HISTORY OF

SARATOGA COUNTY, NEW YORK.

by NATHANIEL BARTLETT SYLVESTER

1878

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HISTORY OF THE VILLAGES AND TOWNS OF SARATOGA COUNTY.

STILLWATER (Part 1).

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I. - GEOGRAPHICAL POSITION.

STILLWATER is one of the eastern towns of the county, bordering upon the Hudson river. It is bounded north by Saratoga, east by the county line, south by Half-Moon, west by Malta. It contains 21,693 acres of improved land, 2747 acres of unimproved, and of this last amount 2542 are woodland. The population in 1875 was 3434. This town is mostly within the Saratoga patent, but contains near the lake two narrow strips of the Kayadrossera patent.

For the purpose of convenient reference we add from the Revised Statutes of the State the legal description of this town, and the definition of its boundary lines:

"The town of Stillwater shall contain all that part of said county bounded southerly by Half-Moon, easterly by the east bounds of the county, westerly by Malta, and northerly by the north bounds of lot number seventeen in Saratoga Patent, continued in the same direction west to the town of Malta."

The town of Stillwater, like Old Saratoga, is rich in historic memories, Its name runs back into the closing years of the seventeenth century, when William and Mary sat together on the throne of England. The old chronicler, who wrote some account of General Fitz John Winthrop's northern expedition up the Hudson, of the year 1690, says:

"Stillwater was so named because the water passes so slowly as not to be discovered, while above and below it is disturbed, and rageth as in a great sea, occasioned by rocks and falls therein."

At Stillwater, in June, 1709, Col. Peter Philip Schuyler, in command of the advance-guard of General Nicholson's army, halted and built a small stockaded fort, which he named Fort Ingoldsby, in honor of Lieutenant-Governor Major Richard Ingoldsby.

Again, in the summer of 1756, General Winslow, while on his northern expedition, halted at Stillwater, and building a new fort on the decaying remains of the old one erected in 1709, called it Fort Winslow.

Again, in September, 1777, General Gates, in passing up the Hudson, on his way to Bemus Heights, first made his stand at the old military station of Stillwater. But after remaining there a day or two he changed his plan, and going up the river about two miles farther, took his memorable stand at Bemus Heights.

This was the last military occupation of Stillwater.

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II. - NATURAL FEATURES.

The surface is uneven and moderately hilly. The highest summit is about two hundred and fifty feet above the Hudson. In the north part, the series of hills known as Bemus Heights form a beautiful and diversified landscape. The crowning eminence, at the Neilson homestead, commands an extensive view. The flats along the Hudson are bordered by a range of bluffs from sixty to one hundred feet high. Similar bluffs are found along Anthony's Kill There are no streams of any importance for water-power, but there are several brooks of small size, and these flow through deep gullies that are worn in the drift deposits. Upon some of these there are beautiful cascades. The northwest corner borders upon Saratoga lake. The soil upon the river-flats is alluvial, and abundant in production. West of the bluffs is a wide belt of heavy clay, now divided into farms of great value. In the southwest part of the town is a sandy tract interspersed with swamps. In the northwest part of the town, on the shore of Lake Saratoga, there is an excellent white sulphur spring. The falls in the Hudson river furnish valuable water-power. The river above the falls at Stillwater village is a beautiful stream, full of attractions to the lover of nature. Its gentle current, flowing between cultivated fields or forest-fringed banks, invites the modern boatman, as it did the ancient Indian warrior, to glide over its surface. No wonder the struggle for the possession of this valley convulsed States and empires. It is a land worthy to be loved, and worthy of being defended, as it was, by early heroic pioneers.

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III. - EARLY SETTLEMENT.

Aside from the mills of the Schuylers, at the mouth of Fish creek, in Saratoga, and the village destroyed there in 1745, Stillwater was the first settlement on the west side of the river north of Half-Moon Point, or Waterford, as it is now known.

Who erected the first house within the present limits of Stillwater is uncertain. That there was quite a population here before the Revolutionary war is clear from the number of men enlisted, from the citizens' names appearing in history connected with the battle-grounds of 1777, and from various other sources. The Vandenburg house, so called, bears the date 1732; located on the east side of the river, above the falls. It is only a reasonable conclusion that there was a beginning on the western side of the river nearly as early. It is also known that George Palmer bought in 1764; that mills were then already built and owned by Isaac Mann, of whom George Palmer made the purchase. Thus the weight of evidence points back nearly to 1750 as the date of the first settlement, and Isaac Mann as the pioneer.

The early settlement, too, was more rapidly effected, and a greater number of families actually located here at an earlier date, than at some other points, from the fact that a whole church, numbering one hundred and one members, in Canaan, Connecticut, voted to remove in a body to Stillwater, and did so remove, or a majority of them. This, as shown in another place, was in 1762, though it may have been a year or two later than that. So far as the names of this Connecticut colony can be obtained, they appear in the account of the Congregational church of Stillwater.

In attempting to mention particularly the pioneer families who settled here from one hundred to one hundred and ten years ago, it is not probable that, even with the careful investigation given to the work, the list can be perfect or the dates in every case accurate.

Of the Palmer family, the following copy of an old certificate gives information in a brief space. It was finely executed by a school-master of the olden time, and is in the possession of Ashbel Palmer:

"George Palmer, son of George Palmer, born in Connecticut colony, county of New London, and town of Stonington, in New England, September 22, 1719.

"Hannah Marsh, daughter of James Marsh, who was born in the township of Plainfield, county of Windham, and colony aforesaid, July 10, 1721. Said George Palmer and Hannah Marsh were married April 13, 1738.

"Mary Palmer, their first daughter, was born in Windham county, township of Coventry, colony aforesaid, on Tuesday, April 9, 1739.

"Lydia Palmer, their second daughter, was born in Canaan, in Hartford county, and colony aforesaid, on Sunday, June 8, 1742.

"James Palmer, their first son, was born in Canaan, Hartford county, and colony aforesaid, March 26, 1745, and died August 22 of the same year.

"Isaac Palmer, their second son, was born in Norfolk, county and colony aforesaid, 26th August, 1751. Died 25th August, 1757.

"Elias Palmer, their third son, was born in Norfolk, county and colony aforesaid, Wednesday, September 29, 1756.

"Hannah Palmer, their third daughter, was born in Norfolk, in the county and colony aforesaid, on Friday, September 13, 1760.

"W. GILLS, Scripsit.

"STILLWATER, 2d May, 1774."

Hannah Palmer became the wife of Wm. Mead, who kept a very early tavern at Stillwater, in a house now owned by John Patrick.

Lydia became the wife of Mr. Roe, settling a little west of the village of Stillwater, on the Lake road. She died Dec. 4, 1784.

Mary became the wife of Colonel Daniel Dickinson. He was a pioneer before the Revolution. His homestead was the place where Gilbert Lansing now lives. She died Feb. 14, 1806.

Elias, the only son who lived to manhood, settled just west of the compact part of the village, on a rise of land. During his life he was married three times. He had a family of five daughters and four sons, - all born before 1800. Ashbel, the sole survivor, is living at Stillwater village, at the age of eighty-five. His mind is well stored with valuable information, and he is able to give it intelligently and accurately. To him we are largely indebted for many important items of pioneer record, and for the use of many valuable manuscripts.

George Palmer died Dec. 15, 1809, aged ninety years.

Elias Palmer died Nov. 4, 1833, aged eighty-two years.

George Palmer purchased in 1773 three hundred and five acres of Isaac Mann's estate, struck off at public sale for 900. This included the mills already erected. Earlier than this - in 1764 - he had bought two hundred acres of Isaac Mann, supposing this included the mills. He had to buy the three hundred and five acres to get the mills, as in running the boundary lines according to the first deed the mills were excluded, very much to the surprise of Mr. Palmer.

The three hundred and five acres covered the present site of Stillwater village.

George Palmer's pioneer house was a frame building, standing on the rise of ground a little west of Weitzel's present store. The house now standing is partly the same building, - called the "mill house."

George Palmer had probably learned something of this country before 1762, as he had been in the employ of the British crown cutting masts for the naval service, and had traversed these northern woods for that purpose.

Isaac Mann, of whom and of his assignees the Palmer tract was bought, must have been a still earlier pioneer, but of him we have no account.

It is probable that he caused the ditch to be cut through the rocky point at the falls, now in the rear of Ensign's Hotel. The tradition is that the cost of this, and its failure to render the water-power available to the extent expected, produced the embarrassment that caused the assignees' sale of 1774.

John Neilson was born in New Jersey, March 23, 1753. He was the son of Samuel Neilson. The latter died in 1763. John Neilson, at the age of nineteen, left New Jersey with no capital but the axe upon his shoulders, his strong, robust frame, and his manly determination to carve out for himself a home in the newer lands of the upper Hudson. He obtained employment, near Bemus Heights, of a Mr. Quitterfield, and signalized his first day's work by splitting a tough black-oak log into rails. In 1775 he had accumulated enough to partly pay for a farm, married the eldest daughter of his employer, and bought the farm that has ever since been in the family, - a farm that crowns the summit of the river-hills in Stillwater, commands a wide and extensive view, and has become historic from its connection with the great battles of the Burgoyne campaign. Just settled and a little place cleared, the Revolutionary war opened, and John Neilson, with his neighbors; as shown in Palmer's affidavit, gave up much of his time to the public service. He lived to see those troubles pass by and the new government established. He left four sons, - John, Samuel, Charles, and Henry. John settled north of the old place, Samuel in Saratoga, Henry in East Line, and Charles on the old homestead. Daughters became the wives of Martin Vandenburg, Richard Dunning, and A.H. Rudd.

Charles Neilson was the author of a work upon the battles of the Burgoyne campaign. For this work he had the advantage of a liberal education, as well as that of birth and residence on the actual field of conflict.

The sons of Charles Neilson are Charles C., of Stillwater, George W., member of Assembly, 1877 and 1878, William Henry, of Saratoga Springs, and Sanford.

Fayette Neilson, a son of Samuel, relates that his grandfather kept one old post-and-rail fence on the farm staked up carefully for many years, because it showed the bullet-marks of the great battle.

Among the early settlers of Stillwater was Harmanus Schuyler. He settled there about the year 1770, owned a large farm, and built mills a short distance below the village on the river. He died on his farm at Stillwater, September 1, 1796, after holding many positions of trust and honor. A biographical sketch of him is given in the general history.

John Bemus was an early pioneer. The campaign of 1777 found him keeping a tavern at the southern extremity of the alluvial flats that formed the strategic points - near the river - in the battles of September 19 and October 7. His house was General Gates' headquarters during the first battle, and from him the hills to the west had already acquired the name of Bemus Heights. It was reserved for this humble pioneer landlord to give his name to the battlefields where Burgoyne met his fate.

Of his previous history we have no account, but from the journal of Jeffrey Cowper, the first settler of Queensbury, according to Holden's History, it is shown that John Bemus was keeping the tavern mentioned above as early as 1762, for Cowper ate breakfast there on the morning of August 27 of that year. How much earlier than that John Bemus actually came we have no means of ascertaining, but not more than two or three years before, because few or none could settle in this section safely until after the fall of Quebec in 1759, except under the immediate protection of the forts, and this was three or four miles from old Fort Ingoldsby, at Stillwater.

Ezra Buell was here before the Revolution. His name is frequent in the early records and early history. He was in the battles of Bemus Heights, and was the old guide who went over the battle-ground with visitors for many years. He was the first crier of the county court. He was a bachelor. His home was with the Bacon family. He was buried at Bemus Heights, in the old burial-ground. Upon the fallen stone lying upon the grave may be read, "Major Ezra Buell. Died October 23,1838, aged ninety. He was a noted Whig in the time of the Revolution, guide to the army." Charles Ensign, of the present hotel in Stillwater, well remembers being sent from his father's tavern up the river, when a little boy, to bring Major Buell to assist visitors in studying up the battle-ground. The grave-yard where the old major sleeps deserves a better destiny than to be turned into a hog pasture, as it now is. The patriotism that would crown these summits with a monument to the memory of the great conflict, may well devote a portion of its strength to marking the last resting-place of the individuals who fought and won in this decisive battle.

Ezekiel Ensign came into this country some time before the Revolutionary war, and settled above the Wilbur Basin creek, at the place now owned by his grandson, George Ensign, on the river-road. His first house stood on or near the site of the present one. His original purchase was six hundred and forty acres. At the approach of Burgoyne, in the summer of 1777, Mr. Ensign removed his family to Albany, and himself returned to find his farm occupied by the British army, and his house, which he was unable to reach, turned into a hospital. It is reported that twelve officers died there and were buried in the rear. The hospital, a historic building, is a part of the present farm-house of George Ensign. When the family left for Albany they buried their household utensils, but could never find them again. In after-years strangers came and obtained permission to dig for money, but it is not thought they ever obtained any. After the war Mr. Ensign opened a public-house, and it was continued for many years by his son, Charles Ensign, while this was the great through route for travel from Albany to Whitehall.

Mr. Ensign left nine sons, - Ezekiel, who settled in Washington county; Allen, a captain, and George, a mate, both lost at sea; John, who settled in Corinth; David, who went to Warsaw; Charles, who first settled in Easton, but returning, lived and died upon the old homestead; Dan, who settled in Stillwater on a part of the original tract; Robert, who went to Corinth; and Henry, his twin-brother, who settled in Easton, - and two daughters, - Sallie, who became the wife of Dr. Patrick, of Stillwater, and Rebecca, who married Mr. Toll, son of Jesse Toll, one of the early settlers of Saratoga. A nephew of Ezekiel Ensign, - Otis Ensign, - whose father was killed at the massacre of Wyoming, in July, 1778, after his father's death came to live with his uncle in Stillwater; but soon after, though only sixteen years of age, he enlisted in the patriot army, and served five years until the close of the war. He then returned to Stillwater, married Mary Patrick, a sister of Dr. Patrick, subsequently removing to Delaware county, thence to Chautauqua, where he died, at the advanced age of ninety-four, being one of the last surviving soldiers of the Revolution. He suffered the dangers of the battle-field, was with Washington at the crossing of the Delaware and at Valley Forge, and, though young, appears to have been promoted, as he was in command of the guard at the execution of Major Andre. D.W. Ensign, of the publishing firm, is a grandson of Otis.

Amos Hodgman came from Weston, Mass., to Stillwater about the year 1788. His first home was the present place of Ephraim Ford. He left four sons, two of whom married and settled in Stillwater, - Isaac and Leonard. The latter is still living.

John McCarty was one of the very earliest settlers. He purchased many years before the Revolutionary war a large tract of land at Wilbur's basin. His daughter, born in this country, became the wife of the pioneer Wilbur, who settled here soon after the war closed; and of her children two are living, - Mr. Wilbur, the father of Edward Wilbur, and Mrs. Catherine Barker. Here is actual proof of early settlement, - Mrs. Barker's mother, born in this very place. Mrs. Barker states that her maternal grandfather, John McCarty, left Ireland under circumstances to create all the elements of a first-class novel. He had brilliant prospects, an excellent estate selected for him, and, in the good old times of courtly intrigue, a lady was also, without any particular effort of his, designated for his wife. Suddenly awaking from the dreams of home and family so easily arranged for him by others, he discovered to his horror that his future wife had red hair. His resolution was immediately taken. Sooner than marry those "sweet auburn curls" - as they might now be called - he left home and friends, bride and farm, and buried himself in the forests of Stillwater. Novelists will easily finish the other chapters, and tell us what became of the Irish lady abroad, and describe the one John McCarty did marry, but we can only relate authentic history.

Evert Vandenburg was here before the Revolutionary war, and had a fine farm on the alluvial flats, at the upper and lower extremities of which the British and American forces were encamped in 1777. During the first day's battle the left wing of the British army advanced along the river-road, and finding the American position too strong to be attacked, retreated; but, in their disappointment, they burned the Vandenburg building to the ground.

Jeremiah Hart came from Rhode Island, it is supposed, in 1775 or 1776, in the midst of the Revolutionary war, and settled in Stillwater, east side of the lake, on the present farm of Charles Arnold. The first log house was down by the bank of the lake. There he spent his life, and died on the old farm. His sons were Jeremiah, who settled on the old place, but afterwards removed to Saratoga Springs; John settled near the old homestead. He was the father of James D. Hart, now of Mechanicville. Stephen and Philip moved away. After arriving here, Jeremiah, Sr., was engaged to some extent in the scouting service of the American army in 1777. John Hart was drafted in the War of 1812, and hired a substitute for forty dollars and equipments.

John Taylor lived in Albany, but owned a place here at the time of the Burgoyne campaign. It is often supposed that his house was the "Sword house" mentioned in the histories; but Charles Neilson, who knew every foot of ground, and the location of every house on and near the battle-fields, corrects this statement. It was not the "Sword house." The tenant upon the place in 1777 was one McGee, and the house itself, moved on to the river-road, became the Smith tavern of after-years.

George Coulter was living in Stillwater at the time of the Burgoyne battles. His house, occupied by Isaac Freeman in after-years, was not the "Freeman's Cottage" so conspicuous in the battles, and within half a mile of which so much fighting occurred. Yet it was near the real "Freeman's Cottage," and the battle raged fiercely over both farms. We have no account of Coulter's emigration to Stillwater, nor have we obtained anything concerning the Freeman who did live on the present place of A.S. Brightman, and whose log house writers have designated "Freeman's Cottage."

Joel Ketcham was a very early settler, probably about the close of the Revolutionary war; his name appears on the assessment-roll of 1789. His old homestead was the present place of R.H. Barber. He had two sons, Richard and Nathaniel. Richard was a long time merchant at the corners bearing yet the family name; Nathaniel was sheriff of the county in 1811, and died in 1813 at the age of thirty-five. Joel Ketcham died in 1822, eighty-five years of age.

Asa Chatfield was in Stillwater before the Burgoyne campaign of 1777. We have nothing of his history, either before or after. His house was on the present Benjamin Sarle's place, and General Gates' aids made a reconnaissance of the British lines from that point on the morning of October 7.

Philip Munger, grandfather of Ezra Munger, was a resident before the Revolution on the present Sherman farm. The first house was a little south of the present one. His children were Samuel, Timothy, Solomon, Calvin, and Thomas. Timothy was the father of Ezra, and settled where the latter now lives; Solomon, in Saratoga Springs; Samuel, in Stillwater; Thomas, also; Calvin died young.

The Joseph Munger whose house is marked on the war maps was a distant relative. Benjamin Munger, an early resident, may have also been connected. His homestead was the present place of Charles G. Bishop.

Thomas Hunt was another pioneer. His place was a half-mile east, where his son Ephraim and his grandson Charles Hunt now live.

Captain Ephraim Woodworth's house was about one hundred rods south of the Neilson barn that was turned into a fort. At this house General Gates had his headquarters during the battle of October 7. He either came from Dutchess county or from Connecticut. His sons were Ephraim, Isaac, and Reuben. Isaac, soon after the war, built a house a little west of Gates' headquarters, nearly south of the present Denison barn. Ephraim and Reuben settled farther west in the same neighborhood. A grand-daughter of Ephraim Woodworth, Sr., and daughter of Ephraim, Jr., is still living at Ketchum's Corners, widow of the late Dr. Hart. Ephraim Woodworth's business was that of a weaver, and the hospital of the battle maps was probably his shop.

John Hunter came to Stillwater as one of the Connection; colony, in 1762-64. He seems to have first settled near Round lake, in the present town of Malta; but about the close of the war came east, and located on what is now the farm of Miss Julia Hunter. His house and black-smith-shop were near the corners of the road now leading northeast of the present Hunter place. He was a surveyor, and several maps drawn by him are now in possession of Miss Hunter. He owned at one time a large part or all of lot No. 5 in the Saratoga patent. Some of it was purchased of Eben Patrick, and some from Jonathan Frisbey. One map shows the property-owners on lot 5 in regular order from the river westward. It lacks a date, but must have been very early, - some time before 1800, - as John Hunter died in 1805. The proprietors, commencing at the river, were Cyprian Watson, John Hunter, D. Andrews, Reynolds, Joel Seymour, Deliverance Andrews, John Fellows, Obadiah Powell, David Bidwell, Abraham Hodges, Thomas Salisbury, David Bidwell, and Samuel Olmsted.

John Fellows was one of the Connecticut colony, his emigration dating back with the rest of them to 1762-64. His early home was about a mile west of the "Yellow meeting-house." During the most dangerous period of the war the family, like others, returned to Connecticut for safety. John Fellows was active in holding religious meetings. He had a hearty hatred of all shams, and was opposed to gaudy and pretentious show, and often abruptly expressed his views; but he was a man of great usefulness, and tradition among the people pronounces him "a good man," - a verdict meaning far more than many high-sounding words of praise. He left three sons, William, Ezra, and Thomas. William settled in Stillwater, and was the father of Abiram Fellows, now of Mechanicville. Ezra settled in Stillwater. Thomas was a son-in-law of William Seymour, and went west with the Seymour family. Eldula, a daughter of John Fellows, married Joel Seymour; another daughter became Mrs. Depew; and still another, Mrs. Dr. Day.

Rev. Robert Campbell, the early minister who came with the Congregational church to Stillwater, preached for them, lived with them, endured pioneer labors with them, died in their midst, and his remains rest in the old burial-ground by the church. His son, Robert Campbell, Jr., following his father's profession, took up the work his father laid down, and preached for eight years to this congregation, making a pastorate by father and son of nearly forty years. A grandson is the well-known Dr. Campbell, of the Central Presbyterian church of Rochester.

Jonathan Morey was one of the Connecticut colony. His wife was a daughter of Rev. Robert Campbell, Sr. His son, Thomas Morey, was a deacon of the church for many years and a prominent town officer. Jonathan Morey died March 31, 1790.

Cyprian Watson, another of the Connecticut men, settled on the present Landon farm. He too was a deacon of the church. He had a son, Cyprian, well known in later years, and one daughter, who became Mrs. Dunham.

Deacon William Seymour, another Connecticut man, settled in the same neighborhood, on the present Hart farm. He was a blacksmith. His sons were William, Jesse, John, and Eben. John and William went to Chautauqua county. Eben became a minister. Jesse settled across the river and died there.

The Patricks were a prominent name in the pioneer settlement, as they were also in after-years. The homestead was the present Wetzel farm, and the house was perhaps half a mile west of the present one.

Amariah Plumb seems to have been one of the Connecticut colony, but he probably settled westward, in the present town of Malta, and Plumb brook is no doubt named for him.

John Thompson's place was a mile and a half south of Stillwater village. He was a prominent, public-spirited man, was elected a Representative to Congress, and held many other important positions. His homestead was the present farm of John Lansing.

Simeon Barber was an early settler. His homestead was the present Rogers place, and is marked upon the battle maps of 1777. Near his house, a little south, General Fraser was mortally wounded. Mr. Barber was a great-uncle of Mrs. Catherine Barker before spoken of, whose maiden name was Wilbur, - so that, perhaps, the romantic John McCarty, who fled from the ruby-haired Irish maiden, may have married a Barber.

Jeremiah Taylor lived where William P. Curtiss does now, - below Wilbur's basin.

Gabriel Leggett and Isaac Leggett were brothers, and were pioneers before the Revolutionary war. Gabriel's homestead was the present place of George Weston and Isaac, in the same neighborhood. It is understood that the old Salisbury place, north of Wilbur's ravine, was the original property of Thomas Leggett, whose name appears upon the assessment-roll of 1789, marked "York," - meaning, it is supposed, resident in New York. That home is a venerable relic of old times.

Reuben Wright lived near Wilbur's basin. The ferry near his homestead was called Wright's ferry for many years.

Anthony Collamer came from Boston to Stillwater just after the Revolution, and settled near Saratoga lake; afterwards moved to Malta. His son, Thomas Collamer, was born the very day of the battle of Bunker Hill. Collins, a grandson, now lives in Stillwater. Anthony Collamer and two brothers were in the actions at Bemus Heights, and doubtless learned enough of the county to induce subsequent settlement.

Elisha Andrews was among the early settlers in 1765-70. There were also several others of the same family name, - Dennison, Deliverance, and Ephraim.

Mrs. Elizabeth Lossing Gleason, understood to be a relative of the historian Loosing, is still living in Stillwater, at the advanced age of ninety-seven. Born in Cambridge, her father removed when she was yet a child of two years to Usher's Mills in Half-Moon. He had been a scout in the Burgoyne campaign. She was married in 1806, and Gleason's Hollow takes its name from her husband, who built a mill there. She is now a venerable relic of antiquity, having brought up a family of eight sons and four daughters. Four grandchildren also have been personally cared for by her.

Cornelius Vandenburg lived in Stillwater village, and was prominent in the legal profession.

Henry Metcalf, too, was an early lawyer of unusual abilities. A career of great brilliance was terminated by his early death.

James Baker, though not a pioneer, deserves a place in history. He is said to have had eighteen sons. He settled about 1800, at the foot of the hill north of Mechanicville, but soon after built where his son, Bloom Baker, now lives. His descendants, to the number of nearly two hundred, are accustomed to have a grand family reunion once a year.

The further early settlement of Stillwater is clearly shown in the affidavit of Elias Palmer, applying for a pension; in the partial assessment-roll of 1789, which contains one hundred and twelve names of property-holders; in the extracts from the town records; in the lists of town officers; in the names contained in the records of churches; and in many other allusions in this work. To individualize these notices any further is impossible, in a town as old as this, and in a volume embracing the whole county. The assessment-roll of 1799 shows five hundred property-holders.

The first tavern may have been opened by William Mead, a son-in-law of the first George Palmer, at Stillwater village, very probably before the Revolutionary war. The house of Ezekiel Ensign, on the river-road, was the earliest tavern in the north part of the town, beyond the one at Bemus Heights. This was opened not long after the war closed, and was continued for many years by his son, Charles Ensign.

John Bemus opened a public-house about 1760, and General Gates had his headquarters there for a time in 1777. The tavern of William Patrick on the hill in Stillwater village seems to have been quite noted as early as 1800, tradition among old people frequently alluding to it. Eli Stone, brother-in-law of Amos Hodgman, also kept another tavern a little farther down. William Gleason also kept a tavern before 1800 on the site of the present brick hotel. A very early public-house was also at the forks of the road west of Bemus Heights, the present Smith place. There was one kept by William Strang at the present McCarty tavern, known as Stillwater Centre. That is the village which often contended successfully with Palmer's Falls for the honor of the town-meetings. Political caucuses are even yet held there occasionally. Still another tavern was on Dunning street, in what is now Malta; and we must not omit to state that the "Yellow Meeting-house" Corners was once a place of business or travel sufficient to have a tavern kept by Hezekiah Reynolds. At Ketcham's Corners Noah Chapman probably kept the first tavern, on the site of the present Woodworth House.

In the First Baptist church neighborhood the old brick house of the Sayles homestead is a venerable building over one hundred years old. The very old buildings in Stillwater village are the Swart House, the "Mill House," and the Catholic church. The house opposite the Swart House, too, was built by General Schuyler for workmen while the old canal was being dug in 1790, or about that time.

The hill in Stillwater village was probably fortified at the same time of the hill a mile southwest, elsewhere mentioned. The intrenchments, as remembered by Ashbel Palmer, were in the form of a crescent around the north brow of the hill, inclosing the ground where the present Presbyterian and Catholic churches stand. Within the curve was a mound, as if erected for cannon. This was a little east of the present school-house. There was a long building for barracks standing, within the memory of some now living, on the south brow of the hill. The headquarters at Dirck Swart's would be just in the rear of these works.

It is understood that the first store in town was opened by Palmer & Levins, nearly opposite Mrs. Eddy's residence. An early firm in the same building were the brothers Reuben and Warren Smith. Two prominent merchants for many years were Jesse Patrick and Seth Eddy.

Ford & Hale are supposed to have been in business on the hill as early as 1790, nearly opposite the house of Dirck Swart. The store was afterwards burned. O'Donnell's store, too, was near the tavern of Eli Stone.

At Ketchum's Corners, Abram Q. Wright, it is thought, opened the first store, and afterwards Richard Ketchum was associated with him. Their place was the site of the present brick store.

Jesse Patrick's store was near the hay-scales at the paper-mill in Stillwater village. Robert Patrick opened a store in early times at Bemus Heights.

Daniel Hale was a very early surveyor.

John Hunter, a pioneer in the south part of the town, was also a surveyor. Maps drawn by him, of great value and in excellent preservation, are in possession of Miss Julia Hunter, a granddaughter, residing east of the yellow meeting-house.

An early physician in town was Robert Patrick. Ephraim Otis, of Quaker Springs, practiced extensively in Stillwater. Old residents all speak of William Patrick as a physician, and his son, William Patrick, Jr.

Very little can be said of first mills. It has been shown that probably Isaac Mann built a mill between 1750 and 1760. The mill stood, whoever may have built it, just below the end of the channel cut through the rock. It had two or three successors on the same spot. The present grist-mill was built by John Newland in 1846. There was a saw-mill very early in the Gleason Hollow. It is probable from the name that some kind of a mill was located in early years upon Mill creek. Very few know anything about it. There is a tradition, however, in the Hewitt family that such a mill did stand up the ravine on one of the branches. Ezekiel Ensign built mills very early on Wilbur Basin creek.

The lumber-yard now owned by Stephen Wood dates back about fifty years, having been opened by William Seymour soon after the canal was finished.

Some enthusiasm arose a few years since over a supposed finding of coal, caused from the discovery of specimens of slate burning freely. A derrick was erected, which may still be seen west of the village. No valuable result was reached. The undertaking was abandoned, and it is related that the men engaged in the work soon after lost their lives by accident in the mines of Pennsylvania.

For about twenty-five years past many cannon-balls and shells have from time to time been found in the river at Stillwater village. They were numerous at one point not far above the bridge. John C. Force, at the bridge, estimates those found at several hundred. The explanation given by some for this is that, in the preparation of Gates to meet Burgoyne, a large quantity of shot was piled on the bank in readiness to be taken to the battle-field if needed; that they were left so far back from the camp for safety against capture, or reserved for use if obliged to retreat to this point; that after the battles were over they were carelessly or purposely left; that in a few years they were gradually rolled into the river, in sport, or even to get them out of the way; that fifty years afterwards everybody had forgotten this, if they ever knew it, and hence it was quite a discovery to find them in the river. This explanation may be correct, and certainly is good enough until some one finds a better. Another theory of this matter is that a barge loaded with war material was overturned at that point.

Of course, in this town there are many collections of relies of the great struggle. The families living on and near the actual field of battle all have more or less of them, - balls, pieces of bone, fragments of clothing taken from skeletons, bayonets, buttons, coins, and many other things. Mrs. Eddy, of Stillwater village, has a large collection, made with much care through several years.

Genuine relies are so abundant here that some may doubt the story which an old resident tells, that in his youth he knew boys to mould balls, strike them with a hammer to make them show hard usage, bury them for a year or so, until they were thoroughly rusted, and then dig them up and sell them to visitors from Saratoga Springs at twenty-five cents apiece.

The following paper is inserted as throwing light on the early settlement, and also furnishing much valuable information as to the times of the Revolutionary war in Stillwater:

------------------------------

APPLICATION OF ELIAS PALMER FOR A PENSION - PAPERS DRAWN IN 1833.

He deposes as follows: "That he is seventy-seven years old, and has resided in the town of Stillwater since the year 1764, which place was then called Saratoga district, that early in the year 1775, at the said place, he enlisted as a volunteer militia-man, in a company then and there raised by voluntary agreement, composed, among others, of the following-named persons: Ebenezer Marvin, Simeon Barber, Ezekiel Roberts, John Wibert, Prestus Denton (who are dead), and of John Neilson, Elisha Andrews, and Ezra Buell, then living at that place, and who have ever since remained his neighbors and the only survivors of the company that he remembers. That the said Marvin and Barber were chosen by the company, - the first named, captain, and the last, lieutenant.; and the ensign's name is not recollected. That about the 1st day of May, 1775, the company marched from said place to Ticonderoga, by the way of Lake George, to assist the eastern troops in taking that post from the British, which a few days before their arrival had surrendered to Colonel Allen. That the company in their march furnished their own supplies, and were the first troops that went from this frontier of New York to fight the enemy at the north at the breaking out of the Revolutionary war. That they remained at Ticonderoga doing duty about two weeks, when General Arnold arrived there from the north with prisoners taken at St. John's, which deponent's company guarded from that place into the country south toward Albany, but deponent remained. That a few days after deponent returned to Stillwater; that after being at home about a week he went again to the north with several of his neighbors, voluntarily and promiscuously armed, and did duty as a soldier in the militia under General Arnold; marched by land from Ticonderoga to Crown Point, where he embarked aboard of a sloop which Arnold had taken from the enemy and commanded, and deponent was employed in going to and from Ticonderoga to Crown Point transporting stores. The principal direction of affairs was under a committee of safety, of which deponent's father, George Palmer, was chairman. Besides Arnold, Colonel Henman, Colonel Emner, Captain John Watson, and Lieutenant Titus Watson, of the Connecticut troops, were then at Ticonderoga. Deponent thinks he was absent on this tour of duty for about three months, for he remembers that on his return home the farmers had about finished their harvesting, which operation was generally over by the middle of August. He signed no written agreement and received no written discharge. That in the month of January, 1776, a company of militia was formed in Stillwater, and Alexander Baldwin was chosen captain, Samuel Bacon lieutenant, and this deponent ensign, but had no commission. It was a volunteer company, organized for the purpose of going to Johnstown (now in Montgomery county, N.Y.) and capturing or dispersing the Indians and Tories which Sir John Johnson was collecting in that quarter. The company marched from Stillwater to Albany, and all the militia and volunteers they assembled were under the command of General Schuyler. The troops marched from Albany to Schenectady, thence to Tribes' Hill, thence to Johnstown. Was present when Johnson and his white adherents surrendered to General Schuyler. Remembers that Johnson broke his parole of honor. From the distance traveled and the services performed, deponent supposes and believes he was out at this time about two weeks. Deponent's company and the Albany volunteers, who were dressed in uniform, were sent to collect and receive the arms which the enemy had given up. Was in no battles. Recollects that John Neilson was on this expedition. Deponent says that shortly after his return home he was appointed ensign in a company of which Job Wright was captain and Holton Dunham lieutenant, both of whom are dead, and commenced the recruiting service in the month of March, 1776. This company belonged to Colonel Van Schaick's regiment, and were enlisted to serve nine months. Recollects he enlisted Michael Dunning, now living at Sempronius, Cayuga Co., whom he believes is now on the pension roll, and Jesse Dunning, David Hull, Joseph Corp, and others to the number of thirteen, but who are now dead. That the recruits were marched by deponent to Albany, and inspected by Colonel Van Schaick, and there he received orders to march them to Fort George, which he did. There they were consolidated into Van Schaick's regiment, commanded by Peter Gansevoort, major of the regiment. He never saw the colonel there. Job Wright, the captain, and Holton Dunham, the lieutenant, were there. Remembers of his company, who were at Fort George doing duty, those above mentioned, and Simeon Rockwell Combs and Cornelius Baldwin, both corporals; Peter B. Tierce, the adjutant of the regiment; and remembers, besides the officers above named, Captains Fish and Martin and Ensign Brown. Remembers Colonel Ten Eyck was at the fort doing duty. Deponent says that he remained at Fort George doing duty in his said regiment till late in the fall of the year 1776, when his company was marched to Saratoga barracks and discharged. Deponent verily believes he served his full term of nine months. He received his commission from Major Gansevoort at Fort George, but by whom it was signed does not remember. It was burned in his father's house in 1777. And deponent further says, that when the news of Burgoyne's invasion, in 1777, had reached the inhabitants in this section of country, it was thought advisable to remove to Connecticut, a place of greater safety. He assisted not only his father's family, but the neighbors generally, in their removal, and returned to Stillwater. That deponent fought in each of the battles between the American and British armies in 1777, besides being in several intermediate skirmishes, and was present at the surrender of Burgoyne. This service was performed as a volunteer, and deponent was attached to no particular company."

An interesting event in the early history of this town is the fact that in August, 1764, the Scotch-Irish colony, under Dr. Thomas Clark, that afterwards became so prominent in the settlement of Salem, Washington county, came from New York to Stillwater, and actually remained here (some two hundred of them) for two and a half years; for this colony did not actually move to Salem until May, 1767, although the men were perhaps over there largely in the summer of 1766, making preparations for the removal. What this colony did during this long period in Stillwater, just where they lived, - whether in temporary cabins or otherwise, - would doubtless form a matter of interesting inquiry. It is the opinion of Dr. Fitch, of Salem, that they were scattered around among the inhabitants of Stillwater during their stay, and also through Schaghticoke, the men, women, and larger children working wherever they could find employment, taking for pay whatever clothing, cooking utensils, furniture, or other articles they were going to need in their new home, - many of them thus obtaining a cow and a pig. And for years after they were settled in Salem, many of the men were accustomed to go back there to work during haying and harvesting, to obtain things they needed.

The following are the names of some of the inhabitants of Stillwater, with their occupations added, written out from the recollections and searches of Ashbel Palmer:

From 1764 to 1800: Dirck Swart, county clerk; George Palmer, Sr.: purchaser of mills and land; Colonel Daniel Dickinson, tanner and farmer; Isaac Mann, original owner of property sold George Palmer; Joseph Leavens, blacksmith; W. Gill; Ashbel Palmer, now living at the age of eighty-six, merchant; Elias Palmer, merchant and farmer; Elias Willard, doctor; Christian Sackrider, lawyer; Cornelius Vandenburg, lawyer; Ebenezer Patrick, innkeeper; Daniel Hale, Jr., merchant and surveyor; Increase Child, surveyor, laid out the village lots; Amos Hodgman, farmer, also had a scythe-factory; William Mead, innkeeper; Joseph Rowe, farmer; William T. Gleason, innkeeper, first at that stand; Ashbel Meacham, carpenter; Seth Turpen, shoemaker; Morton Carrington, saddler and harness-shop; Gilbert Hooker, Alpheus Eaton, Warren Smith, merchant and druggist; Reuben Smith, merchant; William Parsons, carpenter; Abin Parsons, carpenter; Frederick Stewart, shoe-store; James Hillson, shoemaker; Perez Ripley, brick-maker; Heman Whitney, carpenter; Eli Stone, innkeeper; Hezekiah Lord, farmer; James Biggles, Jonathan Reed, Hugh Harsha, farmer; Peter Olds; William Patrick, Jr., doctor; Isaac Dickinson; Jesse Patrick, merchant; Dr. Jesse Seymour, druggist; Henry Davis, town clerk, 1796; Henry Metcalf, lawyer; Terrence O'Donnell, merchant.

Since 1800, but many of them pretty early: Peter Shoemaker, a cabinet-maker; Nathan D. Sherwood, hatter; John Albro, merchant; Cornelius Bloomingdale, Sr., tavern-keeper and farmer; Cornelius Bloomingdale, Jr., merchant; Tappan March, bridge-tender; John C. Force, shoemaker and store; Daniel Bradt, the same; Alfred Benedict, tailor; Anson Benedict, the same; Samuel F. Pruyn, merchant; Henry Ensign, watch- and clock-shop; Erastus Seymour, hatter; John E. Darby, blacksmith; Jared P. Brocket, merchant; Minor Montgomery, carpenter and store-house; James Langworthy, doctor; Jeremiah Colles, wagon-maker; Captain Daniel Dickinson, blacksmith; G.V. Lansing, real-estate dealer; William Williams, manufacturer; William Caldecott, rope-walk; Almon Clark, cloth-dresser; John Sullivan, clothing-works; Dr. Schuyler, not practicing; Erastus Benton, blacksmith, then a merchant; John Wright, canal-grocery; Alfred White, tavern; Nicholas Depew, tavern; Garret Bell, tavern; Walter Boughton, tavern, stone-cutter, and teacher; Newell Miller and Jesse Warren, blacksmiths; Peter Houghton, shoemaker; Medad Cande, shoe-store, formerly tanner; Samuel Low, shoemaker; Samuel B. Malcolm, gentleman, and his wife, a daughter and secretary of General Schuyler; Seth Eddy, merchant.

------------------------------

IV. - ORGANIZATION.

The significance of the name has been already given. As the first inhabitants probably located at the water-power where the still water ended and the rapids began, the people below would speak of going up to still water, and this, no doubt, developed into a name for the primeval settlement, afterwards applied to the country at large, and finally to the organized town. The settlement at the falls also had another name attached to it in a similar way for a time.

The settlers lower down spoke of this new place as Uptown, and that was shortened into Upton. Early deeds are still in existence describing lands at Upton: and a petition drawn as late as 1808, to the council of appointment, in Favor of Cyrus Goodrich as a candidate for the office of justice of the peace, is dated at "Upton, in the town of Stillwater."

------------------------------

TOWN RECORDS.

It is a public calamity for any town to lose its records. One great feature of American civil life differing from the nations of the old world is the local government by towns. Indeed, this is regarded by many writers as not only the foundation, but the defense of free government. The early New England town-meeting system is believed to have not only trained their own people to habits of independent thought and independent action, but to have manifestly led the whole people of the colonies onward to firmly demand, and bravely win, their independence. In view of this fundamental principle, and in view of the intrinsic value of town records themselves, affecting so many matters of home administration, it might be expected the people would be willing to pay for having a town clerk's office centrally and permanently located, well supplied with cases, desks, and safes, for the proper filing and preservation of their records. Unfortunately, this condition of town papers is nowhere to be found. Documents venerable with age, and growing more valuable with the lapse of time, are mixed up with last year's pathmasters' reports; stowed into some dry-goods box, subject to all the chances of fire; no committee ever looking to see whether or not one town clerk delivers all the papers to the next. It is only a question of chance whether the papers are full and complete. They may happen to be, but there is more than an even chance that they are not. It is difficult to write history unless one can find it.

This may be an unhistorical way of arriving at the statement that the old book of town records is not to be found in Stillwater; that such names of town-officers as we have obtained, earlier than 1842, have only been secured at the county clerk's office, and from various loose papers in the town-office. The account of the first town-meeting, in 1788, cannot be given. The names of the first town officers probably are not obtainable in any way.

The place of that first meeting, when the people assembled to organize their home government, cannot be stated accurately, and the many other items found in a well-kept town hook must be omitted. Dropping these negative statements, we proceed as far as possible with the affirmative.

The town of Stillwater is one of the four original towns of the county organized at the same time, - 1788. Before this there were three districts, so called, - Saratoga, Ballston, and Half-Moon. The first town-meeting was probably held in the spring of 1788, as the legal formation of the town bears date March 7, - early enough for a town-meeting that year. From the fragment of an assessment-roll given elsewhere, and from other information, it is inferred that a full set of town officers was elected; that the usual by-laws were adopted, and the full town machinery was set in operation. Among the names of early town officers incidentally ascertained will be noticed many whose descendants are still prominent in town matters.

In early times these town-meetings were quite often held in the western part of the town, known as Stillwater Centre, and considerable strife existed as to what place should secure the adjournment. For many years past, however, they have been held without opposition at Stillwater village. Many of the early town officers afterwards became prominent in public affairs.

There seem to have been seventeen road districts in the town in 1796. The following is a partial list of overseers of the highways for that year: Jesse Gage, No. 1; Amos Milliken, No. 2; Thomas Peterson, No. 3; John Neilson, No. 4; Timothy Shipman, No. 7; Robert Hunter, No. 8; Abraham Valentine, No. 9; Joseph Stephens, No. 10; William Strong, No. 11; William Cooper, No. 12; Benjamin Cole, No. 14; John Wiggins, No. 17.

Still earlier, in 1790, we find a few names of overseers, - Foster Whitford, Isaac Leggett, Joseph Rockwell, William Dunning, and Robert Hunter.

The town book of estrays opens, in 1790, with Timothy Kellogg's advertisement, "that a yoke of two-year old steers had broken into his inclosure, - one of them black, with white on his back, the other a brindle one, with white on his face."

Isaac Fonda's road-list of 1789 - No. 10 - has upon it thirty-two names.

In 1815 the town bought a farm to keep the poor upon, paying therefor the sum of $425. Benjamin Denton and Rial Moore seem to have been the parties who sold, and the representatives of the town who bought were Benjamin Denton and Daniel Carthy.

The following list is given as showing the names of many property-holders in 1789. If complete for what was then the territory of Stillwater, it would indeed be a valuable record; but it is evidently the work of a single assessor, preliminary to the formation of a complete assessment-roll. It probably applies to the northern and western portions of the town, and does not include the territory along the river below Bemus Heights. It will be seen that the tax was at the rate of twopence per pound, and the highest three tax-payers upon the roll are James Verner, Evert Vandenburg, and Ezekiel Ensign. The number of names is one hundred and twelve, - for, it is supposed, one-third of the town. This list, if the above explanation is correct, furnishes the names of some who were early settlers of Malta.

 

A list of the inhabitants of Stillwater, together with the valuation of the real and personal estate of each person, taken the 20th of May, 1789.

 

 

Property.

Tax.

 

R.

P.

s.

d.

John Bleecker

30

20

 

8

9

Wm. Patrick, Jr.

10

3

 

2

3

Jehoida Millard, Jr.

20

4

 

4

 

Josiah Millard

 

 

 

 

 

Isaac Miers & Sons

15

4

 

3

4

George Taylor

6

2

 

1

4

Daniel Ashley

3

4

 

2

6

John Tuttle

12

4

 

2

9

Thaddeus Histed

15

5

 

3

7

John Renbottom

50

20

 

12

8

Ephraim Woodworth

40

10

 

8

10

Reuben Wright

20

25

 

7

11

Simeon Poler

25

10

 

6

2

Samuel Rogers

10

4

 

2

9

Reuben Moore

18

6

 

4

3

Zebulon Mott

16

5

 

3

8

Gabriel Strang

16

5

 

3

8

Peter Clemens

20

5

 

4

5

Andrew Sprague

 

2

 

 

4

David Auble

20

12

 

5

8

James Dickenson & Sons

13

6

 

3

4

Isaiah Keeler

16

4

 

3

6

Ezekiel Ensign

50

25

 

13

6

Lewis Williams

40

14

 

9

7

John Carty

25

4

 

5

1

Ephraim Woodworth, Jr.

25

10

 

6

4

Samuel Bacon

18

6

 

4

3

Ezra Buell

18

4

 

3

11

Thomas Hunt

17

8

 

4

5

James Green

7

6

 

2

3

Widow Green

13

 

 

2

3

Gabriel Leggett

30

12

 

7

5

Thomas Leggett, York

15

 

 

2

8

John Bemus

6

2

 

1

5

Daniel Brooks

6

2

 

1

3

Cornelius Van Tassel

5

2

 

1

2

William Cooper

20

6

 

4

7

John McBride

15

5

 

3

6

Stephen Sayles

12

4

 

2

10

John Carpenter

16

2

 

3

2

Sylvanus Sayles

16

5

 

3

9

Joel Ketcham

40

10

 

8

10

William Anderson

16

6

 

3

11

Noah Chapman

10

1

 

1

11

Samuel Cooper

20

12

 

5

8

Solomon Scidmore

10

4

 

2

6

John Scidmore

10

 

 

1

9

Thomas West

6

1

 

1

3

Frances West

14

 

 

2

6

Wm. West

6

1

 

1

3

Wm. Morris

8

2

 

1

9

Wm. Bell

6

1

 

1

3

Fones West

6

2

 

1

5

Philip Rogers

16

2

 

3

2

Jacob Rogers

16

6

 

3

11

Mordecai Sayles

30

10

 

7

1

Robert Ellis

15

6

 

3

9

Jonas Titus

10

1

 

1

11

Wm. Robbins

25

6

 

5

6

Nicholas Cole

8

1

 

1

7

Wm. Strang

25

9

 

6

 

Benjamin Rogers

25

10

 

6

2

Jacobus Swartout

 

3

 

 

6

Daniel Thompson

5

2

 

1

3

Killian Deridder

 

20

 

3

6

Killian Vandenburg

 

5

 

 

10

Hubbard Pemberton

 

2

 

 

4

Ebenezer Bacon

 

2

 

 

4

Ephraim Cook

 

2

 

 

4

Jethro Bennet

 

3

 

 

6

Arthur Caldwell

 

4

 

 

8

Richard Davis

8

10

 

3

1

Israel Newland

 

2

 

 

4

Nathaniel Higgins

2

3

 

 

10

Isaac Leggett

35

18

 

9

4

Edwards & Benson

25

6

 

5

6

James Verner

100

25

1

2

9

John Verner

 

10

 

3

2

Evert Vandenburg

70

20

 

15

11

Holton Dunham

10

3

 

2

4

Francis Wilcox

8

2

 

1

9

John Wilcox

8

2

 

1

9

Philip Munger

15

6

 

3

9

Abraham Wilcox

8

4

 

2

1

Archibald Walker

5

2

 

1

1

Rowland Emery

6

3

 

1

7

Widow McBride

18

5

 

4

1

James McBride

6

4

 

1

9

John McBride, Jr.

6

3

 

1

7

Daniel McBride

25

2

 

4

9

Nicholas Gordinier

8

3

 

1

11

Nathaniel Clapp

20

6

 

4

7

Joshua Barber

10

1

 

1

11

Joseph Newland

5

1

 

1

1

John Rowley

5

1

 

1

3

Thomas and William Black

6

2

 

1

5

Royal Newland

25

12

 

6

7

Abraham Webster

20

6

 

4

7

Lemuel Powers

18

4

 

3

11

Reuben Woodworth

18

8

 

4

7

Ahab Sayles

10

2

 

2

2

Enoch Higgins

5

 

 

 

10

James Crowell

12

3

 

2

8

Thomas Higgins

6

2

 

1

5

Simeon Marshal

8

2

 

1

9

Nathaniel Cooper

6

2

 

1

5

Jonathan Bassett

5

1

 

1

1

Timothy Munger

10

3

 

2

4

Seth Burgess

9

4

 

2

4

Kendrick Brewer

6

2

 

1

5

Jonathan Morey

18

5

 

3

10

 

We add the following list of town officers, complete in later years, but defective in the earlier dates for the reasons already given. It will be seen that some officers were re-elected for a long series of years. It is said of George Palmer that he held every town office from pathmaster to supervisor. Thomas Morey was supervisor for fourteen years, and Isaac Wing must have been regarded as & careful and an honest man, for he was intrusted with the collection of the taxes for nearly or quite twenty-five years:

 

LIST OF TOWN OFFICERS. {The town formed by law March 7, 1788.}

 

Supervisor.

Town Clerk.

Collector.

1788.

 

Record lost.

Record lost.

1789.

 

"

"

1790.

 

"

"

1791.

Elias Palmer.

"

"

1792.

Samuel Bacon.

"

"

1793.

John Bleecker.

"

"

1794.

"

"

"

1795.

Reuben Wright.

Henry Davis.

Jehial Parker.

1796.

C. Vandenburg.

Record lost.

Record lost.

1797.

"

"

"

1798.

"

"

"

1799.

John Hunter.

"

Elijah Watson.

1800.

"

"

Record lost.

1801.

"

"

"

1802.

"

"

"

1803.

"

William Seymour.

"

1804.

"

Record lost.

"

1805.

Thomas Morey.

"

"

1806.

"

William Seymour.

Peleg Spencer.

1807.

"

"

Daniel Cole.

1808.

"

Record lost.

Record lost.

1809.

"

George Palmer.

Daniel Cole.

1810.

"

Record lost.

Record lost.

1811.

"

"

"

1812.

"

George Palmer.,

"

1813.

"

Record lost.

"

1814.

"

"

"

1815.

"

"

"

1816.

"

"

"

1817.

"

"

"

1818.

"

"

"

1819.

Daniel Rogers.

"

"

1820.

"

Charles Nelson.

"

1821.

George Palmer.

William Seymour.

Isaac Wing.

1822.

"

"

"

1823.

Richard Ketcham.

"

"

1824.

Daniel Rogers.

"

"

1825.

George Palmer.

Record lost.

"

1826.

"

William Seymour.

"

1827.

"

Record lost.

"

1828.

"

"

"

1829.

"

"

"

1830.

"

"

"

1831.

"

"

"

1832.

"

"

"

1833.

"

"

"

1834.

Richard Ketcham.

Henry E. Barrett.

"

1835.

"

"

"

1836.

"

"

"

1837.

"

Samuel F. Pruyn.

"

1838.

Abraham Leggett.

Ashbel Palmer.

"

1839.

Henry E. Barrett.

"

"

1840.

"

"

"

1841.

"

"

"

1842.

"

Morgan Munger.

"

1843.

"

"

"

1844.

"

"

"

1845.

"

"

"

1846.

William Baker.

"

John Van Woert.

1847.

"

John Patrick.

"

1848.

"

Archibald C. Tearse.

Henry C. Moore.

1849.

Abr'm Y. Lansing.

Jehu Hatfield.

"

1850.

Abraham Leggett.

Morgan Munger.

Lyman Smith.

1851.

Tyler Dunham.

"

Alex. H. Badgley.

1852.

George W. Neilson.

"

"

1853.

Charles Moore.

"

Henry C. Moore.

1854.

William Baker.

Ashbel Palmer.

"

1855.

William Denison.

Lyman Smith.

"

1856.

Philip J. Powell.

"

"

1857.

Edward Moore.

Jared W. Haight.

Dorman K. Haight.

1858.

Andrew Hunter.

Joseph Wood.

Henry C. Moore.

1859.

"

Jared W. Haight.

"

1860.

Jno. W. Buffington.

Sylvenis Arnold.

"

1861.

Henry W. Arnold.

George W. Flagler.

"

1862.

"

Ashbel Palmer.

"

1863.

"

"

Samuel Tompkins.

1864.

"

"

"

1865.

"

"

Charles C. Neilson.

1866.

John T. Baker.

"

Duncan Van Wie.

1867.

"

"

Samuel Hewitt.

1868.

Henry A. Van Wie.

"

Charles C. Neilson.

1869.

"

Charles C. Neilson.

George H. Flagler.

1870.

"

"

Samuel Overocker.

1871.

John T. Baker.

"

Lewis Barber.

1872.

"

"

David Tangburn.

1873.

George A. Ensign.

"

Gabriel Strang.

1874.

"

Joseph Wood.

Charles C. Neilson.

1875.

"

Morey G. Hewitt.

Tyler D. Badgley.

1876.

George W. Neilson.

"

Henry C. Moore.

1877.

Lyman Smith.

"

Albert S. Baker.

1878.

Peter A. Van Wie.

"

George Lockwood.

JUSTICES OF THE PEACE ELECTED BY THE PEOPLE.

1832.

Ashbel Palmer.

1856.

Charles Moore.

James Lee.

1834.

Cramer Vernam

1857.

Alexander W. Davis.

1835.

David Benedict.

1858.

John Elmer.

1836.

Ashbel Palmer.

1859.

Reuben H. Barber.

1837.

Richard Ketcham.

1860.

Daniel Bradt.

1838.

Cramer Vernam.

1861.

Theophilus Cook.

1839.

David Benedict.

1862.

John Elmer.

1840.

Ashbel Palmer.

1863.

Reuben H. Barber.

1841.

Charles Ensign.

1864.

Joseph Wood.

1842.

James Bradshaw.

1865.

Theophilus Cook.

1843.

Hiram A. Ferguson.

George S. Finch.

1866.

John Elmer.

1844.

Ashbel Palmer.

Alfred Elms.

1867.

Reuben H. Barber.

1845.

Samuel Cheever.

1868.

Theodore Baker.

1846.

John Elmer.

1869.

Duncan Van Wie.

1847.

George W. Neilson.

1870.

John Elmer.

1848.

Daniel Bradt.

Thomas S. Gleason.

1871.

Reuben H. Barber.

1849.

William Denison.

1872.

Theodore Baker.

1850.

John Elmer.

1873.

Duncan Van Wie.

1851.

Samuel B. Hicks.

1874.

E. Corning Chase.

1852.

Daniel Bradt.

Alfred Elms.

1875.

Reuben H. Barber.

1853.

Alexander Flanney.

1876.

David A Van Wie.

Charles Hunt.

1854.

Nathan Taber.

1877.

Wm. Snyder Miller.

1855.

Reuben H. Barber.

1878.

Eugene E. Curtis.

 

The election canvass of May 2, 1799, shows that for the office of assemblyman Adam Comstock received 102 votes; Samuel Clark, 68; Daniel Bull, 98; James Warren, 50; Edward A. Watrous, 31; Hugh Robles, 129; Elias Palmer, 148; John Taylor, 79; James Taylor, 3; Epenetus White, 48; Sidney Berry, 13; Elisha Powell, 55; Stephen Wait, 25; Seth C. Baldwin, 2; Epenetus Warren, 1; Ebenezer Russell, 1; Robert Campbell, 1; John Bull, 1; George Hunter, 2; Zina Hitchcock, 1; Moses Vail, 1; Robert Yates, 1; Beriah Palmer, 1. This document possesses its chief interest in the large number of candidates voted for to fill the office of assemblyman from this county.

May 2, 1800, there is recorded the following canvass for representative to Congress: John Williams, 123 votes; David Thomas, 79; Stephen Lush, 1; James Gordon, 1; John Thompson, 1; Robert Yates, 1.

------------------------------

V. - VILLAGES.

Stillwater village, named for the same reason as the town; Mechanicville, so named by those who first established manufactories there and employed many mechanics; Bemus Heights, from John Bemus, Wilbur's Basin, from the Wilburs, who settled there soon after the Revolutionary war; Jobville, from Job, not of the land of Uz, but the land of Stillwater; "Yellow Meeting-House" neighborhood, from the venerable building of that color; Stillwater Centre, from its geographical position; Ketcham's Corner, from the pioneer Ketcham family; "White Sulphur Spring," whoever tastes will need no further explanation.

With reference to Stillwater village, the following memorandum is furnished by Ashbel Palmer, who has also rendered other valuable assistance in the preparation of this work. The memorandum includes some items with reference to other parts of the town.

------------------------------

MEMORANDUM BY ASHBEL PALMER.

The settlement at this village is of early date. It grew up near the falls of the Hudson river, around the Palmer grist- and saw-mills. The village was called Upton, shortened from Up-town, as it was then the first and only settlement north of Half-Moon, or Waterford. There were only a few dwellings at first between Stillwater and Waterford. The country was most all woods. Before 1791 this was in Albany county, which extended to Canada, after which it was in "Saraghtoga," - the old name. The earliest date of a conveyance now to be found was a deed of land, grist-and saw-mill, from Isaac Mann to George Palmer, dated 1764. Still there must have been older conveyances than this.

Many years before 1800, perhaps before the Revolution, there was an ashery and brewery a few rods north of where Stillwater brook joins the Hudson. The settlement increased slowly, both in population and dwellings.

A Presbyterian meeting-house and an Episcopal church were erected on the hill before 1800. About 1791, and a few years later, several substantial buildings were erected, which gave the hill a fine appearance over the lower part of the village; and very early, too, about 1800, a schoolhouse and a Masonic lodge were also established on the hill, - the latter then said to be the best in the State. The lodge probably first met in the tavern of Mr. Patrick.

Business became more active after Rensselaer Schuyler purchased a tract of land, as he came in with capital. This was in the year 1812.

After Ephraim Newland purchased, improvements went on more rapidly. An academy, a Baptist church, and other buildings went up; but previous to his day business was advancing, owing in part to the opening of the Champlain canal in 1825.

Soon after the Newland purchase, mills were established for the manufacture of flannel, - also for knitting goods. A second knitting-mill and a mill for making wall-paper; also a straw-board mill. The purchase by Mr. Schuyler was the cause of the future prosperity of the place, or contributed materially to it.

Long prior to these improvements, and before the meeting-houses were built, there was the old barn on the Palmer farm remembered by some now living, and the path leading to Mr. Osgood's, and to a spring across the meadow from the barn. In this barn meetings were held by ministers that could be obtained. It was taken down by Ashbel Palmer about 1812, and the timber is now in a wagon-house on the Patrick place. Among the additions to the place was the erection of a bridge in 1832. It was burned in 1875, and with it the hotel and stores. The bridge was replaced the year after by an iron structure, and the hotel by the present large brick building. The first bridge-tender was Daniel Bradt, remaining about three years. He was followed by Tappan March, who stayed about the same time. Mr. John C. Force then took the place, and has now been at his post thirty-eight years. The new bridge above the piers cost about $9000, and the property is estimated at $15,000.

Some may like to hear that there was in the days of General Schuyler a canal commenced, intended for a communication for boats from Waterford to the Hudson river just above the Palmer falls, from thence in the river to the Saratoga falls. But the canal was never finished, - was dug only in parts, and abandoned. Some may remember having seen the remains of a lock where the canal-boats were to pass in and out, situated on the margin of the lot known in late years as the Hathaway lot. The canal was a State affair, and the management of it was under General Philip Schuyler. This was as early as 1794, as deeds of that date are in existence describing land bounded on this canal.

Stillwater was incorporated as a village in 1816, and the bounds were from the Stillwater brook half a mile up, and on the north included the Bartlett farm. Afterwards the bounds were extended south. In 1875 the census of the village showed 797 inhabitants, and 123 voters.

Surveys, and a map of "Upton in the town of Stillwater," were made before 1800. It was on land belonging to Elias Palmer. The lots were disposed of by durable leases. The lots on the hill were not included. Those were purchased of Campbell & Montgomery, twelve in number.

Colonel Daniel Dickinson, son-in-law of George Palmer, erected a tannery by the river, probably as early as 1770. His house was near the river. The house now owned by G.V. Lansing, just south of the creek, was the residence of Rensselaer Schuyler. Before that, it was Dickinson's, and had been that of Amos Hodgman.

The influence of G.V. Lansing was excellent in inducing citizens to paint their dwellings and adorn their grounds.

Colonel Dickinson had an orchard of the best of fruit on the lot of his first residence, started from trees brought from Connecticut, and set out before 1790. This orchard is now laid out into lots with a few trees left, occupied with houses to some extent; among them an Episcopal chapel and the unfinished Methodist church.

Schuyler's mills and all additions were burned in 1817. The mills, etc., afterwards came into the hands of Philip J. Schuyler, who erected a new grist-mill, in which was conducted clothing works. The frame of this mill was removed by Ephraim Newland down near the Stillwater brook. A new saw-mill was built by T.J. Schuyler.

In 1838, Ephraim Newland and John F. Wetsell purchased the Schuyler property, - east side of the road for $9000; west side, $2625.

There was a brick-kiln at one time east of the canal-bridge. The clay for the brick was taken from that thrown out from the canal.

In early years the Waterford and Whitehall turnpike company was incorporated, but failed in a short time.

Stillwater was of much public importance in the olden time, as the county clerk's office was in this village, and Dirck Swart was county clerk. The first meeting of the board of supervisors of the new county of Saratoga was held, in 1791, at his house. Didn't need a very large room for four of them, - J.B. Schuyler, of Saratoga; Elias Palmer, of Stillwater; Benjamin Rosekrans, of Half-Moon; and Beriah Palmer, of Ballston.

The earliest town-meetings were held in the tavern kept by Wm. Mead, a son-in-law of George Palmer. Afterwards the house became the property of Elias Palmer, and his residence for many years; it is now owned by John Patrick, son of Jesse Patrick. The latter was a merchant here for a long time, and afterwards removed to Troy.

John Thompson, of this town, was a member of Congress. He was the father of Judge James Thompson, of Saratoga County court.

A hand fire-engine was bought in 1875, and a fire-company formed. The engine and incidentals cost $1200.

The Congregational church, that came to this town in an organized form, brought lumber with them from Connecticut to build their house of worship. They first built about opposite the mouth of the Hoosic, on the road to Ballston, near the Thompson place, and half a mile from the Hudson river. This building was afterwards taken down and erected over again where it now stands, two miles farther from the river. It was painted yellow, and thus became known all through the county as the "Yellow meeting-house," and to this day it is better known by this name than by the name of the denomination that founded it. When it was repaired in 1850 it was painted white, but it was so contrary to its old name and associations that it was again painted yellow to correspond with its past history.

The gallery in the Presbyterian church was unfinished until Rev. Dirck C. Lansing came. He had the gallery contracted some, and had slips put in for singers and other seats put up. This was in Rensselaer Schuyler's time, who took great interest in improving the meeting-house.

Crow Hill is in the southwest part of Stillwater, rising to quite an elevation from the valley of Anthony's Kil. It is said to derive the name from the fact that one or more settlers used to go over to Schaghticoke and work out as day laborers in the hard times of pioneer life. They were said to be obliged to go abroad to earn something, as the crows fly to a distant corn-field to get something to eat; so their home was called Crow Hill.

The southern extension of this range was known for many years as Tory Hill, because there was a tall old pine which the loyalists used as a post of observation and a signal-station. This is very probable, as there was at least one well-known Tory headquarters in Mechanicville, on the site of the present Methodist parsonage. It is said that the proprietor of that house was once nearly caught, being chased far down towards Waterford, but escaped by swimming his horse across the Hudson.

------------------------------

VI. - SCHOOLS.

The first schools were supported by subscription, and held in private houses. A school-house was built before 1800 on the hill in Stillwater village. Walter Broughton was an early teacher; he also taught singing schools. Afterwards kept the Patrick tavern, and added to his other various occupations that of stone-cutter, being probably the gravestone dealer in this section of the country. An early schoolhouse was in the Hodgman neighborhood. It stood on the bank of the Stillwater creek. This was so early as not to be remembered by Leonard Hodgman, who is now eighty-six years old, but he has heard it spoken of by good authority.

Another early school-house was in the Thompson neighborhood, near where the colony from Connecticut first erected their meeting-house. Mrs. Catharine Barker speaks of Matthew Simpson, Asa Tiffany, and John Horton as early teachers. There was a school-house on the bank of the Wilbur Basin creek as early as 1799.

At Stillwater village an academy was erected many years ago. After it failed it was succeeded by the two district schools, now employing five teachers.

The town records being lost, we can only infer that the town accepted the conditions of the school act of 1812, - either that year or the following, - and elected commissioners and inspectors annually thereafter. We can only give the names of the last, who were chosen in 1843: Tylee Dunham, Abraham Y. Lansing, and Reuben Hart, commissioners; Stephen W. Hart and Rensselaer Barber, inspectors. The town superintendents following this earlier system were:

Elected Annually. - 1844-45, Abraham Y. Lansing; 1846, Edward Moore; 1847-48, Abraham Y. Lansing.

Elected Biennially. - 1850, omitted from town records; 1852-54, Edward Moore.

Town supervision ceased in 1856, at which time the schools were placed in charge of the assembly district commissioners.

The school report for 1843 was as follows:

Districts.

No. of

Children.

Public Money.

No. 2

47

$37.66

" 4

54

42.12

" 5

35

27.30

" 6

89

67.42

" 7

63

49.14

" 8

62

48.36

" 9

64

49.92

" 12

32

24.10

" 15

54

42.12

Part No. 1

49

38.22

" 3

149

116.22

" 10

13

10.14

" 13

15

11.70

" 14

14

10.92

" 3

30

23.40

" 7

5

3.90

Total

775

$602.64

------------------------------

COMMISSIONERS' APPORTIONMENT FOR 1878.

District

Number of Children between five and twenty-one.

Equal Quota of the Public Money.

Public Money according to the number of Children.

Public Money according to average attendance.

Library Money.

Total Public Money.

No. 1

34

$52.14

$23.38

$21.63

$1.14

$98.29

" 2

62

52.14

42.64

37.67

2.07

134.52

" 3

56

52.14

38.51

37.11

1.87

129.63

" 4

42

52.14

28.89

32.72

1.40

115.15

" 5

36

52.14

24.76

33.39

1.20

111.49

" 6

421

260.70

289.55

272.73

14.04

837.02

" 7

48

52.14

33.01

34.50

1.60

121.25

" 8

79

52.14

54.33

44.32

2.64

153.43

" 9

34

52.14

23.39

17.70

1.13

94.36

" 10

168

104.28

115.55

97.83

5.60

323.36

" 11

24

52.14

16.51

23.21

.80

92.66

" 12

45

52.14

30.95

29.18

1.50

113.77

" 13

74

52.14

50.90

63.58

2.47

169.09

 

1123

$938.52

$773.37

$745.57

$37.46

$2493.92

 

------------------------------

STILLWATER ACADEMY.

This institution was founded about the year 1847, and was for a time under the care of the regents of the university. It had a small but convenient school building, built of brick, still standing near the Baptist church. The earlier books of record were lost. Almon Richards was a noted principal for some years. He afterwards became the well-known educational leader and school superintendent in the District of Columbia.

Some of the conditions necessary to the continuance of the academy not being complied with, it became a private seminary for a few years. This finally declined. Select schools were kept for a time in the academic building, but finally there was nothing left but the ordinary district schools of the village. This state of things led to a union school organization. It was formed at a meeting held May 2, 1873. Trustees were then elected, and the organization of the board was as follows: Trustees, William H. Davenport, president; Edward J. Wood, clerk; Egbert Gardner, Peter V. Wetsel, Matthew Pack; James Rundle, treasurer; John H. St. John, collector.

There are two school-houses, - one in the upper and the other in the lower part of the village, - each worth, perhaps, $2000. There are five departments, constituting three grades, - one higher, two intermediate, and two primary. Chauncey Deyoe was the first principal, and remained over four years. The present teachers (May, 1878) are William M. Whitney, principal; Miss Sarah J. Hewitt, Miss Cora Davenport, Miss Emma St. John, and Miss Mary Tabor.

The present officers of the district (May, 1878) are, Trustees, Lawrence Vandemark, president; Theodore Baker, clerk; Peter V. Wetsel, Henry Newland, Ira L. Moore; William L. Dennison, treasurer; Collins Collamer, collector.

----------------------------------------

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