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Article Number Twenty-Four - Baldwin Family

Written by Joshua G. Borthwick and originally published
on February 17, 1883, in the Catskill "Examiner". Copy provided by the Durham Center Museum and retyped by Annette Campbell

In resuming these sketches, the writer would beg the indulgence of the reading public, while he presents the few remaining chapters of the early settlement of the town. It is exceedingly difficult to obtain reliable information on many of the points of interest connected with the subject, from the fact that nearly all the records of the town previous to 1821, were destroyed by fire in that year; and also from the additional fact that many of the families who have descended from these early settlers have preserved no records that are of historical value to the public. It is our design to be strictly accurate in every statement, and if at any time a mis-statement is made, we hope those who are better informed will correct it. To this end we invite correspondence from all who will favor us with facts or corrections in the work.
Among the family names of the early settlers of the town, there are none that appear so often as that of Baldwin.  The DeWitts, and the Barkers, and the Bagleys, and the Herveys,  and the Smiths,  and the Strongs,  and the Cowles,  and the Hulls,  and the Chittendens, and the  Pratts, and many others, were numerous and influential; but none were so numerous as the Baldwins, nor more influential than they. It seems almost a wonder that the town was not named Baldwin, and the settlement Baldwinsville.  In the first Manual of the Presbyterian Church of Durham, NY, published in 1858, we find the name of  55 Baldwins, members of that church up to that time; 5 have been added since, making a total of 60, all of whom except 4 were members of this family by birth or marriage, besides quite a number of the female descendents who were married into other families. No less than eight young strong men of that name came at different times from Durham, in Connecticut, and settled in this town; and no less than eight young, strong women, their sisters, followed them. They belonged to two families, brothers Abiel and Noah. Their father was Deacon Ezra Baldwin, of Conn., who owned a farm and also worked at the blacksmith trade.  He built a substantial house which was still standing and in good repair only a few years ago. He died about 100 years ago, leaving seven sons and three daughters. This is as far back as we can go in our history, and it gives us six generations of Baldwins.  One of Dea. Ezra Baldwin's sons is located in Milford, PA, and three removed to Granville, while Abiel  and Noah and Reuben remained near the old homestead. Reuben, the youngest inherited that and married a daughter of Dea. Christopher Lord of Durham, NY.
Abiel Baldwin and Noah, his brother, were partners in farming in Connecticut, and each had large families. Abiel's sons were Jonathan, Abiel, Curtis, Seth, David and Aaron.  His daughters were Eunice, Ruth, and Mabel.
Jonathan Baldwin was born in Durham, Conn., in 1758; was married in 1782 to Submit Lord, the youngest daughter of Dea. Christopher Lord. In 1783 or early 1784, he emigrated to the town of Durham, NY, and took up wild land, now comprising the farm owned by Mr. Curtis Osborn, where he lived until the year 1816, when he removed to Atwater, Portage county, Ohio, where he died. He was a very useful man---naturally modest and retiring in his nature, yet willing to make sacrifices for the benefit of others, and of absolutely unimpeachable integrity, and abundant capability, he was greatly beloved and trusted by all.  He cleared up his land, built a blacksmith shop, and worked at that trade in the Winter season and at other times of leisure. When the Presbyterian Society was formed he was its treasurer; he led the singing in all their religious meetings, and also took care of the church, sweeping it and otherwise caring for it for $3.25 per year.  He had no care of the furnaces or other heating apparatus, as at that early day they had no fires in their church, except that some of the elderly ladies carried footstones. ( NOTE: These were thin squares made of soapstone, with a wire bail attached, heated in the fire and wrapped and placed at the feet to keep them warm--A.C.)   Jonathan, and Submit Baldwin had six children; the three eldest were daughters; the fourth child, Elihu Whittlesey,  was born Dec. 25, 1789.  In early childhood he developed a remarkable thoughtfulness and love of truth. His grandfather Lord used often to say, as he laid his hand on Elihu's  head, "This boy will preach the Gospel."  At the age of five years he began to pray in his own language. About this time he says "He formed a distinct resolution to speak the truth at all times," and in mature years he said that he was "Not conscious of having ever been guilty of falsehood."  He speaks of his "native temper" and being "quick and furious." and in order to control it he at nine years of age resolves ' that he would restrain his words of resentment under every provocation, until he should have repeated the alphabet to himself from A to Z, and back again; or retired for a time sufficient to cool his excited feelings.'   He prepared himself for college after three years of study under the direction of his pastor, the Rev. Jesse Townsend, and at the age of eighteen he entered Yale College.  At the close of his first year in college his means were exhausted, and he was obliged to teach at intervals through the remainder of his course. He then became the principal of the academy at Fairfield, Conn., and in 1814 he entered the Theological Seminary at Andover, Mass.  He was ordained as a minister on the 10th of September, 1817.  He immediately commenced labor as a City Missionary in the City of New York under the direction of the "Young Men's Committee of Missions," of which Rev. Dr. Spring was the secretary. His labors resulted in the organization of the Seventh Presbyterian church, of which he became the pastor. He was married on the 12 the of May, 1819, to Miss Julia C. Baldwin, of Newark, N.J.  February 27, 1835, he accepted the presidency of Wabash College, at Crawfordsville, Ind.  He was the first president of the institution, and his labors were very difficult. His health failed and he died, greatly lamented, Oct 15, 1840, aged 51 years.

Abiel Baldwin, Jr., and Eunice his wife, came to this town at the same time that Jonathan Baldwin did, and settled on the farm recently owned by the late "Honest John Peck."  They had eight children. One of the sons, Johnson, became a minister of the Gospel.---James Baldwin, 2nd, another son, lived at first on the farm owned by the late Anson B. Hull, and afterward in the house now occupied by George Ransom, where he died in 1848, aged 54.  He had two sons by Louisa, his first wife, viz:  Elihu, who died several years ago, and Johnson Hewett, who is a lawyer and lives in Pittsburg, PA;  he is also an elder in the Presbyterian church and has on two occasions represented his Presbytery in the General Assembly.  The father of these sons was also an elder in the church and a teacher of the Old Ladies Bible Class.  He was a very gifted man in prayer and remark, and had a very clear understanding of the scriptures. After the death of his first wife, he married Harriet Newell, of Stamford, NY, whither she returned after his death. Elizur Baldwin, another son of Abiel, Jr., was a gifted musician. He was the first person who attempted to play the bass-viol in church.  It grieviously offended some of the members. One of the deacons was so disturbed by it that he refused to attend church while the "wicked fiddle" was played.  But he recovered. Simeon Coe, the youngest son, was born in 1814, married Sarah Peck and lived near his father's place.  He was a tanner and shoemaker (those two trades frequently went together in those days), and was a very excellent man. They had no children.  His wife died in 1854, aged 58, and he died in 1863, aged 79.  Of Abiel Baldwin, Jr., the ancestor of this family, we are informed that he was a very quiet, unassuming man, consistent as a Christian, and universally respected.---Eunice, his first wife, died in 1823, after which he married Mrs. Elizabeth Sandford, of New Haven, Conn.  He died in 1847, aged ___; she died in 1854, aged___.
Curtis Baldwin, son of Abiel Baldwin, Sr., of Conn., was born in Durham, Conn, and came to this town in 1785.  He took up land, adjoining Selah Strong's, on "meeting-house hill", and lived in Mr. Strong's family until 1789, when he married Miss Polly Chittenden, who with her parents came from Guilford, Conn., two years before.  She was a schoolteacher, and taught the first neighborhood school ever held in the settlement.  The first school-house was a log building, and was used a year or two for religious meeting also.  It stood on the "Hill" and was probably built in the Spring of 1787.  Mr. Baldwin had some difficulty in obtaining a good title to his land, and in the year 1800 he sold his improvements and bought the farm now owned by Zelotus Brand.He and his wife were both members of the Presbyterian church and were useful members of society.  He died in 1824, aged 58, and she died in 1838, aged 68.  They had eight children, some of whom died in youth. Samuel, removed to Atwater, Ohio, and Curtis, Jr., went to York, Livingston Co, NY. Anson, lived with his uncle, Deacon David Baldwin, was married three times, and died in 1840 at the age of 31 years.  He left three children, Julia, Caldwell, and Bathsheba.  Betsey became the wife of Justus Finch, and lived in the house with Deacon David to care for him and his wife in their old age.  She died in 1853 aged 51. Julia married Levi B. Gilbert, of West Durham. They lived very happily together until 1877, when he died; since which time she has lived with her children in Durham and in Albany.  They had three sons, Josiah Hotchkiss, who has been for twenty years the principal of the Madison Ave public school in the city of Albany; he married Abbie Newell, of West Durham.  They have five children. Judson, the second son, married Emma Capps, of Albany, and died in his youthful prime without children. Anson Baldwin, the youngest, married Ellen F. Hull, and lives in Albany. He is connected with the N.Y.C & H.R. Railroad. They have one child.

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