Number Four -
Baldwin and Strong Families
Written by Joshua G. Borthwick and originally published
on March 15, 1879, in the Catskill "Examiner". Copy
provided by the Durham
Center Museum and retyped by Annette Campbell
I was exceedingly interested in the letter written by Mr.
Aaron Roggen, published in the Examiner of last week; and I
thank him for giving the exact location of James DeWitt's
mill. I find that my correction needed correcting, and as my earnest wish is
to preserve the truth of history, I hope that he and others will correct any
mistake I may make. I feel that he is ever so much better qualified to
write historically concerning the town than I am, and join with the Examiner
in the hope that we will "hear from him again" and often. I find
that I was mistaken in saying that none of David Merwin's
descendants remain. He has at least three grand daughters living, and they all
have families---Mrs. Denton, living in the State of
Minnesota, Mrs. D. B. Hull, at Salina, Kansas, Mrs.
A. P. Hull, living in Durham, N.Y. He also has a great grandson, by
marriage, now residing at West Durham, Frank Cooley.
And, more interesting still, he has a great grand daughter, and a great great
grand daughter and a great great grandson (wife and children of A. B.
Gilbert) now living on a part of the old farm, and within twenty rods
of where he settled ninety-five years ago.
About the year 1821 Mr.. Merwin traded his farm
for 1000 acres in Ohio, and removed there, where he died soon after.
Jonathan Baldwin, who
was generally called Deacon Jonathan, was the son of Abiel
and Mehitabel Baldwin, and was born in Durham,
Conn., June 1758. He was married in 1782, to Submit Lord,
youngest daughter of Deacon Christopher Lord and Patience,
his wife, who was a sister of Rev. Nathan Strong. About
a year and a half after their marriage they came and, with others, settled in
this town. He lived on the farm now occupied by Mr. Curtis
Osborn, until the year 1816, when he sold it and removed to Atwater,
Ohio, where he became, as he was here, a beautiful and strong pillar in the
church. He is spoken of as a remarkable man, especially in his christian
character, and it is said that he was mainly instrumental in bringing the
early settlers together for prayer and praise, long before the church was
organized. Selah Strong speaks of attending meeting on the
first Sabbath he spent in town, Aug. 29, 1784. The meeting was held at Mr.
Hurd's. Afterward he speaks of attending meeting at Mr.
Merwin's, Mr. Rose's, and other places. He was universally loved and
trusted. A blacksmith by trade, he was useful to the settlers. On the
formation of the first religious society he became its treasurer, was the
first chorister, and for a number of years took care of the church building,
being required "to sweep it at least once a month," for $3.25 per
year. He had several children, one of whom, Elihu Whittlesey
Baldwin, became a minister and the President of Wabash College, at
Crawfordsville, Ind. He was honored in 1839 with the title of D.D., and to
this day is almost always spoken of as Dr. Baldwin. He died
Oct. 15, 1840, in the fifty-first year of his age.
Abiel Baldwin was a
brother of Deacon Jonathan Baldwin, and settled on the farm
recently owned by John Peck. He was an excellent man, and
raised a family of the same character. One of his sons, Johnson,
became a minister of the Gospel, and another, Simeon C., I
well remember as one of the most godly men I ever knew. Abiel Baldwin
died in 1847.
Selah Strong was born in
Durham, Conn., Jan. 6, 1759. He was a son of Lieut. Eliakim Strong
and Hannah (Seward) Strong. Nov. 10, 1782, he married Eunice
Baldwin. She was a daughter of Abiel Baldwin and Mehitable
(Johnson) Baldwin, and a sister to Deacon Jonathan and
Abiel Baldwin, above mentioned. His diary and account
book show that he was an energetic, business man. We find him chopping,
burning, drawing logs, buying seed wheat and carrying it home on his back,
sowing wheat, making fence, working out by the day, driving cattle from
Connecticut, driving cattle over to the river to sell, making and selling
shingles, tending saw mill, writing in his diary and account book, and going
to meeting on the Sabbath. He removed his family to their new home when
he got it ready, and his second son, Elijah, is said to have
been the first child born in New Durham, as they called their settlement. They
had eight children, viz., Charles, Elijah, Lyman, Salmon (who
became a Reverend and the father of Addison K. Strong, D.D.
), Anna, Eunice, and Lansing, the
youngest, who died at 10 years of age. All the others lived to old age.
Selah Strong settled on "Meeting House Hill," about
half a mile west of Mr. Curtis Osborn's. That
place was selected as the center of the settlement, and a meeting house
afterward built, and a burying place established. He lived there until 1798,
when he bought the farm now occupied by Mr. Horace Strong,
where he lived until his death, March 11, 1837, aged 78. His father, Eliakim
Strong, came in 1786, and at the formation of the church became one
of the original nine members, and died May 14, 1800, aged 80 years.
These men were ardent patriots and used the pen, as well as the
sword, to promote the liberties of their country. I send you a copy of a poem
written by John Strong, August 16th, 1779, before Arnold's
"As Mars, great god of battle, lay
In Indolence' soft and am'rous play,
On fair Falonia's breast,
Surprised he raised his hoary head---
The conscious god was struck with dread
And all his fears confest.
Loud thunders roll'd thro' heavens domain,
The ethereal world was wrapped in name,
The god, amazed, spoke;
" Go forth, ye winds, and make it known,
Who dare thus shake my coral throne
And fill my realms with smoke."
The gods, obsequious, at his word
Sprang swiftly to obey their lord,
And saw two hosts arrayed;
The one, great Washington, was thine,
The other, Howe's disordered line
In sorrow and dismay.
Upheld, they view America's sons
Deal death and slaughter with their guns,
And strike the dreadful blow.
Which made ill-fated British slaves
On distant shores to find their graves,
And sink to shades below.
Amazed, they tell of battles won,
Of Britain ruined, and Washington
Alone in triumph rode.
"Oh, cries the god, 'pray who is he
That durst usurp their power at sea,
And thus insult their gods?"
The gods replied, "In yonder land
Great Liberty alone can stand
And give the hero force;
And when her thundering cannons roar
It strikes with dread the distant shore,
And she direct their course.
And when the winged bullets fly,
To check a tyrant's treachery
And lay her glory low,
Then, Washington, serenely great,
Tho' death and carnage round him wait,
Performs the dreadful blow."
The gods with wonder heard the story,
And astonished view Columbia's glory,
Which time can ne'er subdue;
Great Warren's deeds and Gates's fame,
Joined to Arnold's immortal name,
And cried, "Can this be true?
Britain shall cease to plague mankind
And with sister tyrants strive to bind,
And check free born souls.
To Washington our trophies yield,
Freedom shall flourish in the field,
And rule from Pole to Pole."