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Article Number Twenty- Three A -
Field, Pratt, Johnson, and Kirtland Families 

Written by Joshua G. Borthwick and originally published
on May 21, 1881, in the Catskill "Examiner". Copy provided by the Durham Center Museum and retyped by Annette Campbell

Although Mr. Cyrus Field was not one of the first settlers of the town, still he came quite early in its history. He was born in Wallingford, CT, in 1782, and came to this town very early in life. He lived at first on the Judge Barker farm, where George Easland lives. From there he went to Cairo, and from there he came to the farm upon which he lived until his death at 83 years of age. His first wife was Ancy Stocking, the daughter of Stephen Stocking, who was a singing-master and lived near Cornwallsville. She was an excellent Christian woman.  They had six daughters and one son, viz: Harriet, the wife of the late Edward Johnson; Charlotte, the wife of the late Collins Johnson; Adelia, the wife of H. B. KirtlandAntoinette, the wife of the late Judson ChittendonEliza, deceased, the wife of Peter Miller, and S. Arminda, the wife of Platt A. SmithOscar, the only son, married Laura Finch, the daughter of William Finch of Windham.  She died in 1864, and he married Libbie Aubbard. He died in 1870. Mrs. Field, the mother of this family died in 1841, and Mr. Field married Mrs. Maria Best, who was the teacher of a select school in Durham. She is now living with her daughter in Kenosha, Wis.

Daniel Kirtland, Sr., was a native of Durham, CT.  His wife was Lovisa Lord, daughter of Dea. Christopher Lord, whom he married while living in his native town. The year of their settlement in this town is uncertain, but it was probably about 1785. He owned a part of the farm now owned by Mrs. O. Porter. He was a tanner and shoemaker by trade, and had a small tannery on the stream South of Mrs. Porter's.  At that time, mills for grinding tanbark were not much used; so he broke or pounded his bark by hand, tanned his leather and made it up into shoes. He and his wife were church-members in Connecticut, and on the 13th day of January, 1793, they united with the Presbyterian church in Durham, N.Y.  They had eight children, viz: Richard, Lucilla, Lucy, Benjamin, Christopher, Daniel, Lovisa, and Roxiana. Richard married Lydia Lord and lived in West Durham, on the farm now owned by William Bascom. Christopher married Rhoda, a sister of the late Dea. Danil Coe. They had two sons---Orlando Lord, and Benjamin.  Orlando L., became a Presbyterian minister, and died a few years ago in Springfield, NJ. Lucilla married a Mr. Gridley;  Lucy, the wife of Joseph Hart, Jr., and Lovisa, who married a Western New York man, all went to live in that part of the State. Roxiana became the second wife of Foster Morss, the father of Hon. Burton G. Morss of Red Falls.  Daniel Kirtland Jr., was the youngest son, and was born in Connecticut in 1794 and when a mere lad he came with his father's family to this town in the wilderness.  He married Hulda Stephens and they lived at first about half a mile West of George W. Pratt's, on the old road.  The buildings are all gone and the road long since closed up.  Afterward, he traded farms with William Hendrickson and built the house now owned by Edmund Pratt, where he died in 1834. They had seven children. Daniel, the eldest child, married a daughter of Dea. Benjamin Chapman and lived in Honesdale, PA.  Eliza, the wife of David Merwin, Jr. went to Ohio in 1816, when the Merwin family removed there.  They went in wagons, and were six weeks on the road. Frederick married a lady in New London, CT., and lived in Jackson, MI.  Julia Ann married Cooper Sayre of Rensselaerville.  Amelia Caroline became the wife of Hon. Burton G. Morss. She died about two years ago greatly mourned by old and young. She was a great friend of the children, and for several years she conducted a Sabbath school in her own village for their instruction in the way of life. She was very liberal in supplying the wants of the needy all about her. Horace Buel married Adelia Field and lives about half a mile East of the old homestead, on the Judge Daley farm. He was once a member of the Board of Supervisors. Dorrance Lord, the youngest, went to Western New York, where he married and still resides.

Augustus Pratt, Sr., another pioneer of the town, was born in Durham, CT, in February, 1751, and he and his wife Esther came with a family of little children, and established a home where George W. Pratt, their grandson, now lives. He was a Revolutionary soldier, and drew a Government pension of $96 a year. He was one of the original nine who constituted the Presbyterian church at its organization. He lived a quiet Christian life, and died in December, 1850, lacking only about two months of reaching 100 years of age. Esther, his wife, died more than thirty years before him. They had five children: Esther, the eldest, was not married, and very tenderly took care of her father in his old age. She was born in 1777, and died in 1858. She had a fall which proved fatal; otherwise it seemed that she might have lived a hundred years. In her haste to observe the glories of the Aurora Borealis, she mistook the door and plunged headlong into the cellar. She survived only a few days. Augustus, Jr., was a blacksmith, and lived and worked at his trade near the old homestead. He had five children, viz:  Laura, Caroline, Salina, Addison, and Julia Ann.  Frederick had the homestead, and he and Nancy, his wife, lived to a good old age. Her death was hastened by a fall quite similar to "Aunt Esther's."  Their children were Henry, Frederick, William,  George W., Philander, and Ralph. None of them now lives in the town, I believe, except George W., who  owns the old farm. This farm has now been owned by the Pratt family nearly one hundred years. Burrus, the third son, lived in Windham and finally went out West. Linus, the youngest of the family, married Mrs. Betsey Mulford, a sister of the late Henry Hedges.  They lived in the "Cowles House," East of George W. Pratt's, They had six children viz: Mary Hedges, Harriet, Mulford, Eleazer, Augustus, and Elizabeth. None of them remains in town; several are dead.
Charles Johnson, another pioneer settler of Durham, was a son of Solomon Johnson, Sr.. The family once lived in Holland, although they were probably English people. They may have belonged to the Puritans, and went to Holland to escape persecution, and from Holland came to this land of liberty. They lived at Wallingford, CT, and when the Revolution came on Solomon Johnson took the field to fight for liberty. I have seen a letter written by him to his wife in 1777, while he was in the army. It is very brief, as he says, "We are under marching orders;" and speaking words of cheer, he bids her good-bye. But he lived to see the rights of man vindicated, and he died at his home in Wallingford. Charles, his son, came to this town in 1792 or '3, and bought land where William Johnson now lives.  In a letter to his parents he speaks of his wheat, and of his cattle, and of having bought a piece of land on which there is a "small frame house."  He was a very courteous man, and in his letters home he addresses his "Honored Parents" in a manner calculated to teach the young of the now-a-days a lesson which they are very slow to learn.  And as a result, he was honored. When his house was burned, in 1819, the people from far and near came with their teams, bringing lumber, and giving labor, so that in a very short time the main part of the present house was ready for their occupancy, and almost without expense to him. He belonged to a troop of horse, and went by the name of "Capt. Johnson" and "Esquire Johnson". He and Elizabeth, his wife, were members of the Presbyterian church in Durham. He was a singing-master, and led the singing in church until he became an old man. He died in 1848, and Elizabeth, his wife, died in 1840. They had nine children, viz: Philo, Phebe, Mary, Solomon, Edward, Eliza, Julia, Charles, and Collins.  Philo married Esther Newell of Stamford, NY. She was a sister of Mrs. James Baldwin, also of Mrs. Lyman Wilcox. Phebe was the wife of Abner Cowles, a brother of J.B. Cowles M.D. of Durham. Mary was the wife of David Cornwall (see Sketch No. 21).  Solomon married Mary Whittlesey, a sister of the late Zina Whittlesey. They were  the parents of Whittlesey Johnson, now of Brooklyn. He married Adaline Hine of Cairo, a grand daughter of Ezekiel Smith, Capt. Thomas Smith's  eldest son, (Sketch #19).  Edward married Harriet Field, and lived on the old homestead, until his death, on the 21st of September last. They had one son, William, who with his mother and wife (Mary Simmons formerly) still remains in that pleasant home. Mr. Johnson was a very genial, courteous man, and was greatly esteemed. He was once supervisor of the town, also president of the Agricultural Society of the county. The flags of the Society were lowered to half-mast at the time of his death, which took place on the day previous to the annual fair.  Eliza, the wife of the late Otis Wattles. lives in Athens, Tenn.  She and her son George are doing a great work for the colored people, educationally, and religiously. Julia married a Mr. Bush of Jersey City.  Charles married Eliza Ann Mulford, the daughter of widow Mulford, who married Linus Pratt. They "went West."  Collins married Charlotte Field. He died a few years ago. Sherwood, his son, has the place, while the widow lives with the daughter Elizabeth, who married a Mr. Kiff of Delaware county.

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