Article 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  treason.
 
"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."

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