SARATOGA COUNTY, NEW YORK.
by NATHANIEL BARTLETT SYLVESTER
HISTORY OF THE VILLAGES AND TOWNS OF SARATOGA COUNTY.
STILLWATER (Part 2).
VII. - CHURCHES.
THE CHURCH AT THE "YELLOW MEETING-HOUSE."
The Congregational church of Stillwater was organized at Canaan, Litchfield Co., Conn., June 26, 1752. From the records, as published by Lebbeus Armstrong, in 1850, it appears that there were present at the first meeting John Palmer, pastor of Scotland church, and Abraham Payn, pastor of the Church of Christ, in Nine Partners, Dutchess Co., N.Y. After examination and consultation, Rev. Mr. Palmer agreed to administer the sacrament on the following Sabbath to Jedediah Stephens and Henry Stephens, of Stonington; Samuel How and Gideon Lawrence, of Plainfield; Asa Douglass and Benjamin Green, of Canterbury, who now live in Canaan, but who were in full communion in the churches of their respective towns.
Sunday, June 28, 1752, John Palmer preached. A number were received on profession of faith, the sacrament was administered, a revival commenced, and the church met the next day, June 29, 1752, signed the covenant, and chose a clerk. Mr. Armstrong gives the list of subscribers, which contains the following names of male members: Henry Stephens, Gideon Lawrence, Zebulon Stevens, Uriah Stevens, Robert Campbell, George Palmer, Lemuel Taylor, Eber Andrews, Benjamin Green, Ephraim Andrews, Ebenezer Wolcott, Ephraim Andrews, Jr., William Frisby, Solomon Campbell, Robert Campbell, Jr., Jonathan Morey, Titus Andrews, John Fellows, William Patrick, Daniel Campbell, Cyprian Watson, Edward Firel, Joel Frisby, Reuben Wright, Israel Rose, Isaiah Keeler, Amariah Plumb, Phineas Stephens, Jesse Howard, Robert Patrick, Joseph Stephens, Ebenezer Andrus, Benjamin Munger. In the ten years following other members were added, so that the number amounted to one hundred and one. Oct. 20, 1761, Mr. Robert Campbell was ordained and installed over them as their pastor. In April, 1762, a fast was appointed to know their "duty with respect to moving to Stillwater." It was then fully agreed this church should remove from Canaan to Stillwater; and it adds, under the same date, "Pursuant to said agreement, the greater part of said church-members HAVE removed to Stillwater." This would seem to decide the date of the removal of this Connecticut colony at 1762. Whether all the persons whose names are given above came to Stillwater, is not decided by the record. Probably not; some must have died in the ten years, and others declined to move.
This date thus fixed at 1762, makes this church truly the pioneer religious society in all this valley north of Albany, - at least of that faith and order, - and it is not believed any other church can claim an earlier organization. The Reformed Dutch church, of Schuylerville, may have been organized nearly or quite as early, but no records are obtainable earlier than 1789.
"The Congregational church of Stillwater," writes Mr. Armstrong, in 1850, "has never disbanded nor changed its doctrines nor form of church government to the present day. Before the War of the Revolution they erected a commodious house of worship near the west bank of the Hudson river, opposite the mouth of the Hoosic, which was subsequently removed about two miles west of the river, where they established their cemetery by its side, in which their first pastor, Rev. Robert Campbell, and the principal part of his congregation sleep in the dust." This house became known as the "yellow meeting-house of Stillwater." About the year 1800 a revival took place in connection with this church under the labors of the Rev. Jedediah Bushnell, and his successor, Rev. Daniel Marsh. Fourteen years later the church was nearly extinct; but after a meeting, in which there was intense feeling and much prayer, it was resolved to make one effort to revive the church. Deacon Thomas Morey was sent as a messenger to seek ministerial aid. Rev. Samuel Cheever was obtained from Vermont. He died in the midst of his valuable work, six months after his entrance upon his labors. His funeral sermon was preached by Rev. Lebbeus Armstrong. The church enjoyed much spiritual prosperity for ten years or more, receiving new members at nearly every communion. Meanwhile, under the Rev. Mark Tucker, in 1818, the Presbyterian church of Stillwater village was organized, and both churches were under his care as pastor. This united state of operation continued for many years, but, owing to various reasons, - the convenience of the location, and other causes, - most of the new members united at the village with the Presbyterian church. About 1842 the latter, desiring the full service of their minister, gave formal notice to that effect, and the union work closed. The influence upon the Congregational church in its location away from the village was disastrous. Some members took letters to the Presbyterian church; others, declining to do this, still gave their pecuniary support in the same direction. But the Congregational church, nevertheless, lived. In 1850 the old meeting-house was thoroughly repaired and rededicated, the sermon being preached by Rev. Mark Tucker, of Weathersfield, Conn. Whatever of weakness in numbers or influence may have been the fate of this church in later years, nevertheless many early and precious memories cluster about it. It is a specimen of how earnestly the men of New England loved the religion of their fathers, and how they would only remove their families into the wilderness when they could carry with them the ark of the covenant. Such men were worthy to be the pioneers of towns, the founders of States, the defenders of civil and religious liberty, the men "to trust in God and keep their powder dry."
The after-history since the repair of the house is briefly this: In February, 1852, at a church-meeting, it was resolved to change the form of church government to Presbyterian, and thus effect a union with the families of Presbyterian sentiments residing at Mechanicville. This was consummated in May of the same year, and the corporate name became "the Presbyterian church of Stillwater and Mechanicville," but in the resolution it was expressly agreed that the covenant and confession of faith of the Congregational church should be retained, and the records should be held in perpetuity by the organization at the "yellow meeting-house." This union continued until 1871, when the Mechanicville Presbyterian church became a separate body, and the church at the "yellow meeting-house" again became a distinct society, - the lineal successor of the old Connecticut colony. As such it exists to-day; but the form of government is Presbyterian, and it supports preaching by cooperative efforts with neighboring churches. The successive ministers of this church for one hundred and fifteen years have been Rev. Robert Campbell, Rev. Robert Campbell, Jr., Daniel Marsh, Luther Gleason, Samuel Cheever, Dirck Lansing, Mark Tucker, John Blatchford, Ebenezer Cheever, Henry Smith, Villeroid Reed. This was down to about 1842. Then there was no minister steadily until Rev. Mr. Barber was employed, under whom the church became Presbyterian. After that followed Rev. Messrs. Campbell, Hancock, Davies, Beman, to 1871.
The present elders are Gardner Edmonds, Wm. Vandewerker, Charles Earing, A. Fellows. Charles Cooper, clerk.
An excellent state of Christian unity existed between this pioneer Congregational church and the first Baptist of Stillwater. Their pastors and delegates joined in the same councils, and a letter in possession of Abiram Fellows from the Baptist church to the Congregational, in 1791, with reference to the reception of a member, breathes a truly Christian and fraternal spirit.
In 1815, under the ministry of Dirck Lansing, a Sunday-school was gathered; if not of the modern character, yet children were invited to learn verses, and come together and recite them once a week. Three or four years later, too, there was a Sunday-school and Bible-class, under the management of Deacons Andrews, Seymour, and Moody.
Besides the above account, we add that the earliest book of records belonging to this church has been obtained, just before we go to press, by the efforts of Abiram Fellows, from Rev. E. Seymour, of Bloomfield, N. J., and it is intrusted to Mrs. William B. Fuller, a daughter of the late Deacon Jesse Seymour, residing near Stillwater village.
It is a valuable relic of the past, and a special history of the church that might be prepared from it at length would contain a large amount of personal and family history, as it includes records of baptisms, marriages, deaths, and church admissions, with dates that can scarcely be acquired anywhere else.
Surely the friends of this venerable church, now one hundred and twenty-five years old, can well afford to pay for a work that would be so rich in historic interest. A single paragraph discovered settles it beyond question that a portion of this church came to Stillwater in 1762.
We give it verbatim:
"Sept. 5, 1762. - Then Brother Lemuel Taylor and Barshaba, his wife, had their son Lemuel baptized by Brother Campbell, pastor of Christ church in Canaan, but it was done in Stillwater."
Perhaps all that finally came may not have reached this town until some months or years later, but a portion were certainly here in 1762, and their minister was here and preached for them.
The names of those who came to Stillwater are perhaps correctly shown by the following signers to the covenant. Unfortunately, amid so many other dates, this covenant has none. It is evidently later than the first covenant of 1752, and it seems earlier than the renewed covenant of 1789, and it is The Church of Stillwater. The names may have been attached, too, at different times. If it does not show the membership of the church when it reached Stillwater, it is nevertheless old enough to be valuable as showing early settlement. (The names in italics are those of the renewed covenant, 1789.)
Robert Campbell, William Patrick, Jonathan Morey, David Barnes, Robert Campbell, Deliverance Andrews, James Montgomery, Daniel Campbell, Hannah Campbell, Sarah Norton, Elizabeth Root, Elizabeth Andrews, Sarah Toms, Elizabeth Patrick, Rebecca Hunter, Solomon Campbell, Noah Stevens, Joseph Stevens, Titus Andrews, Joseph Tenny, John Toms, Robert Patrick, Phineas Stevens, Simeon Leonard, Ephraim Andrews, Ebenezer Tenny, Joseph Spaulding, Michael Dunning, John Thursting, Ebenezer Dunning, Anthony Paul, Jesse Howard: Cyprian Watson, William Watson, William Seymour, Thomas Morey, Peter Andrews, David Morris, Daniel Montgomery, Thankful Hewitt, Lydia Morey, Avery Andrews, Philomela Ives, Sarah Campbell, Johannah Stevens, Emma Andrews, Chloe Watson, Martha Brunson, Hannah Stevens, Marah Gilmore, Sarah Parks, Ahithopel Seymour, Rosannah Finch, Huldah Leonard, Esther Campbell, Hannah Andrews, Desire Stevens, Sarah Kellogg, Sarah Stevens, Sarah Barrett, Elizabeth Patrick, Huldah Spaulding, Hannah Dunning, Eleazer Gilbert, Philip Rogers, Jeremiah Able, Jesse Denton, Sarah Seymour, Mary Ann Dickinson, Lois Andrews, Judah Southard, Molly Patrick, Sally Rowell, Auleha Able, Susannah Hunter, Mary Buck, Rhoda Moody, Sarah Denton, Jennet Carrington, Mehiteble Milliken, Miriam Conkling, Lydia Stone, Mary Rogers, Eunice Comstock, Betsey Andrews, Rebecca Hooker, Abigail Kellogg, Lucy Burgis, Sarah Stone, Ruth Morehouse, Sybil Watson, Philomela Andrews, Abby E. Watson.
Besides those marked above as having renewed covenant in 1789, there are also the following: George Palmer, Sarah Andrews, Robert Patrick, Gideon Lawrence, Mary Hunter, Sybil Andrews, Irena Andrews.
As a specimen to show the value of the book for family memorials, we add these items:
"Lucy Stevens, daughter of Henry and Sarah Stevens, was born Sept. 4, 1752."
"Azina Stevens, daughter of Jedediah Stevens and Mary Stevens, was born March 19, 1753."
"Robert Campbell and ye widow, Hannah Spalding, were lawfully joined in marriage March 29, 1764."
"Robert Campbell and Esther Perce were married Jan. 20, 1767." [Perhaps this was the junior.]
The house of William B. Fuller, near Stillwater, is regarded in tradition as one hundred and twenty years old. Take off ten years and it is very likely true. It is known as the "Harsha homestead." The Harshas were a part of Dr. Clark's Scotch-Irish church, which settled Salem, Washington county, but first came to Stillwater in August, 1764, and stayed until May, 1767. The family history in Salem shows that John Harsha, an elder in the church, died in Stillwater, and further, one of that name did remain here. This house, then, may very likely have been built 1764 to 1770, - making it the oldest existing house in town, perhaps, except that of George Palmer, in Stillwater village. This Harsha homestead passed to the Hewitts, then to the Fergusons, then to the Bartletts, though they did not live here, and then to William B. Fuller, the present owner, in 1829.
FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF STILLWATER.
For the following facts connected with this pioneer organization we are indebted to a report prepared for the Saratoga Association by a committee, - Charles Hunt, Deacon Simeon Rowley, and Elder Park, - June, 1877.
The First Baptist church of Stillwater is the origin of some of the most important churches in this county, as will be seen in this narrative. It stands in a section made sacred by the blood of the fathers, shed to secure not only civil but religious liberty. It is especially fit that in this centennial of the battle of Stillwater the history of this old mother of churches should be written. Its early history is somewhat obscure. In Benedict's "History of the Baptists," Vol. I., page 553, we find file following statement:
"At Stillwater, near the place where Burgoyne was taken in the American war, a church arose in 1762, which became unusually large and prosperous and branched out in many directions; but, on account of certain difficulties, it suffered a great calamity and became nearly extinct."
In connection with this it is related that when the Rev. Samuel Leland came to preach among them, in an effort to reorganize, he took for his text, "And they all escaped safe to land.
This date given by Benedict is considered correct by those having this tradition of the fathers of the old church. If it is accurate, it makes this church just about contemporary with the Congregational church, which came here in a body under Rev. Robert Campbell. That the church certainly had a very early organization appears further from the fact that in 1779, only two years after the Burgoyne battles, this home church had eighty-six members in fellowship, that colonies were already existing at Fish creek, Nipmouse, near the Hoosick, Newtown, Ballston, Kayadrossera, Milton, and Hemlock Brook.
This is a worthy record for a time of war and general disorganization, - a church with eighty-six members and eight branches.
In 1781, Beriah Kelly commenced preaching for this body, and in July he was ordained at a council regularly called. His labors terminated in 1788 or 1789. Meanwhile, in 1785 or 1786, an unfortunate division occurred. One section worshiped in a frame meeting-house about a mile east of the present house, with Lemuel Powers as their minister. The others met in a log meeting-house about a mile west of the present meeting-house, with Beriah Kelly pastor. In 1790 a reunion took place under the united pastorate of Rev. Lemuel Powers and Rev. David Irish. This continued until 1793, when the latter retired from the work.
In 1791 thirty-eight members were dismissed from this church to form the church at Saratoga. This was the foundation of the Baptist church at Schuylerville. The very same year, the members residing in Ballstown were dismissed to form a church there. It is further noticed that fifty-nine members residing in Newtown are not mentioned in connection with the old church after this date, and it is inferred that they were also dismissed to organize for themselves in 1791 or 1792. This is three colonies sent out to organize for themselves in a single year.
Two years later, in 1793, forty-eight members were dismissed to organize a church at Milton; and it is also supposed that thirty members, living at Hemlock Brook, were that year organized into the old Greenfield church. In 1793 also, the nineteen members west of the lake, called the Kayadrossera brethren, were dismissed to form a separate church, and this was the germ of the First Baptist church of Saratoga Springs. It is also inferred, because they are no longer mentioned in the records, that forty-six members, living at Nipmouse, were organized into the west Hoosick church in 1793. During this very period, while this parent church was thus establishing its children in their own homes, there was also a growth at home of an excellent and substantial character. There were large numbers added to the church yearly, thus verifying the old precept of the Scriptures, "There is that scattereth and yet increaseth."
In 1800, Lemuel Powers was gathered to his fathers. His remains rest in the private burying-ground near Ezra Munger's, marked only by a common stone; but his record is on high.
The successive pastors of the church since 1800 have been as follows: Rev. John Lathrop, Samuel Rogers, David Bernard, Elnathan Finch, Heman H. Haff, Isaac Westcot, Israel Keach, E.B. Crandall, C.O. Kimball, B.F. Garfield, E.W. Browne, H.J.S. Lewis, T.S. Morley, J.L. Barlow, R.A. Clapp, L.P. Judson, J.L. Barlow, and F.L. Park, the present pastor. There have been some years when the pulpit was vacant between several of the pastorates, but services have been maintained with great regularity through all this period of one hundred to one hundred and fifteen years.
During the labors of Rev. Isaac Westcot he led the movement for the organization of the Second church, in 1839, taking not only eighty members, but even carrying off the constituent name, that was older than the constitution of the national government, and equally freighted with the precious memories of "the times that tried men's souls." This was, however, recovered in 1844, and the church in Stillwater village became the Second.
Rev. Samuel Rogers, pastor from 1811 to 1823, - the date of his death, - was of English ancestry, and came to this country as a teamster in the British army, at the age of nineteen. Becoming satisfied the Americans were right, he came over to them about the time of the battles of Stillwater, or somewhat earlier. He afterwards joined the Baptist church, was licensed to preach, and did good service. He was a strong preacher of the old Baptist faith. According to the record, twenty-five members were set off in 1825 to form. the Baptist church of Northumberland. This is not very clear, as the church of Saratoga (Schuylerville) set off in 1791 naturally included Northumberland.
A new parsonage was built in 1849, and the venerable meeting-house was rebuilt in 1850. The first successful Sunday-school was organized in 1859.
This rural congregation, clinging to the sacred shrine their fathers loved, preferring simple, plain, unostentatious building, out of debt, may well rejoice in their ancient history, glad to worship where their fathers worshiped, ready to die where their fathers died, and sleep in the old burial-ground with the same sure and certain hope of eternal life.
PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF KETCHAM'S CORNERS.
Meetings by Presbyterians were held in this neighborhood for some years before a church was organized. The first preaching by ministers from Stillwater was by Mark Tucker, in 1818 or 1819, in a house where R.H. Barber now lives. The church was organized in 1866. The legal certificate is dated January 22, and was acknowledged before R.H. Barber, justice of the peace. The certificate is signed by Tylee Dunham and Edward Moore. These two, with William Flagler, were the first elders. John H. Brightman was the first deacon. The house of worship was erected in 1866, at an expense of about $3600, and dedicated December 12 of that year by Rev. A.M. Beveridge, of Lansingburg. The present elders are Henry D. Rogers, Hamlin Caldwell, and R.H. Barber. The last named is clerk of the session, and Deacon Brightman clerk of society. The present trustees are Abram Post, Thomas Losee, Henry D. Rogers, R.H. Barber, and John H. Brightman. The church formerly united with the church at Stillwater in support of the same pastor; now with the church at Malta. The services are held in the afternoon, and one Sunday-school for the place is held at the Methodist church. The ministers have been William M. Johnson, S.L. Gamble, and A.G. Cochrane. The membership is about forty.
METHODIST CHURCH OF KETCHAM'S CORNERS.
Methodist history in this vicinity goes back nearly, or quite, to 1800. A careful search would, it is believed, show that this was about the earliest point in Saratoga County of preaching by that denomination. Unfortunately, as in so many other cases, written records are almost entirely wanting, there being little or nothing to be found with the present church officers earlier than 1832, when Simon Tubbs was class-leader; but it is known that this is the third house of worship erected in this neighborhood: and this was built in 1853 or 1854.
PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF STILLWATER.
The history of this body in its earlier years is complicated and mingled with that of the Congregational church. Presbyterians and Congregationalists are so nearly alike in doctrinal views, and also in modes of worship, differing only in slight particulars as to church government, that it was very easy to work together, and yet even the slight differences between them were sure to ultimately develop into different organizations. Accordingly, we find that from 1764 to 1791 no Presbyterian church was erected. The large emigration from Connecticut settled the type and form of church organization for many years in favor of Congregationalism; but in 1791 it appeared to some that the time had come for Presbyterians to have an organization of their own, and the old book of records commences with the following entry:
"The Presbyterian inhabitants of Stillwater incorporated themselves into a religious society, in the name and style of the First Presbyterian congregation of Stillwater, on the 12th day of September, 1791. In this capacity they put themselves under the care of the Albany presbytery, and presented a call to Mr. Aaron Condit, a candidate under the care of that presbytery, to settle among them in the gospel ministry. This call was accepted, and Mr. Condit installed Jan. 15, 1793. Mr. Condit labored only two years after his installation, his services closing in 1795."
And it appears from the records that the Presbyterian organization was dropped at that time.
In this society, Feb. 13, 1794, Samuel Bacon was elected elder and Charles Moore deacon. They were ordained on March 2, 1794; and the sacrament was administered, for the first time in this church, March 9, 1794. Twenty-one persons were admitted to communion, but the book does not furnish their names. Aug. 6, 1794, Matthew Harrison was chosen elder. Sept. 29, 1795, Samuel Cooper was received as a member. There is no evidence that the church existed between 1795 and 1816. In the latter year a united body was formed bearing the ponderous but expressive name, "The First Presbyterian Congregational Church of Stillwater." It adopted a confession of faith and covenant to which all could subscribe, and provided that candidates should be admitted, as they themselves might elect, either by the board of Presbyterian elders that was to exist in the body, or by a vote of the entire membership, as Congregationalists would require; they also proposed that every one summoned for discipline should elect to be tried either by the elders in Presbyterian style, or by a committee of the congregation in Congregational style. As these points are about all in which the two churches differ, it was thought the arrangement would prove satisfactory. In this body Denison Andrews, John W. Patrick, Samuel Low, and John Sullivan were chosen elders, and Thomas Morey, William Seymour, and Peter Andrews deacons.
This united body was not a success, and though no special difficulty had occurred, yet some began to feel that the union would be a source of weakness instead of strength. The advice of Dr. Nott, of Schenectady, was sought, and, after due consideration, the body was dissolved and the Presbyterian church reorganized March 11, 1818; Rev. Dirck C. Lansing meanwhile having been called and settled as a minister, probably by the united body.
In the newly-organized church the following elders were chosen: John W. Patrick, Jesse Warren, Alfred Benedict, and, not long after, Medad Candee, Seth Eddy, Richard Ketcham, and Jesse Seymour; Amos Hodgman was elected deacon.
It appears that Rev. Mr. Lansing's services were terminated by the dissolution, and that Rev. Mark Tucker became the first pastor over the newly-formed church; he remained until 1824. The successive ministers since have been John Blatchford, installed May 18, 1825; Ebenezer Cheever, Feb. 21, 1832; William Tobey, Jan. 1, 1834; Samuel Robinson, Aug. 15, 1834; Henry Benedict, Dec. 7, 1837; Villeroi D. Reed, Dec. 18, 1839; Edward E. Seeley, June, 1844; David King, June 30, 1852 (he died May 15, 1853); Franklin Merrill, July 15, 1853; Melville Roberts; William M. Johnson, May 1, 1861; Samuel S. Gamble, Feb. 9, 1867; C.C. Morn, Feb. 1, 1871; and Hugh Brown, March 4, 1874.
The present officers (1877) are Rev. B. Alex. Williamson, pastor; Dr. D.C. Bull, William M. Bartlett, William H. Davenport, James Rundle, Ebenezer Leggett, Isaac Hodgman, elders; C.T. Bostwick, Peter Wetzel, Peter Van Vechten, deacons; William M. Bartlett, William H. Davenport, Isaac Hodgman, Peter Van Vechten, John N. Wetzel, and Philip C. Cotton, trustees. The superintendent of the Sunday-school is W.L. Green; clerk of society, Peter Van Vechten; clerk of session, William H. Davenport; clerk of trustees, Peter Van Vechten. Services have been maintained in this church steadily since 1818. The same pastor officiated both for this church and that of the Congregationalists until about the year 1842, when, this church desiring the full services of their minister, the union under one pastor was terminated.
The first house of worship was erected in 1791, on the hill, upon one of two lots donated to the society by Campbell and Montgomery, proprietors. A bell was purchased in 1832 at an expense of $238. The old house was taken down in 1842, and the present brick edifice erected.
The old burial-place across the canal is often called the Presbyterian ground. In it are buried many of the early settlers. There they were laid to rest with the same solemn services, and the same tender words of Christian hope, as are now spoken over the graves of their descendants.
SECOND BAPTIST CHURCH OF STILLWATER.
At a covenant-meeting of the First Baptist church, held July 30, 1836, it was voted to build a meeting-house at Stillwater Village (now called Second church).
The following brethren were appointed a building committee: Rev. Isaac Westcot, Stephen W. Hart, David Newland, Volney Newland, Ephraim Newland, David Munger, and Daniel Rodgers. On the 23d of February following the house was dedicated. Rev. Dr. Weatch, of Albany, preached the sermon.
The following is a list of the constituent members: David Newland, Mary Newland, Daniel Rodgers, Anna Rodgers, Ephraim Newland, Sarah Newland, Harriet Newland, Cyntha Downey, Abraham Rundle, Electa Rundle, Matilda Hart, Huldah Eaton, Harriet Hart, Nehemiah Hopkins, Joanna Hopkins, Morgan Munger, Kennett N. Smith, Elizabeth R. Olin, Edwin Ferguson, Sarah Newland, Daniel Rowley, Almira Newland Bird, Elisabeth Newland, Allia Abel, Volney Newland, Jane Rundle Walker, James Newland, Sarah Ann Newland, Matilda S. Risdin, Peter Lent, Dorcas Bishop, Mary Valentine, Almira Worden, Rev. Isaac Westcot, Mariah Westcot, Peleg Wing, Mahala Wing Cornell, Mary Wilcox Wordworth, Rosette Wilcox Neilson, Mrs. Peleg Wing, Mary Bullard, George W. Meeder, Caroline Bryan, Henry C. Moore, Laura Hewett, Nancy Meeder, William Valentine, Mrs. William Valentine, William Rowley, Caleb Adams, Phebe Allen, Jane Billingham.
The following is a list of the pastors: Revs. Isaac Westcot, from organization to Jan. 12, 1851; M.G. Hodge, from June 7, 1851, to March 25, 1854; A.A. Sawin; from May 26, 1855, to Feb. 1, 1856; J.I. Fulton, from April 26, 1856, to March 1, 1859; J.O. Mason, from July 31, 1859, to August 1, 1860; J.C. Stevens, from Nov. 3, 1860, to May 1, 1865; Charles J. Shrimpton, from June 24, 1865, to Oct. 30, 1869; Thomas Cull, from Nov. 5, 1870, to May 10, 1874; Dr. Thomas MacClymont, from Sept. 20, 1874, to Oct. 1, 1877.
The following is a list of the deacons of the Second Baptist church of Stillwater: David Newlin, from organization; May 30, 1839, ------ Ellis, Morgan Munger, Guisbert Vandenburg; April 26, 1840, Otis Robinson; Nov. 3, 1840, C. Thompson; April 7, 1849, Moses Powell, Gilbert B. Smith; April 28, 1849, James M. Hammond; March 9, 1867, Albert Denison, Stephen Wood; Dec. 14, 1876, Horace W. Osgood; Dec. 28, 1876, Bernard W. Osgood.
The following are the church clerks to date: March 21, 1840, Zalmon Richards; Jan. 19, 1849, Moses Powell; May 27, 1854, Reuben Merchant; June 11, 1871, Edward I. Wood.
This church licensed the following brethren to preach the gospel: Oct. 11, 1845, C.C. Moore; Aug. 28, 1852 John N. Whidden. The present pastor, Rev. D. Thomas MacClymont, was ordained to the work of the gospel ministry by this church, and a council called by it, Oct. 1, 1874.
The present house of worship was erected during the pastorate of Rev. Thomas Cull, and was dedicated Sept. 3, 1873. It cost, with furniture, about $16,000. The following brethren were the building committee: Lyman Smith, Stephen Wood, Samuel Tompkins, and Theodore Baker.
At the dedicatory services of the new church the following was the order of exercises: prayer by former pastor, C.J. Shrimpton; reading of Scriptures, by Dr. J.O. Mason; prayer, by Dr. C.P. Sheldon; sermon, Rev. John Peddie, text, Jude v. 4; prayer, Rev. Mr. Warren; dedicatory prayer in the evening by Rev. C.J. Shrimpton.
METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH OF STILLWATER.
We are indebted to the Rev. Reuben Westcot, of Stillwater village, for the following sketch of this church:
Methodism was introduced into the western part of the town of Stillwater many years before it was planted in this village. Rev. Datus Ensign, a man full of faith and the Holy Ghost, was the pioneer of Methodism at this place.
In the year 1828 he held his first meeting in the schoolhouse in the northern part of the village. God owned and blessed the word spoken, poured out his Spirit on the people, and several were soundly converted, and found peace in believing in the Lord Jesus Christ. A small class was formed, which God favored with his smiles and fatherly protection. As there were but few Methodist preachers in those days, and their calls many, this little class had only occasional preaching until the autumn of 1835, when it was regularly united to Stillwater circuit, and Rev. E. Goss made it a fixed appointment for preaching once in two weeks.
In process of time this place was attached to the church at Mechanicville, under one pastor. This connection continued until the spring of 1857, when the Methodist Episcopal church of Stillwater was duly organized. This was under the labors of Rev. Reuben Westcot, who held the pastorate two years.
The church then numbered forty-eight members, but during the first two years fifty-six were added, some of whom are now the pillars of the church. At the time of its organization the officers were Samuel Chase, John C. Force, T. March, H. Northrop, Rufus Herrick, A.W. Gray, W. Gallup, H.A. Van Wie, and Ambrose Herrick. The first church edifice built by the society was erected in 1846, eleven years before the church was organized. It cost $800. Rev. Allen Steele conducted the dedication services.
At that time this little flock were few in numbers and feeble in strength, but the erection of this comfortable chapel formed an important era in the history of the cause of Christ in this place. The Methodists now have in process of erection a large and commodious brick church, which, when finished, will be spacious and convenient. The cost of this new edifice has been estimated at $16,000. The first Sunday-school was organized in 1846. Samuel Chase was the superintendent, and Horace Northrup the secretary. The church now numbers 150 members. The following are the names of the present officers: J.W. Haight, John C. Force, Philip Mosher, Daniel Pemble, William Pemble, C.H. Kipp, H.A. Van Wie, G.H. Newton, Wyatt Gallup, A.W. Gray, Rufus Herrick, and John Collamer. The trustees of the society are Philip Mosher, Daniel Pemble, J.W. Haight, John C. Force, William Pemble, Nelson N. Williams, H.A. Van Wie, Alfred W. Gray, and C.H. Kipp.
The following are the names of the successive pastors from the formation of the church to the present time: Reuben Westcot, A.M., William J. Heath, H.L. Grant, Manley Wetherill, Reuben Westcot, R.W. Jones, S.W. Brown, H.H. Smith, Abel Ford, G.C. Thomas, A.C. Rose, and Willard Hitchcock, the present pastor. The church is now in a living state of spirituality.
John C. Force states that Mr. Hines was a class-leader when the first work began, in 1828; that once or twice, in the early times, the class or church was reduced, by removals and other causes, to one or two families.
When they decided to build a small class-room for meetings they circulated a paper, and found so many friends in the community, and so much generous help, that the movement developed into the chapel of 1846, costing $800, a much greater sum than they had any hope of raising when they commenced.
CATHOLIC CHURCH OF STILLWATER.
The Catholics in Stillwater village and vicinity were accustomed to attend church at Mechanicville, and did so down to the year 1874. It became burdensome either to walk or drive so far, and finally a few earnest men determined to make an effort for services here, especially, too, that the children might have the benefit of a Catholic Sunday-school near by. The Episcopal church, with its ample grounds, being for sale, the Catholics purchased the same at an expense of $1500, and added repairs, making the expense in all $3000. The church is a fully-organized, separate society, but is under the care of Rev. T.A. Field, pastor of the Catholic church of Mechanicville.
VIII. - BURIAL-PLACES.
Like most other towns along the river, the places of early burial are numerous, and many of them simply on private grounds, subject, unfortunately, to all the changes of ownership, likely at times to fall into the hands of men with no sensibility or feeling on the subject, perhaps sooner or later to be lost to view. The nameless and unnumbered dead of the battle-fields rest everywhere without order or system over several square miles, extending from George Ensign's to Henry Newland's, and from Ebenezer Leggett's to Bemus Heights tavern. No monuments mark their myriad burial-places, and no memorial-stones tell either name or deeds or date. Whigs and royalists, Englishmen and Americans mingled, "in one red burial blent." No thunder of cannon disturbs their deep repose, no bugle-blast wakens them from their long sleep. The ages shall come and go, wars shall desolate other lands, battles shall redden other fields, but the heroes of Bemus Heights long ago fought their last fight. They were buried upon the field of their valor, and their fame has passed into the keeping of the world's imperishable records.
The following is a list, perhaps imperfect, of burial-places in town:
The new and beautiful cemetery above Stillwater village; the burial-ground over the canal; one near the Methodist chapel; the ancient yard at the Yellow meeting-house; the burial-place at the old Baptist church; the Ketcham family ground, at the corners of that name; the one near Ezra Munger's; the Ensign burial-lot, on one of the finest bluffs of the river hills, overlooking the valley for many miles; the Ruebottom and Vandenburg family lot, on the farm of Mr. Hill; and the one at Bemus Heights, the most fearfully neglected of all.
IX. - SOCIETIES.
There was a Masonic lodge at Stillwater, chartered Oct. 22, 1791, said to have been one of the largest and best lodges in the State. Its first officers and similar items are not now to be obtained, as the books have been scattered or passed into unauthorized hands for many years. It was known as "Montgomery Lodge." The "Montgomery Chapter" of Stillwater is also known to have been in existence before 1798. The Grand Chapter of the State of New York was organized March 14, 1798, at Albany, by representatives from five subordinate chapters, of which that at Stillwater was one. The representatives from Stillwater were Daniel Hale, Jr., H.P., and Ashbel Meacham, K. Daniel Hale was appointed one of the committee on by-laws. At this meeting De Witt Clinton was elected as the first presiding officer of the Grand Chapter. In 1799, Jan. 30, a warrant was granted to hold a Mark Master Masons' lodge at Stillwater.
These three Masonic bodies existed down to the difficulties in 1830.
The modern organization under the name of "Montgomery Lodge, 504, F. and A.M.," was formed June 27, 1860, by a dispensation from the Grand Lodge. The first officers were Rev. W.J. Heath, M.; P. Mosher, S.W.; D.F. Wetzel, J.W.; John A. Quackenbush, Treas.; H.H. Montgomery, Sec.; John V.W. Vandenburg, S.D.; H. Badgley, J.D.; Nathan Tabor and George K. Deming, Masters of Ceremonies; J.W. Buffington, Tyler. The lodge has a membership of one hundred and seven.
A new chapter, also named in honor of the ancient one, - "Montgomery," - was established in 1870. The petition for a charter was drawn up April 11 of that year. Dispensation granted Nov. 28. The charter is dated Feb. 8, 1871.
The first officers were D. Van Wie, H.P.; P. Van Veghten, K.; C.S. Ensign, Scribe; J.G. Lansing, Treas.; L. Vandemark, Sec. The chapter has a membership of sixty-three.
The officers of Montgomery Lodge, 504, the present year are, in part, Eugene Wood, M.; J.L. Moore, Sec. In the absence of the Master, L. Vandemark is acting presiding officer. He has occupied the chair for seven years, since 1860. These bodies meet in a finely-appointed lodge-room, containing furniture and fixtures to the amount of $2000. In the room are three choice relics of old times, - the gavel of the ancient lodge, presented by Ashbel Palmer; a venerable picture, known as the "old Masonic carpet," owned by L. Vandemark; and, finally, a stone taken from the corner of the old Episcopal church. It was laid, with the ceremonies of the order, in 1798. Capitular Masonic emblems are engraved upon it, together with a circle of curiously-arranged characters which even Masons far advanced in the mysteries of the order find it difficult to translate.
X. - PLACES OF HISTORIC INTEREST.
In this respect the town equals any other in the county. Within its limits culminated the great events of the Burgoyne campaign. Here were fought the battles that compelled the surrender at Schuylerville. Strategic points in the march of armies, and their various positions and encampments, are found in abundance through all this valley. The sites of skirmishes, of single midnight attacks, of heroic defenses, are everywhere to be found in the county from "Half-Moon Point" to Baker's Falls, and from the Hudson on the east to the hills that border the west. But in Stillwater there are battle-fields that have challenged the attention of the world; battle-fields where men perished in masses; where the autumnal sun of 1777 shone on hills and plains red with the fearful slaughter of a hotly-contested struggle. A noted writer has counted the battle of Oct. 7 as one of the "fifteen decisive battles of the world." Sweeping down through the sixty centuries of human history, and concentrating its decisive epochs into fifteen, Oct. 7, 1777, is named as one. Unrolling the map of the globe, and looking for the sites of these fifteen memorable contests, Stillwater gathers to itself the glory of one. The time may come in distant ages when the minor events of history shall be lost; when the connecting links shall disappear in the dim past; when the details of campaigns shall grow briefer and still briefer under the effacing hand of receding years; but even then, when the battle history of the world shall be reduced to a few brief points, then STILLWATER, will remain on the record, its glorious deeds secure from the destroying touch of time.
Just above the present bridge at Stillwater village was the ancient ferry. Its history no doubt reaches back to the middle of the last century, if not even to the date 1732, which is upon the house of Alfred Gray, on the east side of the river. Over this ferry the first settlers passed from the earlier settled portions of Rensselaer county, and from the New England States to their homes west of the Hudson. And here the army of Burgoyne is said to have crossed on rafts, after the surrender, and from this point took up their line of march through the eastern States for Boston.
About a mile northwest of Stillwater Village, on a wooded hill, are remains of intrenchments. The origin of these is not certain. Local tradition assigns them to the French and Indian war of 1756, or to some still earlier period. They may, however, be the works commenced by General Gates, in 1777, on the return of the army from Van Schaick's island, and before it was decided to fortify Bemus Heights.
In the village of Stillwater, the Dirck Swart house was deemed worthy of being engraved for Lossing's "Field-Book of the Revolution." It was erected before the Revolutionary war, and no doubt appears now as it did in the olden time, except that it has been kept painted, and perhaps been newly sided.
When the northern army in the campaign of 1777 was on the retreat southward, it encamped for a time on the hill where now the Presbyterian and Catholic churches are situated. Just below, on the southeast, General Schuyler had his headquarters at the house of Dirck Swart. It was here that Lieutenant Stockwell and Colonel Willett, escaping from Fort Stanwix and getting through the wilderness, found General Schuyler and asked for help. In this same house was held the council of war, at which Schuyler favored sending reinforcements and his officers opposed. It was here that he overheard an officer remark, "He means to weaken the army," and unconsciously bit his pipe in several pieces in the height of his indignation. It was this council that he abruptly ended by personally assuming the responsibility and accepting Arnold's offer to head a relief-party.
It might be noticed that the second term of the circuit court for the new county of Saratoga was held at the Presbyterian church in Stillwater, June 4, 1792.
Tracing the river northward, we enter upon the grand historic points of the battle-grounds of Sept. 19 and Oct. 7, 1777. The tavern of John Bemus, whose name was applied to the near uplands west and north, stood on the river-road, as it now runs near the canal, not on the site of the present hotel of Elias Hewitt, but farther north, on a rounded knoll, in the corner between the river-road and the one leading westerly, and just south of the present Dunscomb place. Here may still be seen the old well of the tavern, two or three fruit-trees ancient enough in appearance to have been growing when General Gates was here, and a venerable lilac-bush by the roadside. From near the spot occupied by the house a breastwork extended to the river, reaching the bank just north of the west end of the old float-bridge, marked at the present time by a single buttonwood-tree, formed of two widely-diverging trunks, There was a battery placed here, the remains of which are still to be seen. Here, too, in the vicinity of this same old tavern site, must we commence looking for the line of intrenchments, "three-quarters of a mile in length," thrown up by the army of General Gates on the brow of the river-hill. This line had three batteries; one at each extremity, the other near the centre. The one at the southern end was on the ground occupied by the present school-house or a little southeast of it. The shooting practiced in that old battery was not exactly the same as the present school-ma'ams inculcate when "teaching young ideas how to shoot."
To find the site of the second battery, cross the ravine just north of the Dunscomb House, and on the summit of this hill, nearly opposite the canal-bridge, let the best military man in the party choose the ground, for the broad summit has so often been plowed in the hundred years now closing that any attempt at precise location will be difficult, and have quite an element of uncertainty about it. But that this was the summit crowned by the central battery is certain, from the maps of all the authors who have written of the great struggle.
Traveling farther north along the line, the position of the battery at the northern extremity will be found on a projecting spur of the hills near the corner of an orchard, and a little northeast of the grave-stones which mark the burial-place of the Vandenburg and Reubottom families. This is on the farm of Mr. Hill, who lives just east, at the foot of the range across the canal. That that was the site of the battery is proved not only by the maps, but by the statement of Mr. Hill that he himself plowed down the intrenchments at that point. This place, too, is described by some writers as the "northeastern angle" of the first intrenchments, at which the east and west line was begun after the battle of the 19th. From this point may be obtained a splendid view of the "alluvial fiats" lying between the hills and the river, narrowed down to a few rods in width at Bemus Heights, where General Gates had fortified the southern extremity, and also narrowed in the same way at Wilbur's basin, where General Burgoyne soon after held the northern pass. The line of the hills is nearly straight, and the river makes a grand curve. It is plain, even to unmilitary eyes, how superior this place is to that at Stillwater village for the purpose of resisting the march of an invading army down the valley. The plain common sense of the Stillwater farmers in the camp, united with the trained engineering skill of Kosciusko, made no mistake when, together, they decided to fortify this pass. The hills near Stillwater village were too distant from the river and from the main road along its banks.
Besides the one line from the hills to the river at Bemus' tavern, with its battery by the float-bridge, there was an independent work - not connected to the line of the hills - on the south side of what is sometimes called Mill creek, though just why it has this name old residents find it difficult to explain. The work consisted of a battery at the bank of the river, and a line of intrenchments extending a few rods northwesterly nearly parallel to the creek. Whatever there was of this creek being in late years diverted to the canal, it is only the dry bed of the little stream that is to be seen east of the canal during the summer. The mouth of this creek may easily be found, however, on the farm of Mr. Hill, - before spoken of, - by going to the river on a line bearing a little northeast from his house. South of the creek are very clearly seen the remains of the embankment. These batteries and intrenchments thus described constituted the principal American works at or before the first battle.
Traveling now through the northern neck of the alluvial flats (Wilbur's basin), and looking for the historical positions of the British army, we commence northward, just within the town of Saratoga. The "Sword house," supposed to be so called because occupied by a man of that name, may be in some dispute among writers, but local tradition, universal and precise in this case, together with much written historical authority, sustains the following description. The "Sword house" was situated on the present farm of Tunis Flamburg, a little northwest of Robert Searles' residence, across the canal, and just southwest of the farm-bridge. It was a large, gambrel-roofed house, with a wide, old-fashioned hall, through which a yoke of cattle might be driven. Benjamin Searles, father of Robert, took the building down in after-years, and the timber was put into the family residence on the river-road, where Mr. Searles now lives. That house was burned in 1861.
Next southward was the house of Ezekiel Ensign, a pioneer tavern for some years before the Revolution. His house was turned into a hospital by the British army while they were encamped there. The building so used is a part of the present house of George A. Ensign, the property having remained in the Ensign family from the first settlement to the present time.
The "John Taylor house" bears a prominent place in all the minute histories of the Burgoyne campaign. John Taylor was the owner, living in Albany. It was occupied in 1777 by one McGee, a tenant. The house stood near the foot of the hills west of the present canal, on the farm now owned by Calvin and Hiram Cotton, at a point in the open field where a depression in the ground clearly shows the position of the old cellar, and broken brick, glass, and crockery most certainly identify the spot. This is one of the places to kindle intense feeling in the mind of the visitor. Here was gathered much of the glory and the sorrow of war. No one can read the letters of Madam Reidesel and then visit this place without emotion. The dinner-party planned for the afternoon of the 7th, at which she was to entertain Generals Burgoyne, Fraser, and Phillips; the uncertainty of the day; the terror of the great battle; Fraser brought in wounded at four o'clock; the whispered report of her husband that all was lost and they must be ready for retreat; the long, fearful night; the hushing her children to sleep, lest they should disturb the dying man; Fraser's exclamations of sorrow for his poor wife, - never again to meet him in the far-off English home; his death at sunrise; the day with the dead; the retreating army; the pursuing Americans, - all these things together make up a picture of surpassing sorrow. Then the granting of Fraser's dying request by Burgoyne, even at the risk of himself and army; the sad procession of distinguished officers, bearing the body of Fraser, at sunset, up the hill, where he wished to lie beneath the moaning pines; the reading of the burial service amid the falling shot from the victorious Americans beyond the first ravine, - all together complete a scene unequaled even in war's dread gallery of paintings.
Burgoyne had guarded this place with much care. There was the "great redoubt" on the hill, where Fraser desired to be buried, marked now by two solitary pines; a line of intrenchments from this to the sharp hill just west of the canal grocery and overlooking Wilbur creek ravine; and on that hill another battery. From the foot of the hills below the "great redoubt" a line was thrown up to the river, with a battery on the bank.
The magazine of the British army was on the bank of the river, protected by this intrenchment. It stood on a little rise of ground a few rods below the Cotton farm-buildings, and just south of the slight ravine or depression in the road at that point.
Burgoyne's first works were commenced after the battle of Sept. 19, by taking possession of the hills south of the stream now constituting Wilbur's basin, and connecting them by a line of intrenchments perhaps eighty rods long, and erecting a battery at each end. As the actual site of these batteries would depend somewhat on the question whether they were erected for offensive operations against the Americans southwest, or simply to secure the magazine and stores of the army against a possible attempt by General Gates to move northward along the alluvial flats, it may not be easy to decide their exact location. Assuming, however, that Burgoyne's main object was to guard his camp and stores, it may fairly be concluded that the north battery was on the extreme eastern point of the hill next to Wilbur's basin, and the south one on the second hill, and probably on a small plateau a little below the highest summit. The curve on the maps from this place westward agrees with the actual curve of the hills from this lower plateau. If the other view was taken, it might be concluded the batteries were a few rods farther west, connected by a line on the level ground passing near the present residence of Wm. Larrington. It is said that there are remains of a battery in the woods skirting the east side of Wilbur's ravine and nearly west of Larrington's house. If this is correct, then the second view of these positions may be the best. These lines and batteries were undoubtedly the principal works of the armies at the first. That besides these each army had certain extra works for the temporary safety of picket-guards or other purposes is very probable. The remains of these, found at different points, may have tended to confuse subsequent accounts of the battle-field.
The battle of the 19th having been fought, and the result not having decided the great question whether Burgoyne's army was to march through Stillwater to the capture of Albany or not, it became necessary for both armies to provide for the exigencies of the future. General Gates, commencing at the "northeastern angle," - that is, the battery of the orchard, near the grave-stones before mentioned, - built a line of intrenchments westward along the north bank of the ravine, crossing one of its branches, through to the Neilson hill. There, the old log barn, standing about on the site of the present frame barn, was strongly fortified, and named Fort Neilson. This was so arranged, projecting to the north, as to thoroughly command every point of approach. From the barn, the line of intrenchments was extended southwesterly and south, winding somewhat along a ridge, and skirting the western edge of the present orchard till it reached the "great ravine." There it terminated on the brow of a hill, a little south of some old apple-trees standing there at the present time. The outlet of this "great ravine" passes to the river just by the school-house, where the south battery of the first line was built. Besides the strong fort at the northwestern angle, on the Neilson hill, there was a battery on the north line of the intrenchments considerably left of the centre, - that is, nearer to the Neilson hill than to the east end, at the Reubottom burial-place. This battery was evidently on a rounded knoll, just down the slope from the Neilson barn, at the termination of the ravine, and on its north side. It is fair to state, however, that a slightly different site may have considerable argument in its favor.
Another battery was erected on the southern extension beyond the fort, near the line of the present orchard, and not far from where the old Neilson house stood in the years before the battle. The magazine of the American army was placed back from the lines, on the lower ground southeast of the Neilson house, at a point now marked by a clump of low bushes sixty or seventy rods distant from the house. Here then was a grand quadrangle constituting the American position, bounded south by the "great ravine," or, as it is otherwise called, the "Great Falls creek," east by the first and strong line of intrenchments on the river hills, and inclosed north and west by the new line just described.
It is obvious that it had elements of strength and security sufficient to render it wellnigh impregnable if defended by brave men under skillful command. Within this quadrangle General Gates now established his headquarters at the house of Ephraim Woodworth. This was on the present farm of William L. Dennison, on the south side of the road passing westerly at that point, near a willow-tree in the open lot southeast of the barns, and eight or ten rods from the road. A building used as a hospital stood a little east of the Woodworth house. This, in after-years, was moved to the present Searles place, by Aaron Knight, and used as a dwelling-house. It was in still later times taken down, sold, and the timber is to some extent in the present wagon-house on the place of Van Buren Searles. Another building used as a hospital stood on the other side of the road west of the present Dennison house. This was also taken down, and the frame removed to erect a barn now standing on the farm of Clarence Curtiss, near Wilbur's basin, on the hill, separate from other buildings and west towards the woods.
The kitchen part of the present Neilson mansion was the Neilson house of olden times. It stood then on its present site, though the first Neilson house was forty rods southeast of the present one, in what is now the new orchard with a few old trees in it. This had been taken down, and the kitchen where it now stands was the headquarters of General Poor. The British General Ackland when severely wounded was also brought to this house, and there his wife joined him a day or two after the battle, bearing a letter from General Burgoyne commending her to the protection of General Gates.
Besides the works of the American army now described, a redoubt, ready for the emergency of flanking or being flanked, was erected on the present farm of Rial and Henry Newland. The hill where it stood is clearly defined, being a little west from the southern extension of the intrenchments, and the place of the redoubt was north of the well still there and near a few very old apple-trees. From this point, looking northwest, may be seen two elevations. The nearer one was occupied by the troops of Morgan, ready at this advanced position to resist any attempt to flank the left wing of the American army, or himself to push forward to flank the right wing of the British forces. The elevation still farther northwest became the place of strategic movements in the various attempts to flank by either force. At the northern end of it was the house of J. Munger, where Gen. Fraser was stationed with a thousand men on the morning of October 7. This house was near the old barn now standing there on the farm of Simeon Rowley. The house of A. Chatfield was on the hill where the residence of Benjamin Searles now stands. The Chatfield house was a little south of the present one, near a small tamarack now growing there.
It was on the Chatfield hill that General Gates' aids effected a reconnaissance on the morning of October 7, and discovered the British soldiers foraging on a field below, while the British officers were making a like observation from the house of J. Munger.
Now returning to the river-hills, near Wilbur's basin, the works of General Burgoyne are to be more fully mentioned.
Commencing at the southern battery of his first line already described, on the second hill south of Wilbur's basin, a line of intrenchments was thrown up in a general westerly direction, passing near the present barns of William Larrington and in his fields north of the road, then through the woods farther west and along the brow of a hill from which the timber has been recently cut (after crossing a spur of the ravine), and reaching the southwestern angle a little south of the orchard upon the present farm of A.S. Brightman. This intrenchment is laid down upon the older and the newer maps as substantially a straight line, and doubtless this is nearly correct; still it is now difficult to find it such by an actual examination, the known points, or at any rate the supposed points, rather obstinately refusing to fall into line. Its general course, however, is clear. On this east and west line there were two batteries. The northerly one was on the farm of William Larrington, perhaps eighty rods from his buildings, a little north of west, near the present woods. Mr. Larrington himself cleared the land at that point in the year 1864, and leveled the works, and the present state of the ground indicates that there was a work of some kind at that point. The battery farther west was probably on the edge of the ravine where the timber has been recently cut, and embankments at that point seem to sustain this view.
At the southeastern angle, near Brightman's present orchard, a strong redoubt was built, and from this the intrenchments were thrown up in a straight line northerly, passing a few yards west of Brightman's house, and reaching nearly to the road. At the north end was a battery, and this must have been twenty-five or thirty rods from the house, perhaps near a single hickory-tree, now standing there.
Au independent battery was located a little west of this line, and northwest of the southeastern angle by this orchard. A sharp slate ridge, rising abruptly from the plain, seems to be the point where this battery was located.
These outlines show the camp of General Burgoyne inclosed and fortified during the interval between the two battles. It was protected on the north by the ravine, in the rear and on the other three sides by intrenchments and batteries. The elevation occupied by the Hessian troops is a low, irregular hill, now partially covered with small timber, lying northwest of the house of A.S. Brightman, and beyond the road. A little east of this there are shown on maps one or two houses where none are now found. Besides these British intrenchments thus described, there is also a point on the Wilbur farm where William L. Stone locates Burgoyne's headquarters, on the authority of the Brunswick Journal, sustained by the recollection of Mr. Wilbur as to wine-bottles and other things found at that point. There is also evidence of a redoubt in the woods, on the Carrington farm, farther west than the one already described.
In taking positions for the battle of Oct. 7, the British army also occupied a hill southwest from the "Freeman's cottage." This hill, somewhat bluff at the northeastern extremity, slopes gradually to the southwest, towards the foot of the elevation where the Munger house stood. This hill is on the farm now owned by the widow of Isaac Freeman, deceased, and also by Patrick Welch.
"Freeman's cottage," so often named in the histories of the battles of Sept. 19 and Oct. 7, stood on the place now owned by A.S. Brightman. The cottage was not on the site of the present dwelling, but a little southwest of the barn. The statement of Ebenezer Leggett, who owned that farm for many years, is very clear as to the site of the cottage. He built the present barns, and Charles Ensign, of the hotel at Stillwater village, was the contractor. They both state that the grading west of the barn uncovered very clearly the remains of a house, a fire-place, and many relics. A quantity of balls was taken from the place, as if they had been stored there.
The name "Freeman's farm" has been used in something of a confused manner in relation to these battles. This results from the fact that there is a present "Freeman's farm," not the same as the Freeman farm of the battle, and yet the two adjoin each other and the heavy fighting extended over both. The "Freeman's cottage" of the battle account is the Brightman place, while the place marked George Coulter on the war-maps of old times is the present farm of the widow Freeman.
Having named as far as possible the location of intrenchments, batteries, magazines, hospitals, and dwellings, it remains to mention the places of the severest fighting, not entering, however, upon a description of the battles. It should also be mentioned that involved in the account of the battles and the description of the works there are four ravines, which it is necessary to note, - first, at the north is the ravine breaking through the hills at Wilbur's basin; second, the ravine through which the little stream, Mill creek, flows, reaching the alluvial flats near the canal-bridge in the vicinity of a barn standing on the main road, and belonging to Isaac W. Valance; third, a ravine sometimes called South Mill creek, which breaks through the hills just north of the Dunscomb house; and the fourth, the "Great ravine," so called, at which General Gates' line terminated on the southeast, and which ravine passes just south of the school-house at Bemus Heights village.
Nature did not, however, draw the courses of these ravines in straight lines, and their various branches, deflections, and curves need considerable study in attempting to understand the disposition of the various troops, the difficulties they met with, and the minute details of the engagements.
Recalling now the fact that the battle of the 19th of September was fought before any of these works were constructed by either army, except a portion of the American defenses on the river-hills and the alluvial flats, the history of that battle must be read with that understanding. The extensive works upon the upper plains and hill-sides were not there, or at least only commenced by General Gates, as some writers indicate. There was nothing except the temporary protection which an army can make for itself in a few hours, and history records little or nothing of that. It was sheer open-field fighting without defenses, and the battle-ground was in the vicinity of "Freeman's cottage."
The struggle of the 19th was principally fought out at a few points mentioned in history, as follows: "high ground about one hundred and fifty rods west of Freeman's cottage." This must have been the hill now on the farm of Widow Freeman and Patrick Welch. "A point about sixty rods west of the cottage." This must have been on the level ground, not far from, or else at, the slate ridge spoken of.
"About midway between the cottage and the ravine." This was south beyond the present orchard of A.S. Brightman. "On a clearing in front of Freeman's cottage ten or fifteen acres in extent, and sloping east and south." This could only be the now beautiful field commencing at the orchard and declining south and east. "An open wood in the rear of the cottage." This was probably where the present dwelling-house of Brightman stands, and farther north along the present road. History also states that "Learned's brigade, and probably Marshall's, were principally engaged on a rise of ground west of the cottage." This probably refers to the next height northwest of the Welch and Freeman hill. And so "Freeman's cottage" and its vicinity was the battle-ground of the 19th of September, 1777. East, west, north: and south, within a radius of half a mile, the attack and the defense, the charge and the repulse, all took place. Hour after hour the fearful conflict went on, and night closed upon a scene hard to realize, even when standing on the very spot where a hundred years ago was the carnage of battle.
During the day, while the battle was raging around the "cottage," the British attempted to penetrate the American lines by moving along a road at the foot of the hills, nearly the course of the canal at the present time. They were met by the Americans and repulsed in a sharp skirmish. This occurred where Mill creek flows through the hills and makes a small basin by the canal, not far from the barn of Mr. Valance, already mentioned. To reach the battle-field at "Freeman's cottage," one division, to form the left wing of the British army, moved from the camp at "the Sword house," nearly westerly to the road from Quaker Springs, and then turned south, coming in near the place of George Coulter or in that vicinity. Another division, composing the centre, moved up Wilbur's ravine, and then struck across southwesterly to "Freeman's cottage," while the portion forming the British left moved directly to the alluvial flats south of Wilbur's basin.
The battle of Oct. 7 was fought on nearly the same ground as that of Sept. 19, and the usual descriptions of it will be readily understood in connection with this statement of places, lines, and batteries. The space between Freeman's cottage and the hill at Patrick Welch's was the scene of a most fearful slaughter. Between the slate ridge and Brightman's orchard the dead lay in mingled masses, friend and foe in wild confusion. And the battle raged far to the southwest, along the hill where Patrick Welch now lives, and beyond, as the hill declines to the low grounds, near the foot of the Munger place. Here were made the desperate attempts by each party to flank the other. Here the impetuous charges of the Americans drove the three divisions of the British army on this hill into an irregular and partially disorganized mass northwest, towards the present Rogers place. In that slight but smooth and handsome valley between the two heights Fraser fell while riding up and down the lines, rallying, arranging, and inspiring.
Near this same hill, or upon its northern end, was the artillery, said to have been taken and retaken five times in the terrific struggle.
Take a point somewhat east of the house of A.S. Brightman, near the corner of the woods, and draw a line diagonally through to the point below the Munger house, and we have a central fighting line, along which, but diverging at some points thirty or forty rods, the great battle was fought. And yet it varied during the day beyond that. The British at one time pressed through to the line of the intrenchments east of the Neilson hill, and a sharp action took place there. They pushed up the valley west of the Neilson place despite the commanding range of the fort, and despite the line of intrenchments along the Neilson orchard, and there the struggle was bloody, obstinate. And, on the other hand, Arnold, sweeping along the plain in front of Balcarras' line, west of "Freeman's cottage," dashed through to the Hessian or Burgoyne hill, so called, farther north, and was himself actually wounded even at the rear of that. So that while the general battle-field is readily understood, yet the special movements to and fro of the contending forces can only be fully seen by reading the best histories "on the ground ;" making the whole a great object-lesson, first read a sentence or a description and then locate it. Late in the afternoon of the 7th the rapidly-changing picture of the field almost defies description.
It would be within the scope of this statement of localities to speak of the burial-places of the killed. It is difficult to do so, however, with any great accuracy. Perhaps two or three points may be considered well known. Ebenezer Leggett states that in plowing just west of the barn of A.S. Brightman he uncovered, in early years, large numbers of skeletons but slightly buried. As this was the west line of the British defenses, the dead were here gathered, no doubt, deposited in the trenches all along the line, and slightly covered. Charles Neilson's history speaks of the burial of the American dead as south and west from the Neilson house. This would be in the valley near the present orchard. In this statement, as in many others, the Neilson history has the advantage of being written by a man who lived on the very field of these operations, and whose childhood was spent in sight of the fortifications not then destroyed, and under the explanations of his father, who was present during the fortifying of the camp and the battles that followed. Really, the places of burial were so numerous and so scattered as to defy all description or enumeration.
XI. - INDUSTRIAL PURSUITS.
The people of Stillwater are mostly engaged in agriculture. The farms are rich and productive, and the crops common to the valley of the Hudson are raised successfully. So much space has been given to the battle history that only a few brief statements can be added on this subject.
The knitting-mill of Newland & Dennison was established in 1873. It employs fifty hands, manufactures gentlemen's and ladies' underwear, averaging about seventy-five dozen a day.
The paper-mill now owned by Mosher & Judd was founded in 1847 or 1848 by William Mosher and Elihu Allen. The business was for many years confined to paper-hangings. In later times they have mostly made bag-paper. They employ fifteen to twenty hands, manufacturing about nine tons of paper a week.
The Stillwater hosiery-works were first built in 1873 by Ephraim Newland, opened by Newland & Wilson, and soon after transferred to the present proprietors, E.B. Skinner & Co. They employ about seventy hands, making gents', boys', and ladies' underwear, an aggregate of about twenty thousand dozen a year.
The Stillwater straw-board manufactory was established in 1866 by D. and W. Pemble, the present owners. About twelve hands are employed, making twelve to fifteen tons per week.
The paper-mill opposite Baker's lock was built by Gardner Howland & Sons in 1862 or 1863. Burned down once and rebuilt, and now owned by the same men. Doing an excellent business.
XII. - MILITARY.
For the Revolutionary war no list can be very well written that will do justice to all. Many citizens have already been mentioned as having been present at the battles of Bemus Heights. Many others rendered service in various ways as scouts, teamsters, and guides.
In the War of 1812 there were several volunteers and drafted men who entered the service from this town. No accurate list of names can be very easily prepared. Ashbel Palmer and Leonard Hodgman recall a few: Leonard Hodgman furnished substitute; James Hodgman went into service; John Hunter furnished substitute; David C. Flager, Lieut. John R. Myers, Wm. Baker, Peter Baker, Wm. Scouten, James McNeal, Thomas Elms, Daniel Hewett, Jr., Samuel Edmonds, John Tompkins, David Blood.
For the War of 1861-65 a list is added. It has been made much more complete than the one found in the town clerk's office, but it may still fail to include some who went into the army. It has, however, been carefully advertised, and the whole people invited to assist in making it complete and reliable.
WAR OF 1861-65.
John W. Arnold, enl. Aug. 13, 1862, 77th Regt., Co. A.; died of wounds, Jan. 20, 1863, at Washington, D.C.
Lucian Annable, enl. Oct. 7, 1861, 77th Regt., Co. H.; disch. for disability, Oct. 27, 1862.
John R. Armstrong, enl. 1862, 77th Regt.
Loren Abel, enl. 1862, 115th Regt.
James Anthony, enl. 1862, 125th Regt.
Charles D. Atkinson, enl. Sept. 19, 1861, 77th Regt., Co. A; disch. for disability, June 22 1862.
Julius P. Bennett, enl. Sept. 18, 1862, 77th Regt.; disch. for injuries on railroad Jan. 16, 1863.
George Bostwick, enl. Aug. 9, 1862, 2d Cav., Co. E; was in many battles; wounded at Spottsylvania, May 5, 1864; disch. May 5, 1864.
Orramel T. Bostwick, enl. Aug. 9, 1862, 2d Cav., Co. E; was in many battles; wounded Sept. 16, 1864; disch. June 5, 1865.
William Burger, enl. 1862, 77th Regt.; not accepted by mustering officer.
James Bloomingdale, enl. Jan. 7, 1864, 7th Art.; died in hospital, Feb. 11, 1864, at Washington.
John Burras, enl. Feb. 27, 1864, 1st Light Art.
Archibald Brown, enl. Jan. 13, 1864, 13th Art., Co. E.
Stephen F. Baker, enl. Jan. 13, 1864, 13th Art., Co. F.
Benjamin A. Briggs, enl. Aug. 9, 1862, 77th Regt., Co. C; trans. to Co. A, July 1, 1864; wounded at Cedar Creek; disch. June 16, 1865.
Henry Bradt, enl. Sept. 9, 1862, 77th Regt., Co. C; trans. to Vet. Bat. 77th; disch. June 16, 1865.
Levi A. Brooks, enl. Oct. 22, 1861, 77th Regt., Co. F.
Wm. R. Britton, enl. Oct. 15, 1861, 77th Regt., Co. C; pro. corp.; disch. Dec. 13, 1864.
John Burns, enl. 1862, 77th Regt., Co. C.
Chas. H. Betts, enl. 1862, 115th Regt.; not mustered in, by reason of disability.
James Buchanan, enl. Sept. 15, 1862, 77th Regt., Co. C; wounded in second battle of Fredericksburg, and missing after that.
Thomas J. Bradt, enl. Sept. 18, 1862, 77th Regt., Co. B; taken prisoner at Fredericksburg, Va.; disch. Aug. 15, 1865.
John D. Bristol, enl. 1862, 77th Regt.
Lysander Bortle, enl. 1862, 77th Regt.
Jos. M. Bullock, enl. Aug. 6, 1862, 115th Regt., Co. H; engaged in principal battles of regiment; disch. July 3, 1865.
Wm. M. Carl, enl. Jan. 6, 1864, 13th Art., Co. F.
Wm. S. Comstock, enl. Aug. 14, 1862, 77th Regt., Co. A; died of fever, Dec. 5, 1862.
Slocum Clark, enl. Sept. 26, 1862, 77th Regt., Co. A.
Seth Codman, enl. Oct. 12, 1861, 77th Regt., Co. F.; pro. sergt., Jan. 1, 1863.
Michael Cary, enl. Oct. 15, 1861, 77th Regt., Co. F; killed at battle of Wilderness, May 5, 1864.
Jos. Clark, enl. 1862, 77th Regt., Co. A.
Chauncey Crandall, enl. 1862, 125th Regt.
Geo. Carr, enl. Aug. 4, 1862., 115th Regt., Co. H.
Thos. H. Curley, enl. 1862, 125th Regt.
Geo. H. Collamer, enl. July 20, 1862, 132d Regt., Co. E; taken prisoner; at Newbern, N.C., three and a half months; exchanged; disch. July 16, 1865.
Wm. S. Comstock, enl. Sept. 15, 1862, 77th Regt., Co. F.
Jesse D. Comstock, enl. Sept. 15, 1862, 77th Regt., Co. C.
Joseph Caho, enl. 1862, 77th Regt.
Charles Conner, enl. 1862, 77th Regt.
Edwin C. Collamer, enl. Aug. 27, 1864, 69th Regt., Co. E; wounded March 25, 1865; disch. June 17, 1865.
Thos. Collamer, enl. Sept. 1864, 142d Regt., Co. I; in battle of Fort Fisher; disch. July, 1865.
James Cowhey, enl. Oct. 11, 1861; disch. June 25, 1865; re-enl. in 1st N.Y. Ind. Battery.
Chas. Devoe, enl. July 26, 1862, 115th Regt., Co. H.
John Dyer, enl. Sept. 6, 1862, 77th Regt., Co. A; trans. to 1st N.Y. Battery, Dec. 13, 1863.
Thos. Delany, enl. Sept. 1861, 77th Regt.
Lorenzo Delun, enl. 1862, 77th Regt.
Eli D. Eitzo, enl. April 29, 1861, 30th Regt., Co. D; came home sick and died; first one to die; buried by Black-Plumed Riflemen.
Thos. Elms, enl. Aug. 1, 1862, 77th Regt., Co. A; trans. to Invalid Corps.
Wm. C. Ensign, enl. Oct. 15, 1861, 77th Regt., Co. F.
Thos. Emperor, enl. Oct. 7, 1861, 77th Regt., Co. E; disch. Dec. 25, 1863, to re-enl. for three years; dis. June 27, 1865.
Charles Elms, enl. April 24, 1861, 30th Regt., Co. F; disch. June 27, 1863.
Clarence Elms, enl. May 23, 1861, 30th Regt., Co. F; disch. May 28, 1862, on account of disability, at Falls Church general hospital.
Chas. B. Fellows, enl. Aug. 5, 1862, 115th Regt., Co. H; corp.; died of wounds, Nov. 11, 1864; wounded at Port Gilmer.
Simon Flansburgh, enl. Aug. 12, 1862, 77th Regt., Co. C; blacksmith 3d Brig, 2d Div., 6th Corps; disch. July 1, 1865.
Wm. Francisco, enl. Aug. 20, 1862, 77th Regt., Co. A; trans. to Vet. Bat. 77th; in many battles; wounded at Fredericksburg; disch. June 13, 1865.
Adam Flansburg, enl. Oct. 11, 1861, 77th Regt. Co. C.
Peter Formsby, enl. 1862, 115th Regt.; disch. for physical disability.
Jacob Force, enl. Aug. 11, 1862, 125th Regt., Co. K; pro. corp.; sergt.; 1st sergt.; trans. as 1st lieut. to 22d U. S. Colored Troops; disch. for wounds, April 10, 1865.
Elisha R. Freeman, enl. 1862, 77th Regt., Co., A.
John Flynn, enl. 1862, 77th Regt.
Henry G. Force, enl. Aug. 13, 1863, 21st Cav.
Augustus Farrimar, enl. Aug. 13, 1863, 77th Regt.
George Fry, enl. Dec. 25, 1863, 77th Regt., Co. F.
Arthur W. Force, enl. Aug. 27, 1864, 69th Regt., Co. E; disch. June 5, 1865.
John Guest, enl. Aug. 14, 1862, 77th Regt., Co. G; trans. to Vet. Bat. 77th.
Hubert Gallup, enl. Sept. 6, 1862, 77th Regt., Co. C; corp.; killed at Cedar Creek, Oct. 19, 1864; buried at Mechanicsville.
Michael Goodwin, enl. Sept. 12, 1862, 77th Regt., Co. A; trans. to Art.
Wm. H. Gorham, enl. July 21, 1862, 115th Regt., Co. H; engaged in battles of regiment; disch. July 3, 1865.
Stephen Guest, enl. 1862, 77th Regt., Co. C.
James Gilbert, enl. May 31, 1862, 77th Regt.; disch. Aug. 30, 1862.
Lewis G. Gorham, enl. Dec. 26, 1863, 5th Cav., Co. H; disch. July 21, 1865.
George H. Golden, enl. Aug. 1863, 54th Regt., Co. H; served five months; disch. Jan. 5, 1864.
Stephen C. Hanson, enl. Aug. 14, 1862, 115th Regt., Co. H; pro. hospital steward; re-enl. in regular army.
Henry Hagadorn, enl. Jan. 20, 1864, 25th Cav., Co. D.
Charles Hart, enl. Jan. 4, 1864, 13th Art., Co. F.
George F. Houghtaling, enl. Aug. 19, 1862, 77th Regt., Co. C; trans. to Vet. Bat. 77th; disch. June 16, 1865.
Theodore Hermance, enl. Sept. 13, 1862, 77th Regt., Co. A; wounded at the Wilderness; trans. to Vet. Bat. 77th; disch. July 7, 1865.
Ashton M. Howard, enl. Sept. 27.1862, 77th Regt., Co. A.
B.A. Harrington, enl. Nov. 9, 1861, 77th Regt., Co. C.
George W. Hurley, enl. Nov. 6, 1861, 77th Regt., Co. F.
Alonzo Howland, enl. Oct. 18, 1862, 77th Regt., Co. A; engaged in the battles of the regiment; disch. June 27, 1865.
George W. Hammond, enl. Aug. 25, 1862, 125th Regt., Co. K; engaged in battles of regiment; disch. June 5, 1865.
Walter Hewitt, enl. Jan. 4, 1864, 13th Art., Co. F; was in many battles; disch. Sept. 2, 1865.
Charles Hart, enl. Jan. 25, 1864, 13th Art.
George Houseman, enl. April 5, 1864, 77th Regt., Co. H.
Isaac V. Hammond, enl. April, 1861, 30th Regt., Co. D; killed at second battle of Bull Run, and buried on the field.
Richard Hutchins, enl. April 29, 1861, 30th Regt.; disch. with regiment, 1863.
Sylvester S. Haight, enl. Aug. 15, 1862, 77th Regt., Co. K; disch. for disability, Dec. 2, 1862.
Thos. Jones, enl. Aug. 12, 1862, 77th Regt., Co. A; brigade blacksmith; trans. to Vet. Bat. 77th; disch. July 1, 1865.
Allen Jones, enl. 1862, 77th Regt., Co. F.
Wm. D. Jones, enl. Aug. 13, 1863, 77th Regt.
Charles Jeffers, enl. Aug. 12, 1863.
Martin Jackson, enl. Dec. 21, 1863, 30th Art.; disch. Oct. 7, 1865.
Thos. Keller, enl. Jan. 20, 1864, 25th Cav., Co. C.
Isaac Kipp, Jr., enl. Sept 4, 1862, 77th Regt., Co. A; killed at Fisher's Hill, Sept 22, 1864.
Tunis Kipp, enl. Nov. 5, 1861, 77th Regt., Co. F; corp.; disch. with regiment, Dec. 13, 1864.
John H. Kipp, enl. Nov. 5, 1861, 77th Regt., Co. F.
George Kline, enl. 1862, 77th Regt.
Abel J. Loren, enl. Aug. 11, 1862, 115th Regt., Co. H; wagoner.
Whalen Lee, enl. Jan. 14, 1864, 13th Art., Co. F.
Abram Lent, enl. Oct. 12, 1862, 77th Regt., Co. A; trans. to Vet. Bat. 77th; disch. June 24, 1865.
Job S. Lofford, enl. Oct. 12, 1861, 77th Regt., Co. F; pro. to non-com. staff, June 17, 1863.
Abraham Latham, enl. Aug. 12, 1862, 77th Regt., Co. C; died of wounds, May 9, 1864.
George E. Lane, enl. Aug. 12, 1862, 77th Regt.
Reed Loomis, enl. Aug. 12, 1862, 125th Regt.
Mark Merger, enl. Jan. 11, 1864, 13th Art., Co. F.
Orin Myers, enl. Sept. 24, 1861, 77th Regt., Co. C; drummer: discharged with regt.
Peter M. Mooney, enl. Sept. 6, 1862, 77th Regt., Co. C; disch. Jan. 5, 1863.
Thomas Myers, enl. Sept 24, 1861, 77th Regt., Co. F; disch. Dec. 25, 1863; same day re-enl. for three years; disch. July 7, 1865.
Lafayette M. Myers, enl. Sept. 24, 1861, 77th Regt., Co. F; disch. Dec. 25, 1863, to ro-enl. for three years; disch. July T, 1865.
Henry Milliken, enl. Oct. 24, 1861, 77th Regt., Co. F; died Aug. 29, 1862.
Francis I. Montgomery, enl. Aug. 11, 1862, 2d N.Y. Cav., Co. E; engaged in many battles; wounded at Fisher's Hill; disch. June 5, 1865.
Alfred Milliken, enl. 1862, 77th Regt.
Charles Milliken, enl. May 4, 1862, 115th Regt., Co. H; killed at Olustee, Fla.
Amos McOmber, enl. 1862, 77th Regt.
Isaac Myers, Jr., enl. Aug. 13, 1863, 21st Cav., Co. A.
Leander Milliken, enl. Oct 10, 1861, 77th Regt., Co. E; disch. for disability, June 13, 1862.
Thomas McCue, enl. Jan. 9, 1865.
Andrew M. Caslin, enl. July 22, 1864, 21st Cav, Co. G; disch. Sept. 4, 1865.
George B. Myers, enl. Dec. 18, 1861, in "Scott's 900;" disch. for disability, Jan. 9, 1863; re-enl. Aug. 22, 1864, 10th Regt.; disch. May 22, 1865.
Charles Mott, enl. 77th Regt.
Samuel McGowan, enl. 77th Regt.
James Nolan, enl. Aug. 27, 1862, 77th Regt., Co. D; trans. to Vet Bat. 77th; wounded in the Wilderness; disch. June 16, 1865.
Michael Nolan, enl. Sept. 4, 1862, 77th Regt., Co. D; trans. to Vet. Bat. 77th; disch. June 16, 1865.
George W. Ostrander, enl. Aug. 12, 1862, 115th Regt., Co. H.
Elias T. Overocker, enl. Aug. 20, 1862, 77th Regt., Co. A; trans. to Vet. Bat. 77th; engaged in many battles; disch. June 16, 1865.
James F. Outing, enl. Oct. 12, 1861, 77th Regt., Co. F.
De Witt C. Overocker, enl. Aug. 20, 1862, 125th Regt; captured, with regt., at Harper's Ferry; disch. at Elmira, 1862.
De Witt C. Overocker, enl. Jan. 13, 1864, 5th Cav.; died in Andersonville, Ga.; date not given in town records.
Thomas F. Outing, enl. Oct. 21, 1863, 77th Regt., Co. F; wounded; disch. July 1, 1865.
Wm. N. Overocker, enl. April 29, 1861, 30th Regt.; first man enrolled in town of Stillwater; wounded in second battle Bull Run; disch. Dec. 23, 1862.
Robert E. Parker, enl. Jan. 16, 1864, 13th Art., Co. F; with regt. until its disch., Aug. 25, 1865.
James E. Poucher, enl. Aug. 7, 1862, 77th Regt., Co. C; trans. to Vet. Bat. 77th; disch. June 16, 1865.
Sinacer Poucher, enl. Aug. 13, 1862, 77th Regt., Co. C; disch. June 14, 1865.
Samuel Porter, enl. Sept. 4, 1862, 77th Regt., Co. A; trans. to Vet. Bat. 77th; in all the battles of the regt.; disch. June 27, 1865.
Horatio G. Peck, enl. Aug. 15, 1862, 77th Regt., Co. A; trans. to Vet. Bat. 77th; he had been in the same regt. from Oct. 12, 1861, and disch. July 4, 1862; in many battles; wounded; disch. July 6, 1865.
Isaac Porter, enl. Sept. 25, 1861, 77th Regt., Co. H; disch. for disability, Aug. 27, 1862.
David Pangburne, enl. Oct. 30, 1861, 77th Regt., Co. C; pro. corp.; to 1st sergt.; wounded twice; disch. Dec. 1, 1864.
Wm. Poucher, enl. 1862, 77th Regt.
Henry Parris, enl. 1862, 2d Light Cav.
John Phelan, enl. 1862, 77th Regt.
James Parker, enl. Jan. 7, 1864; 7th Art., Co. E; taken prisoner, June 16, 1864; rebels starved him to death.
Peter M. Post, enl. Jan. 15, 1864, 77th Regt.
Henry O. Packard, enl. Jan. 25, 1864, 13th Art.
James Palmer, 77th Regt.; discharged.
Wm. H. Quackenbush, enl. Aug. 12, 1862, 77th Regt., Co. A; pro. Sergt. and lieut.; trans. to Co. B, March 16, 1863; disch. July 1, 1865.
Tunis W. Quackenbush, enl. Aug. 12, 1862, 77th Regt., Co. A; trans. to Co. B, March 16, 1863; died, of disease contrasted in service, Dec. 1865.
Michael Quinlon, enl. 1862, 77th Regt.
Wm. R. Rogers, enl. Sept. 6, 1862, 77th Regt., Co. C; .trans. to Vet. Ret 77th.
Albert A. Rudd, enl. Aug. 13, 1863, 21st Cav., Co. A; engaged in many battles; wounded at Ashby's Gap; disch. 1865.
Samuel W. Seymour, enl. Aug. 9, 1862, 115th Regt., Co. H; trans. to Bat. B, 1st U.S. Art.; prisoner at Harper's Ferry; disch. June 13, 1865.
John Smith, enl. Jan. 4, 1864, 13th Art., Co. E; disch. in 1865.
George Snow, enl. Jan. 8, 1864, 13th Art., Co. F.
Harlow B. Spencer, enl. Jan. 2, 1864, 13th Art., Co. F; disch. Jan. 31, 1865.
Andrew Sterrett, enl. Aug. 28, 1862, 77th Regt., Co. C; engaged in several battles; wounded twice; trans. to Vet. Bat. 77th; disch. June 16, 1865.
Wm. Shein, enl. Aug. 22, 1862, 77th Regt., Co. A; trans. to Vet. Bat. 77th; prisoner at Fredericksburg; disch. July 6, 1865.
Nelson W. Stearns, enl. Sept. 27, 1862, 77th Regt., Co. A; died March 21, 1862, of fever.
Russell Seymour, enl. Sept 24, 1861, 77th Regt., Co. F; trans. to 1st Bat., Dec. 11, 1863; disch. June 23, 1865.
Henry H. Shell, enl. Aug. 12, 1862, 77th Regt., Co. C; wounded at Cedar Creek; disch. June 18, 1865.
Wm. Smith, enl. Aug. 7, 1862, 115th Regt., Co. K; killed at Olustee, Fla.
Francis D. Short, enl. Aug. 11, 1862, 77th Regt., Co. K; prisoner (Libby prison) six months; disch. June 30, 1865.
George Snyder, enl. 1862, 77th Regt.
James Smith, enl. 1862, 77th Regt.
Edward Smith, enl. March 19, 1864, 25th Cav., Co. D.
John Stewart, enl. Dec. 25, 1863, 77th Regt., Co. H; killed before Petersburg, March 20, 1865.
Job S. Safford, enl. Oct. 12, 1861, 77th Regt., Co. E; wounded twice; disch. Dec. 13, 1864.
Warren Seymour, enl. 1864; artillery.
Frank Thomas, enl. Sept 24, 1861, 77th Regt., Co. K; pro. 1st lieut.; trans. to Co. H, Feb. 28, 1863.
James Taylor, enl. Aug. 12, 1862, 77th Regt., Co. D; trans. to Vet. Bat. 77th.
David A. Thompson, enl. Sept. 24, 1861, 77th Regt., Co. F; 1st sergt.; trans. to Vet. Bat. 77th.
Wm. Taylor, enl. 1861, 77th Regt., Co. D.
Benj. Thackery, enl. Aug. 4, 1862, 115th Regt., Co. H; engaged in many battles; wounded at Fredericksburg; disch. April 28, 1865.
Israel Tanner, enl. 1862, 77th Regt
Truman M. Turtlot, enl. Jan. 16, 1864, 13th Art.
Samuel Van Nerder, enl. Aug. 6, 1864, 25th Cav., Co. B.
Henry J. Van Wie, enl. Aug. 21, 1862, 77th Regt., Co. C; engaged in several battles; disch. May 28, 1865.
Cornelius Vandenburg, enl. Aug. 14, 1862, 77th Regt., Co. A; disch. for disability, Jan. 6, 1863, at White Oak Church.
Barnard Van Auder, enl. Aug. 22, 1862, 77th Regt., Co. D; trans. to Vet. Bat. 77th; was in many battles; disch. June 16, 1865.
Andrew J. Van Wie, enl. Aug. 21, 1862, 77th Regt., Co. C; trans. to non-com. staff in 1864; served through the war; disch. Jan. 12, 1865.
Wm. W. Velie, enl. Sept, 1, 1861, 77th Regt., Co. F; wounded; discharged; re-enlisted; disch. July 7, 1865.
Newman Van Wie, enl. Nov. 5, 1861, 77th Regt,, Co. C.
Lawrence Vandemark, enl. Sept, 5, 1861, 77th Regt., Co. C; pro. 2d lieut. Sept. 8, 1862; 1st lieut. Feb. 22, 1863; adjutant, Feb. 23, 1864; disch. Sept, 30, 1864.
John Van Wie, enl. Dec. 24, 1863, 7th Art., Co. C; wounded twice; disch. Aug. 3, 1865.
Charles Vandenburg, enl. Aug. 25, 1864, 51st Regt., Co. C; wounded and taken prisoner, Sept. 30, 1864; confined in Libby prison; disch. July 25, 1865.
A.J. Walker, enl. Sept. 5, 1862, 77th Regt.; in eleven battles; disch. June, 1865.
Horace Wing, enl. Aug. 8, 1862, 115th Regt., Co. H; wounded at Olustee, Fla.; disch. July 3, 1865.
Charles Webb, enl. Jan. 18, 1864, 25th Cav., Co. B.
Michael Wall, enl. Jan. 4, 1864, 13th Art., Co. F; disch. Sept. 2, 1865.
Richard Walsh, enl. Sept. 5, 1862, 77th Regt., Co. C.
Wm. H. Westcot, enl. Aug. 11, 1862, 77th Regt., Co. A; disch. June 16, 1865.
Lewis C. Ward, enl. Aug. 11, 1862, 77th Regt., Co. A; killed May 10, 1864, at Spottsylvania, and buried on the field.
Charles Wilsey, enl. Nov. 27, 1861, 77th Regt., Co. F.
John J. Williams, enl. 1862, 77th Regt.
Melvin W. Wilson, enl. 1862, 118th Regt.
Lee Whalen, enl. Jan. 25, 1864, 13th Art.
Gardner Winney, enl. March 19, 1864, 25th Cav., Co. D.
De Witt Winney, enl. March 19, 1864, 25th Cav., Co. D.
Edwin Williams, enl. May 14, 1861, 3d Regt.; disch. for disability; re-enl. Aug. 61, 1864, 21st Cav., and disch. May 7, 1865.
John A. Whetman, enl. March 29, 1864, 69th Regt., Co. D; disch. June 5, 1865.
In tracing the ancestry of George W. Neilson, we find it difficult to go back farther than to his great-grandfather, Samuel Neilson, who was an Englishman by birth, and resided at Elizabethtown, or Amboy, in the State of New Jersey, long anterior to the Revolution. He was a man of great resolution and perseverance, and married Mary Courtenay, a cousin of Lord Courtenay, well known in Revolutionary times, and who was born in the city of Dublin. Samuel Neilson died in 1763, leaving two sons and a daughter, of whom the youngest was John.
John Neilson, the grandfather of George W. Neilson, was born in Elizabethtown, or Amboy, in the State of New Jersey, on the 23d day of March, 1753. He lived with his grandfather, in New Jersey, until March 23, 1772, when he started out to seek his fortune, a robust youth of nineteen, with only a few shillings in his pocket and an axe on his shoulder. His wardrobe consisted of one suit of common coarse cloth, made sailor fashion, and one spare shirt. He took his way up the Hudson until he arrived at what was even then called Bemus Heights. He roughed it in that locality for over two years, until he had accumulated enough money to purchase a small piece of land on Bemus Heights, on which he erected a log cabin, and engaged in farming. He soon after married the eldest daughter of a Mr. Quitterfield. During Burgoyne's campaign his house was used as quarters by the brave General Poor and the heroic Colonel Morgan, and he took an active part in that contest. He was a volunteer under General Arnold at the time he went with reinforcements to the relief of Fort Stanwix; he was a volunteer under Governor George Clinton at the time he went north to intercept Sir John Johnson, and performed many important and hazardous duties; he was with the American army at the time of its retreat from Fort Edward to Van Schaick's island; he was present at the surrender of Burgoyne at Saratoga, and remained with the army during its entire stay at Bemus Heights, where he continued to reside until the time of his decease.
Charles Neilson, the father of the subject of this sketch, was born at Bemus Heights, about the year 1787. He received a thorough education, graduating at Union College, in Schenectady. Soon after leaving college he married Elizabeth Strang, daughter of William Strang, of Stillwater. He then settled down, as a farmer, near Bemus Heights, where George W. Neilson now resides. By his first wife he had seven children, - four boys and three girls, - of whom George W. was the second child. His wife died about the year 1828. Mr. Neilson continued farming near Bemus Heights for some years after the death of his first wife, when he married Elizabeth Reed for his second wife, and in the spring of 1839 removed to his father's old farm at Bemus Heights, where he was born. He had six children by his second wife. He was a man of energy and ability, possessing a rich fund of humor and a facile style of expression, and wrote and published in 1844 an exhaustive treatise on Burgoyne's campaign.
George W. Neilson was born in the town of Stillwater, Saratoga County, on March 7, 1817, where he now resides. He received a common-school education, and was raised and has continued a farmer.
In November, 1837, he married Mahala Wing, daughter of Isaac Wing, of Stillwater, by whom he had one child, which died at an early age. His wife died in May, 1843.
On Nov. 30, 1843, he again married, the lady this time being Mrs. Lusina Durham, widow of Stephen Durham, of Easton, Washington Co., and daughter of Richard Hall, also of Easton. He is still living with this lady, having no children.
Mr. Neilson has had an important political career. He was a Whig until 1860, since which time he has been identified with the Democratic party. In 1847 he was elected justice of the peace, and in 1852 supervisor. In 1854 he was a member of Assembly from the First Saratoga district, and a member of the committee on the internal affairs of towns and cities. He was superintendent on the first section of the Champlain canal in 1870-71, and in 1876 was again elected supervisor. He was a member of the Assembly of 1877, and is a member of the present Assembly of 1878, having been elected by a large Democratic majority in a district usually largely Republican. He is a member of the sub-committee of the whole, and of the printing committee, in the present Assembly. Mr. Neilson has never sought a political nomination. They have always been pressed upon his acceptance; yet when nominated he has been uniformly successful, although he ran on every occasion as the candidate of the minority. He was also president of the celebration that was held at Bemus Heights, on Sept. 19, 1877, to commemorate the century-old triumphs of Burgoyne's campaign.
Although Mr. Neilson has been a farmer all of his days, he has found time to fill many minor offices of trust and responsibility in his locality, being frequently appointed trustee, guardian, executor, and administrator. Many persons look to him for sound advice and friendly counsel in their trials and difficulties. He is deservedly popular for his unobtrusive and manly course of life, and in the political campaign of 1877 carried the town of Stillwater by a majority of four hundred and thirty-seven for the Democratic ticket, the usual majority being about seventy.
Although a member of the Democratic party, no man was more active and earnest in suppressing the late Rebellion.
He freely contributed his time and money in raising the necessary quota of men required from his section at the different stages of the war, and in every possible manner, and at any sacrifice, performed his part as a stanch and consistent supporter of the Union cause.
It will thus be seen that the Hon. George W. Neilson combines in himself those characteristics which we would expect to find in one who has descended from such ancestry, together with those qualities of heart and soul and mind which endear him to all who know him, and make him a valuable member of society.
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