Harmony Lodge Papers
July 31, 1862
Transcribed by Arlene Goodwin
A glance, necessarily hasty, over the papers handed me at Catskill, reveals little of interest, beyond the associations which may be connected with the names of the members of the Lodge. Those who have anticipated anything like the revelations of JACQUIN and BOAZ, or MORGAN of Batavia, will probably be disappointed when I assure them that the documents contain nothing which any member could have desired to keep secret, unless, perhaps, it might have been a few bills for refreshments, the items of which ran, rather uniformly, as follows:
HARMONY LODGE, DR. TO STEPHEN DAY & SONS,
To 2 gallons Sherry Wine……………….f1 8 0
" 4 doz. biscuits…………………………0 2 0
HARMONY LODGE, DR. TO JOSEPH GRAHAM,
To wine, brandy & 2 Jugs…………………f 1 7 6
" Cash paid for bisket and cheese….……….0 6 0
" 2 Gals Sherry Wine…………14s……….....1 8 0
in which the temperance folks of the present day will, perhaps, discover a little too close resemblance to FALSTAFF’S running account with Dan QUICKLEY—in the awful disproportion of bread to sack. Beyond these, and letters from AMBROSE SPENCER, (afterwards Chief Justice) PHILLIP L. HOFFMAN, and others, (which I propose, hereafter, to transcribe as specimens of the epistolary style of the last century) I repeat, there is nothing in these documents of interest. I shall, therefore, make use of them only as the signs-manual of the "brothers of mystic tie," subscribed by hands long since mouldered into dust, to bring to mind such incidents as early recollections or tradition have connected with their names.
First on the list, in a bold, round hand, is the signature of SAMUEL HAIGHT, the elder brother of the late JACOB HAIGHT, who recently died, at an advanced age, in the Village.—Samuel Haight was a merchant of Catskill; his place of business was located on the Northerly bank of the Hans-Vaseen-Kill, at its confluence with the Catskill, where stood a store-house and a wharf, at which, it is said, vessels of considerable burthen were laden and discharged; though, at this day, the Creek is so filled with rocks that nothing drawing more water than a skiff or a sturgeon ever finds its way above Brosnaham’s reef. Of course, as a business site, this spot has long since been abandoned, the old store-house has been long demolished, the ancient dock has rotted, log by log, and floated down the stream, and, at my last visit to the locality, I could discover no signs of busy life, not a sound breaking the stillness, save the wheezing of the old horse, as he trod his daily lazy round in the bark-mill of my Democratic friend, ISSAC ROUSE.
In the days of Samuel Haight, and for many years afterwards, there resided near his store an aged man named KOON, who officiated as sexton of the parish of St. Luke’s Church. I well remember his good wife, who sold cake and beer—and, even now, I can see, "in my mind’s eye," the old sign painted in two colors, the black representing a junk bottle, and the yellow a square of gingerbread. A little farther up the road, near what is now the junction of "the snake road" with the Susquehanna turnpike, stood a small red house, which, as long as I can remember, was reputed to be haunted. Often, at night, have a party of lads, including myself, sought to exorcise the spirits which were supposed to occupy the stigmatised old tenement, by pelting it with stones, though truth compels me to admit these bombardments always took place on moonlight nights, and from a respectable distance. What occurrence gave this building the name of "the Spook House," I do not clearly remember. I believe there was a story of a pedlar having stopped there over night, who was missing in the morning—material enough to found a tale of terror upon, although it is probable the fellow absconded early to avoid payment for his supper and lodging.
Opposite the store-house of Samuel Haight, stood his dwelling, a low house, with dormer or roof windows, which, I believe, still remains in its pleasant situation. Subsequent to his removal, this house had numerous tenants, the last one of whom I recollect was JOSEPH ALLEN, a warm-hearted, retired sea captain, to enjoy the fruits of his honest toil. I remember and occurrence in the life of this good old man which it may not be out of place here, briefly, to relate: He had sold his homestead in Jefferson to one WILLIAM PULLAN, a haughty, overbearing Englishman, who afterwards, sought in every way to annoy the Captain. One day, at a vexatious law suit instituted by Pullan against Allen, the former, in reply to an assertion of Allen’s called him "a ____ old liar." The Captain was a small man, and then verging upon eighty years, but he seized the tall Englishman and hurled him to the earth. I was in the office when Pullan applied to my father for a warrant for the old "sea-dog." It was most reluctantly granted, and given to EGBERT BOGTARDUS, who as reluctantly proceeded to serve it. He met the Captain, on his way to the office to answer for this offence, and his plea was in about these words: "the scoundrel called me "a d____d old liar." And I tossed him off the stoop. I not only punished him, but I revenged myself from many insults received at the hands of his haughty countrymen. Often, when beating up the British Channel, I have been obliged, however inconvenient, to ‘douse my peak’ to every English vessel in the Channel; to-day, I have doused an Englishman, peak, hull and all."
It is needless to say that the complaint was dismissed, with a lecture from the magistrate to the plaintiff, conveyed in not very complimentary language.
* * * * * * * *
But I have strayed far off from my subject; and, perhaps, it is as well, for my recollections of Samuel Haight are not very vivid. I know that he was a Brigadier General, for I remember to have seen him in regimentals and powdered hair, at a General Review, and I know that, after securing a competency, he removed to Athens, where he built a palatial residence, and where "he lived respected, and died lamented," and that is about all I do know of him.
In my next, I will endeavor to stick a little closer to the text, which I shall select from "The Harmony Lodge Papers."