WHEN SETTLED - BY WHOM - INTEREST IN EDUCATION - FIRST TOWN MEETING - EFFORT TO CHANGE THE NAME OF TOWN - HEMAN HICKOK - JEFFERSON ACADEMY - DONATORS - STEPHEN JUDD'S DONATION OF FARM - TEACHERS IN ACADEMY - PRESENT SCHOOL - TANNERIES - PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH - MERCHANTS - PHYSICIANS - JUDD FAMILY - SOCIETIES - MASONIC - GRAND ARMY REPBLIC - METHODIST CHURCH - WEST KILL METHODIST CHURCH - GALT'S HISTORY OF THE METHODIST SOCIETY OF THE TOWN - REVOLUTIONARY INCIDENTS - SMITH STREET - TORY CLAWSON - TAKEN PRISONER - SMITH FAMILY - BATTLE AT LAKE - OFFICIAL - SUPERVISORS - GENERAL APPEARANCE OF TOWN - THE LAKE - TRYON COUNTY LINE - REBELLION - AMOUNT OF TOWN BONDS ISSUED - BOUNDARIES.
The town of Jefferson was first settled by New England people in 1793 and 1794, whose energy made her lofty hills and winding valleys prototypes of the old Berkshires of Massachusetts and the Lebanon hills of Connecticut. When Stephen Marvin, Erastus Judd, James McKenzie, Henry Shelmandine, Marvin and Stephen Judd, Ezra Beard, James Hubbard, and others of equal vim settled here, a spirit of progression unlike that attending the settlers of other towns, excepting the eastern part of Wright, made itself manifest in two features, that are to-day, and ever will be, the attractive ones of the town. 'The first is the lively interest in education, and the second the application of those advantages derived, to the systematic progression of agriculture as shown in the general appearance of the town and total production.
But a few years elapsed before others from New England and the Hudson river counties followed the Yankee pioneers and with them took measures in establishing a separate town, wherein their puritanic ideas of government might be adopted without an amalgamation of sentiment as when under the jurisdiction of Blenheim, which was controlled by the "Schoharie Dutch," (so called).
A petition was forwarded to the Legislature in January, 1803, for the formation of a new town and upon the 12th of the following month an act was passed to that effect and giving to the territory thus set off, the name of Jefferson.
The First Town Meeting was held at the house of Stephen Judd, then an inn, on the 1st day of March and the following officers elected by ballot:-
Supervisor-Ezra Beard. Clerk-William P. Hilton. Assessors-James Hubbard, Stephen Judd, Marcus Andrews. Collector-John P. North Overseers of Poor-Stephen Judd, Andrew Beard. Commissioners of Highways-Joseph P. Northrup, John H. Pratt, Stephen Judd. Constables-John Fletcher, Joseph P. Northrup, Jacob Jones, Morris Kiff. Fence Viewers-Lewis M. Loud, Heman Hickok, Stephen Judd, Elam Gibbs, Conrad Snook. Pound Masters-William P. Hilton, William Carpenter. Path Masters-Joseph P. Northrup No. 1, Stephen Judd, Isaac Hickok, James Hubbard, Joseph McKinsea, Stephen West, Asa Morse, Zadock Barrett, Benjamin Bruce, John Beach, Heman Hickok, Morris Kiff, Martemus B. Van Buren, James Clark, Charles Near, William P. Hilton.
Several years after, an effort was made by the citizens of a village bearing the name of Jefferson, in the western part of the State, we think, now Watkins, Chemung county, to change the name of this village and postoffice, as mail matter was forwarded to the one office, that was intended for the other, and caused no little trouble. Petitions were sent to the Legislature and Post Office Department from the western village, and counter ones were sent from this place, among which, was one drawn with a map attached, representing the village to be a respectable sized city, with a large park, and various public buildings, proving the western name-sake to be but a little hamlet by the side of it. A long list of petitioners, including male children, accompanied the whole. The case was decided at the Department in Washington, in favor of this place.
Among the early settlers was Heman Hickok, whom it will be seen was a prominent man upon the first ticket elected. He was the first school teacher and a very fine scholar, and took a deep interest in educational affairs. Through his influence the people were aroused at an early date to establish a first class school, which culminated in the Jefferson Academy.
The Jefferson Academy: - The following subscription was drawn by Hickok, and presented to the leading families of the County to raise an amount of money, sufficient to build and establish a school, the year preceding the building, which was commenced in 1812.
"We, whose names are hereunto subscribed for the encouragement of literature, the prosperity of the rising generation, and the good of mankind, do enter into an agreement for the purpose of building an academy, which is to stand near, or on the ground known as the Military Square, in the town of Jefferson, and we do hereby form ourselves into a company, and our subscription is to be signed in shares of twenty-five dollars each, and each share entitled to a vote, and we do bind ourselves, our heirs, executors and administrators, to pay to a board of directors, or their agent, the several sums annexed to our names, according to the order or direction of the said board of directors, which directors shall be chosen by the stockholders when there are thirty shares subscribed, and there shall not be less than five or more than nine directors, and to hold their offices during the pleasure of the majority of the company; and the directors shall elect out of their number a President ; and the president shall have full power to call a meeting of the company, by giving public notice ten days preceding the day of meeting, by an advertisement to be put on the door of the building, and it shall be the duty of the President to call a meeting of the company by a written request of ten of the stockholders.
February 25, 1812
Rev. William Salsbury, 1 share $ 25.00 Stephen Judd, 12 do 300.00 Erastus Judd, 4 do 100. 00 Asa Atwood, 1 do 25.00 Philip A. Koon, 1 do 25.00 Joseph L. Barnet, 1 do 25.00 Peter Decker, 1 do 25.00 Ezra Beard, 6 do 150.00 Jacob Jones, 2 do 50.00 Marvin Judd, 1 do 25.00 Edward E. Davis, 1 do 25.00 Grove Eggleston, 1 do 25.00 Wm. Hanfield, 1 do 25.00 John Daley, 1 do 25.00 Joseph P. Northrup, 2 do 50.00 Augustus Judd, 1 do 25.00 Aaron Atchinson, 1 do 25.00 Samuel Baker, 1 do 25.00 Eph Potter, 1 do 25.00 Eph Warner, 1 do 25.00 Benjamin Mony, 1 do 25.00 Charles Mason, 1 do 25.00 Demas Judd, 1 do 25.00 Freegift Patchin, 1 do 25.00 David Wiltne, 1 do 25.00 Isaac Martin, 1 do 25.00 Isaac M. Martin, 1 do 25.00 Abner Bissell, 1 do 25.00 Jas. and Wm. Stewart, 1 do 25.00 Stephen W. Judd, 1 do 25.00
The building frame was erected in the latter part of 1812, and not having a sum sufficient to finish the structure, a subscription was taken to Schoharie and received the following signatures and the sums set opposite their names were subscribed and paid.
Harmonus Bouck, 15.75 pd. $ 20.00 Wm. C. Bouck, X 15.00 Peter Swart, Esq., 10.00 pd 12.00 Isaac Marelen, Esq., X 5.00 Joseph Borst, Jun., X 8.00 John Gebhard, Esq., X 5.00 Henry Burke & Co., Esq., X 10.00 Henry Hager, Esq., X 112.00 Peter H. Hilton, Esq., X 5.00 Heman Hickok, Esq.-, X 12.00 Peter Vrooman, Esq., $2.00 pd. 4.00 Michael Borst, Esq., X 5.00 Henry Mandle, 5.00 Jacob Feek, 2.00 Benjamin Miles, X 10.00 Abram Keyser, Jun., X 2.00 Peter Swart, Esq., X 5.00 Jabez W. Throop, X 5.00 William Dietz, Esq., pd 2.00 George Sherwood, X 2.00 Joseph Bouck, 3.00 John Hager, 500 feet pine boards, 5.00 Daniel Hager, X 2.00 Peter N. Javill, X 1.00 Peter P. Snyder, X 2.00 Jacob Gebhard, X 5.00 John Ingold, X 10.00 Benjamin Waldren, X 2.00 Samuel Southworth, X 1.00 John Woolcott, X 2.00 Henry Shafer, X 1.00 Jonah Hager, X 1.00 John Bouck, X 1.00 General Adam Vrooman, 3.00 Thomas Lawyer, Esq., X 10.00 Stephen Lawrence, X 3.00 Barthomen Swart, 32 c pd 2.00 Isaac Best, Esq., 1.00 P. J. House, Esq., X 10.00 Asa Starkweather, X 2.00 Nicholas Feeck, X .50 George Danforth, Esq., X 1.00 M. Olover, Esq., X 1.00 Mr. Dow, X 1.00
By degrees the building was erected, and first occupied by a school in 1817, although in the interim the Rev. Wm. Salsbury taught a select school at his residence. He was also the first Principal of the Academy.
In 1817 Stephen Judd gave a deed of one hundred and eight rods of land, (the present village green) to his brother, William Judd, for the use of the Academy, which, as the writing says, " was intended for the instruction and education of youth in the arts and sciences."
The year previous Stephen Judd also made a will in which he gave to his wife the aforesaid mentioned one hundred and eight rods of land, with others, for her natural life, and after her death to become the property of the directors of the Academy for its support. Upon the 8th of June, 1821, the testator died and the wife became owner of the land and remained so until October, 1835, when she conveyed such land to the " trustees or directors and their successors in office." In November, 1824, Stephen W. Judd, nephew of the testator, petitioned to the Legislature for an act of corporation, "to the end and for the purpose, among other things, that it may take, hold, occupy and possess, the lands aforesaid according to the true intent and meaning of the last will and testament of the testator." The act was passed November 20, 1824, and said that " Marvin Judd, Ezra Beard, Jesse Brockway, Abner Bissell, Aaron Tyler, Jacob Jones, John Daley, Russel G. Beard, and also such other persons as now are, or shall hereafter become members of the society, shall be and are hereby ordained, constituted and declared to be a body corporate and politic, in fact and in name, by the name of the Jefferson Academy."
The building when fully completed, which was about 1822, was forty-five feet square and three stories in height. It cost about four thousand dollars, and stood in front of the present Union school-house. Although the institution was begun under very favorable circumstances, yet it did not seem to prosper. At least, long intermissions would intervene without school, and the building did not receive needed repairs. While the school was in progress it was one of the best, and for those early days well sustained in numbers of scholars. The following list of teachers whom many will remember with the most pleasing associations, conducted the school from time to time, but in what years are unable to tell: -
Rev. William Salsbury, a highly educated gentleman. Ethan Pratt. Hamilton Van Dyke, 1826. Thomas McArthur. R. R. Wells, and Miss ___ Norton, assistant. Horatio Waldo and wife. William Frazier and Miss ___Norton assistant. John Wolcott. Bennett Boughton. Adam Craig. A. Reily. Samuel Kinney. Mr. Whittlesey. Nathaniel Pine and daughter. Rev. Charles Chapman. Hale Joseph, or Joseph Hale. Cornelius Ward. Charles Smith. Alfred Higby, and Miss Hotchkiss, assistant. Miss ___ Smith. Mr. Harper. C. Ward. Miss Christopher. Mary Rodgers, the last teacher, whose school closed in May,1851.
In the will of Stephen Judd it was mentioned that the property should revert to the heirs of his brother, Freeman Judd, when the Academy was not used for school purposes. Joshua H. Judd, a grandson of Freeman, and son of Stephen W. Judd, commenced proceedings against the Jefferson Academy in November, 1851, for the recovery of the property devised for the benefit of the school, on the grounds that the trust imposed upon the trustees had been broken. A heavy suit was the consequence, in which the heir was the victor. An appeal from the decision was made before Hon. A. J. Parker, at the May Circuit Court of 1852, but the decision was affirmed and the old Jefferson Academy became a thing only in name.
In its stead we find one of the most pleasant school buildings in the County, and within, a "Union School," formed in the spring of 1878, that is of the same degree, consisting of two departments under the supervision of first-class teachers. In front is the one hundred and eight rods of land that Stephen Judd early set off for training grounds and lastly for the Academy site. It is still the property of the Judd heirs, but as long as the villagers use the grounds as a park and they are not put to private use, a promise is given that it will remain as it is. It is the " Yankee feature " of the place, as in most of the villages of the New England States a pleasant green, filled with trees, many prodigious in size, with "branches broad, and shade most cooling" is to be seen, which to the passing stranger denotes liberality.
Among the settlers that came to this town during the years from 1800 to 1812. (and there were many,) was Mrs. Sarah Minor, whose courage under adverse circumstances, led her to perform a task that is worthy of being noticed. Her husband was a truant one, and deserted his family, which numbered many children, leaving no means of support but one cow. They lived in Duchess county, and finding it useless to undertake to support her family in that old settled section and open a way for their future prosperity, she conceived the idea of taking "her all" and locating in some of the border settlements where land could be bought cheap, and paid for in small installments. She packed her small supply of clothing and started, leading the cow with a rope, and, as the song says, "children came tumbling after." She concluded to settle in the north part of the town, in a log-house that stood upon the place, and being something of a genius as well as perfect with the needle, she gave notice that " Tailoring done to order," would be her avocation. She "cut and fitted" as well as made all the garments for the pioneers of the town for many years, and obtained a sumptuous living. The oldest children were girls, who embraced every opportunity of studying, and made themselves competent to teach school, which at once lightened the mother's labors in supporting the younger children. Each one of the children was early taught economy, and as they advanced in growth and strength, they were carefully put to work, and each grew to man and womanhood and became worthy of their mother's labor and care.
Tanneries.-About the year 1816 a tannery was constructed (but by whom we are unable to say) in the hollow, south of the main street, which, we are told by Mr. B. H. Avery, was purchased by Zodack Pratt, in 1820. The father of our informant, John Avery, then a workman in the proprietor's shop at Prattsville, was sent there to manage the works, which he purchased in a few years and continued the business until the year 1845.
Another establishment of the kind was in operation, during the same years, farther down the stream and conducted by Eli Jones, who was succeeded by his brother Chauncy, until about 1846, when that enterprise also faded from existence.
First Presbyterian Church of Jefferson. - It must not be thought that the strict Yankees of this town failed in establishing, upon their advent here, churches, stores and other marks of civilization and conveniences, that have ever been indispensable to a true Yankee life.
Preaching was performed by ministers sent by the Presbytery for several years, and after the usual preliminaries in the formation of a society, the people congregated and caused the following to be entered upon their records.
"At a meeting regularly warned in the town of Jefferson, for the purpose of ascertaining people's minds and views as to the formation of a church among them, and the meeting being opened by a solemn address to the Throne of Grace, the following persons whose names are underwritten, presented themselves for examination, viz: -
Thomas Merchant, Reuben Foot, Nathaniel Merrill, Joseph P. Northrup, William Judd, John Turner, Mary Merrill, Sarah Judd, Rachel Atwood, Sabra Agard, Bethiah Baker, Mary Wilson, Hannah Baker Nancy Baker, Phebe Hurlburt, Siene Foot, Sally Atwood, Sylvia Foot, Judith Turner.
The above were organized and pronounced a regular church of Christ, by Rev. Stephen Fenn and Rev. William Bull, on the 25th of June, 1809.
The following have officiated as regular pastors, and present a list of accomplished scholars that have from time to time attracted the attention of the public by their masterly sermons.
William Salsbury, settled as the resident pastor in 1810, and closed his services March 7, 1830.
He was followed by Rev. Stephen Fenn, in the latter year, who died suddenly on the 26th of September. 1833, leaving the society without a pastor, until 1835.
William Frasier, A. M., then was called and continued five years. It was during his term that the church edifice was burned which was built about the year 1811. The building stood upon the green in front of the present site. Through Rev. Frasier's business tact the present substantial structure was built in the years 1836 and 1837. During the interim, services were held in the Academy.
Nearly one year elapsed after the close of Frasier's pastoral duties, before another was settled, for the reason that the society were waiting for Rev. Salsbury, who had endeared himself to the people, to again become their leader. He officiated from 1841 to 1849.
He was succeeded by Wm. J. McCord, in 1851, who remained four years.
Rev. Phineas Robinson came in 1857 and closed in 1859, which left the church without a settled minister until 1862.
A. S. Beard then was called and remained two years. During the space of time from the going and coming of the pastors, the pulpit was supplied nearly every Sabbath by students and retired ministers, under orders of the Presbytery. Four years passed after Rev. Beard left, before a resident preacher was settled, in whom was found Rev. A. Montgomery, who remained to the year 1872.
He was immediately followed by Rev P. I. Abbott.
Upon the close of the latter gentleman's services in 1875, Josiah Markle followed in the same year and closed in 1878.
Two years passed, in which time, several occupied the pulpit, among whom was Irving White, a student, when the present pastor, David Herron, located.
Merchants. - The first store was kept in a log house, but by whom is not known. Abner Bissell commenced the business about the year 1812, and was soon followed by one Schoelar, who was succeeded by Hezekiah Watson in 1825, who kept a general assortment of goods up to the year 1855, and identified himself with the best interests of the place. During the time Watson was in business, one Lyon was in trade, and Joseph Crane and E. B. Fenn formed a co-partnership which changed to " Crane & Pratt." Adam P. Mattice established a trade and associated Henry P. Mattice with him, and conducted a successful business for several years. G. W. Childs also embarked and soon connected himself with B. H. Avery, under the firm of Childs & Avery. After two years of such connection passed, Avery withdrew and soon formed the firm of B. H. & H. Avery, while Childs continued the business alone, for a while and failed.
At that time Charles Twitchel and W. S. Jones became associated and were soon followed by " Rugg & Merchant," who changed the firm to J. H. & B. B. Merchant.
Twitchel & Jones dissolved, and Jones continued the business alone for some time. The Avery firm also broke connection and B. H. Avery and Jones became partners, which was changed at the expiration of three years by Jones withdrawing and Avery stemming the tide alone, which he did successfully for many years, when his son William B. relieved the father and connected himself with 'I'. 0. Burnett. Young Avery died shortly after, and his place was taken by a brother, Benjamin H. Avery who purchased Burnett's interest, and conducted the business alone as at the present time. After the dissolution of Avery & Jones, the latter set up in trade alone, which he continues at the present time, with a general assortment of goods such as are usually found in a country store. The firm of J. H. & B. B. Merchant discontinued business and one was formed under the name of "Stevens & Shafer," and drifted to a "Union store" - about the year 1855 or '56 - under the management of G. W. Childs. Not proving, as others of the kind, a successful enterprise, Childs purchased the stock in trade and formed the firm of "Childs & Olmstead," which was succeeded by the present substantial business manager, Ezra Mitchell. There may have been, from time to time, transient tradesmen whom we have not noticed, but the foregoing have been the leading merchants of the town, among whom, by consulting the civil list, will be found representative men, whose qualifications proved them to be inferior to none, as public officials, and worthy recipients of the confidence placed in them by the people, as well as of the educational advantages founded by the early settlers.
Physicians. - We do not know for a certainty who the first physician of the town was, but as far back as 1816 we are creditably informed, Dr. Davis and Dr. Burton were in practice, and were followed shortly after that date by Dr. Teunis Cooper. Eli Boice settled in 1820, and remained until 1854, when he removed to Warnerville, where he died in 1857. Drs. Alexander White and William A. Laurens came in 1850 or a short time before, and were succeeded by Drs. Flint and Watson, the latter of Fultonham. A. A. Wood purchased the practice of Laurens in 1864, who in that year was made a contemporary of J. D. Havens, who located here. The present practicing physician, Dr. R. Grant Havens, came the year after, and was followed by J. R. Mathew in 1872, who remained to the year 1874, when Dr. Bartlett followed. The latter soon removed to give place to Dr. R. Hubbell, who came in 1878 and still remains. Of the preceding list, Dr. Cooper was in practice the greatest number of years, having kept in the field until 1872, when he died at an advanced age. The Doctor when at the age of seventy-five met with in accident that deprived him of an arm, which it was feared would prove fatal, having arrived at an age when the bones become brittle and obstinate in healing. Upon the 4th of July, 1865, a celebration was held in the village and a cannon was used upon the occasion, in front of which the Doctor passed as it was discharged. Having his arm thrown out, the gun's charge took it off below the elbow. Dr. J. D. Havens performed the amputation and it proved successful, as the stump became as sound as upon younger persons. We cannot pass on without referring to Dr. J. D. Havens, whose struggles in the profession were dampened by ill health and its chilling adversities. He was born in this town in 1834 and studied medicine and surgery in the office of Dr. Alden March, of Albany, and graduated at the Albany Medical School in 1861. He located at Albany and removed to Jefferson in 1865, from whence he again settled in Blenheim, where he was taken sick and closed his life on the 14th of February, 1875, in the forty-first year of his age. But few young practitioners possessed the medical skill of Dr. Havens, and had he lived in the enjoyment of health, few would have been his superiors in the profession.
The Judd Family, - There were five brothers bearing that name who settled in this town, namely, Stephen, Freeman, Thomas, Erastus, and Eben, beside a cousin, Marvin Judd, who became one of the prominent men of the County. The family previously came from New England, and a few of them settled in the present town of Harpersfield, years before they located here. Stephen, familiarly known as Cal Judd, for many years kept an "inn" at that place and became a large landholder, when he removed to this place and became the "lord" of the settlement. His brother, Freeman, as the story is told, was a peculiar personage, and undoubtedly half-crazed, and spent a goodly portion of his time in wandering around making pretentions of skill in various trades, especially in carpentry, also as a preacher, taking the book of Revelations as the foundation of his remarks, referring particularly to the "horses and their riders." We are told that he claimed to be the first white traveler in the neighborhood of the village, unless it be those that accompanied the Indians from and to the valleys of the Schoharie and Susquehanna during the war. He claimed he passed the first night beneath a hemlock tree that stood upon the farm, later purchased by his brother Stephen. "Uncle Free," as everybody called him, says the manuscript of Peter R. Dyckman, a gentleman who has made himself familiar with the early history of the town, used to measure timber for building by pacing, and using a hatchet to mark when he wished a mortise made, saying "make a mortise somewhere hereabouts." In some of his wanderings in a western county, he built what was called a saw-mill. Some time after visiting that section, a farmer overtook "Free" and invited him to ride. Being strangers to each other and in the vicinity of the mill Uncle Free asked "how does the mill go?" The man replied not knowing with whom he was talking, " It goes, curse my Maker, curse my Maker - c-u-r-s-e m-y m-a-k-e-r" "Aye," replied Free, "then it remembers its maker yet?" Taking the original Judd settlers together, very few families possess the ability and energy, that they displayed, and still less that make proper use of them.
There is a tradition in the family that Daniel Judd, an elder brother of Colonel Steven's, was murdered by the Indians during the Revolution, and they carried his head to Canada upon a pole.
The Jefferson Working Lodge No. 554, was instituted in June, 1864, and chartered the same month, 1865 with ten members, and is one of the active lodges of the County, numbering at the present time sixty members. Soon after its organization, a large building was erected for lodge purposes, but the expenditure being too great for the society to overcome, the property was sold, and has since been rented by the order in connection with that of the G. A. R.
The charter members were: O. D. Young, L. H. Brewster, S. L. Curtis S. L. Mayham, Aaron Stevens, David Stevens, Chas. Beard, E. G. Brockway, Joseph Merchant, John Stevens.
G. A. R. - This organization was formed December 10, 1879, and named Tyler Post No. 131, in honor of a townsman that laid his life upon the "altar of his country." The charter members were: -
Rev. C. H. Travis, William Kennedy, P. S. Tabor, Robert Veley, Benjamin Reynold, John Lambert, Edward Bruce, George W. Evans, Joseph S. Perry, Isaac P. Nichols, Wesley Spoor.
CHURCHES. - The Methodist Episcopal Church of West Jefferson is the oldest organization in the town, being formed in the fall of 1800, by "circuit riders" as traveling preachers were called. Services were held in private houses and the forest, until 1816, when a special house for worship was erected, but for many years was not lathed or plastered. The means of warming dwellings at that time was by fire-places, and not deeming it safe, the settlers' ingenuity was taxed to provide other means. An old potash kettle was obtained and set in masonry, inverted and a hole pierced through the bottom from which a stove pipe of their own invention and make, protruded, and formed a convenience similar to the modern box-stove. In 1850 the old house was deserted and the present one occupied, being built in that year.
The First Methodist Episcopal Society. - Through the kindness of Mr. Frank A. Galt and Mr. A. W. Clark, we present the following in regard to the First Methodist Episcopal Society and others of this section:-
The First Methodist Episcopal Society was organized in 1800 at West Jefferson, with about twelve names. The first pastors were Zenas Covel and Daniel Ireland. The house of worship was erected in 18l7.
The First Methodist Episcopal Church of Jefferson Village was organized in 1819, with thirteen members. Two years later the Jefferson Circuit was formed, this being set off from the Sharon Circuit. The following named places were included in the circuit, but have since been made into separate churches, viz: -
Hunter, Lexington, East Jewett, Windham, Ashland, Prattsville, Gilboa, Livingstonville, North Blenheim, Jefferson, Stamford, Summit, Eminence, etc.
The present appointments are Jefferson, West Jefferson, and North Harpersfield, the oldest being West Jefferson, the pioneer church of this section.
The first church which was built in 1844, was removed to the present location in 1859, and reconstructed in 1869, at a cost of $ 2,000. The church property is valued at $6,000. The present membership is one hundred and forty-eight.
Pastors since separate organization: -
1821 - John Bangs and Henry Ames. 1822 - John Bangs and Roswell Kelley. 1823 - Jesse Pomeroy, Quartus Stewart and C. Pomeroy. 1824 - Daniel J. Wright and Quartus Stewart. 1825 - Daniel J. Wright and John Wait. 1826 - Friend W. Smith, D. Poor and John Finnegan. 1827 - Cyrus Silleman, Alexander Calder and John Finnegan. 1828 - Alexander Calder, Philo Ferris and John Finnegan. 1829 - Philo Ferris and John Bangs. 1830 - Eli Dennison and Paul R. Bronson. 1831 - Eli Dennison and Paul R. Bronson. 1832 - Harvey Brown. 1833 - Harvey Brown. 1834 - Desivignia Starks and John Bangs. 1835 - Elbert Osborne, John Bangs and R. H. Bloomer. 1836 - Philip L. Hoyt and J. D. Bouton. 1837 - John Carver and Olif G. Hedstrom. 1838 - John Carver, Olif G. Hedstrom. 1839 - Aaron Rogers, Arad Lakin. 1840 - Aaron Rogers, Arad Lakin. 1841 - Reuben H. Bloomer, Daniel Bullock. 1842 - Daniel Bullock. 1843 - Eben S. Hibbard, W. F. Gould. 1844 - Eben S. Hibbard, Amos N. Mulnix. 1845 - Addi Lee and John Bangs. 1846 - Jason Wells. 1847 - Jason Wells, Orrin P. Matthews. 1848 - William Lull and Ezra S. Cook. 1849 - William B. Mitchell, Milo Couchman 1850 - William B. Mitchell. 1851 - Edward S. Stout, James W. Smith. 1852 - Russell S. Scott, James W. Smith. 1853 - Zepaniah D. Scoby. 1854 - Orrin P. Matthews. 1855 - Orrin P. Matthews. 1856 - Asahel M. Hough. 1857 - Asahel M. Hough. 1858 - Noble Lovett. 1859 - John F. Richmond, Noble Lovett, superannuated. 1860 - John F. Richmond, Noble Lovett, superannuated. 1861 - Charles Palmer. 1862 - W. V. 0. Brainard. 1863 - W. V. 0. Brainard. 1864 - Orrin P. Dales. 1865 - Orrin P. Dales. 1866 - Edwin P. Pierce. 1867 - Edwin P. Pierce. 1868 - J. P. Burger. 1869 - J. P. Burger. 1870 - J. P. Burger. 1871 - William D. Fiero. 1872 - William D. Fiero. 1873 - George Woodruff. 1874 - George Woodruff. 1875 - Lorenzo G. Niles. 1876 - Lorenzo G. Niles. 1877 - Lorenzo G. Niles. 1878 - C. H. Travis. 1879 - C. H. Travis. 1880 - C. H. Travis. 1881 - William Blake.
The Presiding Elders since the organization of the Prattsville District are: - 1853 - Seymour Van Dusen 1854 - Seymour Van Dusen. 1855 - Jarvis Y. Nichols. 1856 - John R. Beach. 1857 - John R. Beach. 1858 - John R. Beach. 1859 - John R. Beach. 1860 - Paul R. Brown. 1861 - Paul R. Brown. 1862 - Paul R. Brown. 1863 - Paul R. Brown. 1864 - William Goss. 1865 - William Goss. 1866 - William Goss. 1867 - William Goss. 1868 - Thomas W. Chadwick. 1869 - Thomas W. Chadwick. 1870 - Thomas W. Chadwick. 1871 - Thomas W. Chadwick. 1872 - Aaron R. Sanford. 1873 - Aaron K. Sanford. 1874 - Aaron K. Sanford. 1875 - Aaron K. Sanford. 1876 - John E. Gorse. 1877 - John E. Gorse. 1878 - John E. Gorse. 1879 - John E. Gorse. 1880 - Lucius H. King. 1881 - Lucius H. King.
The West Kill Methodist Church. - A class was formed in 1816, as a branch of the above church, and called The West Kill Methodist Episcopal church, under the preaching of Rev. Arnold Scofield, and held their meetings in private houses and the school house until 1854, when the present edifice was erected. The same clergyman, who was assisted in his pastoral labors by Rev. N. Bice, formed the Methodist church of Jefferson village, as before stated, in 1819.
At a later date, as the country became more settled and for the convenience of residents that usually attended church service on foot for miles, each Sabbath, the neighborhood of Morseville in the northern part of the town organized a class as the " Methodist Episcopal Church of Morseville," under the labors of Rev. Harvey Brown. The organization was effected some time in 1832, and during the following year a house of worship was begun and made ready for occupancy in 1834, at a cost of nearly $1,200.
Revolutionary incidents. - During the Revolution, there was not a single civilized white residence within the present territory of the town. But a short distance from the county line, in what is now called "Smith street," was located a family by the name of Clawson, upon lands now owned in part by Henry Van Buren, Edward Dayton and Charles Lamb. Clawson made himself obnoxious as an inveterate Tory. It was at his house, that Patchin and his brother captives were taken, as intimated in his narrative, elsewhere in this work. The prisoners were jeered at by two buxom daughters of Clawson's who fancied they would be pleased to relieve them of their checkered lives, and insisted upon Brant's permission to allow them the honor. One of the prisoners named Chris John Richtmyer, escaped the following night and returned to the Schoharie valley and reported the events of that day, when a squad of scouts made the "affable" family a visit and "cleaned the house." At the close of the war the property was sold under the confiscation act and we believe was purchased by the Smith family. If not, it soon came in that family's possession and gave the name of "Smith Street" to the settlement.
The sugar bush in which the captives were at work when taken, was but a short distance to the southeast.
Skirmish with Tories and Indians. - It was upon the banks of the small lake on the south border of the town that Captain Hager with his militia force, and Captain Hale with a few eastern troops, overtook the Tory Crysler and his party that murdered Isaac Vroman near the upper fort. This skirmish was the only one which occurred during the war that was disgraceful on the part of the patriots within the borders of our County. And much to our regret, it occurred under the command of the best officer here in service. The enemy was overtaken early in the morning, a short distance from their encampment. but not without being apprised of the patriots' approach. They had stationed themselves upon the brow of a knoll and formed a half circle, in the center of which Captain Hager and force were expected to march; but bearing to the left, he came in front of their right line, when they sent a volley of bullets that would have done fatal work had they not been fired too high. Captain Hager, instantly saw the enemy's position and ordered Captain Hale to flank to the right and charge, which would have turned the enemy's left, as they had not time to re-load and perhaps did not intend to, but retreat. Instead of obeying orders, being in the rear of Hager's company, Hale turned to the left (which brought him out of the range of the Indians' position) and made a retreat. 'The Indians saw the opportunity and quickly reloaded, but the keen eye of Hager saw his dangerous position, and he ordered his men to drop as the Indians fired the second time, but two of the brave patriots fell, not divining the order quick enough. Hager ordered a retreat as the circle began to draw around them, and overtook Hale some distance below, and then made a great mistake in not ridding earth and the cause of freedom, of an inveterate coward. Getting in front of them he was ordered to halt, (and undoubtedly German invectives were freely used in reprimanding the villain,) and to renew the charge. Without waiting to form in order, Hale carelessly turned about and would have marched into the jaws of death with his force, had not Hager seen the sprig's incompetency and ordered him back. It was thought that Hale was incapacitated to act through fear. The patriots' force was formed in line at the camping grounds, (as they expected the Indians saw their approach, retired to gain a position for defense,) and marched cautiously along the trail, but were fired upon unexpectedly which frightened the young captain out of his wits if he ever had any. The patriots came together as ordered by Hager, and were consulting as to the next movement, when the crackling of dry sticks and rustling of disturbed leaves drew the attention of the party to the back trail, when the presence of Colonel Vroman with a force of nearly fifty men infused cheer in their hearts.
A pursuit was decided upon, but the enemy could not be found. They had taken to the forest and eluded the search of the patriots. After spending nearly the day in the vicinity, the force numbering about one hundred and twenty men according to historian Simms, returned to the upper fort with solemn tread, as two of their brave companions, Joachim Van Valkenburgh and James Sackett, were lifeless and bleeding corpses, the former of whom was known as one of Schoharie's bravest scouts. The facts relating to that engagement were taken from one Richtmyer and Pollock, who participated, and were kept in manuscript, which we are assured is a genuine statement of the affair.
Justices. - The first justice of the peace elected by the people at their annual town meeting was John Avery, in the spring of 1833. At that time there were eighty-six persons in the town "liable" as the records say, to serve as petit jurors.
From the well kept records we have drawn the names of the supervisors that have served, with the date of service, which are as follows: -
1803 - Ezra Beard. 1804 - Stephen Judd. 1805 - Heman Hickok. 1806 - do 1807 - do 1808 - do 1809 - do 1810 - do 1811 - do 1812 - do 1813 - Marcus Andrews. 1814- Marvin Judd. 18l5 - do 1816 - Abner Bissell. 18l7 - Ezra Beard. 1818 - do 1819 - do 1820 - Marvin Judd. 1821 - Abner Bissell. 1822 - Marvin Judd. 1823 - do 1824 - John Daley. 1825 - do 1826 - Isaac Buckingham. 1827 - do 1828 - John Daley. 1829 - Enos Minor. 1830 - do 1831 - Benjamin Bruce. 1832 - do 1833 - Hiram Judd. 1834 - Ezekiel Gallup. 1835 - Benjamin Hickok. 1836 - do 1837 - Samuel E. Turner. 1838 - do 1839 - Ezekiel Gallup. 1840 - Hezekiah Watson. 1841 - Levi Gallup, Jr. 1842 - do 1843 - Asahel Cowley. 1844 - David P. Stevens, 1845 - do 1846 - Levi Gallup, Jr. 1847 - do 1848 - Clark Franklin. 1849 - Alfred S. White. 1850 - David Young, 1851 - Samuel R. Griggs. 1852 - Jesse Brockway. 1853 - Benjamin Smith. 1854 - John Ruland. 1855 - David W. Gallup. 1856 - David Young. 1857 - Alfred S. White. 1858 - do 1859 - Elijah Danforth. 1860 - Beriah H. Avery. 1861 - William A. Loughran. 1862 - James T. Treadwell. 1863 - William A. Loughran. 1864 - John W. Gibbs. 1865 - William S. Jones. 1866 - George Mattice. 1867 - do 1868 - Charles Mayham. 1869 - George Mattice. 1870 - Charles Mayham. 1871 - Stephen J. Tyler. 1872 - do 1873 - Charles Mayham. 1874 - Beriah H. Avery. 1875 - Ezra Twitchell. 1876 - do 1877 - William S. Jones. 1878 - do 1879 - William S. Jones. 1880 - Ezra Twitchell. 1881 - do 1882 - Moses W. Wilcox.
Ezra Twitchell resigned in 1881. The town was not represented at the annual meeting of the board. Moses W. Wilcox was appointed to fill vacancy and elected in the spring of 1882.
The surface of the town is uneven, broken principally by the West-kill, the outlet of Summit lake and a tributary of the Schoharie. Along this stream the Aborigines early formed a trail to reach the lake and Charlotte. During the Revolution it was frequently traversed by them with captives, while at other times the Harpersfield course was taken to reach the Susquehanna. 'The sheet of water lying upon the south line still bears the Indian name Utsyantha, and we trust a name will never be thought of that will be considered more appropriate. At some point upon the northwest bank an angle was made in the Colonial line between old Tryon and Albany counties. The line ran from the northeast corner of Old Dorlach patent in Carlisle to this point, giving the western part of the town to Tryon and the eastern to Albany.
During the Southern Rebellion this town sent a large number of volunteers, and was prompt in filling its quota by bounty at each call for men by the President, and in contributing necessary articles for the comfort of the "Boys in Blue."
The amount of bonds issued for bounty purposes during the war, as near as can be ascertained, was $29,811.39.
The limits of this town have only been defined by the act of 1813, and are as follows: -
"And all that part of the said County of Schoharie, beginning at a point in the northern bounds of Blenheim patent in the east line of the third range of lots in said patent, and running thence along the northerly bounds of said patent to the northwest corner thereof, thence continuing the same line to the bounds of the County, thence along the same southerly and easterly, until it intersects a line running southerly from the place of beginning, between the third and fourth ranges of said lots, thence northerly along the said line so intersected to the place of beginning, shall be and continue a town by the name of Jefferson."