Number Thirty Three - Hotchkiss and Peck Families
Written by Joshua G. Borthwick and originally published
on November 24, 1883, in the Catskill "Examiner". Copy provided
by the Durham Center
Museum and retyped by Annette Campbell
We have been busy night and day in preparing for the History of Greene County,
so that our October Sketch failed to appear. There were few families in
Durham town, who exerted more influence seventy or eighty years ago, than the Hotchkiss
There was a family of that name consisting of three brothers, Robert,
Samuel and George, who came from Cheshire, Conn.,
and settled near East Durham; who were active, influential men in that part of
the town. Robert Hotchkiss to whom we are very much indebted
for a great amount of information while we were writing up the history of that
locality, was the son of George, one of these brothers.
He was a noble specimen of the men of "ye olden time," and we felt
poorer, and all who knew him no doubt felt a personal loss when the
intelligence came from Cincinnati, that Robert Hotchkiss was
dead! We wish to pay a tribute to his memory. Peace to his ashes!
Lemuel Hotchkiss came from Durham, Conn. at about the same
the same time, but whether they were related to each other is quite uncertain.
They may have been fourteenth cousins, perhaps nearer than that.
He settled in Durham village, very near the site of W.W. Burhan's
house. He was a blacksmith, and his shop stood a few rods east of his
house, where the millinery shop of Mrs. Martindale now
is. His wife's name was Penelope---but unfortunately her
surname before marriage cannot now be ascertained.
They were excellent people. When the Presbyterian church was formed, he was
one of the first nine who constituted it, his wife joining soon after.
He was a capable business man, and as they had no lawyer then, he was the
handy man to draw up contracts, deeds, leases and indentures for them. He died
Feb 8, 1802.
They had three sons, and they all worked at the blacksmith trade. Jason
lived where William Pierce does. He married Nancy
Barker, a daughter of Judge Ebenezer Barker, or, as
he generally wrote his name Thos. E. Barker. They had
five children, Mary Ann, Margaret, Caroline, William and John.
One of these sons, William, was a clerk for Platt
Adams a great many years, and was an estimable young man. The other
went to California, became rich died on the Isthmus at last.
Lemuel the second son married Abbie Crane.
He had a large family, but like his brother Jason's family,
they have all left their native town. Lemuel, like his
father, was a public man. And like many others since his day, his
abilities were often brought into requisition as the oarsman, while others
simply floated along. Hence he was the Secretary of nearly all their public
meetings; and from the old records that have fallen into our possession, we
judge that he was worthy of the confidence he enjoyed. And, for the comfort of
others who do such work, we are permitted to record that he did not fail of
his reward. In 1813 he was elected Sheriff of the County, and we are assured
he performed his duties faithfully.
Henry the youngest son married Sarah Cochran,
who was the daughter of the widow Cochran, who became the
wife of Dea. Benjamin Chapman, of our last sketch. He
spent the most of his life in "Broadway." He was totally blind
for many years before his death, and yet he manifested a beautiful spirit, and
waited patiently for the eternal light and sight of the redeemed. He
died Nov. 21, 1870, aged 85 years. His wife outlived him nearly four years.
She died Aug 24, 1874, aged 89 years. In 1821 the church was moved from
Meeting House Hill, and established in Broadway, and Mr. Hotchkiss
was appointed the sexton. In addition to his other duties he was required to
ring the bell (a new one) at a certain hour every morning. One day he through
mistake rung it an hour earlier than regulation time, and when rallied about
it replied "String beans are tough now, and will require an extra hour to
prepare for dinner."
There were nine children in the family, only four of whom are now living:
William, who was long an honored citizen of this town, now
living in Montrose, PA; Hannah, now Mrs. John Scars
of Ohio State; Benjamin C. and Lydia
who married (second time) Theodore Spoor, a successful
business man of Kingston, NY.
Benjamin Chapman Hotchkiss is the only male
representative of this family now in this town. He married Rachel Catherine
Pattison, and they live in "Broadway," much
respected by all who know them. They have two daughters. Elizabeth
the eldest, is a successful teacher, now at Irvington-on-the-Hudson.
"Honest John Peck" as he was generally known, was a
long time resident of Durham town. He was the son of Harvey Peck,
who early in the history of the town came from Balston Spa, Saratoga Co., and
bought the farm now occupied by Theodore Scutt. They had four
sons, none of whom however settled here but John. There were
several daughters. Sarah married Simeon Baldwin,
of Durham and her sister married Humphrey Potter, of Windham.
Honest John married Ruth Utter, of Oak Hill.
He was a remarkably honest, simple-hearted man, and at the same time capable
in the management of affairs. He was once elected Commissioner of
Highways, and always while he had strength, was one to assist in any difficult
piece of work which the good of the people required. More than that, and
better than that, he was an earnest Christian. He belonged to a long
lived family. His father died at 87, his mother at 84, and he died Sept 25,
1880, aged 86 years. Ruth, his wife died at 64, Nov 4, 1862.
They had two sons who reached adult life. Harvey the
oldest lives in Catskill---is an honest, hardworking man, and George
the youngest, is married and occupies the old home. He possesses the same
characteristics we have already ascribed to his brother.
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