Settlers of East Jewett
By Horatio N. Beach
Catskill Examiner, August 17, 1871
Transcribed by Arlene Goodwin from the microfilmed copy of the
article located at the
Vedder Research Library.
The writer of these notes enters upon his task with a full appreciation of the difficulties attending the procurement of information approximating to reliability concerning a people of whom on record had been kept, and whose history extends over about three-fourths of a century. Nor does he expect to make the present sketch as full as existing circumstances would warrant; but to begin a history that he, or some able writer, may subsequently complete. A full history would be a greater labor than the writer would now desire to enter upon, and would certainly prove to voluminous for the spacious columns of the Windham Journal, for which these notes are prepared. His only purpose is to commence a history which must prove of abiding interest to every present resident of East Jewett, and to all the descendants of the early settlers were ever their abiding place, and of especial interest in coming years to the succeeding generations of East Jewett. It will form the first link in the chain of history which will connect to early settlers with future generations, and as such its value will increase with each succeeding decade.
It will not be inopportune to say in these prefacing remarks that the early settlers of East Jewett were endowed with a remarkable degree of fortitude and perseverence, or else they never would have entered a wilderness that presented so few external attractions, and within whose wild recesses the bears, wolves and panthers held undisputed sway. To overcome the joint obstacles presented in the grand old forests and the numerous wild beasts, required a heroism scarcely parallelled at a period when bravery begotten of the revolution stood forth in its glory. That they possessed courage and great physical endurance is evidenced by the many great obstacles which they overcame in transforming the wilderness into cultivated fields, and substituting commodious residences for the rude habitations of the pioneer. Their struggles and privations were not void of a direct compensation reward; and to the second and third generations they proved of immense value, in giving them robust constitutions, temperate and industrious habits, and that spirit of economy essential to success. For many years after the first settlement was made the people derived their chief subsistance from the sale of hemlock bark. At a later period the lumber trade brought a considerable income; but still later, as the land became cleared up, the dairy business was much more profitable than either other had been, and now East Jewett presents a people as thrifty and prosperous as any other agricultural section. Verily, "times ain’t as they used to was." The writer recollects when the wolves howled by night and the deer were chased across the sparse "clearing" by day; where there are now "potatoes green;" when the log house stood where now stand the spacious and ornamental residence; when the outfit of a newly married couple—(the housekeeping outfit)—cost much less than the wedding dress now does; when spinning-wheels were ten-fold more numerous than melodeons or pianos. Those were "good old times," though there are few, if any, that will now sigh for their return. The people are now enjoying the good new times which their industry and thrift have brought them.
We make but a slight reference to the geographical history of East Jewett, as that is a matter of public record, and can at all times be found in a complete history of the county or State; but here are some other events of a public nature that belong to this sketch, because they are part of the history of the early settlers. The town in which East Jewett was first located as Windham, (prior to 1813.) In 1813 a part of Windham was taken off and the town of Greenland formed, which embraced East Jewett, then called East Kill. The next year the name of the town was changed to Hunter. In 1849 a new town was formed from the towns of Hunter and Lexington called Jewett, and in then is new town East Jewett is now located. A post office was established at East Jewett in the year 1829, (also at Big Hollow,) the mail route extended from East Jewett to Union Society. John Beach was the first post-master, which office he held until his removal to Connecticut several years later. The Methodist church was built in 1834, thirty-four years ago. Lemuel Woodworth, Matthew Winters and Harry Fairchild were then its trustees. The roads in East Jewett were noted at an early date for being extremely rough, and are still entitled to some fame on the same score. The East Kill creek was a great place for trout-fishing; but its glory in the respect has long since departed.
Some of the first settlers resided in East Jewett for but a short time, then removed away, and their subsequent history is not known. In this list we place the names of John, William and Seymour Arnold, Jonathan Wayne, Elisha Calkins, Elisha Ruskey, Able Mix, Bush, Parks, &c.
Among the first settlers was Philip Mead, who came from Dutchess county in 1797, and located on what has been known at different periods as the Suydam Patent, Syman Patent, Treat and McLean Patent, and Austin Patent. He killed forty bears. Died at East Jewett. His children were Hudlah, Jeremiah, Stephen, Abagail, Daniel, Benjamin, Deborah, Jedediah, and Isaac. Hudlah married Daniel Wright, and now lives at Villanoba, Chautauqua county, N. Y. Jeremiah died at Montezuma, N. Y. Stephen has lived near his present residence in East Jewett, for seventy-four years, and is now eighty years of age. Abagail married John Townsend, and now lives at Penn Yan, N. Y. David died Mentz, Cayuga county, N. Y. Benjamin now lives in Chautauqua county, and died in Wayne county, N. Y. Jeduthan went to Indiana and died of small pox. Isaac removed to Elmira, where he died.
Timothy Lockwood came from Dutchess county in 1797, but was so greatly frightened by the howling of the wolves that he immediately returned from whence he came, greatly fearing that he would not get back alive. Some five years later he returned to East Jewett, where he lived for about fifteen years, then removed to Mentz, N. Y., and his after history is not known.
James Paddock came to East Jewett from Dutchess county in 1797, and settled on the "patent,’ where he lived for about fifteen years, and the removed to Coxsackie. Joseph Smith came and went with Paddock.
In the year 1801, ______ Gillet, Joseph Beach and Eli Slater built a grist-mill on the "patent." Beach subsequently moved to Buffalo, Slater to Genesee County, N. Y. Isaac Halsey lived for a short time near the gristmill.
Thomas O’Brien came from Rensselaer county about the year 1806, and settled near where he died in 1849.
John Godsell came for Connecticut, and lived for a long period where William Woodworth now resides.—"Uncle John," as he was familiarly called, was a great trapper, and during his residence at East Jewett caught ninety-nine bears—the hundredth running off with his traps. He also killed between forth and fifty wolves. The wolves in these days were very destructive to the sheep flocks, and under a State law the towns were authorized to offer bounties for killing them. In some towns a larger bounty was offered than in others, and, consequently, it became desirable for trappers to kill them where the largest bounty was to be obtained. The bounty being much larger in Cairo than in Hunter, Uncle John, with Yankee shrewdness, conceived the idea of taking a large wolf which he had caught in Hunter, over the mountain into Cairo before killing it. So he fastened it onto a sled, hitched on his oxen, and started over the mountain. Uncle John was not a pious man, especially when handling wolves, against which he held a great animosity because they had killed many sheep. So every few rods he would stop his team, lash the wolf with an ox-gad and say: "Kill sheep will you, G__d d__n you." The result of the old man’s poundings was that the wolf died before he got to the Cairo line with it, which was made a joke at Uncle John’s expense. He removed to and died in Illinois.
Matthew Winters came to East Jewett from Albany county in 1806, and lived an died a short distance east of the Methodist church. His children were Elizabeth, Lydia, Sally, Robert, Reuben, Anna, Moses, Cordilla, Mary and Matthew. Elizabeth married Stephen Mead, and died at East Jewett. Lydia married Daniel Mead, and died at Cayuga county, N.Y. Sally married Edward Fairchild, and now lives in Wisconsin. Robert died in 1862 at East Jewett on the farm where Hugh Slater now resides. Anna married Aaron Wolcott, and died in Ohio. Moses lives upon the old homestead at East Jewett. Cordilla married Highland Woodworth, and now lived in Illinois. Mary married David Loup, and lives in Cataraugus county, N. Y. Matthew now lives in Iowa.
Lemuel Woodworth came from Albany county in 1806, and lived for a time in a log house near the creek opposite where the Methodist church stands; but at later date built the house next west of the church, where he died. His children were Hannah, Abner, Matthew, Lydia, David, Alanson, Nancy, Hiram, Lemuel and Sally. Hannah married Harry Fairchild, and died at East Jewett, Abner had lived for many years at his present residence in East Jewett. Matthew died in 1816 at the homestead. Lydia married Oliver T. Fuller, and now lives at Pittsfield, Mass. David resides at Woodland, Ulster county, N.Y. Alanson lives near where he has for many years at East Jewett. Nancy married Richard Fairchild, and lives in Iowa. Hiram died at East Jewett, aged 47 years. Lemuel lives in New York city. Sally married Hugh Slater, and lives in East Jewett.
Rogers Winters came from Roxbury, Delaware county in or about the year 1810, and settled near where he died in 1850. His children were Paine, Cyntha, Lovica, Rebecca, Horace and Harrison. Paine lives in Steuben county, N. Y. Cyntha married Luther Ford, and now lives at East Jewett. Lovica married Charles C. Summers, and lives at Philadelphia. Rebecca married Sylvester Hanson, and lives in Wisconsin. Horace lives at Westkill. Harrison died at East Jewett.
John Beach, Jr., came from Litchfield county, Conn. in 1813, and settled on the farm now occupied by John Van Valkenburgh. (John Beach, Sr., came at a later date, died at East Jewett, and his were the first remains interred in the burying ground in the rear of the Methodist church.) John Beach, Jr., about thirty years ago, removed to Bridgeport, Conn., where he afterward died. His children were Sally M., Lucilla E., N. William, Caroline F., John P., and Horatio N. Sally married Isaac Eckert, and now lives at New York city. William lives at Woodland, Ulster county, N. Y. Caroline married William S. Distin, and now lives at Poughkeepsie, N.Y. John lives in Minnesota. Horatio lives at Brockport, Monroe county, N. Y.
Samuel Hanson came to East Jewett about the year 1813, and died there a few years since. His children were Martha, Sally, Clarissa, Mariah, Experience, Samuel and Sylvester. Martha married Jehiel Winchel, and died at East Jewett. Sally married Chauncey Greene, who also died at East Jewett. Clarissa married Orin Johnson, and now lives at Windham Centre. Mariah married Paine Winters, and died in Steuben county, N. Y. Experience married Ralph Coe, and died at a place not ascertained. Samuel died at East Jewett. Sylvester resides in Wisconsin.
Jehiel Winchel, the father of Susan &c. came from Connecticut in about the year 1800, and died at East Jewett. We have no sufficient facts at hand for a suitable sketch of the family.
At about the same period John Bray settled on the top of the Big Hollow mountain, and subsequently died in Hunter. His children were Frederick, Levi, Eli, John, Abner, Highland, Oliver, Jane, Hannah, Polly and Betsy. Not having their full history, we pass them to the next historian.
Jonathan Fairchild settled in East Jewett in about the year 1800, and died on the farm now owned by Hugh Slater. His children were Benjamin, Betsy, Harry, Catharine, Loretta, John, Edward and Richard. Benjamin moved to the West, and it is not certain whether he is still living or not. Betsy married ____DeWolf, Harry lives in Ohio. Catherine married _____Ringe, and lives in Cazanovia, N. Y Loretta married Isaac Hull, and lives in Shandaken. John and Edward died in Wisconsin. Richard lives at Dubuque, Iowa.
In closing this undoubtedly some what imperfect history, in so far as it is professed history, it is proper to say that the writer obtained most of the facts given at a short meeting held at the house of Stephen Mead, at which were present Mr. and Mrs. Mead, Hugh Slater, Alanson Woodworth and Jesse Parker.