perkins, and Eba Clawson, and it is now owned by Gilbert Haines of Tannersville. There was also a post route from Hunter to Phoenicia for a long period. This was at first tri-weekly but latterly only semi-weekly, and of course was discontinued with the opening of the new railroad. This was contracted for by Edward Hull, Thomas Ford, William Rusk.
Private stages, owned by the different boarding-houses, and the many by the Catskill Mountain House Company, which for so many years in summer seasons carried the thousands of guests from Catskill to the summit, through the beautiful meads and shady vales of Catskill town, up through the gorge made famous by Irving, have for years been a feature of the mountain travel. There are yet few running from Palenville station to both the Mountain House, and via the Catskill Mountain Turnpike, to the Hotel Kaaterskill, meeting and departing with each train, and also from the station at Kaaterskill Park. Accommodation stages run from Palenville to Tannersville, as parties desire. Though the railroads have cut down the stage travel to a comparatively small traffic, Hunter Turnpike yet presents an animated appearance during the summer season. Every hotel proprietor stands ready to take his guests to the many points of interest. These favorite drives are varied, according to the point from which the party starts. From Hunter village they drive through Stony Clove, to the Devil’s Tombstone, and to Star Rock, two miles northeast of Tannersville; to the Mountain House and Kaaterskill Falls; to Palenville, through the clove; to South Mountain; to the Grand View; to the Overlook and vicinity, including the Platterkill Falls and Lake; to Clum Hill; to Lexington, Jewett Heights, Windham, and Mount Pisgah. To these points the guests are taken in stages, in loads varying from eight to twelve persons; the distance varying from one to 15 miles. The parties are usually in the best of holiday spirits; well supplied with tin horns, streamers, flags, songs, and witticisms. Of course, all houses of any note have their stages waiting the arrival of trains at the nearest depot. In fact, as the demand for stages has decreased, so have the staging facilities in an equal proportion increased.
Investigations by high medical authorities have shown that mountain regions are beneficial to health not only during the summer months, but during the whole year, and this for other reasons than reduced temperature; and works which purport to be studies of high altitudes, in relation to the arrest of chronic pulmonary diseases, go far to prove them beneficial to all bronchial troubles, malaria, and nervous debility. Commencing with the climates of low elevation as shown by European experiences, they show that improved digestion is a false guide to the best climate; that low climates, no matter how mild the temperature, are to be avoided. In discussing the causes which render these elevated altitudes advantageous to health, they treat of temperature as affected by a given volume of air; of humidity as affected by altitude; of atmospheric electricity as affected by elevated altitudes; and of the amount of ozone in the air as affected by high altitudes.
These assertions, based upon scientific investigations, prove themselves sound, by a retrospect of the medical experience of this town. A remarkably low per centage of deaths from these diseases is found in the records of deaths. In fact, sickness of any kind is the exception. During the summer, dysentery, cholera, morbus, and an occasional case of typhoid fever, are about the only maladies, and in winter some rheumatism. The surprisingly large number of people of three score and ten, and four score years, to be seen, even in active life, is evidence of the salubrity of the climate of this mountain region.
There have been but few resident physicians in town. Among them have been Amos Hard and J. Lester, long in practice at Hunter, where they died, E. Ingersoll, John Rogers, and some few others, more transient. The present resident physicians are Drs. J. H. Mead and George Hainer. The former is a graduate of the medical department of Union College. He located at Hunter in 1863, since which time he has won for himself a good reputation, and, as preceptor, taught Edward Dibble, son of Harmon Dibble; Charles S. Hard, a son of the late Dr. Hard; Frank Baldwin; and Elmer Elliott; all of Hunter; and, in other towns, L. J. Woodworth and William H. Mead, of Jewett, the latter now in practice at Windham.
Dr. George Hainer, a native of Prattsville, studied with D. M. Leonard, M. D., as preceptor, at Broome Centre, Schoharie county. He graduated from the medical department of the University of the City of New York, February 20th 1877. He was in practice three years at Conesville, Schoharie county, and settled in Tannersville, in November 1880. He has made many friends, and attends to a lucrative practice with gratifying results, especially during the summer visiting months. Dr. Muller, of Germantown, and Dr. Frothingham, of Washington Heights, New York city, have summer residences here, and practice to a limited extent.
The Hunter village of to-day seems to have entered upon her second era of prosperity, with the advent of the Stony Clove and Catskill Mountain Railroad. To a few of the far-sighted men is this due. As Colonel Edwards was the father of the first era, so Hon. H. S. Lockwood, Frederick Beach, Esq., and a few others, may be called the fathers of this; for, without the exertions which these two enterprising men made, in inducing the chief owners to face the obstacles of the Stony Clove, its ledges and ravines, and the 1,273 feet grade in its less than fourteen mile course from Phoenicia, it is doubtful if Hunter would have had communication by rail with the outer world for many years. For some miles the road-bed is a ledge along the mountain side, from which the traveler gazes far down into the narrow valley, with its noisy torrent, or up to the forest-clad heights opposite, nearly 2,000 feet above him. It is chiefly owned by S. D. Coykendall, with George Coykendall as superintendent. Its cost, equipped, was not far from $300,000.
At the northern entrance to Stony Clove is a station and a junction, called Tannersville junction. From this point, the new road built in 1883, called the Kaaterskill Railroad, runs in a course almost due east, with a terminus at South Lake within less than a mile of both the famous mountain hotels. Hunter men deserve great credit for this. Neat and pretty depots have been built at convenient distances.
Lumbering at its best is a very laborious and dangerous business, hence, in the early days, when men by scores were felling hemlock from the hundreds of cliffs and mountain sides, and with teams drawing the bark to the valley levels, contending against snow, ice and weather, it is not strange that accidents, father to both men and beasts, oftentimes happened. At this date it is impossible to obtain a list of these casualties, but there is known to have been many. Error of judgment in the felling of trees has caused the crushing to death of many. The slewing of logs and loaded sleds on icy cliffs, and innumerable unlooked for causes, all went toward making this work of the lumberman a dangerous calling.
Several have met their death by drowning. Elijah Haynes, son of Elisha, Vilo Loomis, George W. Willsbee, Charles Higgins, and two Irishmen, were drowned in Colonel Edwards’ mill-pond. They were at work around the dam in the season of high water, and were carried over the dam to the rocks below.
The industries of Hunter have been touched upon in an occasional way. With the advent of the railroad, quarrying of flagging stone begins to be extensively carried on, as the mountains are made up of vast ledges of the best grade of peculiar stone, which will at once be a source of revenue to both operator and railroad company. But little farming is done, the soil being generally a heavy, clayey, and shaley loam, very stony, and poorly adapted to agriculture. There are a few engaged in dairying, but only to supply the hotels with milk. The principal business of its citizens in the summer is caring for guests; either boarding, staging, acting as employees of the numerous houses, or furnishing vegetables, meats, etc. In the winter lumbering is extensively prosecuted. In the spring much maple sugar and syrup are manufactured, after which the cleaning and renovating and improving of boarding houses are vigorously pushed. The repairing of old and building of new houses employs many native carpenters, among the contractors being the brothers Homer E. and Edward Payne, the latter having built many of the larger houses, and this season planned and carried forward the work on F. B. Thurber’s cottage; and the former the bridges and carpenter work of the Kaaterskill Railroad, and also many others.
Soldiers of 1842. – Aaron Hedden, William Green (long a pensioner), and Asa Lord, drummer, were soldiers in the war of 1812. Lawrence McGinnis and Jacob Dick were veterans of the Mexican service of 1842.
Militia. – In 1851 there were 155 persons enrolled as liable to do military duty, and 152 in 1852.
The New York Tannery, in 1839, was assessed at $5,000, taxes $81.50, and owned 3,153 acres. J. w. Kiersted & Co. the same year were assessed at $2,500, taxed $41.75, and owned 480 acres.
Deaths. – There were 27 deaths in the town in 1864; eight of which were of soldiers. The only vital statistics to be found in the town records.
Emigration. – The Bloomers, Abbotts, Griffins, and Williamsons, prior to 1840, emigrated to Ohio.
Early Frame Buildings. – There were a number of framed buildings in town as early as 1820.
The Cemetery near the site of the first Methodist Episcopal church, is said to have had its first interment as early as 1805. As is the case in many other old yards, many of the forefathers of the hamlet sleep in unmarked graves.
Clum Hill received its name from a Columbia county man by the name of Clum, who first cleared its sides.
Captured by Indians. –- A man by the name of Howard was stolen from this section by the savages, who took the Schoharie trail fro the western forts. They were overtaken by parties who had been apprised of the facts, surprised, and Howard was rescued.
A Connecticut Yankee named Richard Hank, is said to have built a cabin near some point on Jewett line, for which he cut his logs from the forest, forged his own nails, made his own glass, and built his own chimney.
A list of the justices of the peace since the first appointment by governor and council, and by election, will be found below. The records, as filed with the town clerk, show that the usual petty grievances in the early days of Hunter were on par with other towns, and with our time, and a fair amount of business done. Some of the records are entered correctly and neatly, even among the earliest, while others are sadly mixed. It is said of old ‘Squire Bloomer, that so originally legal was his mind, and so strong his judgment, that he never had but one case decided by the higher court against him, and but very few appeals were taken from his decisions.
The justices of Hunter have been singularly adapted to their office, and in a general way have met with success. They have been as follows:
JUSTICES OF THE PEACE 1813-1883:
1813-1825, 1828-1830, 1834
Wooster Perkins 1813-1815
Charles Chase 1815-1822
Sumner Palmenter 1816-1820
Seth Green 1816-1822, 1824
John Beach, Jr. 1820, 1822, 1824, 1826-1827
H. Goslee 1821
J. Pinckney 1821
Alvin Bushnell 1823-1824, 1829
Milton A. Purdy 1830
Oliver T. Fuller 1829
Herman I. Quackenboss 1829
Fisk Beach 1831, 1835, 1839, 1849
Edwin Goodwin 1832
Charles H. Sedgwick 1833, 1840
Abram Brewer 1833
Ezra B. Gray 1835, 1837-1838
Oliver T. Fuller 1837
John H. Kiersted 1838
William S. Bushnell 1840
Samuel Patch 1849-1850
Norman H. Gray 1849
Justin P. Fordham 1849-1850
Harvey S. Burgess 1851
Jonas Hyser 1853
James Haines 1852, 1855, 1859
Harmon B. Dibble 1856
Henry Osborn 1857
Abram D. Miller 1858
Michael Farrell 1860
John Burtis 1861, 1865, 1869
James Rusk 1862
Daniel S. Perkins 1863
John A. Miller 1864
Ralph S. Hadden 1866, 1870, 1872
Owen Glennon 1867, 1871, 1875, 1878
William F. Green 1873
Michael Farrell, elected to fill vacancy 1873, 1880
S. A. Jones 1874
Michael Farrell 1876
Calvin Harrington and James Rusk, elected to fill vacancy 1876
Calvin Harrington 1877, 1881
Charles D. Wiltze 1878, 1882
Owen Glennon, appointed to vacancy 1878
Jacob Fromer 1879
Patrick H. Smith 1880, 1883
The following is a list of supervisors since the town was organized:
Abijah Griffin 1814-1815, 1817
Seth Green 1818, 1819
William W. Edwards 1820-1823, 1845, 1851
William Edwards 1825
Alvin Bushnell 1824
Benjamin P. Bushnell 1826-1827
Harmon I. Quackenboss 1828-1832
Daniel Stowe 1833-1834
John Beach, Jr. 1835-1836
Daniel Quackenboss 1837-1839
Hiram Hatch 1840-1841
Robert Kerr 1842-1843
Alexander H. Palmer 1844
William H. Diel 1846-1847
Alexander Kiersted 1848
Fisk Beach 1849
Thomas Gibson 1850
Robert R. Kerr 1852
William Green 1853
Norman H. Gray 1854-1855, 1863, 1865
Horatio S. Lockwood 1856
James Douglas 1857-1859, 1866
Daniel S. Perkins 1860-1862
Frederick Beach 1864
Benjamin W. Gay 1867-1869
Samuel S. Mulford 1870-1871, 1877-1883
J. L. Schutt 1872, 1874
A. R. VanBuren 1873
Gilbert Haines 1875-1876
Town Meetings: Annual and special town meetings in this town have been held at the residences of its citizens. The places of meeting were generally chosen for their central location, or in early times, because of their being on one of the few and imperfectly built roads. Old Medford and Jamaica were no strangers to the jugs usually to be seen in prominent positions, and were as much of a factor in electing the proper candidate as any other side issue. Three days election was the old custom, and a general good and neighborly occasion was had. Party lines were not adhered to at first in electing town officers, but responsible and capable men were selected from both parties for township committees, officers, and other positions. In the earlier days the ladies often congregated in the house, and there being usually but one or two rooms, they participated more or less in the affair---certainly in the preparation of the meals.
Since the organization of the town, in 1813, town meetings have been held in the following places: in 1813 in the small house of Daniel Bloomer: 1814 and 1815 at William Shaw's; 1816, 1818, 1825-1827 at Sumner Palmenter's; 1817 at George Walton's; 1819, 1822 at William Haines'; 1820-1823 at Edwards' New York Tannery; 1824 at John Beach's; 1828-1833 at Harlow Perkins'; 1833-1839, 1841-1843 at Ezra B. Gay's; 1840, 1843, 1845-1850 at Robert R. Kerr's; 1844 at Egbert Vosburgh's; 1850 at William Anthony's.
The town clerks have been as follows:
TOWN CLERKS 1813-1883:
Alvin Bushnell 1819-1820
Ezra B. Gay 1829-1830, 1838-1840
Daniel Stowe 1821-1829
David Ingersol 1831-1834
John Orr 1840
John B. Lindsley 1842-1845
Alexander Kiersted 1845-1848
William E. Anthony 1848-1851
Robert R. Kerr 1851
Michael Lackey 1852-1853
Robert Elliot 1854-1859, 1863
William F. Green 1859, 1871, 1874, 1879
Charles Shevlin, Jr. 1860-1861
James R. Douglass 1862
George N. Eggleston 1864
James Shevlin 1865, 1868
Edgar H. Layman 1866
Owen Glennon 1867
H.E. Biddell 1869
Thomas Ford, Jr. 1870
R.W. Burtis 1872
F. R. Martin 1873
Hugh L. Burns 1875-1876, 1881-1882
George C. McKelvie 1877-1878, 1880
John F. Gara 1883
The population of Hunter village (Edwardsville) in 1855 was 393. In 1855 there were 829 males, 755 females in the town; 10 colored; 9 untaxed; 1030 unmarried; 523 married; 12 widowers; 29 widows; 249 native voters; 64 naturalized; 88 aliens; 276 families; 207 owners of real estate; 40 over 21 years who could not read nor write; and 5 who could read but not write.
The assessed valuation of Hunter in 1826 was $90,613, assessed to 257 residents and $49,357 to non-residents; in 1831 it was $74,347 and $32,602; in 1838, $63,363 and $19,218; in 1839 the number of acres of land assessed to residents was 31,494, to non-residents 46,563, total number of acres assessed 78,057. Value of real estate $62,315, non-residents $20, 488; personal property $6,715; incorporated companies $3,000, total $92,518; in 1845 there was assessed $75,834 on improved land; $63,260 on unimproved; in 1848 total assessment on non-residents, $13,449 on 43,621 acres, and on residents, $52,737 on 36,727 acres, making totals of $76,953, and 80,348 acres. These prove the change in recorded number of acres to have been seriously defective. Total valuation of the town in 1849 was only $55,914 and in 1850 $44,771.
In 1855 there were no stone or brick buildings within the limits of the town; there were 222 framed buildings valued at $54,735; 30 log houses, valued at $1,305, making a total valuation of $56,325. Total valuation, 1875, $116,540.
In 1855, according to official returns there were 10,264 7/8 acres of improved land in the town, and 40,456 ½ acres unimproved; the cash value was given at $129,000, and of the live stock at $46,440, and number of acres plowed at 712 ¼.
In 1855 there was reported to be but one church in the town, valued at $700, the lost at $1,000. There were 116 communicants, and an average attendance of 75. The pastor received a salary of $500.
This same year give the manufacturing industries about as follows: chair factories, 5; capital invested, $5,900; value of production, $18,900; number employed, 60; wooden wares, 2; value, $1,450; value of production, $3,350; number employed, 5; capital invested in tanning interests, $40,500; value of production, $31,000; number employed, 13; number of tanneries, 2.
The following statistics are from the census of 1875: improved lands, 13,085 acres; woodland, 22,221; other unimproved lands, 155 acres; present cash value of farms, $459,735; farm buildings other than dwellings, $74,890; stock, $81,048; tools, $16,343; area plowed, 1874, 725 acres; 1875, 815 acres; pasture land, 6,855 acres; area mown, 5,777 acres; tons of hays produced, 3,986; gross sales from farms, $37,727; number of dwellings, 301; frame, 294; log, 7; value of dwellings, $116,540; population, 1,564; number of families, 317; inhabited houses, 300; number of persons per family,4.93; to each house, 5.21.
Hunter Village and Vicinity
The region round about what is now Hunter village and vicinity, including that portion of old Woodstock, New Lexington, Jewett, and Windham, was permanently settled prior to the colder and rougher lands to their southeast by the descendants of those earnest and intensely practical Connecticut freeman. They brought to this town, as their inheritance, many of those traits character which made the colonists of that old State remarkable in our country’s history. Those followers of Davenport were men singularly original, and eminently far-sighted, with minds logical, legal, and astute. The framing of their remarkably original constitution in 39, the first example in history of a written constitution, organizing a government and defining its powers, with it a model or a guide, goes to prove them to be men who possessed an earnestness that was terrible in its intensity; and intensity which went with them into everything–piety, politics, education, work, play; which lifted them above human weakness, and made then victorious, though sad. They were a people no acquainted with idleness; they forgot fatigue, and were not stopped by difficulties. Life to them was a grim battle—they revived not to lose it; a sacred opportunity—they hoped not to throw it away. Religion, they said was what they came for—the chief thing; they meant it; they acted it. They did not attempt to combine the sacred and the secular; they simply abolished the secular, and left only the sacred. The State became the church; the king a priest; politics, a department of theology; citizenship, the privilege of those only who had received baptism and the Lord’s Supper. For the first time in history of the world, it may be, these people brought together the subtle brain of the metaphysician, and the glowing heart of the fanatic. But the outward arrangement which they constructed for themselves, the visible framework of their lives in home, and shop, and field, and court, and school, and church, were the authentic expressions of their character, and fitted them as the garment does the man who wears it. These were closely related communities, with local self government; only members of the church were allowed any voice in the State as freemen; every man was a soldier; indolence was deemed a disgrace. They made the school-house and the meeting-house the symbols of modern civilization, supported by methods which proved to be sound elements of popular liberty. They were called bigoted, and their laws dubbed blue laws, but now, before these modest representatives,--the fathers of American progress, the founders of Hartford, Simsbury, Farmington, Norwalk, New Haven, Wallingford and Glastonbury; the temple and the palace, the camp and the forum, the monastery and the castle, all bow down like the sheaves in Joseph’s dream and make obeisance.
Few can look back into the history of their own lives, family, and ancestry, and not discover elements which have formed their destiny. “Like produces like, “ in the moral as well as in the natural world. This is a true of nations as of individuals, as true of individual as of communities, as history has shown us by the influence these men had upon their posterity. If comparing the early settlers of these highlands favorably with their ancestors seems bombastic, their early work, privations and achievements, cannot be known to the reader of today. But they surely brought with them the more enduring traits of their enthusiastic progenitors. These men, as their names declare, were Connecticut born, and can easily be traced in Savage’s exhaustive genealogical work back to the settlements of 1636-70. From the Windham, Ulster county records, dated April 1798, John Hasbrouck, Peter Roggen, and John Van Gaasbeck jr., justices, we find at the request of Alexander Boyd, John Tuttle, and Isaac Miles, “a committee appointed by a plurality of votes to nominate the town officers.” that the board appointed the following, the majority of whose names will be seen to be as stated:
supervisor; Samuel Gunn, town clerk.
Assessors: Ephraim B. Hubbard, Martynis Laraway, Munson Buel (afterward long county judge and town clerk, and a man of a noble and rounded character).
Commissioners of highways: Enos Baldwin, Benjamin Johnson, Darius Briggs.
Commissioners of schools: Justis Squires, Alexander Boyd, Richard Peck.
Overseers of poor: Zephaniah Chase, John Tuttle.
Constables: Elisha Thompson, Constant Andrews, Harmenis Garlick, Elijah Bushnell, Richard Jersey.
Fence viewers: John Maben, John Tuttle, Darius Briggs, Smith Parks, Martynis Laraway.
Pound masters: Samuel Gunn, Samuel Aimes, Theophilus Peck, Justis Squires, Peter Laraway.
Path masters (Which took in the districts comprised in all of old Windham): William Beach, Ephraim Turney, Solomon Ormsbee, Ephraim Parks, John Ives, Israel Whitcomb, Jared Rin, Theron Hough, Benjamin Jones, Adnah Beach, Lawrence Decker, Elisha Thompson, Nathaniel Wilcox, Jeremiah Barber, Elisher Latimer, Nathaniel Butler, Benjamin Chamberlain, Elijah Bushnell, David Van Dyke, Isaac Miles, Samuel Haines, Herman Mason, Ephraim Hubbard, Joseph Haddon.
Collector: Henry Becker.
Besides these men, leases were granted by Robert Livingston as early as January 1777, to John Darling, witnessed by John Maben and Richard Peck, for lands on the Schoharie Kill, whose marked bound-trees are yet to be seen near Lexington Flats. Also, Henry Goslee, Samuel Merwin, Ichabod Andrews, Stephen Ford, Ephraim Lloyd, Elisha Calkins, Jarius Strong, William Parker, James Coe, Benjamin Fairchild, Eliphalet Wheeler, Munson Brackett, Nathan Inman, Ebenezer Pixley, Jesse Hills, Trueman Hinman, Isaac David (Sealer of leather), John Wilmott, Joseph Hadden, Charles B. Clark, Elijah Scovill, Uriah Townsend, William Allen, Adonijah Ford jr., Josiah Pettit, Samuel Baron, Stephen Simmons, David Way, Amherst Andrews, Seth Green jr., William Falkner, Daniel Bloomer, Arba Royce, Eber Cornish, Samuel Kelsey, Caleb Halcomb, Jason Peck, Caleb Elmore, Walter Munson, John Phillipps, Jonathan Ford, Chester Hall, Silas Fowler, Edward Darling, Timothy Bishop, Samuel Camp, Peter Brewer, David Gregory, William Miller, Bennajah Rice, Isaac Becker, Moses Steel, Urie Cook, Stephen Simmons, Joel Ford, Asa Brown, Justus Artman, Cornelius Decker, Stephen Burgess, Elijah More, James Carle, Samuel Perkins, Daniel Miles, Moses Townsend, Robert Townsend, Reuben Hosford, David Garrison, Nathan Salisbury, Orrin Burnham, John Stone, Henry Cline, George Swap, Jacob Smalley, Elias Lion, Lemuel Hitchcock, Solomon Woolcot, Michael Showers (died abut 1803), John Bray, Ezra Dibble, Phineas Benjamin, Samuel Goodsil, George Robinson, Jesse Goodsil, Nathan Osborn jr., Russel Gladding, Eli Osborn, Noah Pond, Alanson Barlow, Silas Sawyer, William Scott, Isaac Doolittle, Nathan Dudley, Edward Wright, Johnson Pane, Peter Knap, Abel I. Hall, James Addis, and others, whose names as officers of those early days are found recorded in the neat, round hand of Munson Buel prior to 1803, nearly all of which show in themselves Connecticut patronymics. So around Hunter of 1825 (then Edwardsville) the same Connecticut surnames were traceable, the descendants of whom are found in the Lockwoods, the Greens, the Dibbles, the Beaches, the Neals, the Biddells, the Egglestons, the Ingrahams, the Winters, the Wentworth, and others of to-day.
One of the earliest settlers here was Seth Green, a journeyman shoemaker and cobbler, who for some time had lived below the mountains, where he had been working from family to family, cobbling, or, in the parlance of those days, “whipping the cat.” He came to this place about 1790, where he “squatted” on what is now called the old Green homestead, just west of the village and on the southern banks of the Schoharie Kill. He was born in Litchfield, Connecticut, August 1st 1762, and was a son of Seth Green. He married Anna Buckingham of Saybrook. They had six sons and one daughter, all of whom were raised in the log cabin that he called home. Their names were: Samuel, Annijah, William Chauncey, Jiles, Elias, and Temperance. The last married Roger Bronson, who is said to have built the first saw-mill, on the site where the tannery afterward stood. Roger Bronson is also said to have been the first, thus making it conjectural.
Another early settler of this village was Sumner Palmenter and wife (a Miss Schofield). He was a son of Jerry Palmenter, who first settled near the lakes. He lived here and raised a family, and about 1830, in company with Daniel Bloomer Esq. And wife (daughter of Samuel Haines), moved with his family to Ohio, he going to Berlin Heights and Mr. Bloomer to Eastman, Putnam county. Both were stout, robust men. For many years these men lived on their lands unmolested by the owners, confident that the land untitled was their property, but about 1810 two Frenchmen, James Bushau and Anthony Loucet, came form some lower county, who owned at least portions of Great Lot 23, claimed their property, and to whom Green paid $5 per acre. The lands were afterward rented out by the Hunters as life and tenant leases, at such reasonable annual rates (one shilling an acre) that the anti-rent league’s disaffection never seriously troubled the agents. In fact there was but one meeting, and that amounted to more of a burlesque in the end. But one man had free rent. This was John Haines, in honor of his birth being that of the first male child in the town. Mr. Isaac Showers of Tannersville, well known as one of Hunter’s most respected and intelligent citizens, a surveyor and a civil engineer, was sub-agent under L. T. Miller, agent, for John Hunter’s estate, and through his kindness and that of Hon. H. S. Lockwood, and Captain Harmon Dibble, and the venerable Jiles Green, and the genial Nelson Eggleston, these facts have been learned.
In common with all mountain lands, this territory was nothing but a “howling wilderness,” and Hunter was particularly dubbed “an ivy swamp.” The roads as spoken of elsewhere were scarcely more than paths marked by blazed trees. The forest and mountain sides were alive with wolves, panthers, and wild cats. The grey wolves made the night hideous, and fires were nightly lighted to keep them off the small clearings; and as late as 1820 the settlers of the hillside brought their live stock, particularly their sheep, nightly to the fold, to guard against the depredation of these fierce animals. Bears, too, were common, and for more than 20 years from 1810, Jiles Green, a son of Seth Green, set a trap in “Shanty Hollow” with occasional success, catching from four to six a year. The early houses of the settlers were log cabins, and in them as late as 1830, Esquires Green, Palmenter, Daniel Bloomer (“a square just man”), and others, tried their petty cases.
Little had been accomplished toward forming a village settlement prior to the prospecting tours of Mr. Edwards in 1816-17, although a few cabins were standing, and town elections had been held at Sumner Palmenter’s three years previous. But from the ivy swamp and hemlock forest sprang Edwardsville, and on the site of the Bronsons saw-mill, one of then largest tanneries in the Sate, and the first to use hot liquors in the manufacture. The very streets of Hunter were, in 1817, covered with monarch hemlocks. These were felled the first year. Colonel Edwards brought his skilled workmen form his former home, and took in many new apprentices, among whom were David Van Horn and Abram Harr, afterward tanners at West Kill, Lexington. The leather in the summer season was either taken to Catskill or to Bristol, now Malden, from whence it was carried in sloops to New York, and in winter it was not infrequently carried direct overland by sleds. To keep the supply of bark up to the demand, furnished work for all the settlers of Hunter, and many of the roads then used over the mountains were equal to many modern ones.
Freshets of destructive force were no uncommon; the deep snows of the mountains yielding to the heart of the sun, often causes a mountain stream to appear as if angry at the restraint that men had imposed upon it at different points, and to rise in its might, shake itself free of all obstructions, and tear along between the banks, scattering ruin and spreading destruction, until there is nothing left of the dams of the various saw-mills but wrecks. Such freshets were not uncommon, and more than once swept the New York Tannery dam form its site. But in the summer, the waters of the Schoharie Kill were again fettered, stronger than before, and the wheels again turned.
Although Colonel William Edwards was the founder of what is now Hunter village (formerly Edwardsville), prior to his advent we have traced many earlier settlers, but with his advent, as if by magic, sprang into life a business town teeming with life and energy. Such being the fact, its rise identical with that of the founder, a sketch of his life, abridged from a speech by his eminent son, William W. Edwards, delivered before the Hide and Leather Board of Trade, at its annual dinner, February 10th 1849, at the Metropolitan Hotel, New York city, in response to a toast, “The Memory of Colonel William Edwards,” cannot be amiss. He said:
“Colonel William Edwards was born in Elizabethtown, New Jersey, November 11th 1770, and was a son of Timothy Edwards and grandson of Rev. Jonathan Edwards, president of Nassau Hall, Princeton, in 1775. His mother was Rhoda Ogden, and elder sister of Governor Aaron Ogden, His ancestors on her side were tanners from the first settlement of the town. His parents moved to Stockbridge, Berkshire county, Massachusetts, in 1771, where his father continued business as a merchant, the inhabitants being mostly Indians. The elder Edwards was an active whig, and well-founded tradition says he loaned the Continental Congress a sum upward of $100,000 in gold coin, which he eventually lost. His son was trained amid the stirring events of the Revolution and the reconstruction. In 1784 young Edwards having chosen his trade, was bound by his father to his uncle, Colonel Mathias Ogden, and his uncle by marriage, Colonel Oliver Spencer (both officers of the Revolutionary war), who continued the tanning business at Elizabethtown. He received, besides his board, the privilege of tanning with his master’s stock, four sheep skins a year—no clothing, not even a pair of taps. He afterward labored for one year and a half as journeyman, under instruction, at the rate of thirty dollars per annum.” * * *
“It has seemed somewhat strange to those unacquainted with the energy and business capabilities of Colonel William Edwards to accurately conceive how a bankrupt man from Massachusetts, could in so short a time create such a business as founded and built up Hunter, as she was in 1821-almost as if a magic wand had been brought to a sweep over the then wilderness of hemlock. Suspicions floated in the air that Mr. Edwards was not the poor man he claimed to be, but facts were stern realities with him, He is known to have come to Greene county almost penniless. The true inwardness of this success was this. In 1807, he had induced on a salary of $1000, and enterprising young shoemaker, one of his customers, to repair to New York, as his agent. He was not deceived in his selection; the tact, the talent, and the integrity of Gideon Lee brought him into position and wealth; and he ever remained a true friend, in prosperity as well as adversity. Under Mr. Lee’s auspices, in May 1817, after amendments to several of the then State laws relative to the manufacture of leather, the New York Tannery was formed, with a capital $60,000. this was under the supervision of William Edwards & Son, and in conformity with Colonel Edward’s plans, a tannery was erected at Hunter, upon a site purchased by the company, at his instance, with 1,200 acres of land adjoining, the center of the great bark region at that period. It was built upon the margin of the Schoharie Kill, and covered by substantial buildings. It was calculated to tan 5,000 hides per annum, the first modern tannery, it is believed, entirely under cover, built in the United States. Their first leather was sent to market in 1818.
Workmen to erect the tannery and to manufacture the leather were brought from Massachusetts for the purpose. In 1818 Colonel Edwards had been required by his associates to pass through the two-thirds act, as the insolvent law of the State was termed, to protect their interests as well as his earnings, but he never for a moment looked upon it as the final settlement of the claims against him; more than the required amount of this creditors cheerfully united in his petition for the same. The were most of them his personal friends, and many of them were more or less distressed by their loss. In 1822, Messrs. Edwards purchased the real estate of the company by the aid of Jacob Lorillard, and thenceforward, greatly enlarged, it was supplied by him and his successor with stock. In 1830 the tannery was totally destroyed by fire, and as with the loss of his bark-mill at Northampton, Massachusetts, in 1811, he lost all he had, but it arose again with enlarged capacity the same season. In 1834 he had so far prospered that he determined to carry out his long cherished plan. He had his property of every description, without reserve, appraised at its fair value by Foster Morss and Jonathan Palen, his brother tanners, and sold the same at the appraisal, to his three eldest sons, and assigned their notes to James Powers, of Catskill, and Lewis Strong, of Northampton, Massachusetts, to be collected, and the amount, exceeding $25,000, distributed pro-rata among his creditors, which, in due time, was fully accomplished. Thus, at the advanced age of 64 years, he surrendered a profitable business and all his property, literally beggaring himself, to do what he could to pay those debts from which he had been legally discharged sixteen years before. From this period he retired from active business, supported by his children. The last ten years of his life were spent in New York and Brooklyn. He died December 29th 1851, the death of the righteous, and has gone to his high reward. His remains repose in Greenwood, but his monument may be seen in the growth of the Hunter of to-day.
In the prime of life, Colonel Edwards was of commanding presence, six feet, four inches in height, well proportioned, of great strength and self-control, prompt and decisive. He had an inventive mind, as four patents granted him prior to 1813 show. Among them were the copper heater, hide-mill, application of hot liquor, and roller.
Colonel Edwards, as the old settlers affirm, had a remarkably large head, and to children unaccustomed to him, was a source of fright. This was occasioned by a bump from the head of an Indian lad, while at play dodging around the big chimney of this father’s house when four years old. The blow laid him senseless, but did not affect him more seriously that the enlargement of one side of his head to a lamentable deformity. He was a man quite unostentatious in his habits; a candid, practical man. A man very plain of features, which spoke of decision and energy of character. Though exceedingly kind at heart, his appearance often led to wrong impressions in this regard. He was ever the friend and patron of every useful improvement in the trade, liberal in communicating the knowledge he had acquired by his own experience, and grateful for new improvements or ideas from others; always paying, when required, a liberal compensation therefore. He was a strict Christian, and highly spoken of by all.
Colonel Edwards married Rebecca Tappan, daughter of Benjamin Tappan, November 11th 1793. His family consisted of 11 children all but one living to maturity, the sons having without exception been energetic business men,---tanners, merchants, and ship builders.
The Grand Army of the Republic
For many years subsequent to the first Grand Army of the Republic organizations, the organizing of posts in honor of some brave leader was so enthusiastically carried forward, that scarcely a town of any size in the North has been without its weekly or monthly reunion of the brave boys who wore with credit our blue. This keeping aglow the memory of those terrible days by men who can tell their tales of midnight marches, labor in trenches, of deadly ambuscades, of imprisonment in foul dens, of the dead line, and of death, of all the horrors of fratricidal war, will surely also keep alive the true spirit of patriotism, and its principles bearing upon the States as a Union, and the constitution, and wherever such a post has been organized, it should be the pride of the citizen, as well as of the veteran. The towns about Hunter, as will be seen elsewhere, can boast of having filled with honor their quota. Although many of those who went to the front never returned, yet there are a goodly number of the veterans living within a convenient radius of this point. These facts were carefully considered, and the A. N. Baldwin Post, No. 263, G.A.R., was organized by special order No. 26, Department of N.Y., G.A.R., dated April 7th 1882, by order of the department commander, James S. Fraser, and signed by George F. Hopper, A.A.G.
The first meeting was held at the Hunter House, April 20th 1882. The mustering officer, Major J. H. Everett, of Pratt Post, Kingston, assisted by H.D. Baldwin and G. W. Peck, mustered in the following named veterans as charter members: John C. Keller, Charles E. Lake, Burton Tompkins, George X. Graham, Franklin H. Van Valkenburgh, John W. Goodrich, Reuben Palmer, Albert S. Graham, Daniel H. Douglas, James M. Lake, Francis A. Barber, James W. Linsley, Peter Wilcox, Uriah P. Griffin, Frederick E. Ingalls, Charles Ingalls, John S. Gemmel, Austin Gailor, Abram D. Miller, Jacob Stotz, Earl W. Fisher, and William T. Thompson.
The following were elected as its first officers: John C. Keller, P.C.; Charles E. Lake, S.V.C.; Burton Tompkins, J.V.C.; George H. Graham, Q.M.; Reuben Palmer, chaplain; John W. Goodrich, officer of the day; Franklin H. Van Valkenburgh, officer of the guard; Albert S. Graham, appointed adjutant; Daniel H. Douglas, appointed S.M.; and James M. Lake, Q.M.S.
The present officers are: George X. Graham, P.C.; James M. Lake, S.V.C.; Burton G. Tompkins, J.V.C.; Albert S. Graham, adjutant; Charles E. Lake, Q.M.; Charles Ingalls, surgeon; Rev. J. P. Rice, chaplain; Uriah P. Griffin, O.D.; F. G. Van Valkenburgh, O.G.; Daniel H. Douglas, S.M.; Charles S. Wiltsie, Q.M.S.; The post has added many new members, and now numbers upward of 60. It meets every second and fourth Saturday evening in Grand Army Hall.
The temperance movement of 1868 found a response in the sober and thinking people here. July 29th 1868, Mountain Division, No. 369, was organized, and instituted by a delegation from Catskill, with these persons recorded as charter members: H. E. Biddell, F. S. Burgess, J. C. Rundell, James Douglas, Joel Mead, H. E. Rundell, Frank Benjamin, William Douglas, Willis Baldwin, Rev. Mr. Merchant, Daniel Rundell, H. S. Lockwood, and Frederick Douglass. Their last meeting was held January 16th 1871.
October 15th 1875, it was reorganized as Hunter Division, No. 206. April 10th 1877, they disbanded, and reorganized as Mount Guyot Lodge, No. 615, I.O. of G.T. The first officers under this last charter were: Charles E. Lake, W.C.T.; Kate Green, W.V.T.; E. E. Elliott, W. In November 1878, they disbanded. January 16th 1883, they reorganized under the name of Hunter Prohibition Lodge, No. 632. The present presiding officers are: C. E. Lake, W.C.T.; Carrie Ingalls, W.V.T.; J. A. Baldwin, secretary; M. Cartwright, financial secretary; G. W. Ferris, chaplain; P. Brewer, M.; Clara Elliott, treasurer; J. D. Devaul, S.; Miss L. Brewer, P.W.; George Ferris, C.T.; Mary Olds, R.H.S. ; Edith Brewer, L.H.S.; Ada Rush, A.S.; Lottie Devaul, D.M. This society meets Monday evenings.
Several years after the birth of odd fellowship in this country, a lodge was organized at Hunter, about 1848, in the old Edwards mansion. Owing to the loss of the records, little can be said of them. It was called the Annawach Lodge, No. 339. Among its first members were: Dr. Ingersoll, N.G.; William Ford, Moses Ford, James Courtland, George Osborn, Robert McClennon, Daniel Perkins, Lansing Woodworth, O. C. Rogers, G. V. Eggleston, Erastus Purdy, and others. A discussion arose between two factions, one for the old and the other for the new constitution, which, in about two years from its first organization, brought about a division, and two lodges, eventually, lacking that brotherly love, friendship, and sincerity necessary to their maintenance, ceased to be.
The present brass band of Hunter village was organized March 28th 1883, with A. E. Green as leader, H. B. Coe assistant leader, and the following members: George Miller, J. H. Van Valkenburgh, John Miller, E. Palmer, Frank Gilbert, E. Bicknell, John Robinson, H. A. Robinson, Daniel Rowley, and C. R. Lake. This is, at least, the second organization of the kind in the town.
The present business of Hunter village is confined to the manufacture of furniture, and the usual trades and mercantile establishments. H. E. Biddell and J. C. Rundell have each general stores, both of which have been established many years, the former in the days when the tannery was in full running order, and the latter some 20 years ago, having been first opened by Robert Elliott. C. E. Lake has been engaged in the tin and hardware trade for about 12 years; formerly under the firm name of C. E. & H. Lake. J.F. Gara is proprietor of a small grocery, confectionary, and fancy goods store, and also a saloon and billiard room, and is the present town clerk. George X. Graham has been a dealer in harness and saddlery since 1879. The business was established in 1871 by A. S. Graham. Mr. Graham has also opened a quarry of flagging stone on the north side of Chair Mountain. G. C. McKenzie is a watchmaker. George W. Anderson, as builder and contractor and general lumber dealer, is the only one now in Hunter. Mr. Anderson has built most of the bridges and nearly all the large houses in the village, and the Methodist Episcopal church. Thomas Campbell and Addison P. Loomis are the village smiths, and James Shevlin the boot and shoe maker. George Osborn is village smith at the lower village. L. A. Woodworth is proprietor of the livery and feed stable, and also runs a line of coaches. William B. Burhans is the accommodating and genial station agent.
Lockwood, Baldwin & Co., the company being Joel W. Mason, George W. Swan, and John Dawson, of New York city, are engaged in the manufacture of furniture. The business was established by Horace Baldwin in 1855. They occupy one building, 36 X 60 feet, two and one-half stories high, with engine-house attached, also a new building, 40 X 84 feet, two and one-half stories in height. They use a 15-horse power engine. An average force of 18 workmen are employed, and they consume about 100,000 feet of lumber annually, mostly hard wood.
At the western end of Hunter village is a large chair factory, established about 1850 by George Fromer. It is now owned and run by H. S. Lockwood & Co., the company being the same gentlemen as in the above firm. The original building was one three-story structure, 32 X 84 feet, with a saw-mill attached. There has been one new additional building, 42 X 96 feet, two stories; and one engine-house, 22 X 28 feet, also two stories high. Both steam and water power are used, of the former a 100-horse power engine furnishes power in dry times. They manufacture about 1,000,000 feet of lumber into chairs annually, using 100 bales of cane and 40 barrels of varnish, 20 barrels of glue, etc., and employ about 200 women and children seating chairs. The present firm has been in existence since December 1st 1868, and shows an increase in production of four fold, and now manufactures about 10,000 dozen chairs annually.
At Edgewood H. S. Lockwood & Co. established, August 1881, the present large saw-mill and chair stock manufactory. It is a frame structure 40 X 80 feet with L 28 X 32 feet, two stories with store houses, 20 X 100 feet, one 28 X 48. A 100-horse power engine runs the machinery, and they employ about 35 men, annually manufacturing about 1,500,000 feet of timber into chair stock. In 1881 they also built 11 neat tenements for their men.
At Nealsville, long ago, Neal and Norcutt established a saw-mill and chair factory, which was subsequently owned by Gray & Ingersoll, but eventually bought by J. V. Neal and is now under the firm name of J. V. Neal & Sons. The factory is 30 X 90, two stories high. They employ 15 men, and consume annually over 300,000 feet of lumber, producing over 1,200 dozens of chairs. A circular saw has been recently added and other improvements. An engine is used for power. It is an enterprising firm.
Robert Walker runs a small planing-mill and saw-mill built by H. S. Lockwood in 1875. It is run by water and consumes about 25,000 feet of lumber annually.
Up and down Stony Clove have been and still are many saw-mills; the principal business of the inhabitants during the winter seasons being lumbering.
Dayton E. Slater, a young and enterprising man of Jewett, established in 1883, the first drug store. He is a graduate of the College of Pharmacy of New York city and is thoroughly prepared to compound any prescriptions given him. He is also about building a boarding house to accommodate 25 guests.
The undertaking demands are supplied by Lockwood, Baldwin & Co., who have a well appointed hearse and all undertaking requirements. The Hon. H. S. Lockwood is also agent for many of the best insurance companies, and controls a large business.
Among the prominent and live spirits of the village, who are now, or have been in active business and now retired, or by a constancy to their life work reached a competency sufficient to see them through their old age, we mention. Hon. H. S. Lockwood, who, though a republican in politics, has been twice chosen to represent the county in the General Assembly. Inasmuch as the county has ever been strongly democratic, his election speaks volumes in his honor as a citizen, and of his practical worth as a far-sighted businessman. He is a man of strong common sense – a man of integrity and stability of character. Horace G. Baldwin was ever active in the manufacturing industries of the village until his death. Samuel Patch was one of the earliest mill-wrights of Hunter. He came about 1816, and built many of the mills and tanneries in and about Hunter. Zelotus Wilcox, Seth N. Eggleston, Sylvester Green, and Isaac Annaman, besides the names mentioned in connection with its history and business, are all respected and honored citizens.
Hotels and Boarding Houses
A passing glance along the several turnpikes and roads may be of a historical value in years to come, when this region is developed; for it is the current opinion that the prosperity of these highland towns is yet in its infancy. To be sure, many thousand visitors find their way to the Catskills every summer, but compared with the millions who seek health, recreation, and rest at mountain and seaside resorts during the summer months, they are but a handful, easily lost sight of among these mountains and their valleys.
The boarding houses and more pretentious hotels, with but few exceptions, are situated either on the turnpike leading from east bounds of the town westward to Hunter village, or on its branch intersecting at Tannersville, and running thence to Plaaterkill Clove. Commencing at the eastern side, on the Mountain House road, situated on the verge of the famous plateau, known as Pine Orchard, stands one of the two pioneer hotels of the region, upon whose registers have been inscribed the names of nearly all of the men and women famous in every circle of life within the last 50 years. With this hotel, as with its palatial neighbor still higher up, the New Kaaterskill, it is sufficient but to mention their names, as no better, more convenient, systematically managed hotels exist in any country. Passing out of the park, one finds the Glen Mary Cottage, with John V. Scribner as proprietor. Mr. Scribner is a native of Catskill. He moved to Hunter for the purpose of following his vocation of lumbering, but the demands of the location changed his plans, as well as his house. Situated at the park toll-gate, he enjoys the advantages of the famous overlooks, nooks, and falls, as attractions. The next is the far-famed Laurel House, at the Kaaterskill Falls. For more than 53 years the Schutts have acted host, and for over 50 years a register has been kept. Peter Schutt, the father of the well-known landlord, J. L. Schutt, came to these falls in 1825, and soon afterward erected a small cabin inn. In 1832 the register was open to the public. In 1850 the Laurel House was built with a capacity for accommodating 25 guests. Enlargements have been made, and it now accommodates 200. No visitor to the mountains should let pass a visit to this house and falls. Its tables, its attaches, its scenery for quiet grandeur, its wines, and its landlord and landlady, are all rivals of the best.
A few rods from this laurel nook is the Laurel House station on the Kaaterskill Railroad, to which excursions are made daily. Up the hill and near is the Mountain House road with a thoroughly laid and well kept road bed. This was built by Mr. Beach, and leads from the Mountain House to the Hunter Turnpike. The Hunter Turnpike was ceded by the town to the Hunter Turnpike Company as early as 1821. In 1831 the amount of capital paid in had amounted to $4,858.94. This had been paid for extensions and new routes, to Avery, Olmstead & Burris, Durham parties, the contractors.
The elevation of these table lands and smaller hills at this point is fully 2,500 feet, but the whole country around being one broad plateau, with its mountains, the visitor cannot realize the altitude until he, by some vista through the clove or by some overlook, catches a glimpse of the valley lands nearly 3,000 feet below and less than three miles eastward.
From this point westward to Delaware county, the road continues in nearly a direct line, over a varied undulating country. The boarding house nearest to the Mountain House, and its imposing panorama---imposing through the very simplicity of its features---is that of E. Adams. The next is that of Nelson P. Scribner, Gem of the Catskills, built in 1869, which accommodates about 35 guests. A farm of 50 acres supplies the table with plenty of fresh produce. From this point Haines Corners depot is one and one-fourth miles distant. It is two miles from the Mountain House, and one-half mile from the Kaaterskill Falls, and four miles from Tannersville. George Reed's Highland View House is pleasantly located a short distance beyond. This house was built for a boarding house in 1879 by Mr. Reed, who, aided by a five years experience at the Mountain House, acts the host in a host-like manner. Te house has a capacity for 40 guests. David Edward's Sylvan Cottage, on the site of one of the earliest erected cabins, has convienent rooming capacity for 15 persons, who may also find board there. Sunset Cottage, Jeremiah E. Haines, proprietor, was erected 1874, and accommodates 50 guests. Continuing on one passes High Peak Cottage, a farm-like looking cottage, the property of Jeremiah Haines, a gentleman of the old stock. Mr. Haines, now nearly four score years of age, is yet hale and hearty, and is one of the oracles of the region; he was born and bred in Hunter, and a listener to his tales will be carried back to the days when the land was flowing with hardships, instead of milk, honey and maple sugar. Mr. Haines has never ridden a rod on the steam cars (trains-AC). His house can accommodate 10 visitors. In the rear of his house is a well marked mound, said to be the grave of an Indian Chief, and a few rods further down the old Indian trail can be pointed out that leads to the lakes and down the clove. Within sight of this is the commodious Hilton Hotel, W. I. Hallenbeck, manager. It is a house that comfortably accommodates 125 guests. Situated in the heart of the mountain region, nearly 3000 feet above tide level, with large airy rooms, an excellent opportunity is offered to those who desire a pleasant retreat from the cares and troubles of business or professional life, or the constant and wearying annoyances of the city. Jesse Haines and Aaron Haines offer accommodations for about 25 and 30 guests, respectively, in neat cottages, a quarter of a mile or so below. At this point a branch road leads northward, upon which, one mile from Haines Falls depot, is picturesquely situated Glen Cottage. This is the property of Owen Glennon, Esq., one of Hunter's prominent citizens. The view from here is wide and picturesquely varied. The site of this house was originally occupied by a farm house built by William Dietrich some 40 years ago. It was afterward owned by a man named Barter. It reverted back to the Hunter estate, and was bought by James Glennon in 1861. He enlarged the house and in 1872 commenced keeping boarders. In 1873 he sold it to his son Owen, who has made further improvements at different periods until now it has a capacity for 90 guests.
Returning to the turnpike, we pass the Haines Falls Methodist Episcopal church, and come to the corners known as Haines Corners. Here is located a station of the new road. Haines Corners House is owned and kept by Miles N. Haines. It was erected in 1864, with a capacity for 20 boarders. Enlarged at different times, it now accommodates 90. The house has connected there a spacious billiard saloon and a bowling alley. This point is three miles from High Peak, one mile from the clove, and three-fourths of a mile from the beautiful Haines Falls, and the grand and sublime gorge through which the waters of the Kaaterkill tumble. From here the clove turnpike commences, going eastward. Situated upon this at a point which commands a beautiful view of The Vista. This site was first built upon in 1849 by Aaron Haines. It was then used as an inn by the few who visited this section, among whom were Cazalier, Kinsit, and Durand, the famous artists, who worked principally at Haines Falls. In 1876 it was enlarged to a capacity of 30 guests. Mr. Haines dying in 1883, the property reverted to his daughter, Mrs. E. S. Scott, who now runs the place. The next boarding house is the Haines Falls House, good sized, cool, with piazzas. Following the foot-path in the rear of the house to the wooded brink of the clove, one passes through a gate to the stairs leading down the deep descent, where the falls can be seen in all their grandeur. No stranger grudges the 25 cents he pays here for the sight. This house was built in 1864 by Charles W. Haines, with a capacity for 30 guests, but the demands of the visiting public has necessitated improvements at two distinct periods. It now accommodates 90. From this vicinity, and back in a northwest line to the commanding location chosen by F. B. Thurber, one of New York's millionaires, who in 1883 built three quaintly constructed cottages, two miles north of Tannersville proper, and near Star Rock, one of the grandest vistas is to be had of the valley below, through the rift in the mountains, called the Kaaterkill Clove. With the grand perspective of the foreground, a glimpse through the rift seems like a miniature of another world---a vision of the beautiful land---as if a small map was spread out with its fields, its meadows, its forests, beautifully toned and tinted by the ever changing atmospheric effects.
"With streams and lakes, diminished, like the dwellings of man, into insignificance. The Hudson, lessened to a rill, is likened to a riband laid over a ground of changing green. Still further on, the swelling uplands can be seen, and then far along the horizon, mountains piled on mountains, vale after vale, in impressive and sublime confusion, melting into the distance, rising range above range, peak after peak, till the loftiest fades into the blue of the sky."
These views, for there is another equally as grand to be seen through the Plaaterkill Clove, form, a picture no visitor can ever forget. Mr. Thurber has recently bought at this point about 150 acres, upon which he intends to build more cottages, a school-house, church, store, and to lay the same out into lots and streets.
Near the Methodist Episcopal church, a short cut to the main turnpike is made. On this road, John O'Hara built his well located house, in 1871, on land bought from Norman Gray, who purchased directly of the Hunters. From this point an admirable view of all the different meadows, ranges and peaks in the vicinity, in all their picturesqueness and grandeur, and framed by the mountains and cliffs that go to make the framework of the Kaaterkill Clove, a delightful view is to be had of the noble valley below, and beyond. Passing on to the main road again, the next boarding establishment is that of Uriah Haines. It was originally a tavern, built about 50 years ago by James Haines, and was among the earliest of the framed houses. James Haines died in 1879, since which time his son Uriah, has controlled it. Capacity about 20 guests. Just beyond, and opposite Mr. Peter Haines', is the toll-gate; a charge of half a dime is paid, and one comes to another branch road leading by Mrs. Hiram Roe's house, which has an inviting and hospitable air; something that assures one he will be made at home, and where he can enjoy himself at his ease. Further up this road is Upland Cottage. At this point, high up again, and to the northeast of Tannersville, Round Top, Mink, and Hunter Mountains are to be seen in their majesty. It is owned and run by Cornelius H. Legg, and has accommodations for 50 guests, with a farm of 100 acres connected. This is also a well patronized house. This road by Mrs. Roe's runs circuitously up over the hills, down past Isaac Showers' , and Thurber's cottages, and comes out at Tannersville proper. There are several small houses on this road; some of which accommodate boarders, among which may be mentioned Mrs. Daniel Parker's, one of the oldest families in this region, and a good, homelike abiding place it would be.
Returning to the turnpike by the toll-gate, and passing westward again, a substantial looking house is seen to the lest, which was built by H. A. Layman, a veteran of the civil war and a native of the neighborhood. It has accommodations for about 50 guests. Just below this house is an inn-like looking structure, at one time a sort of "Hub" of the country around. It was built by Martin Eggleston and was afterward run as a tavern by Samuel Perkins, followed by a man named Link, and afterward for many years, until his death by James Layman. Undoubtedly, in the "bark days" and the teaming ones, much of old Jamaica or Medford made warm the bodies as well as the conversation of the many drivers, travelers , and woodsmen. Mr. Layman was also post master for a long while. At this point, thousands, perhaps millions, of hoop-poles were produced, or bought, for the coopering districts, by the same gentleman and his sons. As this business ceased to be profitable, they engaged largely at the Christmas season in securing evergreens for the New York market, a business at once profitable and which is yet carried on throughout the town. His son, E.H. Layman, proprietor of the Maplewood, just beyond. This was one of the first framed houses in the town. It was repaired in 1863, and the present building completed in 1875. It has a capacity for 35 guests. Mr. Layman, a native of Hunter, is conversant with its history. He is a veteran of the war, and possesses papers written by his colonel, that prove him to have been among the bravest and most faithful of the soldiers. He was present when General Lee surrendered his sword to General Grant. Directly opposite is the small cottage of M. O'Hara, accommodating about 25. In connection with this, Mr. O'Hara has a bowling alley. Guests find this cottage home like, central, and convienent. On this road live Charles, Edward, and George Haines, Samuel Brewer, and Widow Layman, all of whom, no doubt, will soon be classified as boarding-house proprietors. Nest is the Mountain Summit House, built in 1870, by S. S. Mulford, Esq., one of Hunter's most successful business men, who has, year after year, been supervisor. His house is one of the best known resorts in Hunter. It is 2,054 feet above sea level, and has a capacity for 150 guests. Connected with the house is a cottage, as an overflow house. Dr. Frothingham, a well known physician of New York city, has built a large summer residence a few rods west of this, where he spends his summers with his family and their friends. Opposite is Summit Cottage, erected in 1880 by Homer H. Paine, Mr. Paine, being a thorough mechanic, built for himself a well planned and ventilated building, which will accommodate about 20 guests.
The Woodward House, erected in 1882 by Leonard Woodward, proprietor, accommodating 30 boarders, is next. It is so situated that the life and bustle of Tannersville can be seen, and the quiet enjoyed. The Lexington ranges are also discernable. To the right leads another branch road, which takes one to the house of James H. Flanagan, which accommodates 20 guests. Mr. Flanagan is one of Hunter's best read and informed men; an ex-soldier and a brave man. On the road leading to the left, the old Plaaterkill road, an upon which Samuel Haines first settled (now the property of "Doc" Campbell), is situated Meadow Brook House, owned by A. Stimpson Haines, and has ample capacity for 35. A few rods below is Tannersville station. Following the main road from this branch, one comes to Tannersville proper---named probably from the habit the tanners had of congregating in and about these numerous early taverns. Just east of where the Summit House stands, the hill, in those days, was known as Jockey Hill. A small tavern stood there many years, and like all taverns, had its jests and stories, and its coterie of nightly visitors. It was first kept by Abram Brewer. Near this, and below, lived his father-in-law, Edward Eggleston, a native of Danbury, Connecticut, who brought with him the well known Yankee admiration for horse-flesh and trading, and the story that hung around the beams of this hotel bar-room, was that trading horses with his son-in-law one morning, before night he had traded horses 14 times with as many different men, receiving with much boot, the same horse that he started with in the morning. Many stories ate told of his various trades, but none to his disparagement as a Connecticut Yankee. "Uncle Bill Haines" for many years kept a tavern just below this last site.
In Tannersville is a center, the post and telegraph offices being here. A well-stocked modern drug store is here, with a competent compounder of "Esculapius" most learned prescriptions, in Mr. Rightmyer, and a genial gentleman. A few rods above is Esculapius, himself, in the person of Dr. George Hainer, at whose neat and tasty house 10 guests can be lodged. Above, on the same side as the drug store, is located Campbell's Tannerville Mansion, formerly known as Tannersville Cottage. It is owned and run by George Campbell, as they say. "a right clever fellow." The building is finely situated above the road, opposite Fromer's commodious store, and contains accommodations for 75 guests, in large, airy and newly furnished rooms.
E. B. Howard, the veteran wood turner, accommodates about 15 persons; he also supplies fancy wooden ornaments, made from native woods, from a small bazar. It is said that some of the handsomest "excresences" and knurls in the country are to be found among the Katzberg forests. The old weather stained up-and-down saw-mill immediately back of his bazar, is one of the few old-tome land marks of the town. Opposite Mr. Howard, is a competitor in wooden ware, a summer garden, a rifle range, and photograph gallery, owned by a German gentleman, a Mr. Bickerman. We now come to Tannersville Four Corners, and Roggen's Mountain Home, with which every visitor to these [parts during the past ten years is well acquainted. The Four Corners of Tannersville have been the site of an inn since the days of Harlow Perkins, one of the earliest settlers. At that time the annual elections were held here. Later it was run and owned by Norman Gray, who met his death by accident in the clove, in April 1865. It was afterward run by his son, who in 1869, sold to the present well known proprietor, Aaron Roggen. He, in 1872, enlarged and repaired the old house, and again, in 1879, made the extensive improvements now to be seen. Here, but one-fourth of a mile from the depot, is the post office. A farm of 200 acres supplies all farm products. It is the "Hub" of Tannersville, as Van Pelt's Hunter House is the "Hub" of Hunter village, and O'Hara's of Lexington, and the name, Roggen's Mountain Home, is no misnomer. At this point, two blacksmith shops are now doing a good business, one owned by George Campbell, the other by Nelson Campbell, who is the proprietor of the small hotel and saloon to be seen near by. Mr. Campbell has also a small boot and shoe establishment. There are two barber shops located here, and the Mountain Home billiard room and bowling alley. One of the largest stores to be found in the mountain region is that of Jacob Fromer at this point. It was established by himself in a small way in 1874, in the basement of the Cascade House. He remained there two years, when a demand for more commodious quarters compelled the erection of a portion of the present commodious building. This he completed in 1882. Being the only general merchandise dealer in the vicinity, he is compelled to carry a large summer supply stock, upward of $30,000, in hardware, tinware, flour, grain and feed by the carload, phosphates, lime, carpets, mattings, groceries, dry goods, clothing, fancy articles, in fact, everything. The building he now occupies in 60X68 feet, four stories, including a basement, and Tannersville can well boast of its store.
Just south of the Four Corners, and nearer the Tannersville depot, Mr. Frank Eggleston, one of the enterprising young men of the mountains, a son of G. N. Eggleston, erected The Mountain Retreat in 1878, and in 1882 brought its dimensions to the present size, accommodating about 35. It is well located, well ventilated, and has good drainage. Going towards Hunter village, a few rods from the "Corners, " is Egglestons Cascade House, one of the longest established, and among the few well known summer resort houses of the many among the Catskills. In years gone by, when Hunter was the scene of much activity in the tanning line, and the magnet for tanners of all nationalities and characters, this spot, like a few others, was long the site of a country tavern or ale house, which, beside being the resort for this nomadic class, was the Mecca and the paradise of many a VanWinkle, VanBummel, Vedder, or the Scotchman O'Shanter, and undoubtedly the scene of many such as we find so graphically described by a Thomson or an Irving. It was long kept by a man named Hedden. The present genial and hospitable proprietor, Nelson Eggleston, a native of Hunter and a descendant of one of the earliest settlers, who emigrated from Danbury, Connecticut, purchased the farm and has remodeled the house and rebuilt it to the present size. Originally accommodating about 17 persons, he can now comfortable accommodate 75. There is an abundance of fine shade, and pure mountain spring water, and the farm affords a full supply of farm products. Following westward, one finds John Stickles, as host, at Rocky Bower cottage, accommodating about 15. The well shaded and pleasantly located and home like looking cottage to be seen next, situated at the head of the romantic looking lane leading off from the turnpike, at a bend of the road near the Maple Grove Cottage, about one mile from the post office or Roggen's Mountain Home, is that of Miss Lucy Craig. It was originally built as one of the earliest frame houses in the town, but has been remodeled, repaired, and additions built thereto at different dates, the last being about 1861. Next to Miss Craig's (who also is owner of a small grocery store) is the Maple Grove House, built by James Brown (deceased). His widow is now hostess. It is a large and convienent house capable of comfortably accommodating about 60 guests. It is located on the turnpike, between Hunter (distance three and a half miles) and Tannersville (distance one-half mile and depot three-fourths of a mile). A short distance from here is a large and new house, tastily painted, and conveniently situated. It was built for Watson Mulford, who is also host, with new furniture, and airy rooms, accommodating 60 guests.
We next come to one of the largest houses in the town, the Pleasant View House, which is justly named. It is owned by Mr. C. L. Ford and has ample capacity for at least 150 guests. Its dimensions are, with wings, 40X80; 20X40; 30X80; the main building is three stories. It was leased this season to M. Goodhiem. It was commenced in 1873 by Mrs. Campbell, and finished by the present owner in 1875. It is certainly among the best of Hunter properties. Still further on is the Catskill Mountain Cottage, having passed two smaller boarding houses, W. H. Smith's and Dennis Brown's. This cottage is one of the tastiest on this road. It was built in 1877 by Nelson Campbell. It has a capacity for 30 guests. Morris Lester acts as host and is a genial, accommodating landlord.
It was just beyond here that Samuel Merritt and Jacob Carle built their first log cabins. Merritt is said to have been a giant in stature and strength. It is thought that the first crops were sown by one or both of these pioneers about 1790, and that they set out the first orchard in the town. Only a few twisted, dead limbed and knarled trees live today to mark the spot. A joke is traditional of the latter's father that will bear recording. Carle was the father of a large family among which was a disproportionate number of girls. Like the young women of today, they had their sweethearts who, usually, in a brief courtship, declared their love and choice, and were "always accepted." Such was the case with one of Carle's daughters, and the wedding was announced. Customs change with the years, and our marriage customs are much different from those of earlier days, when a wedding brought to the bride's house the young and old of the region around. A wedding was the event of the season. The bridegroom was usually taken in charge of by the unmarried swains, and amid jokes and much laughter conducted to the house of the bride's father. Arrived there the ceremony would take place in the presence of the assembled guests, after which fiddling and dancing, along with a liberal allowance of the "ardent," created a queer degree of merriness, which usually lasted until daylight. At high midnight a feast was spread before the guests, and the cooking by the bride, and her qualities as house wife, were discussed and generously praised. After supper dancing was resumed, and when the dance was at it's height, a bevy of young ladies would quietly steal the bride away and snugly ensconce her beneath the unbleached sheets of the bed above in the loft. Upon their return the young men would take the bridegroom and place him beside his bride. At this wedding this custom was broken by the genius of the elder Carle. At the supper table a huge custard pudding had been made as the chef-d' auvre of the feast. The guests had been invited to sit around the board. The custard was drawn to the head of the table and dishing commenced; but the guests' faces as it went on, assumed at first a look of repressed levity; then of amazement; then of anxiety; an lastly a long, curiously sad expression, as Jake stuttingly, yet with nonchalance, remarked: "S-S-S-Sal! I wi-wi-wish you'd g-get m-m-ma-married e-very dayl that p-p-p-pudding is da-da-darnaci-cious ju-ju-julici-ci-cious." He had eaten it all!! And it was long a by-word of this neighborhood, "D-dad says he wi-wishes S-S-Sal w-would g-get ma-ma-married ha-e-every day!"
John J. Haines is the proprietor of the next house, which has a capacity for about 20. Patrick Gillespie's house, accommodating 35 guests, is next, and in between this point and Hunter village is a cozy, protected spot; one that, with its meadow and its fine old elms, and the hill at its back, reminds the visitor of some picture painted from a poet's inspiration. It is the farm house of Louis Quick, who is one of the old residents, and whose hospitable and courteous lady is a descendant of the oldest stock. Twelve guests are comfortably cared for in this charming nook. The family of Horace Ingraham, at his commodious farm house, have accommodations for about 15 guests. He is a very old resident of the county, but his son has charge of the premises. Other houses are scattered along the other mile between this and the Hunter Mountain Prospect House, which is the first in the village. It is a new building, situated high up on extensive grounds, and commanding a sweeping view of Stony Clove, Hunter Mountain, and the ranges to the east and west. It is the first house to be seen from the car (railway-AC) windows coming through Stony Clove. It has accommodations for 200 guests. A few rods west, and on a little lower ground, is the well-known Breeze Lawn House. Its proprietor for the last five seasons, Mr. VanLoan, is a gentleman peculiarly adapted to the nice duties of the host. It was erected in 1861 by John Burtis, who controlled it for 14 years. A gentleman by the name of Euerdell let it pass into the hands of J. B. Thompson, to whose estate it now belongs. It was the first house in Hunter of any importance thrown open for summer guests. The house is pleasantly situated on a high plateau, facing Hunter Mountain (4,052 feet). It has accommodations for 80 persons. Thomas Campbell built his house in 1881. The house has pleasant piazzas, and is situated on the main street of the village. It has accommodations for about 20. Mr. Campbell is one of the village smiths. Central House and cottage, as its name indicates, is centrally located, and for many years has been one of the large houses of the village. It was built by James Rusk, and in 1880 passed into the hands of his son William J. Rusk. It has a capacity for 125. It has pleasant grounds and surroundings. VanPelt's Hunter House is emphatically the hotel of Hunter. As such, and as a commodious boarding house, it has long enjoyed a just and substantial reputation. It was originally built for a dwelling house by a Mr. Tyler, in Edwardsville's early days---a small, rough and unpretentious affair. As the village industries grew, the need of some sort of an inn was felt, and thus it was converted into a village tavern. As a hotel it has had among its landlords, Frederick Beach, Esq., --- _____Rush, _____Layman, "Phil" Burgess, Thomas Ford, and, lastly, Mr. VanPelt, who purchased the property when it contained but ten rooms. By judicious improvements, and suitable additions made at different periods, there can now be accommodated comfortably about 175 guests. The rooms all command pleasant views, and are neatly and comfortably furnished. Butter, eggs, milk, and vegetables, fresh from the vicinity, go to make the table and cuisine unexceptionable. Good livery and stabling for horses. The house is open the year around. A large billiard room is connected, in which the village barber "lathers and shaves, and frizzles the chin" of those who may need his services. There is also a well made bowling alley. Hunter village, at this point, is 1,642 feet above tide level.
Mountain Ash Cottage, one of the next houses, was built in 1853, as a private residence, by E. D. Ingersoll, long the village physician. It was subsequently sold to Edwin Atwater, about 1855. After his decease, in 1877, Mrs. Atwater converted it into a boarding house, with a capacity for accommodating 15. William A. Douglas opened his doors to summer guests five years ago. The house was originally a farm house, built by James Douglas, the father. It was enlarged to its present capacity of 25, and is located in the center of the village. Frederick Beach, Esq., one of Hunter's influential and substantial citizens, accommodates a few boarders. Mr. Beach, in official and private life, has always been a man of sound judgment, and his guests are well entertained. John J. Carr built his boarding house this season (1883), on the bluff of the Schoharie Kill, directly opposite Hunter Mountain and Colonel's Chair---named by Seth Green, Esq., in honor of Col. Edwards. He can entertain at this cottage some thirty guests. In connection with the house is a farm of 100 acres. It is but a few rods from the depot.
The Kaatsberg is perhaps among the best of the new buildings in the town, and has certainly a very attractive front elevation, and is strictly modern in its architecture. Its grounds are tastily laid out, on which lawn tennis and croquet parties have a fine chance to try their skills. The rooms are large, well ventilated, and well furnished. Its piazza extends around upon three of its sides, from which extensive views of the mountain and Colonel's Chair can be had. It is situated in the center of the village on the banks of the Schoharie Creek, with free bath-houses for its guests. It has accommodations for 60. Robert Elliott, the proprietor, formerly a merchant of Hunter, and one of the oldest business men in the section, is a genial gentleman.
The Plaaterkill Road, over which the excursionists to this grand setting of Nature and to Overlook Mountain must pass, going from Hunter, Jewett, Lexington, etc., branches off from the Hunter Turnpike at Tannersville Four Corners. It is quite meandering in its route, circling around the base of Plum Hill, and thence into the valley of the Schoharie Kill that cradles its infant waters. The road is not a hard road to travel, though there are some hills. To the city visitor, its, scenery, replete with all the varied beauty which Nature has so originally and lavishly thrown into the makeup of this wild region, the ride is a continued and genuine delight.
The boarding houses along this road are few---indeed, there are but few of any houses---and these are situated at Tannersville, or near the clove. At the former, near the depot, is Cold Spring Cottage, built in 1877 by Daniel McGrath, and subsequently owned by James H. Smith. This is at the foot of Plum Hill. Its name locates the well known spring so frequently visited by the numerous pedestrians. Clear as a mountain crystal, pure as the purest of mountain springs, nearly as cold in summer as in winter, it is indeed worthy the visit of the thirsty, and is certainly entitled to its name. W. H. Dykeman accommodates guests in his cottage, and contemplates the erection of a fine building in a season or so upon a well shaded and elevated site. William Wooden, an elderly and interesting resident, has a commodious house in which he accommodates some 50 guests. He certainly has a grand location to the lover of the picturesque. Tannersville, and the numerous hotels along Hunter Turnpike in the foreground, backed to the northeast by the Jewett Ridge, and to the west by the mammoth Hunter Mountain, and still beyond, the, the Lexington Hills and blue ones of Prattsville, go to make one of the many beautiful landscapes to be found among the Catskills and their valleys. Next to Mr. Wooden is the Blythewood, a somber-looking two and a half story structure. It is well located, however. Passing along by two summer cottages, owned by Mrs. Harrison and Dr. Mueller, respectively, we turn to our left and enter into the Schoharie valley. The road to our right leads on to Capt. Harmon B. Dibble's settlement and mill, and to Meach's steam mill, owned by Jacob Meach, Esq., a former resident of Catskill. This road leads to Mink Hollow, where Wilbur Brothers manufacture over 500,000 feet of mountain lumber annually, and on a branch of it along the south branch of the kill, one finds a pleasant summer cottage. Higher up the mountain and on land cleared by his own strong right arm, resides Martin Shields, one of the town's oldest residents, who bought direct from the Hunter's, through their agent, Miller, who superceded Kiersted.
The mills owned by Jacob Meach and Capt. H. B. Dibble produce annually many thousand feet of both hard and soft lumber and timber---the former (erected in 1875 by Captain Dibble) some 500,000 feet. Near the Captain's mill, the first grist-mill in the town once stood. J.W. Kiersted & Co., who for many years owned a large tannery in Kaaterkill Clove, built by Quackenbush, where the many foundations of a village are to be seen, also owned one at this point. This point was one of the earliest centers in the town of Hunter, the site of the first mill and tavern.
Passing again to the Plaaterkill road, but few houses are to be found for the first two miles. A few farm houses are seen, among them being that of Michael Farrell, Esq., a veteran lieutenant of the late war, and a man of natural talent. His father was the first naturalized citizen in town, whose papers were a puzzle to Squire Bloomer, one of the town board the year they were presented. A very pleasant cottage is seen further on to the right, it being that of Edwin Dibble, the champion bowler of the mountains, and the mountain engineer of Kaaterskill Park, whose native skill excelled that of the professionals. The summer residence, a little to the left, belongs to J. M. Canda Esq. This residence is unique in its way, retaining, even in its improvements, many of the quaintly planned and finished rooms of seventy years ago, the date of the original building. It was once the property of Captain Dibble, who built, owned, and run a saw and a turning mill, whose power was furnished by the "babbling brook." which bounds the garden grounds.
The first house was built by Benjamin McGregor. Mr. Canda, in Belle Air Cottage, has a charming property. Between this point and the clove proper there are but a few residences. Mr. Martin, a wealthy New York dry goods merchant, has a fine summer residence which commands a view of all the grandeur this Plaaterkill amphitheater comprehends. From these points it is eight miles to Saugerties; four to the overlook Mountain; five to Haines Falls; two to High Peak; one to the old Tory Fort (a trip worth taking); seven from Stony Clove Notch, whose sides rise almost perpendicular to the height of nearly 2,000 feet, and where the sun's rays penetrate only four hours in the longest summer days, and ice may be found in the crevices of the rocks during the hottest days of mid-summer. Within three miles of here is Echo Lake, a sheet of transparent water---a beautiful gem set in the top of the mountains. It affords fine fishing, having been stocked with trout and other fish, with a boat-house and boats for rowing and sailing. The Plaaterkill Falls, within a few minutes walk of here, are owned by Mr. R. Pomeroy. There are some 30 falls on this mountain stream, falling over 2,000 feet in less than two miles. In its upper course there are five made famous for the wild beauty and rugged grandeur of their path---one of the wildest gorges in the mountains, renowned in history as being the stronghold of the French and Indians in their attack upon the early settlers of the valley of the Hudson. Through this notch, Logan, the mingo, Brandt, the half-breed, and the chiefs of lesser fame, with their savage, blood thirsty hordes, must have passed down and up; going down in their cowardly stealth and returning up with their scalps and prisoners, who were either to be tortured at the tory rendezvous at the fort as elsewhere mentioned (those for torture marked by blackened faces) or to endure the fatigue of the long burdensome march to Fort Niagara.
The spring from which the Plaaterkill has its source is but a short distance from here. It is also the source of the Schoharie Kill, and what is remarkable of this water shed is that one flows down the east side of the mountain finding the waters of the Hudson in a meandering course of less than ten miles, while the waters running off down the west side travel a circuitous course of more than two hundred to reach the same point to the east---the Schoharie Kill emptying into the Mohawk and that into the Hudson.
The drive from here to the Overlook Mountain House cannot be excelled, if equaled, by any in the region. A fine turnpike sixty feet wide, having been built along the edge of the mountain, affords a drive of four miles in full view of the Hudson and the intervening table land, and many thousands of miles of the surrounding country, and portions of six States, besides hundreds of villages and hamlets, and the Hudson valley for 150 miles.
Hotel Plaaterkill, accommodating 70 to 100, is located adjacent to this open at the top of the clove. It was built in 1878 by S. P. Russell, and subsequently owned by Charles Shaulck, It was taken on a lease the past season by George W. Keeler. At this house is located the post office. There are a few others about here who accommodate a few boarders, H. Hommel's house being the largest among them.
The mountains of the Platterkill region have each their own individuality. Their trend is east to west in a semi-circle, forming a wide unequalled amphitheater. They average among the highest. From their tops to the valley, the descent is steep and sudden, and the contrast between the two is as striking as between up and down; but the valley is as interesting in its way as the mountains, and although their scenery is above you, it is as often elevating to be down and look up, as to be up and looking down. So they think, who summer there, as some of the most invigorating and charming rides are through and from this Plaaterkill valley, and down the clove, as the passes are called in the eastern ranges of the Catskills, and in the western "hollows" or "notches." The mere proximity to the rushing streams, the health giving odors of the balsam and hemlock, and the echoes that so promptly seize the shouts, laughter and songs of the merry riding parties, and fling them back and forth, from mountain side to mountain side, seem jolly little fellows, out for a frolic, anxious to help increase the pleasure of every one; the light and shade of forest and field, tree and cloud, all go to make the Plaaterkill equal to its neighbor the Kaaterskill. It will be but a few years before the tally-ho coach will carry its numerous devotees from point to point, and the blast of its bugler's horn will startle the echoes of these brave old mountains.
This surname is of direct German origin, the great-grandfather of Isaac emigrating from Germany in company with the original Schermerhorn, Hess, Swap, Bronson, and others, whose names are found recorded as path masters on the early Windham town records, as early as its organization. He settled first in Rensselaerville, where he married a Miss Chrysler, by whom he had at least one son, Michael, born there. Tradition claims for him the first of this name in America. Michael Showers married Catherine Heilicus, an English woman, and was living, according to the Windham books, on what is now called Showers Hill. His family consisted of Elias, Nicholas, Henry, Solomon, William, Justus, Albert, Gilbert, Japhet, Anna, and Mary. Anna married Henry Fraytonburg, and Mary married William Quick. Japhet, father of Isaac, married Sylvia Butts, daughter of Isaac and Rubie (Bowers) Butts, of Windham. His family consisted of Eliza, Michael, Isaac (born August 27th 1827), Catharine, Mary Ann, Louisa, Rubie, Alice, Lewis, Caroline, and David. Michael, the elder, died about 1823, and his widow married Asa Lord. She died about 1831. It may be an item of interest to say that Isaac Butts was the father of 21 children, 14 by his former marriage and seven by his latter. Louisa Showers married James Jones, of Newark, New Jersey; Rubie, a Mr. Judds, of Hunter; and Caroline, George Benn, of Albany.
Isaac Showers' early life was one of privation, toil, and hardship, and in nearly every respect devoid of those pleasures that make green the memory of childhood. Born of poor parents, when Hunter was mostly a wilderness; with no educational advantages other than those of a pioneer's district school; forced from indigent circumstances to leave home at a tender age; his early life was indeed that of a pioneer lad; and, thus in brief retrospect reviewing his career, we can but say with the neighbors, that he was certainly, in making himself the self made man he is, made a life success, standing today among the most respected citizens of Greene county. Briefly, his life is this:
He left home at eight years, never attending school prior to this but a day or so, and that in one nearly three miles from his father's cabin. He then hired out for one year for board and clothes, and three month's of schooling. Up to his 17th year, he worked out summers, and attended school a portion of three winters. For 10 years thereafter he worked for Asa Farrington and William Beach, at the rate of $120 per year and found. With a capital of $700, he bought his present farm of 112 1/2 acres, and married, October 24th, 1854, Miss Marilla Loomis, daughter of Alvin J. and Harriet (Palmer) Loomis, born December 1st 1833. When 27 years of age, he assumed a debt of $1000, and "cared for the old folks." From his reputation as an honest, conscientious, and thoughtful man, one of foresight and great natural abilities, he was for many years assistant agent for the Hunter estate, and as such has undoubtedly sold or leased 25,000 acres of land since 1855. In 1870 he was engaged to do all of the surveying and selling of Great Lot 25, and the State lands; and was soon after given power of attorney to survey and sell in Ulster as well as Greene county. Mr. Showers has owned at one time more than 7,500 acres in his native town. He is a man of unostentatious demeanor, though possessing keen foresight and business qualities, and is a sincere Christian gentleman. To him have been born Emma, Cyrus, Elmer, Isaac, Irving, Henry and Harding. As a surveyor, he has been closely identified with the enterprise of George Harding, Esq., in and about Katerskill Park and Hotel.