SARATOGA COUNTY, NEW YORK.
by NATHANIEL BARTLETT SYLVESTER
AROUND the name of Saratoga there clusters a wealth of historic lore. Since this name was first transferred from the oral language of the red man to the written page of the white man, in a word, from the favorite old hunting-ground of the river hills, first, to the little hamlet of the wilderness, and then to the town and county, it has been associated, in peace as well as in war, with the most important events which have been chronicled in our country's history. It will, therefore, readily be seen that, upon taking up the task of writing the history of Saratoga County, an almost overwhelming mass of material presented itself for consideration. In one catalogue of books alone, entirely devoted to the subject, or in which important reference is made to Saratoga, there are more than one hundred volumes. To all this must be added the vast accumulation of public records in the State and county archives. The important question then was, not what could be got, but what should be taken. A broad field lay before us, filled with mingled tares and wheat, and we must cull from it what best suited our purpose.
Yet in all this vast field of literature, so rich in many things, there was little to be found relating to the early settlement of the towns and county. In search of this pioneer history, the public records must be searched, the whole ground must be gone over afresh. But a hundred years in passing had removed three generations of men, and what could once have been so accurately learned from living lips, now that those lips are sealed forever, must be gathered by the dim light of uncertain tradition. As this is the first history of the county which has been published, it seems to us that it should be, more than anything else, a history of the pioneers. The pioneers of a country, those who brave the dangers and endure the toils of its early settlement, be their lives ever so humble, are worthy of notice, while those who come after them, be their social position ever so high, cannot expect to receive the historian's attention, unless they mingle much in affairs, or perform historic deeds. It is to the pioneers, therefore, that we have devoted a large part of the following pages.
In making our selections from the public records and in gleaning from the literature of the subject we have doubtless often been unwise. Yet we have not attempted to put everything into the work that would interest everybody. In gathering material for the history of the early settlements, doubtless we have sometimes, owing to the imperfections of human memory, been misinformed as to names, dates, and circumstances. There were doubtless, too, many pioneers in the different towns, whose names we have not been able to learn, and therefore we give no account of them in these pages. The reader should bear in mind that, at the time of the organization of the county, in 1791, there were upwards of seventeen thousand people living within its borders. Of how few of these, comparatively, is there now much known? So our work, like all things human, notwithstanding our best endeavors, is doubtless to some extent scored with errors, marred by omissions, faults, and imperfections, and we beg the reader to pass them over with indulgent eye.
In pursuing the subject we have selected such topics for insertion as we thought would best illustrate the progress of the people of the county during the century of its growth and development, from their rude beginnings in the old wilderness to their present state of enlightened culture and refinement.
To those in different parts of the county who have kindly assisted us, - and we would like to mention all their names here, but want of space will not permit, and to name a part would seem invidious, - to all such we return our heartfelt acknowledgment.
To the publishers of this volume it is due to say, that they have done everything in their power which they could do, to assist us in the endeavor to make it acceptable to their patrons. To do this they have spared neither pains nor expense.
To the writer it has been mostly a labor of pleasure rather than of profit. If the reader can find anything in it to approve, we are sure his generous commendation will not be withheld. What he sees in the execution of the work - in what it contains and in what it does not contain - to disapprove, may his condemnation come rather in sorrow than in anger. And now, whether good or evil report betide it, the task is done.
N. B. S.
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y., July 9, 1878.
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