Town of Grafton


The following information is from Historical and Statistical Gazetteer of New York State by J. H. French, 1860. It was transcribed by Debby Masterson .

Ray Brown's website Ray's Place has town histories as published in Landmarks of Rensselaer County by George Baker ANDERSON (Syracuse, NY: D. Mason & Co., Publishers, 1897). For Chapter XXXIII, Town of Grafton, click here.


Grafton was formed from Troy and Petersburgh, March 20, 1807. It lies N. of the center of the co., upon the summits of the Petersburgh Mts. Its surface is very rocky and broken, and a large part of it is yet covered with forests. The summits of the hills are 800 to 1200 feet above tide, and many of them are covered with huge and jagged masses of graywacke. Among the hills are 25 ponds, several of which cover an area of several hundred acres each.1 The Quacken Kil is the principal stream. The soil is chiefly clay, underlaid by hardpan, and is wet, cold, and hard of cultivation. Mineral paint is made from the red argillite at Quackenkill. Considerable quantities of wood, tan bark, and charcoal are sent from this town to Troy. Grafton2 (p.v.) contains 14 houses, East Grafton (p.v.) 12, and Quackenkill (p.o.) 10. The first settlements were made by tenants under Van Rensselaer; they paid an average annual rent of 10 bushels of wheat per 100 acres. 3 The census reports 2 churches; Bap and M.E.

1 These ponds are noted for the wild beauty of their locality, and they are favorite resorts of sportsmen.
2 Often called "Grafton Center," and formerly "Patroons Mills."
3 Among the first settlers were families named Coon, Dimmons, and Owens. Stephen McChesney kept the first store and inn, in 1800. A grist mill was built at an early day by the patroon at the Center.


The following information is from Gazetteer and Business Directory of Rensselaer County, N. Y., for 1870-71, compiled by Hamilton Child, 1870.

Grafton was formed from Troy and Petersburgh, March 20, 1807. It lies north of the center of the County, upon the summits of the Petersburgh Mountains. The surface is very rocky and broken, and a large portion of it is still covered with forests. The summits of the hills are from 800 to 1200 feet above tide, and many of them are covered by huge, jagged masses of graywacke. Among the hills are twenty-five ponds, several of which cover several hundred acres each and are surrounded by a wild and romantic scenery, the favorite of spontsmen. The Quacken Kil is the principal stream. The soil is chiefly clay, underlaid by hardpan, and is wet, cold and hard of cultivation. Mineral paint has been made to some extent from the red argillite at Quackenkill. Large quantities of wood, tan-bark and charcoal, are sent from this town to Troy. Sheep and cattle are raised extensively. Shirts are manufactured quite extensively in various parts of the town. It is estimated that 18,000 dozen were made in the town during the last year.

Grafton is made up of Grafton Center, situated in the center of the town, containing a Baptist church, two stores, a cheese factory, a blacksmith shop, a boot and shoe shop, a saw mill, a stave machine and about twenty dwellings; and Quackenkill, a hamlet located on the west border of the town.

The first settlement was made by tenants under Van Rensselaer. They paid an annual rent of from seven to twenty-two bushels of wheat per hundred acres. Among the first settlers were families named Coon, Dimmons and Owens. Francis West and family, from Rhode Island, settled at an early day where Nathan Lewis now lives. John Babcock, from the same State, settled about the close of the Revolution, where J. D. Slade no lives; he was married to Delma Wager in January 1792. Elkanah Smith, from New Jersey, settled where Aaron Eldred now lives: he was a soldier of the Revolution. Joshua Banker settled about the same time where Henry Banker lives. William Scriven and family, consisting of seven sons and two daughters, came from Rhode Island and settled in this town about 1779. Three of the sons, James, Zebulon and John, were Revolutionary soldiers. A man named Owens, from Rhode Island, with two sons, settled on 200 acres of land, where Stewart Allen now lives. The land was a gift from Stephen Van Rensselaer. Owens was a Revolutionary soldier and received bounty land in the town of Manlius. John and Thomas Phillips settled where Truman Keller lives; Francis Brock, from Vermont, where Silas Brock now lives, and John and David Mills, where Reuben Hall now lives. John Monroe settled in the north part of the town; a man named Dimmons, where Jabez Hakes lives; Solomon Smith, where Josiah Church lives; Rufus Rix, near the same place, and Captain Charles Ferry, where D. L. Simmons lives. In 1797 Daniel Littlefield, from Mass., settled where Hiram Littlefield lives. Solomon Root, from Connecticut, settled in the town in 1785; Nathaniel Dumbleton, in 1796, on the farm now occupied by Oscar C. Dumbleton. He came from Grafton, Vt., and was the first supervisor of the town. John P. Hayner settled where Samuel Newton lives.

The first store was kept by Josiah Litchfield, at Quackenkill; the first tavern, at East Grafton, by Thomas Scriven; the first one in the west part of the town by Elijah Ferry. Another authority says S. McChesney kept the first store and inn, in 1800.

Among the other early settlers in the town were Henry Hydom, William Snyder, Henry Coonradt, B. Haynor, James Reid, Godfrey Howard, Andrus Miller, John Hydom, Lodowick Bonesteel and Marcus Simmons. Hannah Scrivens, now living and aged 87 years, was one of the early settlers of the town. Josiah Littlefield built the first saw mill, at Quackenkill, in 1800. Abel Ford, from Mass., settled in 1775, where J. West lives; he was a Revolutionary soldier. Alpheus Ford, his son, born in 1793, is said to be the oldest person in the town born there. About 1802 the Patroon built a grist mill near the center, Abel Ford doing the carpenter work.

The first town meeting was held at the house of Nathan Hakes, the first Tuesday in April 1807, at which Nathaniel Dumbleton was chosen Supervisor; D. S. Crandall, Town Clerk; Zebulon Scrivener and Thomas West, Justices of the Peace. In the Town Records we find the following:

"State of New York, Rensselaer Co.

"I hereby certify that Ethan Maxon, son of Samuel Maxon, and Dorcas Willis, widow of Jason Willis, deceased, both of Grafton, were lawfully joined together in the honorable state of marriage, in said Grafton on the 12th day of April 1807.

D. C. Crandall, Town Clerk.
Elisha Wells, Justice of the Peace."

Among the early records of births, we find that of Rufus Gallop, Jan. 6, 1757; Rebecca Lamphire, Jan. 4, 1764. They were also married in 1780. The births of their ten children are also recorded in order, the last Sept. 24, 1802.

At the time of the settlement of this town, and many years afterwards, farmers were accustomed to mark their cattle and sheep in the ear, and have their mark recorded in the Town Clerk's office. The following will give the younger portion of our readers a good idea of the manner of doing it: William West's ear mark was a "notch in the hind side of the right ear." Asa Sweet's was "a swallow tail in the end of the left ear and a half-penny in the hind side of the same."

The eccentric Lorenzo Dow was the first Methodist preacher in this town; and Nathaniel Lewis (Baptist), was the first settled minister.

The Baptist Church at Grafton Center was organized in 1807 with about twelve members. A new church edifice was erected in 1852 and is now undergoing repairs. The present membership is 117. H. J. S. Lewis is the present pastor.

The Free Methodist Church was organized by A. B. Burdick with five members, viz., Stephen and Lucinda Rivenburgh, Henry Simmons, Jeremiah Martin and Marinda Hayner. The present membership is twenty. The society occupy the Union church. A. B. Burdick is the present pastor.

The population of the town in 1865 was 1,673, and its area 27,269 acres.


The following information is from History of Rensselaer County, New York, With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of its Prominent Men and Pioneers by Nathaniel Bartlett Sylvester, 1880.

Early Settlers
Babcock, John
Banker, Joshua
Bonesteel, Lodewick
Brock, Francis
Coonradt, Henry
Coons, _____
Demmons, _____
Dumbleton, Nathaniel
Ferry, Charles, Capt.
Ford, Abel
Hayner, John P.
Haynor, B.
Heydorn, Henry
Heydorn, John
Howard, Godfrey
Littlefield, Daniel
Miller, Andrus
Mills, John and David
Monroe, John
Owen, Abel
Phillips, John and Thomas
Reid, James
Rix, Rufus
Root, Solomon
Scriven, William
Simmons, Marcus
Smith, Elkanah
Smith, Solomon
Snyder, William
West, Francis

Early Churches
Baptist Church in Grafton, organized in 1827
Free Methodist Church of Grafton, incorporated June 18, 1872
Free-Will Baptist Church of Grafton, incorporated July 20, 1873
Methodist Episcopal Church of Grafton, incorporated April 7, 1828

Civil War Soldiers
Agan, Calvin E., enl. Aug. 11, 1802, 125th Regt., Co. A; disch. June 15, 1865; wounded.
Barnhart, Buel, enl. Jan. 4, 1864, 21st Cavalry.
Bennett, Philip, enl. Sept. 4, 1862, 169th Regt., Co.C; disch. March 1863.
Bonesteel, David H., enl. 125th Regt., Co. H.
Bonesteel, George E., enl. Aug. 10, 1862, 125th Regt., Co. A; disch. March 19, 1863; wounded at Gettysburg.
Bonesteel, Jacob W., enl. Aug. 14, 1862, 125th Regt., Co. H; disch.; re-enl. Dec. 14, 1863; disch. Oct. 1, 1865.
Brimmer, John H., enl. Sept. 6, 1862, 169th Regt., Co. C; disch. May 29, 1865; severely wounded.
Bruce, Charles G., enl. 169th Regt.; died in service.
Bulson, Hiram N., enl. Dec. 31, 1864, 21st Cavalry.
Burdick, Albert S., enl. 125th Regt.
Burdick, Jeremiah, enl. 16th Heavy Artillery; died soon after return of disease contracted in the army.
Burdick, Samuel C., enl. 125th Regt., Co. A; was captures, and is supposed to have died in Libby Prison.
Clipperly, George, enl. 125th Regt., Co. I.
Coonradt, Albert N., enl. 125th Regt., Co. A.
Coonradt, Darius, enl. Aug. 14, 1862, 125th Regt., Co. H; disch. June 17, 1865.
Coonradt, Jacob, enl. 169th Regt.
Corbin, Nathan, enl. July 24, 1862, 125th Regt., Co. A; disch. April 22, 1863.
Crandall, Charles, enl. Sept. 7, 1862, 169th Regt., Co. C.
Crandall, David W., Jr., enl.169th Regt.; died of disease in the service.
Crandall, John S., enl. 125th Regt., Co. A.
Crandall, William C., Jr., enl. 125th Regt., Co. A.
Devinoe, Zebulon, enl. 125th Regt., Co. A.
Dumbleton, Charles, enl. 125th Regt., Co. A; died in service.
Dunham, Henry S., enl. Jan. 4, 1864, 21st Cavalry.
Durkee, Albert S., enl. Aug. 11, 1862, 125th Regt., Co. A; disch. June 8, 1865.
Feathers, Adam, enl. Aug. 7, 1862, 125th Regt., Co. H; disch. June 17, 1865; died soon after return.
Feathers, Calvin W., enl. 125th Regt.; dies soon after return of disease contracted in the army.
Gardner, Charles F., enl. July 31, 1862, 125th Regt., Co. A; disch. June 22, 1865.
Gates, Nathaniel, enl. 125th Regt., Co. A; disch. and re-enlisted.
Goyer, Norman, enl. Aug. 11, 1862, 125th Regt., Co. H; disch. Dec. 18, 1864.
Green, Alonzo, enl. 125th Regt., Co. A; killed in front of Petersburgh about the first of April, 1865.
Green, Cortland, enl. Aug. 12, 1862, 125th Regt., Co. A; disch. March 3, 1863; disablity.
Grogan, William H., enl. Jan. 4, 1864, 21st Cav.; disch. June 9, 1865.
Hakes, William H., 2d lieut., enl. 125th Regt., Co. B; pro. to 1st lieut., capt.
Halburt, Richard, enl. Aug. 2, 1862, 125th Regt., Co. H; captured at Ream's Station, Aug. 25, 1864; a prisoner six months; disch. June 22, 1865.
Hall, Albert S., enl. Sept. 30, 1861, 2d Mounted Volunteers, Co. C; disch.; re-enl. in the 169th Regt.; died in the army.
Hall, Joseph B., enl. Sept. 4, 1862, 169th Regt., Co. C; disch. Sept. 3, 1865.
Hayner, Benjamin F., enl. 125th Regt., Co. A; disch. June 17, 1865; severely wounded.
Hayner, Charles E., enl. July 25, 1862, 125th Regt., Co. A; disch. June 5, 1865.
Hayner, Levi, enl. 125th Regt; died in service.
Howard, Wesley, enl. July 24, 1862, 125th Regt., Co. A; died Aug. 2, 1863 at Carver Hospital, Washington, D. C.; buried in the Soldier's Cemetery.
Jones, Daniel B, enl. Aug. 5, 1862, 125th Regt., Co. A; disch. June 1, 1865.
Jones, Peter H., enl. Aug. 11, 1862, 125th Regt., Co. A; disch. June 18, 1865.
Keller, David, enl. Sept. 4, 1862, 169th Regt., Co. C; disch. July 13, 1865.
McChesney, David A., enl. Aug. 8, 1864, 46th Regt., Co. E; disch. Aug. 4, 1865.
McChesney, Stephen V. R., enl. 125th Regt., Co. A; a prisoner; died in Libby Prison.
Millis, Danford P., enl. Aug. 4, 1862, 125th Regt., Co. A; disch. Dec. 24, 1862; re-enl. Aug. 29, 1864; disch. June 18, 1865.
Odell, Benjamin, Jr., enl. 125th Regt., Co. A; disch. March 13, 1863 for disability.
Odell, Daniel, Jr., enl. Oct. 4, 1861, 2d Mounted Volunteers, Co. C; disch. and re-enl. Aug. 14, 1862, 125th Regt., Co. A.
Odell, Jabez, enl. Oct. 20, 1861, 2d Mounted Volunteers, Co. C; disch. and re-enl. Aug. 18, 1862, 125th Regt., Co. A; disch. June 18, 1865.
Peckham, Braddock, sergt., enl. Aug. 17, 1862, 125th Regt., Co. G; disch. June 8, 1865; wounded.
Rifenburgh, Calvin, enl. 125th Regt., Co. H.
Rifenburgh, Levi, enl. 125th Regt., Co. H; disch. June 22, 1865.
Roberts, Nathan S., enl. Aug. 15, 1862, 125th Regt., Co. A.
Rogers, Aaron, enl. 125th Regt., Co. H.
Saunders, Russell P., enl. sept. 25, 1861, 2d Mounted Volunteers, Co. C; disch.; re-enl. 169th Regt., Sept. 7, 1862 but was not must. in.
Simmons, David L., enl. July 28, 1862, 125th Regt., Co. H; disch. March 9, 1865.
Smith, Hiram H., enl. Aug. 7, 1862, 125th Regt., Co. D; disch. June 17, 1865.
Smith, James, enl. Aug. 11, 1862, 125th Regt., Co. A; disch. Aug. 26, 1865.
Snyder, Hiram D., enl. 125th Regt.
Snyder, John, enl. Aug. 11, 1862, 125th Regt., Co. A; disch. July 18, 1863.
Snyder, Levi, enl. Aug. 11, 1862, 125th Regt., Co. A; disch. May 18, 1865; wounded.
Spotten, Samuel L., enl. Aug. 4, 1862, 125th Regt., Co. A; disch. May 19, 1865.
Steward, William, enl. Sept. 7, 1862, 169th Regt., Co. C.
Sweet, Amos B., Jr., enl. Oct. 1, 1861, 2d Mounted Volunteers, Co. C; disch.; re-enl. July 24, 1862, 125th Regt., Co. A; killed in the battle of the Wilderness May 7, 1864; body not recovered.
Tilley, Green, enl. Sept. 33, 1862, 169th Regt., Co. C.
Tilley, James L., enl. 125th Regt., Co. A; pro. to sergt., capt., and brev. maj.
Tracey, Alfred S., enl. Sept. 10, 1861, 2d Mounted Volunteers, Co. C.
Tracey, Chauncey, enl. 169th Regt.
Vincent, David, enl. Sept. 7, 1862, 169th Regt., Co. C.
Wagar, Chas. L., enl. July 24, 1862, 125th Regt., Co. A; disch. June 17, 1865.
Wagar, Isaac, enl. Aug. 1862, 125th Regt., Co. A.
Wagar, Levi, enl. 125th Regt.; killed in battle.
Waite, Seward Irving, enl. Aug. 5, 1862, 125th Regt., Co. A; disch. at close of war.
Whipple, George, enl. Aug. 15, 1862, 169th Regt., Co. A (perhaps from Petersburgh).



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