Article Number Twenty-Two -
Meeting House Hill, Rose Hill and Vicinity

Written by Joshua G. Borthwick and originally published
on April 30,1881, in the Catskill "Examiner". Copy provided by the Durham Center Museum and retyped by Annette Campbell



Many of the first settlers of the town of Durham, especially those who came from the New England states, built their first homes on the hills, and laid out their  first roads directly over the hills; as one has said "they were willing to walk up the hills for the sake of riding down."
 
These hills became very bleak as the country was cleared of it's heavy forests, and the people gradually sought refuge in the valleys, and the hills became boundaries, not to say barriers, between neighborhoods.
 
This was true of Meeting-House Hill, and also of Rose Hill. At one time there were two church buildings, a school house, several dwelling houses, a blacksmith shop, two roads crossing it at right angles and running out into the surrounding country, and a nicely laid out cemetery on Meeting-House hill.  Now there is not a building of any description (except Mr. Osborn's at the extreme eastern boundary), nor a road except a farm road, and the cemetery is in a state of disgraceful neglect.
 
The ascent of the hill on the north side is steep and long, and the people becoming tired of the toilsome journey, removed the Presbyterian church to "Broadway," in 1821, and the people in the south part of the town being unwilling to climb over Rose hill, and up Meeting-House hill, took the Methodist church down and set it up again in Cornwallsville. The dwelling houses soon followed.
 
James Rose lived on Rose hill, hence its name, but his farm is divided among several owners. The house long since disappeared, and the barn is now Mr. Dwight P. Hull's "west barn."  The Rose family---Elijah, the father and James and John, the sons, have long since passed away.
 
Between these two hills is another smaller one, on which Henry Hendrickson once lived. The road from Meeting-House hill to the south, passed over this hill; there was another road running from the top of this hill to the west.  There are now several graves there. Deacon Christopher Lord and Patience, his wife, a Mrs. Kiersted, as also two brothers, sons of Mrs. Daniel Kirtland, Sr., were buried there.  Now it is an open field; the house gone, and the barn was removed and now belongs to Mr. Horace B. Kirtland.
 
Like many other towns, Durham has no village as it's geographical centre. Between the Hills of which we speak, there is a tract of level smooth land, now owned by Mr. Horace Kirtland, and the Field estate, which is suitable for building purposes, and here it was thought that the village of Durham would be located. Some six or seven houses, a school house, a blacksmith's shop, a boot and shoe shop, a pot-ashery and the town pound were here; and when the Susquehanna turnpike was incorporated, an effort was made to induce the company to follow the old Dies Manor road through this proposed village. This effort failed largely through the influence of  Judge Thomas E. Barker, who owned a tannery and other business interests at the present village of Durham; and later still when the Churches were removed from Meeting-House hill, this locality was strongly urged as a suitable site for them both. But all these plans came to nought.
 
Among the early settlers of this place we find the following names: Curtis Baldwin. Peter Shue, son of Augustines Schu, Edward Daley, a Hollander, lived on the farm now owned by  H. B. Kirtland.  He became a Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, and in 1824 he and Caleb Coffin represented this county in the Legislature of the State. In his old age he was elected pound master from year to year. Solomon Steadman was a blacksmith. His house and shop were north of the road, near the wagon house now occupied by Elihu Moss. John Dennison built the house now occupied by Mr. Moss, and used it as a store and dwelling combined, and sold it to Rev. Stephen Ostrander, who was pastor of the old Dutch Church west of Oak Hill. He sold it to Mr. Cyrus Field who lived there until his death a few years ago. Elisha Crane lived just east of Mr. Field's house. He was a brother-in-law of the late William H. Reed, of Durham.  A Mr. Maynard lived north of the road near by, and Mr. Cyrus Field lived in a block house further east before he bought the Dennison House. This block house was probably built and occupied by Linus Hopson who afterward lived on the farm now owned by Minthorn Smith. South of the village there lived a Mr. Hummel, who was a shoemaker. The pot ashery was also south of the town.  The town pound was situated just east of Mr. Kirtland's barn yard. It was walled up high and strong and was used for the safe keeping of stray cattle, etc.  It was expected that the owners should prove property, and also pay such a fee as the pound master should order before they could remove the cattle.
 
This pound was once used by Col. Edwards, of Hunter. He had a neighbor whose hogs and pigs troubled him very much, so one day he loaded them into his wagon and brought them from Hunter to Durham, and placed them in the pound, from which the owner recovered them upon the payment of the charges.

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