Number Ten - Wright and More Families - Saybrook Creek
Written by Joshua G. Borthwick and originally published
on July 12, 1879, in the Catskill "Examiner". Copy
provided by the Durham
Center Museum and retyped by Annette Campbell
As we proceed eastward, and southward from Saybrook Hill, we come to
Saybrook creek, which has its rise about two miles northeast of the village of
Rensselaerville. About one and a half miles from its source, there is a
dam thrown across the stream, which forms a beautiful sheet of water about
three-fourths of a mile long, and one-fourth of a mile wide. It was
formerly called the Rensselaerville Pond, but is now "the
Reservoir." Below this dam, the stream falls 350 or 400 feet in a
short distance by a series of rapids and cataracts, as it rushes through the
gorge down past the Woolen Factory and the south part of the village, until it
reaches the valley south of Rensselaerville. From here to Medusa it
flows quietly through a pleasant valley, turning the wheels of Grist Mills,
Saw Mills, and a Paper Mill (formerly), until it reaches the site of Saybrook
saw mill, now owned by Addison Utter. We have records
to show that this mill was built as early as the year 1788, for on the 20th of
April 1789, we find Selah Strong "sledding" 770
feet of boards from this mill for Silas Sears Fordham.
The original mill has long since disappeared, and its site has been occupied
by a Carding Machine and Fulling Mill, then by a Grist Mill, until within a
few years; and now a nice new saw mill and lumber house occupy the ground.
Who built the first mill here is uncertain; perhaps it was James
Utter, Sr., but more likely it was Joseph Wright,
although it was afterward owned by Silas Stannard.
This Joseph Wright was full of tricks. One night there was a
gathering of young people from Wright street at the house of Richard
Benjamin, (who built and occupied the old house near Utter's
saw mill as a public house), for a dance. They must have walked to the
place, for they crossed the mill dam just below the house in a skiff.
While they were engaged in their frolic, "Joe" Wright went and cut a
hole in the bottom of their boat, and fitted a piece of board over it so
nicely that the boat did not leak. To this piece of board he attached a strong
cord about twenty feet long, fastening one end of this cord to a short stake
driven in the ground near the shore. When the party broke up, the young people
got into the boat and launched forth; but they soon got to the "end of
their rope," the water came rushing in, and with screams and wet feet,
they beat a hasty retreat.
Deacon George Wright, one of the first settlers in Wright
street, came from Saybrook, Conn., very early in the history of the town, and
lived on the farm now owned by Silas Wright, his grandson. He
was a soldier in the Revolution---was a musician for his company. He had
a large family; his sons were Ambrose, Wise, Benjamin, Christopher,
George and James. They nearly all had large
families, and their descendants are found in nearly every State of the Union.
Bradford, Anson, and Silas, grandsons of Deacon
George Wright, still live in the neighborhood. Eliakim
Stannard, another early settler of Wright street, was born in
Chillingford, Conn., Aug 31, 1752; and married Bathiah Kelsey,
who was born March 15th, 1758. They had nine children, two of whom, Charles,
aged 88, and Lyman, aged 83, are still living.
They lived on the farm formerly owned by Josiah Stannard, and
now by Clark, his son. He also was a Revolutionary soldier,
and when a company of light Infantry was formed in this town, he was chosen
its Captain. He was a member of the Presbyterian church of Durham, N.Y.,
uniting on the 3rd day of May, 1810, at which time fifty-six persons were
received in one day. Silas, one of his sons, was a
soldier in the war of 1812. His wife was a daughter of Daniel
Benjamin, and they were the parents of Eli and "Grove"
Stannard. Lyman Stannard married Lodema Benjamin,
a daughter of Richard Benjamin. She died in 1873. He
lived for many years on the farm now owned by his son Ransom.
He now lives in a good old age near Ding's mill. His
six children are somewhat scattered in various parts of the country. He has
been honored by his townsmen with the office of Supervisor for two terms.
Among the other early settlers of this part of the town was Philip
More, who lives on the old "More farm",
now owned by Lewis Sherrill, of Greenville. He had four
sons, viz,: William, Jacob, John, and Edward;
John was the father of Lafayette More, and lived and
died near Livingstonville. Edward lived and died a few
years ago on the farm now owned by Madison More, his son. John
Showerman lived on the farm lately owned by Joshua Tanner.
He had four sons, Peter, Andrus, Tunis, and John.
I do not know that any of the names live in the town now. The
country about which this settlement belonged to Cockburn's
Patent. It appears that he was a kind landlord, and fond of children
withal. I am told that when he went about to visit his tenants, he would fill
his pockets with pennies, and when he came to a house where there was a lot of
boys, he would take out a handful of them and throw them on the floor to see
the boys scramble for them, so that although he collected rents of the
fathers, his coming was a delight to the boys. About this time there was
a man by the name of Brown, who carried the mail, via.
Freehold, on horse back, to and from Catskill, and as there was no Post-office
near, he stopped at every house in the settlement, blowing his horn as a
signal of his approach.
All this region was heavily timbered with pine and the hard woods, and after a
good road was built to Catskill and Coxsackie, thousands of feet of lumber and
shingles were marketed. Tanneries sprang up, and at one time the town of
Durham was the leading town in the County, and Greene was the leading county
in the State in that branch of industry. Sheep were raised in large numbers,
and the wool was manufactured at home, giving employment to numerous carding
machines and fulling mills, and to the mothers and sisters in spinning and
weaving and making flannel shirts, woolen dresses and homemade suits, (full
cloth as it was called) for the men and boys.
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