Biographical Sketches of its Prominent Men
J.B. Beers and Co.
by George H. Hastings
Transcribed by Dianne Schnettler and Arlene Goodwin
Jewett derived its name from Freeborn G. Jewett, a justice of the Supreme Court, and was formed from the towns of Hunter and Lexington, November 14th 1849. The town is shaped like the letter L. It is located on picturesque hills surrounded by gently sloping mountains, near the center of the western half of the county.
The western portion of the town is mostly a high table land, divided by glacial valleys, presenting a fine field for the geologist. The eastern portion consists of a long valley bounded north, east, and south by lofty mountains that manage to get their heads nearly 4,000 feet up in the air. The land in this valley is fertile, and produces vegetables, grain, grass, and orchard fruits in great abundance. There are three steam saw-mills located here which give employment to a number of persons and turn out large quantities of spruce, hemlock, and hard wood lumber. These mills are owned and run by Lockwood & Mason, Dutcher & Roe, and Robb & Simpkins.
The first white man that settled within the present town of Jewett was William Gass, in 1783. He built a small house near the mouth of the East Kill. Five years, later Zephaniah Chase of Martha’s Vineyard moved into town. In 1789 Chester Hull of Wallingford, Connecticut, emigrated to what is now known as Jewett Heights. Among the pioneers were Laben, Ichabod, Abraham and Amherst Andrews, Benajah, John and Jared Rice, Theophilus and Samuel Peck, Zadoc Pratt, David and Stephen Johnson, Henry Goslee, Justus Squires, Daniel Miles, Adnah Beach, Isaac and Munson Buell, (a noted penman), Gideon Reuben and Joel Hosford, and Samuel and Daniel Merwin. It is said by some of the descendants of the above that the destination of these pioneers was farther westward, but the hostility of the Indians was such, that they concluded to settle in Jewett (then a part of Woodstock, Ulster county), as a portion of the land was owned by a Mr. Tomilson, a native of New Haven, Connecticut. He offered them a large tract of land on easy terms. They accepted the offer and commenced the work of clearing the land, with true New England energy. These colonists were in far better circumstances that the majority of settlers who had emigrated to the mountains prior to their coming. That they belonged to the old Puritan stock is evident, and the influence of the colony has been felt in this town ever since.
The first grist-mill was built by Laban Andrews in 1795, and Elisha Thompson opened the first store soon after. The first birth recorded was that of Henry Goslee jr.
A man by the name of Cole was the first mail carrier. He would regularly go to Catskill, purchase a few copies of papers, and procure what few letters there were in the post-office for the settlers, and returning, would visit the several neighborhoods, blowing his tin horn and distributing the mail to the parties addressed.
Most of the section of country covered by the town of Jewett was in 1797 known as Woodstock, Ulster county. In 1798 it was changed to Windham. In 1813 it was again changed to Lexington, and a part to Hunter in 1814. The present town of Jewett was formed from Lexington and Hunter in the year 1849. The population of the town according to the last census was 1072; 567 males and 505 females; and contained 151 farms.
Jewett Heights, formerly known as Lexington Heights, is nearly 2,000 feet above tide water, and is one of the highest settlements on the mountains; consequently a healthy breezy atmosphere is always found here. At this peaceful place are a score of happy homes, and here might the pastoral poet of old, reclining ‘neath the sugar maple, have made the groves vocal with the notes of his reed, in “praise of the charms of his sweetheart Amaryllis.” Nearly all the residents of this place are well-to-do people, living comfortably upon the very fat of the land.
This place shows enterprise commensurate with its superior advantages, and is pleasantly situated for a suburban home, and for health and fine mountain scenery is unexcelled by any portion of the Empire State.
The public buildings are: two churches (Presbyterian and Methodist), an academy, Temperance Hall, store, post-office and telegraph office, and several prominent resorts, capable of accommodating about 300 guests.
The drives and rambles in the vicinity of Jewett Heights abound in interest. At every point the visitor will find himself constantly delighted by a wonderful variety and grandeur of scenery.
Beach’s Corners, located on the Windham and Hunter road, was named in honor of Gilbert Beach who resides here and owns most of the land.
East Jewett or East Kill, occupies the whole of the valley in the eastern part of the town. The land of this valley is particularly rich and fertile, and here is found one of the finest sporting districts in the country; the mountains are full of game of all kinds, from bears gown to squirrels, while the trout streams are legion. The post-office at this place is kept by William Woodworth.
Jewett Center is the oldest settled place in the town. It is a small hamlet lying along the main road near the mouth of the East Kill, two miles south of Jewett Heights.
Tanneries and Mills
About one-half mile south of Jewett Heights, on the place now owned and occupied by Monroe W. Carr, Zadoc Pratt sen. took up his abode, and about the year 1802 build the first tannery, which was on a small scale. Mr. Pratt assisted by his son, Zadoc Pratt, late of Prattsville, carried on the tanning business at this place for several years. The mill then used for grinding the bark was operated by horse power.
In the year 1830 Ezra Pratt built a large tannery along the East Kill near Jewett Center. The timber for this building was brought from Mill Hollow. This tannery was run successfully for a number of years. It was sold by Ezra Pratt’s sons to a Mr. Brunner, and a few years later was destroyed by fire.
At an early period, Laban Andrews and family settled here. He purchased a tract of land, and in 1795 built a grist-mill and saw-mill on the East Kill, about one mile up the stream from Jewett Center. “They had great freshets in those days,” writes Rev. H. H. Prout, in Old Times in Windham, “as well as now, but they seemed more destructive. The banks of the streams were so thick with timber, that the mighty waters would wash down great trees, and sometimes a number together would come tumbling down the foaming stream, with force enough to destroy everything in their way. In one of these freshets, both of Andrew’s mills were carried off, to the great sorrow of the community. They were never rebuilt.”
In the year 1800, or thereabouts, the Buell brothers built a saw-mill and grist-mill at what is now known as Mill Hollow. “Following the East Kill from Buell’s mills,” says Mr. Prout, “there were an industrious set of inhabitants, beginning with Israel Thompson, Isaac Johnson (who made more maple sugar than any other man in town at that time), Carman, Showers, Towner, Miles, Chelsey, Goodsell, Fords, Winters, and Woodworth; fathers and grandfathers of the present generations now residing there.
“In 1810, after the Buells bought the mill of Abner Hammond, in the town now called Jewett, they put in two card machines in the upper story of the mill, where they carded the wool for the inhabitants for many miles around. Before that, the women carded the wool with hand cards, the same as they did tow. Sometimes the women would come on horseback with a bundle of wool tied to the saddle behind, get it carded into rolls, and carry it back in the same way. Shortly afterward, they built clothing works, where they dressed cloth, also a blacksmith shop, with a trip-hammer that went by water, making a noise so heavy that it could be heard a great distance, as the sound vibrated over the mountains. All together drew a good deal of custom to the mills.”
A man by the name of Parks dreamed he could invent a machine for turning various sizes of barrels and kegs from a log. He induced Ransom Wolcott to embark in the business with him. They erected a large building on the East Kill near Mill Hollow (formerly known as Buell’s Mills, as Judge Buell and brother owned most of the property in that locality), and fitted it up with an assortment of machinery. Their scheme proved a failure. The building was afterward used for a turning-mill. A few years ago the building was taken down, and the best of the lumber used in making small buildings.
In later years there have been a grist-mill (Brown’s), a tannery (Graham’s), and a saw-mill (Pond’s) at Mill Hollow, all in their time doing a prosperous business.
The first town meeting for the town of Jewett was held in April 1850, and the following officers were elected:
Henry R. Hosford---Town clerk
David E. Woodworth---assessor
John Peck---Commissioner of Highways
David Williams---Commissioner of Highways
Ambrose Baldwin---Commissioner of Highways
William Ford---Commissioner of Highways
Lucius Pond---Poor master
Norman C. Johnson---Collector
D.M. Hosford---Superintendant of Common Schools
Moses Winter---Election Inspector
Jeremiah Brant---Election Inspector
Eliakim Peck---Election Inspector
The following is a list of the supervisors, town clerks, and justices of the peace, from 1850 to 1883:
John Egbertson 1851
Lucius Pond 1852
Alanson Woodworth 1854
George Beach 1855
John Peck 1859
West Chase 1860
Henry R. Hosford 1861
Horance A. Towner 1862
Benjamin F. Barkley 1865
Horance A. Towner 1867
Henry J. Griffen 1868
Moses Ford 1869
David E. Woodworth 1871
Eliakim Peck 1872
George H. Chase 1874
Myron H. Johnson 1875
Albert H. Merwin 1877
George H. Chase 1878
Benjamin F. Barkley 1879
George H. Chase 1883
TOWN CLERKS 1850-1883:
Henry R. Hosford
N. William Beach 1851
Horace A. Towner 1852-1855
George W. Miles 1859, 1861
Norman C. Johnson 1860
William S. Distin 1862
Gilbert Beach 1863-1864, 1867, 1870-1871, 1879-1881
L. E. Woodworth 1865-1866
Abraham VanValkenburgh 1868-1869
George H. Chase 1872-1873
Elbert O. Hall 1874, 1878
A. J. Woodworth 1875-1876
O. M. Follett 1877
Theodore Chase 1882-1883
JUSTICES OF THE PEACE 1850-1883:
Alanson Woodworth 1850-1854
Jesse Barker 1850-1853
William Ford 1852
George W. Miles 1852-1853
Henry Goslee 1852
David M. Hosford 1855-1859
West Chase 1856
George Delamater 1857
Horace Towner 1857-1868
David Woodworth 1858-1880
John Egbertson 1860-1864
S. H. Winchell 1861-1864
Luman Whitcomb 1863
L.E. Woodworth 1864-1872
Eliakim Peck 1865-1879
Z.(adock-AC) P. Northrup 1869
William Goslee 1870
James Race 1871-1874
John S. Beach 1873
Earl W. Fisher 1877-1882
Milton Goslee 1878
Ernest Hall 1879
William Woodworth 1879
B.O. Peck 1880-1881
Jacob Stotz 1883
George W. Miles 1883
Alvin Lord 1883
The town officers elected in 1883, were:
Thedore Chase---Town Clerk
George W. Miles---Justice
Orville T. Bailey---assessor
Simpkins---Commissioner of Highways
Chauncey Lord---Poor master
Amos Goodsell---Poor master
John D. Winchell---Constable
Chester Hull---Game constable
Elbert O. Hall---Excise commissioner
From “Old Times Letters” by Rev. H. H. Prout, interesting data have been obtained. His description of the stocks is appended:
“About the year 1808, a certain class of the inhabitants thought it necessary to the securing of justice and order, to have stocks, and a whipping post. [These were built near the Presbyterian church, Jewett Heights.] It was a local institution erected on mere neighborhood views, and administered only on local authority. It was imported from Connecticut, and probably a fragment out of the book of blue-laws. The stocks and whipping post were built mainly by the Congregational society, of Lexington, with the laudable design of punishing petty misdemeanors. Two heavy sills were laid down, eight feet apart, a post in each, into the posts a wide strip of oak plank, four inches thick, was mortised, four semi-circular notches were cut in its upper edge, and this was the under jaw. A corresponding wide piece of four inch oak timber having notches opposite the other notches, was laid upon the first piece, and fastened to it by a heavy hinge at one end, and by a block at the other. This was the upper jaw, and when it was to be used it was unlocked. The upper jaw was raised at one end, the offender laid on his back on the ground, and each ankle put into a notch, and then the upper jaw was shut down and locked. One of the posts into which the jaws were mortised, ran up high enough to tie a man to, and that was the whipping post.
“The stocks were used but once. A man known as Brom Pete, swore terribly on regimental training day. The poor fellow was taken in hand, brought before Justice Ichabod Andrews, and condemned to the stocks for two hours.
“One night six or eight spirited young fellows demolished the stocks, and carried most of the timbers to Abel Holcomb’s Swamp.
“Wagons were very scarce in those days. Mr. Pratt, father of Colonel Pratt, had the first one-horse wagon brought into the town.
“Seldom a clock was to be seen among the inhabitants at that time. Laban Andrews brought a brass clock and sun dial from Connecticut. The dial governed the time. From that the neighbors made noon-marks in their windows, by the shadow of some object as seen at the sun’s meridian.”
The following noted mountains are wholly or partly within the boundary lines of Jewett. The summits of several of them are easy of access, and the picturesque views from all of them beggar description. On the divide between this town and Windham, are Jewett Heights Mountain, called by the Windham residents South-Mountain; Thomas Cole Mountain, 3,975 feet high, named in honor of Thomas Cole, the American artist; and Black Dome, 4,004 feet, so named from the fact that the top is dome shaped and black. Black Head, 3,963 feet, so named from the dark color of is peak; and East Kill Mountain, 3,200 feet, named from the valley, are between Jewett and the town of Cairo. Parker Mountain, 2,550 feet, is on the Hunter divide. This mountain was named in honor of Daniel Parker, who owned a large tract of land on it. Tower Mountain, 3,930 feet, is in the western extremity of the town. This mountain was named by Pond and Hastings, who built a tower 60 feet in height on its summit. Hog Mountain in the southwestern part of the town, was so named from the fact that a bear took a hog from Mr. Rice’s pen, and carried or dragged it on this mountain and devoured it.
There are 10 school districts in the town of Jewett, each of which has several branches of study in one department, governed by one teacher. These schools are in keeping with the majority of our country schools.
The first academy was built about 1818, opposite the present academy. A Mr. Douglass, a Scotchman, was the first teacher. The lumber for the building, a two-story frame structure, was brought from Johnson Hollow, Roxbury, Delaware county. The upper room was used for the higher branches, and the lower room for the district school. The Methodist society also held meetings in the upper room. This building, after having been used for a number of years, was finally taken down, and the best of the lumber used in constructing the present Jewett Heights Academy. This building is at present occupied as a temperance hall up stairs, and district school below. The list of the several teachers of the Jewett Heights Academy includes the names of Andrus, Davenport, Hall, and Emerson, graduates of Williams’ College.
The Presbyterian Church
building at this place used exclusively for church purposes, was built about the
year 1800, neat the present residence of D. Noble Chase. Before it was finished,
it was sold at auction to Elisha Thompson for $50. He then presented the
meeting-house to the society, by whom it was used for only a short time. In
1804, another church edifice was commenced on the site of the present church,
but remained unfinished for a number of years. The present building was erected
in the year 1848. The first pastor was Rev. Mr. Stimpson; the present pastor is
Rev. William S. Long. When the American Board of Foreign Missions had been
formed in 1810, and called for aid to send out its first missionaries, Mr.
Stimpson caught the spirit, and infused it into the hearts of the members of his
congregation. But little money was to be found in this community, however, and
instead, Mr. Stimpson solicited from each a sheep or lamb. He gathered together
a flock of about 30, and with the help of a boy, started for Catskill, 30 miles
distant. The flock was sold for $1 per head, and the money was given to the
missionary society. This was the first offering from this congregation for the
conversion of heathen in foreign lands. Since then, the offerings of the church
to the cause of missions, etc., have been stated and frequent, and according to
the means of the donors, often liberal. This church and Sunday-school are
Methodist Episcopal Church, Jewett Heights
Prior to the building of a church edifice at this place, the members of the Methodist society held their meetings in the upper room of the old academy building. The present church was built in 1848, and cost $1,100. The site was given to the Methodist Episcopal society by the Presbyterian society, through the influence of Mr. Isaac Hinman.
winter of 1879-1880, this church was remodelled and materially improved. Rev.
William B. Mitchell was the first pastor of this church, and Rev. William A.
Dalton is the present pastor. The church numbers 60 members.
Methodist Episcopal Church, South Jewett
The first organized religious society of South Jewett held its meetings in the house of John Artman, a Revolutionary patriot, who emigrated to this place in 1804. In course of time, a log building was erected, where the meetings of this society were held till 1833, when Samuel Goodsell and Charles Chase were elected trustees. The following year these gentlemen bought a site, on which to build a church. Under the pastorate of Rev. William D. Fero, in 1860 the present church was built. The society has a membership of 40. Among those who were prominent in the history of this church, was Rev. Justus Artman. He took a leading part in its affairs, having held the offices of trustee, steward, class leader, and exhorter, and from 1835 till his death, a period of over 40 years, that of a local preacher. He was succeeded by his son, Charles Artman, who now holds the same relation to the church.
Methodist Episcopal Church, East Kill
This first church built at this place was about 1833, and it was located where the present church stands. The lumber for the building of this church was brought from Preston Hollow, Albany county, and the edifice was built by men from that place. The present church was rebuilt about nine years ago, and is, in both its interior and exterior, the finest Methodist Episcopal church in town. Rev. George Barber is the present pastor.
There are six cemeteries in the town of Jewett; two at Jewett Centre, two at East Kill, one on the Heights, and one nearly one-half mile below the post-office. The latter is the largest, and contains the remains of most of the early settlers. This piece of ground was the gift of Laban Andrews. Subjoined are a few of the inscriptions found here, omitting the prefix of “In memory of,” or “Sacred to the memory of,” and pronoun “who.”
“Henery Miller died November 24th 1801 in the 57th year of his age.
my friends as you pass by
As you are now so once was i,
As i am now so you must be,
Prepare for death and follow me.”
“Adna Beach a soldier of the Revolution died April 14 1841AE 82 years.”
“Mary his wife died Oct. 21 1825 AE 64 years.”
“Thomas Merwin died Dec. 7, 1814 in the 78 year of his age.”
“Esther wife of Thomas Merwin died Feb. 24 1811 in the 71 year of her age.”
“Mrs. Beda Pratt, wife of Mr. Zadoc Pratt jr., departed this life Apr. 19 A.D. 1818 in the 26th year of her age.
sweet she shone in social life,
As daughter, sister, friend and wife.”
“Mrs. Esther Pratt wife of Col. Zadoc Pratt jr., died April 22d 1824 in the 31st yr. of her age.
died in peace and pardon blessed,
She found in Christ a constant rest.”
The graves of the above two are surrounded by a hemlock hedge.
“Amos Rice died May 1st 1794 aged 30 years. Being the first grown person that belonged to this place.”
A common headstone marks the grave of this young man. He was the youngest of four brothers who early came to this place. While clearing a piece of land, a tree fell on and killed him. There was no burial ground in this locality, so the settlers buried him on as good a spot as could be found, and when the present cemetery was laid out, his remains were taken up and buried where they now lie.
“Henry Hosford died July 2nd 1861 aged 77 yrs. & 5 mos. Born in Wallingford, Ct., Feb. 3d 1784. Removed to Woodstock, now Jewett in his 8th year. He was one of the early settlers of the place, extensively known, variously and successfully engaged in business, a warm and faithful friend, and a kind and affectionate parent. To commemorate his many virtues this stone is erected by his son, Henry R. Hosford.”
“David Chase, born at Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., March 1st, 1786. Moved to this town while it was a wilderness, Aug. 1787. Died Aug. 27th 1861.
“He being dead yet speaketh.”
“Rev. J. Judson Buck. Preached the gospel of Christ crucified, 50 years, 24 of which was pastor of the Presbyterian church in this place. Died in Faith, April 26th 1870, aged 76 yrs. 1 mo. And 26 d’s.
“His rest shall be glorious. Isaiah, xi, 10.”
“Capt. Ambrose N. Baldwin, Co. K, 20th regt., N.Y. S. M., born at Lexington, N.Y., Sept. 25th 1838. After serving his country in the battles of Norman’s Ford, Sulphur Springs, Gaines Mills, Chantilly, South Mountain, Antietam and Fredericksburg, was killed at the battle of Gettysburg, July 3d 1863.”
The Jewett Center Cemetery is the oldest burial ground in town, and is located on the farm formerly owned and occupied by William Gass, the first settler here. On the tombstones we find:
“Lambert Hawk died July 30th 1794 aged 38 years 10 months 20 days.”
“William Gass was born at North Fields, Scotland Jan. 10th 1727 & died Nov. 26th 1815.”
“Eleanor Gass born near Annon, Scotland, and died Dec. 21st 1821 aged 86 years 6 m’s. & 26 d’s.”
“Nicholas Gass, born near Annon, Scotland, Nov. 25th 1764, died May 15th 1848, aged 83 years 6 mo’s.”
“Lancy McIntosh wife of Nicholas Gass died June 10th 1845 aged 73 years.
“God is love.”
The Chase Cemetery is near Jewett Center.
“Zephaniah Chase who was born at Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard, March 25th 1748 and settled here 1787 and died May 30th 1828 aged 80 years.
mourning friends come here and see,
Where you must shortly lie;
Remember when you think on me,
That you are born to die.”
“Love, wife of Zephaniah Chase, born at Tilsbury, Martha’s Vineyard, Oct. 5th 1756, and died July 8th, 1832, aged 76 years.
mind was tranquil and serene,
No terror in her looks were seen;
Her Saviour’s smiles dispell’d the gloom,
And smoothed her passage to the tomb.”
“Joseph Chase, died July 2d 1831, aged 55 years & 7 months.”
“Jemima, wife of Joseph Chase, died Dec. 16th 1847, AE 60 y’s. 4 m’s. 18 d’s.”
“Rev. Charles Chase, Local minister of the M. E. Church, Windham circuit, died Apr. 24th 1844, aged 53 years.
lies beneath this consecrated sod,
A heart once warm with every virtuous aim;
One who in Jesus’ footsteps firmly trod,
And spread the honours of his peerless name.”
“Eleanor Houck, wife of Rev. Charles Chase, born Oct. 3d 1789, died June 10th 1868.”
“Rev. John Chase, died Aug. 17th 1854, AE 42 y’rs 6 mo & 4 d’s.
“When Christ who is our life shall appear then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”
“Cynthia Chase, wife of Rev. R. H. Bloomer of the N.Y. Conference, died May 3d 1842, aged 31 years.”
“West Chase, died May 22d 1880, aged 83 years.”
The Heights Cemetery is owned by the Peck family.
East Kill Cemetery No. 1. This piece of ground is located near Beach’s Corners, and was given to the inhabitants by Elijah Towner.
The burial ground in the rear of the East Kill Church was the gift of Lemuel Woodworth, one of the early settlers at this place.
When the settlers immigrated to this wilderness, the whole country around was infested with wolves, and it was no uncommon occurrence to hear these beasts howl night or day. Mrs. Ticknor, now residing at Jewett Heights, at the advanced age of 89 years, related the following incident: One night Mr. Peck, who resided in Big Hollow, near the town line, heard a loud noise in his yard, and he and his son went to the barn and there discovered a ferocious wolf. The wolf was dispatched, after a fearful struggle, during which it bit the son in the face. About nine days afterward, while the son was talking with a neighbor, he suddenly remarked, “I feel as though I could fight the world;” then he quickly turned and commenced kicking the barn. This was an attack of hydrophobia. He lived only a short time afterward.
His remains were taken to the cemetery at Lexington Flats for interment. As the procession moved along by the side of Hog Mountain, the wolves set up a dismal howl on this mountain. The belief was that they scented the corpse, as it was but little past mid-day when this occurred.
Robert Turney, a lad of about 15 years of age, a mill boy, lived near where Trinity church, Ashland, now stands. One afternoon, as he was returning from Buell’s mills with a grist, wolves were close to his heels. The shades of night were falling fast, as Robert reached the present Jewett Heights. He halted, tied his horse to a tree, kindled a fire, and continuing it, kept off his antagonists till daylight again appeared, when the wolves hid themselves.
The following account of a wolf hunt was furnished Rev. H. H. Prout by Zadoc Pratt: “When about 18 years old, my father living at the little tannery bought of James Weaver for $200, the country covered with hemlock, except where a Connecticut settler had made a clearing, the wolves came one night and killed some of David Johnson’s sheep, it having snowed that night about 18 inches deep. We, that is Z. Pratt, Miles Johnson, and Chaffee, packed up some eatables, and with our guns, full of fun and high mettle, took after the wolves at about 8 o’clock in the morning. The three wolves started for Hog Mountain. We soon learned to keep Indian file, as did they. Full of hope, we crossed the East Kill, and at every turn hoped to get a shot to call them to account for killing Uncle David’s sheep. Eating our luncheon on the chase at 2 o’clock P.M. we were full seven miles on and over the mountain. The wolves intuitively crossed their path all ways, so we lost it, and taking the back track at midnight, a little the worse for tiring out wolves, were glad to get an extra lunch at home.”