Article Number Sixteen - Asahel Jones

Written by Joshua G. Borthwick and originally published
on January 15, 1881, in the Catskill "Examiner". Copy provided by the Durham Center Museum and retyped by Annette Campbell



The region of country round about Hervey Street and South Durham was settled by Capt. Asahel Jones, Deacon Obed Hervey, Mr. Bumhourd, John Butler, Elder Arnold, Henry Bartell, and perhaps others. This was in 1788.
 
Capt. Jones was born in Hackettstown, NJ, in 1753. At the breaking out of the war of Independence he enlisted, and such was his energy and courage, that he soon became the captain of his company. At the close of the war he sought a new home in the wilderness of York State. He settled on the farm now owned by Alvin Jones, south of Hervey Street. He built a log house 8 or 10 rods east of Alvin Jones's house on the north side of the road, and as the country filled up with inhabitants, he added to the size of his house and kept supplies of various kinds for the settlers. The first winter he and his family spent in their new home was very severe; they were compelled to drive their cattle into the woods to browse on the tender twigs of the trees; and finally they were obliged to take the straw with which their beds were filled and feed it to the starving brutes.  When the Batavia turnpike was built, he added to his accommodations and kept a public house.  The turnpike, as it was first built, left the present turnpike just west of Butt's public house on the mountain, and followed about the course of the present road past Ostrander Goff's nearly to the school house, where it turned to the south, as the road now runs until we pass Alvin Jones's.  From the turn east of said Jones's, it passed on in an easterly course 12 or 15 rods north of the Windham turnpike (in some places much more than that) until the (word Illegible) mountain was reached. Capt. Jones was not only a successful business man but he was trusted by his townsmen.  Soon after the organization of the town of Freehold, he became one of the Commissioners of roads, having been elected to that office in 1791. The town as we have seen, was organized March 8, 1790, and Ephraim Darby, Ebenezer Barker and Peter Curtis were the first Commissioners, and the following is a copy of one of their Road Surveys as made by them, in the handwriting of Ephraim Darby.
 
     "We the subscribers, Commissioners of roads for the township
     of Freehold and county of Albany in the Stat of New York, being
     called and met in order to lay out roads, so lay out the following
     four rod road, to wit: one road to begin at a Sugar Maple tree
     marked R, standing with Coss____ Clow's  fence about eighty
     rods westerly from Nehemiah Olmsted's house and on the
     southerly side of the road that leads from Stephen Platt's
     grist mill to DeWitt's mills, and from this tree to run southerly
     straight to the fording place over the Kattskill creek near Jacob
     VanTassel's  house, and crossing the creek to the South branch
     thereof; thence up the same a few rods, then turning southerly as
     near the present wagon way as the ground may admit for the good
     of the road, then on through the clearing to Abraham Lindly's
     barn, on to a duggway near John Harrison's, then nearly South
     on the ridge by a line of marked trees to Doctor _____ Ralph's
     improvement and West of the same and by marked trees on the
     North side of the old Dice's Manor road to Josiah Rice's 
    
improvement, and on by John Phelp's  field and down the hill by a
     marked hemlock tree, and  over the brook and by  and by marked
     trees to the east side of David Sceale's (?)  improvement to Dice's
     Manor road; then  by the same nearly as it runs to the old bridge
     place over the Ramsey's Kill, and to continue nearly as it runs and
     as the same is now opened until it crosseth Dedrick's Brook, and
     by the new cut way to Darius Olmsted's field, then straight
    through into the Batavia road nearby his door, on the west side of
    his house. Also one other four rod road, Beginning at the East end
    of Thomas Barker's house in the New Durham road, and running
    straight to Peter VanGelder's  spring, and from thence between the
    house and barn and then along the old cut way, over a new bridge,
    and round to a point of a hill to the old Dice's Manor road  near
   
David Jewell's house, then by the same old road nearly as it now
    runs, crossing the brook near Abraham Bunnell's house and into
    the New Durham road that leads from Capt. Aaron Thorp's. And
    also one other four rod road: Beginning in the said New Durham
    road at Thomas Barker's house; thence East to William Avery's
   
house, then by John Harrison's house and up the dugway and to
    join the road that leads from Darius Olmsted's to Jacob Van
    Tassel's
.  All of which three several roads we do hereby lay out four
    rods in width, and do order that they be Recorded and opened and
    worked according to the laws of this State in such case made and
    provided. In witness whereof we have set our hands this thirteenth
    day of May, One Thousand Seven Hundred and ninety (1790).
    Signed,  Eph. Darby, Ebenezer Barker, Peter Curtis, Comrs.
 
Now if anybody can trace out the above described roads I should be glad to have them do so. Capt. Jones died comparatively young. His death it was thought was hastened by the bite of a mad dog.  He died June 2, 1809, aged 56.  His wife's maiden name was Phoebe Stevens, and she died Feb. 17, 1834, aged 76 years.  His son, Stevens Jones, was a surveyor, and located the Windham Turnpike in its excellent grade over the mountains.  This Turnpike was incorporated  April 1, 1808. Stevens Jones died March 27, 1851, aged 73.  His wife Elizabeth Bumhourd, died Dec 26, 1834, aged 52. Asahel Jones, Jr., died only a few years ago. Alvin Jones, Mrs. Paddock and other descendents of the Captain, live near the old homestead. Mr. Bumbourd, whose name I think was Andrew, lived on the Eliakim Beach farm, where James Sandford now lives, and Henry Bartell  lived just over the hill east of Bumhourd's, while Elder Arnold lived on the farm now opened by Francis Kelsey at South Durham. He was an excellent man, became a Baptist minister, and was ordained in Elder Obed Hervey's parlor. His son John became an editor of a religious paper, now has a publishing house in Adrian, Michigan, and occasionally comes to his early home and drinks out of the old well as of yore.

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