Article Number Thirteen - Olmsted, Post, Tyler and Adams Families

Written by Joshua G. Borthwick and originally published
on April 24, 1880, in the Catskill "Examiner". Copy provided by the Durham Center Museum and retyped by Annette Campbell


Among the first settlers in the East part of the town was Capt. Olmstead, who lived on the Turnpike near the present boundary between Cairo and Durham. A house was burned there a few years ago which has never been rebuilt. The Captain kept a public house for many years;---the first house of the kind in this part of the town. He was the father of the Olmstead family now living in town. As the country filled up with inhabitants, and travel increased, quite a number of public houses were built, especially along the line of the Susquehanna Turnpike, which became a great thoroughfare for the farmers, manufacturers and drovers of Greene, Delaware, Schoharie and a portion of Albany counties. Loads upon loads of hay and grain, wheat and buckwheat flour, lumber, leather and hides, and droves of cattle passed over it to an extent almost beyond the imagination of the present generation.  It is stated that at one time there was a public house to every mile, from Durham to Catskill. First in Durham there was Capt. Olmstead's house of which we have just spoken, then Mr. Joel Lindsley kept a similar house where Wallace's Hotel is, and there were two in East Durham, and two on the road to Durham, and two in the village of Durham, and one on the old Humphrey place, now owned by Adelbert Newell, making nine at least on the Susquehanna Turnpike within a distance of less than ten miles, besides several in and near Oakhill and on Windham Turnpike.  It was probably true of these roads as was said of the Great Western Turnpike from Albany to the western part of the State that "the traveler could smell tar from one end of the road to the other," and no doubt many were accustomed to smell and taste that which is as much worse than tar as tar is worse than water. But to resume our travels: just west of Capt. Phineas Tyler's there lived a Dutch family by the name of Knickerbocker. The son Heth, was killed when a mere lad. His father was making a temporary pigpen and was driving a stake in the ground, when his ax came off the handle and falling on the poor little boy's head, killed him on the spot.  Farther up the hill Mr. David Francis settled and raised a large family of children; but very few of his descendants now remain in town. George W. Francis, his grandson, went to Nebraska with his family two years ago. David Francis died Jan. 27, 1839, aged 76.  Mr. Curtis, father of Gilbert Curtis, Esq., afterward settled on the four corners still further West.  Mr. Bryan lived where Mr. James Ter Bush does, and Jared Smith mentioned in Smith's Gazeteer of New York, as the builder of the first saw mill in town, settled on the farm recently owned by Smith Bear, and his mill was just above the stone bridge where the Turnpike crosses Post creek, or as it was sometimes called "Heifer creek" from the fact of a heifer falling off the rocks into the creek and being killed in the fall.  The VanTassel family afterward owned Jared Smith's farm. Col Ezra Post settled the farm and lived where Mr. Henry Haskins now does. He kept a public house, and the farm is even now sometimes called the " Col. Post place."  He was a prominent man in town affairs a good many years, holding several offices, besides his Colonelcy. He also was a member of the Presbyterian Church, loved and trusted by his brethren. He had two sons, Ezra and William, the latter of whom also became Colonel of Militia.  On the hill, forty or fifty rods N.W. of Col. Post lived Mr. Joseph AdamsMr. Henry S. Mace now owns the farm. It was formerly called the "Lant place" from a man of that name who lived there after Mr. Adams left it, and who kept a public house. This is very near the geographical centre of the town, and is sometimes called Durham Centre. The annual town meetings were often held here. Mr. Joseph Adams had four sons---Joseph, Gopher, and John by his first wife, and Platt by his second. He trained up his sons in the right way, giving them good educational advantages, and two, John and Platt, became eminent public men. Mr. Adams was born in 1738, when Gen. Washington was six years old, and died May 16, 1832, aged 94 years.  Joseph, his son reached a greater age still, being nearly 100 years old when he died. He was of a quiet disposition, and lived on the farm now owned by Calvin Borthwick, near Cornwallsville, about 60 years.  He lived near South Durham at the time of his death. John commenced his public career as a teacher in the district schools, reading law meanwhile, and in 1810 he was appointed Surrogate of Greene county by Daniel D. Tompkins, who was the Governor of the State, succeeding Dorrance Kirtland, of Coxsackie, and was in turn succeeded by him the following year.  He also took a deep interest in matters connected with the Church.  In 1806 he was appointed with Thomas E. Barker and James Thompson to procure the passage of an act of the Legislature, incorporating the First Pres. Society of Durham, N.Y. They were successful and at the next annual meeting he was chosen Clerk of the Society.  In 1812 he became a member of the Legislature. At that time Greene Co. was represented by two members in the Assembly. Perry Steel was his colleague.  D.D. Thompkins was Governor of the State, and Jacob R. VanRensselaer of Columbia Co. was Speaker of the House at the time. The next year, 1813, he ran for Congress, and was declared elected; he went and took his seat, but his opponent, Erastus Root of Delhi, contested his election and finally secured his place.  Delaware and Greene Counties at this time constituted the Eighth Congressional District, by an Act of June10, 1812. Two years previous to this Greene, Sullivan and Ulster composed the Fifth Congressional District, and at the formation of Greene Co. in 1800, Greene and Ulster were the Seventh Congressional District.  June 29, 1832, the Counties of Columbia, Greene and Schoharie were constituted the Eighth Congressional District, and in 1833 John Adams represented this District in Congress for the full term. Andrew Jackson was President of the United States at the time.


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