Harmony Lodge Papers

NO. 3

August 14, 1862


Transcribed by Arlene Goodwin


Among the signers of the by-laws of this Lodge, I notice the name MACKEY CROSWELL. His death occurred so recently that there are probably, few in Catskill who do not remember him well. He was the father of EDWIN CROSWELL, now of Hastings, and for many years, the editor and proprietor of the Albany Argus, and a prominent leader of the Democratic Party in its palmy days.

Mackey Croswell was one of the earliest settlers of Catskill, and was accompanied, in his emigration from Connecticut, or soon followed, by his brothers, THOMAS O’HARA, ARCHIBALD, CALEB and HARRY. Archie removed to Schoharie county, and was, for a number of years, engaged in the tanning business at Gilboa. Caleb was a painter, and will be remembered as the editor of the Balance over fifty years ago. He was a high-toned Federalist, and a vigorous writer; and had his party held to ascendancy which it had temporarily attained, he would, doubtless, have ranked among the most distinguished statesmen of that period. The election of JEFFERSON crushed the hope of Federalism, and CROSWELL, deserted by his associates in the midst of pecuniary as well as political embarrassments, abandoned the editorial for the ecclesiastical profession. For many years, he was the beloved rector of an Episcopal Church in New Haven, in which city he died a few years since. He was the father of SHERMAN CROSWELL, who was, for some time, connected with Edwin, as associate editor and proprietor of the Argus. He also died at New Haven, surviving his father but a few years.

Thomas O’H. was a physician, and there never has been, nor will there probably ever be, one of the profession who did, or will, secure the confidence, esteem and love in which the good old "Uncle Doctor" was held by all ages, sexes, classes and conditions.—Perhaps as great a share of love, esteem and confidence as could be transferred from this excellent old man to any other, is now possessed by DOCTOR ABEL BRACE, *(Since deceased) who was his protégé, student and partner, and who succeeded him, not only in his business, but in the affections of the people.

Thomas O’H. and Mackey Croswell were the founders, and for many years, the proprietors of the Catskill Recorder. I remember to have seen one of the first numbers of the first paper established in Catskill, and, I think it ante-dated 1780. It was not originally called the Recorder, but I believe its title was the Catskill Packer and Western Mail. It was printed on a sheet of coarse, blue paper, about 10 by 12 inches in size, and contained the latest intelligence brought by the fast sailing packet sloops, which, in those days, made the passage from New York to Catskill, (wind and weather permitting) in something less than six days. This sheet also contained a goodly array of advertisements, and was interspersed with numerous wood-cuts, which were said to be the handiwork of the Doctor.

I remember one especially, intended to represent a very black negro boy in the act of running away, with a bundle attached to a stick swung over his shoulder, and Mackey once told me that "Tom had sat up, shivering, through four ____cold nights to cut that little nigger." This was always considered by the Doctor as his chef douvre.

Besides the printing office, there was a book store, and, probably, a bindery, as I find among the papers before me a bill for blank books purchased of M. Croswell & Co., in 1795. (For further information in relation to the history of the Recorder, I refer you to your aged townsman, Captain JACOB DUNHAM, who is still living,*(Since deceased) and who was, I believe, an apprentice to the Croswells.)

After the Doctor found it necessary to devote his whole time to his profession, and the duties of Postmaster, (an office to which he was appointed by GEORGE WASHINGTON, and which he held through the whole of a long life,) Mackey assumed the sole proprietorship of the Recorder, until his son Edwin, becoming of suitable age, was associated with him. When Edwin, nearly forty years ago, succeeded MOSES Y. CANTINE, (also of Catskill) as State Printer, the paper passed into the hands of RICHARD FIELD, then to CHARLES FAXON, and afterwards through the ownership of NATHAN G. ELLIOTT, CALEB CROSWELL, JOHN R. SYLVEWTER, and his successor, down to one J.B. HALL, under whose care it now flourishes bravely, without any signs of that decay which is supposed to be the inevitable concomitant of antiquity.

When Mackey Croswell retired from the Recorder office, he opened a public house, called the "Village Tavern," on the site of the hotel now occupied by Sheriff FRANCE. His good nature, story-telling faculty and boon companionship drew around him hosts of friends, and the excellence of the cuisine, with the general good management of the house, soon obtained for him a reputation only equaled by that of LEVERETT CRUTTENDEN, of Albany.

* * * * * *

But the good old days of the "Village Tavern" are past. The social groups who circled its bar-room fire are broken—its fourth of July dinners are but luscious memories, and the warm-hearted host, who "was wont to set the table in a roar" has passed on to that great caravansera where all earthly travelers shall rest when journey of life shall be accomplished.

Among many friends, there are few from whom I have received more kindnesses than from him, and of the many who have passed away, there are few whose death I more deeply mourned than that of Mackey Croswell.


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