Article 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 family.
 
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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