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History of the Town of Stark
From Nathaniel Benton's History of Herkimer County, 1856.


Contains all that part of the county bounded northerly by Danube; easterly and southerly by the bounds of the county; and westerly by a line drawn from the easternmost lock of the old canal, on the north side of the Mohawk river at Little Falls, to the head waters of Lake Otsego.

Burr's map of the county shows that part of Henderson's, L'Hommedieu's, Vaughn's, McNiel's, J.Vroman's, C.Colden's, Livingston's and Lansing's patents are in this town.

This town, before 1817, constituted a part of Minden, Montgomery county. Before the revolution and at the close of that war, before the organization of towns in this state, this territory lay within the limits of Canajoharie district of Tryon county. All the lands in this town, except a portion of L'Hommedieu's and J.Vroman's patents, which lay within its boundaries, were granted by the colonial government before the revolution. As will be seen by a reference to the table of titles, several of these grants were made about one hundred years ago, and a considerable time before the colonial difficulties commenced with the mother country.

There were two small European settlements near the southerly line of the twon, before 1775; one on the Otsquago creek, called the Otsquago settlement, comprising, among others, the Shalls, the Bronners and Fetherlys, whose descendants are yet found enjoying the fruits won by the martyrdom of their ancestors. The other settlement was at the Kyle, so called. This may have been within the limits of Springfield, and a short distance from the east line of the town of Warren. A family by the name of Eckler or Ecklar, had seated themselves at this place on Henderson's patent, or rather, perhaps, Petrie's purchase. Both of these settlemsnts were broken up during the revolution, and the inhabitants compelled to fly for refuge and protection to Fort Plank, where they remained till the close of the war. I visited the Eckler settlement in August, 1854, and found John, one of the sons of Henry Eckler, who was driven off by the Indians and tories, and a younger brother, still on the old homestead which had passed from father to sons, through three generations, and the title yet held by will. No alienations out of the family having taken place, since the first grant, by the patentee. This is an occurrence so unusual, that I have deemed it worthy of particular notice. John Ecklar, at the time I saw him, was 71 years old; he had a brother, Henry, living in Sharon, aged 88 years, the other brother was 68 years of age, a hale and robust man, who evinced a little inquisitiveness about the object of my visit, surmising, perhaps, I might be inquiring into titles to land. The worthy yeoman should have considered his beyond all dispute or impeachment. Emanating from the crown, and sealed with ancestral blood in asserting the just rights of the colonists, followed by a marked possession of an hundred years, who would hazard an inquiry into such a man's right to the soil he cultivated?

Starkville P.O. and Van Horneville P.O., in this town, situated on the Otsquago creek, are points of some note. A plank road has recently been constructed from Fort Plain through these villages into the northerly part of Otsego county.

Van Horneville affords a very considerable water power, well adapted to manufacturing, milling and mechanical purposes; and it has been appropriated to these objects to a considerable extent, by the enterprising proprietors. Abraham Van Horne, the father of Richard and Daniel Van H., settled here with his family in 1791, opened the wilderness at the head waters of the Otsquago creek, erected houses and built mills. I have been informed that two run of Esopus mill stones for a grist mill, were drawn through the woods by four horses, from the Mohawk river, on a woodsled. Whether the four stones were taken through the woods as a load, or only one of them, my informant did not state. It was no doubt pretty hard sledding, whatever might be the number taken for a load. Mr. Abraham Van Horne emigrated from New Jersey into this state in 1771, and first settled on a farm in the present town of Florida, Montgomery county, and removed from thence in 1783 to Fort Plain. He was a member of the Tryon county committee of safety in June, 1775, from the Mohawk district, and continued a member several consecutive years, firmly attached to the cause of American freedom. He was appointed sheriff of Tryon county, May 22d, 1781, and no man could hold a commission signed by George Clinton, whose devotion and patriotism was doubted in the least. Mr. Van Horne died in March, 1810, at his home place, now called Van Horneville, aged 72 years. The subject of these brief remarks was not, of course, the Abraham Van Horne, one of the patentees of the grant made in 1731, designated by that name; nor was that patentee a member of the Tryon county committee. I have therefore ventured to give Mr. Van Horne the position in the revolutionary contest which family tradition seems to have marked out for him.

The soil of this town appears well adapted to the raising of hops and grain of various descriptions, and agricultural industry seems to have taken that direction to a considerable extent, but grazing and cheese making are not neglected.

According to the census returns, this town contains four churches. One regular Baptist, one Baptist and Lutheran, one Methodist episcopal, one Union. Starkville, in the easterly part of the town, has a population of 110 inhabitants, and Van Hornesville, near the south bounds, has 228. This town appears to have lost 297 in population out of 1775, since 1845, and this within a decade of almost unexampled success and prosperity with the agricultural classes.