HISTORY OF THE TOWN OF SEWARD.
TOWN FORMED - PETER HYNDS - HENRY HAINES - FIRST GRIST MILL - CAPTURE OF THE HYNDS FAMILY - THE CRYSLER BROTHERS - INVASION OF SETHS HENRY - MURDER OF MICHAEL MERCKLEY - MURDER OF CATHARINE AND SEBASTIAN FRANCE - FREDERICK MERCKLEY'S FAMILY - FRANCE FAMILY - JOHN RICE - FIRST MEETING HOUSE - MURDER OF MR. AND MRS. HOFFMAN - RHINEBECK CHURCH - HENRY MOELLER AND OTHER PASTORS - FIRST SETTLERS OF RHINEBECK - STROBECK - HYNDSVILLE - SEWARD VALLEY - SEWARD STATION - GARDNERSVILLE - REV. PHILIP WIETING - COLONEL WILLETT'S RAIDS - MILLS - BUSINESS INTERESTS - CHURCHES - DAIRY INTERESTS - PHYSICIANS - TOWN BONDS - SUPERVISORS - BOUNDARIES.
Seward was formed from Sharon, February 11, 1840. Several years previous to the formation of the town, considerable partisan feeling was displayed throughout Sharon, and in fact extended through the Western Assembly District of the County. The Whig element of Sharon was within the present limits of Seward, and they desired to run the line, so as to make a town of that political sentiment, while the Democrats run a line to make it Democratic. At last Peter Hynds, a thorough active Democrat, and a very influential man, headed the Democratic faction, and Jedediah Miller, of Cobleskill, the Whig. After repeated lines were run, and much loud speaking and many impressive arguments used, the factions met in the political field in the fall of 1838, running the two veterans for Member of Assembly. Miller was elected, but failed to get the desired enactment passed, after petitions and protests in abundance had been sent to the "Honorable Body." But Miller's interest was awakened, and not being discouraged, he still "insisted," and in 1840, while Charles Goodyear, of Schoharie, and Seymour Boughton, of Summit, were in the Assembly, the bill was passed. Miller, being consulted as to the name of the town, wrote upon a slip of paper "Seward," in honor of the then acting governor. During the year of that local political excitement, the United States Government and Mexico were having considerable trouble over Texas, and Hynds desired to call the new town after that disputed territory; a very appropriate name considering the controversy. About the time Hynds was defeated by Miller, the Texans and Mexicans under Santa Anna, had an engagement, in which the Mexican General was defeated. The opponents of Hynds gave to him the appellation of "Santa Anna," by which he was known until his death.
Peter Hynds was a very energetic man, in whom the people had great confidence. In 1829 he represented the Western District in the Assembly, and each year was honored by this townsmen with some office of trust. He was justice of the peace for a long series of years, and was the first supervisor elected in the town, which office he held for three terms, 1840, 1841, and 1851. On the 24th of August, 1864, he died at Hyndsville, in the sixty-fifth year of his age.
The earliest settlement in the town is supposed to have been in 1754. Judging by certain circumstances, as well as by a careful searching of old records, we believe that the Haines family were the first settlers in this town, although their settlement has been fixed at a later date by many. We may possibly be mistaken, still we are led to think they were the first, followed soon after by Sebastian France, William Spornhyer, Henry Fritz, William Hynds, and two brothers, Frederick and Michael Merckley. They were all Germans of the Palatine order, trusty, industrious and frugal.
We have examined letters, deeds and leases, given to different parties, (actual settlers), and find the earliest date to be 1757. One lease from Johannes Lawyer requires the lessee to make the first payment in 1764, thereby giving the tenant an opportunity of building and putting such other improvements upon the place as were necessary, without crippling them financially. There are a few places in town the titles of which were obtained from the Indians. The Haines farm is one. David H. Haines, the present occupant of the old homestead, is the great-grandchild of the first settler, Henry Haines. He was ever a friend to the Indians, and when his son, David, made free to side with the Colonists, the old man became very wroth, and upon making his will gave the other children the greater portion of his property. The first grist-mill in the town, and in the western part of the County, was built by him near Mr. David H. Haines' present farm buildings.
At the time of the Revolution these farmers were well-to-do, with comfortable frame-houses and spacious barns. They were visited three times by the Indians and Tories, who did not fail to leave their marks of rapine and plunder, as well as blood and murder. Upon the 4th of July, 1780, a party of seven Indians, led by Adam Crysler, surprised the family of William Hynds,* while at dinner. They made the whole family, eight in number, prisoners. After capturing four horses, upon the backs of which they placed Mrs. Hynds and the small children, together with the plunder taken from the house, the party moved off, and traveled that afternoon to Summit lake.
The Hynds family were gone three or four days before the remaining families of New Dorlach knew of their capture. They were taken to Niagara, and were very well treated considering the brutality used upon many of their prisoners. Mrs. Hynds and four children died while in captivity. The remainder of the family returned after an absence of two years and one-half, excepting Mary, one of the oldest children, who was separated from the family at Niagara, and was not allowed to return fro nearly three years after Mr. Hynds. Thus we see the farm, stock and everything was left behind, without anyone to take charge of them, and the family hurried off at the mercy of a treacherous foe, who, upon the impulse of the moment, were as likely to murder the whole family as to spare them.
One of the children, Maria, after became the wife of Peter Bouck, of Cobleskill, and mother-in-law of Abram L. Lawyer. She was about twelve years of age when taken, and was forced to travel on foot, at times in torture from cuts and bruises. She had long hair, and the savages, both white and red, often caught her by it, and flung her around as is she were inanimate. They often threatened to kill her, and took pains to torture the mind, if not the body. At one time, while in a chamber above a party of fiends, she heard them consulting in regard to taking her scalp, and was called down with the expectation of the act being committed, but owing to some cause or other she was allowed to return to her cheerless quarters.
* The Indians and Crysler appeared at Michael Merckley's at dusk, and demanded quarters for the night. In the course of the evening, the party retired to a room and held a private council. Mr. Merckley told his family that he was fearful mischief was entertained, and told them to keep a watch over them. A Fritz girl and a daughter of Frederick Merckley were present, and they listened at the door, but were detected, and an Indian placed as sentinel. They held a council and asked of the firls if France was at home, being told that he was not, they retired for the night, and in the morning captured the Hynds family.
The few families living in this part of New Dorlach were in friendship, regardless of their political differences, and with the exception of Philip Crysler and family, those that sided with the Crown remained quiet and did nothing to injure or molest their patriotic neighbors.
Setting as they did among the Indians, receiving lands and many favors from them, years before any political disturbances arose, it could not be expected otherwise than that a friendship should spring up between them, which they hardly dared to disturb, as they were entirely at the savages' mercy, and to cast the epithet of "Tory" upon many of them for their passiveness is hardly just. But the Crysler families---Adam, Philip, William and John---four brothers living in different sections of the County, were demons in human form, whose brutal acts outvied those of the uncivilized barbarian, and are a stain upon the history of civilized mankind. We are pleased however to make one exception in the Chrysler family of one that was a true patriot, although but a mere lad. Philip owned the farm now occupied by Abram France, at Gardnersville, and when he came from Canada, (where he fled in 1777 with his brothers,) after his family, his son, George, refused to go, and left home to keep out of his father's way. He served the Colonists as a scout and remained firm and patriotic throughout the struggle. His father's farm was confiscated at the close of the war and should have been given to the son as a reward for his patriotism. He lived in the town of Sharon for many years, but at present we do not know of his whereabouts. After the murders committed by and at the instigation of his father, George seemed to loathe his parent.
A few years ago another son of Philip returned to regain the farm by legal means, but he was unsuccessful and returned to Canada.
Within the territory of Seward, many incidents peculiar only to the Revolution, were enacted, a few of which we can speak of with a certainty, while around others there lies a haze which we have been unable to penetrate, and of them we will remain silent.
On the 18th of October following the capture of the Hynds' family, a party of eighteen Indians and three Tories, led by Seths Henry and Philip Crysler, made their appearance at Michael Merckley's house, which stood back of Austin Sexton's barn. This party, it was thought by Simms, arrived in the neighborhood a day or two previous, but kept themselves secreted. The day before their appearance, Colonel Johnson invaded the Schoharie valley with a body of cut-throats, among whom it was believed was Seths Henry, the notorious Schoharie redskin. Simms thinks the party that appeared at Merckley's waited in secret to know of Johnson's success and to be joined by Seths Henry. It might be possible that the whole party were with Johnson, as in numbers there is strength, and it was useless for them to be idle when possibly they would be wanted, and upon the retreat of Johnson they might have broken off and come up here to devastate and assist Crysler's family to Canada. However that may be, they appeared here on the 18th, and upon Mr. Merckley riding up towards his house on horseback, from a visit west, he was shot and scalped.
His niece, Catharine, a daughter of Frederick Merckley, had accompanied her uncle, but had loitered behind in company with Betsey or Elizabeth, a daughter of Sebastian France. Hearing the report of the gun, and perhaps anticipating danger, she rode on, leaving Miss France near her home. As Catharine neared he uncle's house, (having nearly a mile further to ride to reach her own home,) and seeing the lifeless body of her uncle, she urged her horse on up the knoll in front of the Merckley house, heedless of the Indians' orders for her to stop. Seths Henry standing by a stone---still to be seen--- leveled his rifle and fired upon her, when she fell from the horse, mortally wounded.
Upon scalping her, Seths Henry said he would not have shot her if he had known she was such a pretty paleface. such is the simple story, as told by the near descendants of Miss Merckley, and the fact that she was soon to marry a true patriot---Christopher France, son of Sebastian---added much interest to the tragedy. Like the uncalled- for murder of Jane McCrea, it stands upon record against the virtues of the "defender of the faith," as another demoniacal act so frequently committed by the "defender's" hired emissaries during the American Revolution.
After their murdering the old gentleman and Catharine, a portion of the party moved west to the residence of Sebastian France, a committee-man, which stood near the present site of William Denmon's dwelling. Mrs. Denmon is a descendant of Sebastian France. Upon the Indians arriving here, the children only were at home, Mrs. France being at Mr. Haines, a short distance west, on a visit, and Mr. France hearing the report of the gun which fired upon Mr. and Miss Mereckley, had taken his gun and entered the woods back of the house to learn the cause of the noise. He came very near meeting the party, but evading them and knowing he could not reach his own house without detection, he hurried off to Schoharie for assistance, a distance of at least sixteen miles.
Simms says the children were standing upon a stoop in front of the door, when the Indians came, and John, one of the oldest children, was struck on the head and felled by an Indian, near an out-door oven, which stood where Mr. Denmon's as-leach now stands. Henry, a younger brother, was taken in charge by another Indian, from whom he ran away, but was retaken. Mrs. France hearing the noise, returned home to find one of her boys weltering in his blood. The anguish that filled that mother's heart no pencil can describe; yet those demons could look on and laugh at such scenes! Upon her entreating the Indians---who were helping themselves to her eatables---not to hurt the remaining children, they promised they would not. Henry watched his opportunity to escape, and when his captor's head was turned, sprang out of the door and fled towards the woods.
The Indian that struck John immediately ran over to Hoffman's a short distance west, to dispatch him and his wife, but they hearing the noise at France's, sought safety in the woods, thereby cheating the Indian out of their scalps.
Philip Crysler's wife afterwards stated that he was at home when the Indians appeared at the France place, and she advised him to put on his Indian dress and go over and save the France family, as she was under many obligations to them. Upon his reaching the place, the family was spared through his influence, but such fiends cannot be believed. It is very doubtful as to his being at home, as he was at the Merckley house but an hour before.
About the time Henry escaped the last time, the Indian that ran over to Hoffman's returned, and upon finding that the boy had escaped and John still living, he cleft his skull with his tomahawk and took his scalp. The poor boy after receiving the first blow, vainly tried to follow the whispered advice of Henry, "to crawl under the oven," as the loss of blood and stunning effect of the brute's blow rendered him too weak to move. With what solicitude Henry and the remaining children must have looked upon their helpless brother! The party soon left, without doing farther damage to the family, but applied the torch to the barn and stacks, which soon reduced the labor of the season to ashes. Mrs. France carried the body of her son in the house, and with the remainder of the family concealed themselves in the woods.
The party proceeded to Haines', who was a loyalist, and captured a few slaves, then turned their course back down the creek, to join the rest of the party that was left at Merckley's. They burned the Michael Merckley buildings and William Spornhyer's, which stood where George Winegard now resides, also Frederick Merckley's, the father of Catharine, and passed over the hills to the south, with two Merckley girls and a boy (Martin), and a lad by the name of Fox, together with the slaves, as prisoners. The Fox boy cried to return, and was murdered upon the south side of the creek. The fact was not known at New Dorlach of the boy's death until a long time after, when it was communicated by letter from the Merckley girls to their friends, although bones had been found, but to whom they belonged, was a mystery. Martin was taken to Canada, from whence he returned at the close of the war, and became the father of our informant, David Merckley.
One son of Frederick Merckley was with Christopher France at the "lower fort," and two were under Captain Hager, and served with Arnold in 1777. Christian, a boy older than Martin, was at home, who, together with the parents was secreted in the woods when the savage party returned and burnt the buildings. They fled to the "lower fort" and from thence to the Hellebergh's, where they remained until the war closed, when they returned to their desolated homes and began life anew. One of the sons went to Canada and procured the brother, Martin, from a squaw that had adopted him as her son.
The accusation against Michael Merckley of being disloyal, we are far from being able to credit, and are led to believe it was an unjust charge, prompted by a neighbor's maliciousness after a period of over fifty years from the massacre. That the transaction, as related of the private counsel held at Merckley's house, is correct, we are convinced, and from the tenor of the charges made, only a very fibre-like proof can be gleaned of there being any truth in them. If Merckley advised the savage party to capture Hynds and family, who told of it? Would He? If the captors did, should they be sooner believed in that matter than in any other? Should such deceivers be believed at all? Did the patriots of that day put any weight in their words? Again, even the massacre of the old man, or the circumstances attending it, are cited as evidence of his friendly relations with the loyal cause! "He discovered," says Simms, "the Indians about the door, but conscious of his kind feelings towards them, and zeal in the royal cause, while in the act of dismounting from his horse with perfect unconcern, he was shot down." Who could assume to know what he thought and felt? With his family in the house, surrounded by a blood-drinking band, and knowing by their past history, they would as soon thirst for their blood as any others, he could not, with the heart of a true father, feel unconcerned, and his riding up to the party then he might have evaded them by keeping back, was no evidence of his unconcern or zeal only for his family. Had he, upon seeing the savages around the house, put spur to his horse and eluded them, he would have been branded as a coward, without a father's heart, and justly too. Many in those days, were unjustly accused.
There are families to-day, whose grandparents were connected with both sides in that contest. that accuse the Hynds family of being loyalists, and say they were pretended prisoners, not only the Hynds, but others who were true patriots. When we come to trace the origin of such charges, we invariably find them to be old family feuds that never die out in the old German breast. We find Michael Merckley to have been a man well advanced in years, a widower of considerable means, and lived a gentleman, without manual labor.
He was the scribe, or head man of the neighborhood, and took no active part in the struggle, was friendly to all, and an honored man. The family of Frederick Merckley were attached to the Colonial cause, and were active participants from the son John, entering service under Arnold to relieve Gansevoort, to the close of the struggle, yet they too, were accused of being friends to the Crown.
About the year 1790, a very energetic man by the name of John Rice, from New London county, Connecticut, settled upon the Michael Merckley farm, and after a few years built a "tavern" upon the site of Austin Sexton's residence. Here Old Sharon for many years held its elections, law suits, and did other public business. He built a grist-mill, and the place was known as "Rice's Mills." Rice was justice of the peace for many years, and represented the County in the legislature four terms, 1796, 1797, 1798, and 1832, and was the first member sent from Schoharie after the County was formed. It was entitled to but one member at that time, but in 1832 John Ingold, Jr., of Schoharie village, was his colleague.
Squire Sexton, who now resides between the old tavern stand and the creek, and has held the office of justice for thirty years, related an incident in regard to Rice's official acts. Two men had a suit to be tried before him, and went to his office for that purpose, when, upon conversing, their troubles engaged their conversation, and, as is usually the case, each became angry, and in their passion "let out" more, perhaps, than they intended relative to the case. Rice sat at his desk writing, and upon one of the men asking him if it was not time to call the suit, Why yes," said Rice, "the time is up, and I've rendered judgment upon your own confession." An inexpensive way of trying lawsuits. Rice was supervisor of the town in 1814 and 1818, and held a Colonel's commission, and was a very energetic business man, much respected by all who know him. He died September 8, 1832, aged seventy-two years.
First Meeting House.---But a few rods east of where Catharine Merckley was shot, towards the Methodist Church, near a large elm tree, the first church was built west of Schoharie. It was but a rude log building, and must have been built about the year 1760. Here Peter N. Sommers, and an occasional missionary, preached to the settlers of Dorlach until the Rhinebeck Church was built, and it was in this rude building that a few of the pioneers assembled, during the war, for the purpose of holding a prayer-meeting. While thus engaged, one of the company espied a band of Indians, fifteen in number, wending their way towards the house. Knowing that to retreat would arouse their vengeance, and, being unarmed, the leader of the meeting fell upon his knees and requested the remainder to do so, and pray for protection. Some moments passed in silent prayer, and the Indians not making any appearance, their movements were noticed and it was found that when within a few rods of the building they had changed their course, and left them unmolested. Many such escapes were experienced through that struggle, which seemed to mark the interposition of a watchful Providence, and impressed the early settlers with at deep sense of their dependence upon Him.
This neighborhood is as full of historical interest as any other in the County. It seems to us that the scenery around would convey to the stranger the idea of romance, if not of tragedy. Here the log cabin was reared in the depth of the forest, to which the scattering settlers might resort to hear the gospel preached, and mingle their petitions at the Throne of Grace. Here the aged Merckley and beautiful Catharine fell by the hand of relentless hatred, and whose tragic end will resound to posterity and lead many to view the ground thus made memorable, and bow at the humble tombstone that marks her grave, in pity and admiration. One hundred years have come and gone since her death, and with them have passed the near friends whose tears were those of deep affection at the recital of the tale, yet again and again it is being told with no less degree of interest, but with more of romance.
Tradition unfolds a touching recital of an incident connected with the murder of young France, but a short distance above. While prostrated by the blow the Indian gave him, the mother returned, and upon approaching her son, he partially arose, and exclaimed with weakness and pain, in an appealing tone, "Ma-ma, ma-ma!" and fell fainting at the mother's feet. No death throes upon a bed of sickness, could pierce the heart with such vehement anguish as the appealing, confiding and agonized cry of the young man to the weak, helpless, and yet love-clinging mother. Beneath a rude stone, near where the heart-rending act transpired, lie the remains of poor John France, a lad of but fourteen years of age, the only offense for which he suffered being that he was the son of a patriot, and a helpless, defenseless child!
Nearly opposite of the blood-stained door-step of Frances', the year following, upon the day of the battle of Sharon, a few Indians and Tories, on their retreat, murdered old Mr. and Mrs. Hoffman. They lived upon the place now known as the "Klock farm." It was thought that the old couple's sympathies were favorable to the Crown, but some personal animosity prompted the Tories---Philip Crysler, perhaps--- to murder the old man and his wife.
Mr. Hoffman was an aged man, and was attending religious services at the barn of Conradt Brown, at the foot of the hill, upon which "Turlah church" was afterwards built. It is now occupied by Martin L. Borst. While Sommers was reading a psalm, a messenger arrived, stating that he heard firing some distance west, and in all probability the enemy were not far distant. The meeting broke up, and many made haste to their homes, to secrete their families and effects, while others started in the direction of the firing, to discover the cause. Mr. Hoffman was nearly two miles from his home, and hastened there, only to be murdered. As he approached the house, the Indians appeared and led him and his wife outside of the door-yard, and tomahawked them. Mrs. Hoffman's sister, Catharine Engle, then on a visit, escaped. The main force of the army passed along to the north of the house, and crossed the West Kill, at the place, where the previous year Mr. Merckley and niece were murdered, and encamped for the night where Seward Valley village stands. The two preceding years in which the murderers appeared in this neighborhood, Mr. and Mrs. Hoffman had secreted themselves in the woods, knowing no doubt, of the hatred towards them, of the Tory Chrysler. At such times it requires but a small offense to lead such fiends to commit the most heinous crimes. Mrs. Hoffman was a daughter of an Engle. Many times during the war, the Indians, when left at liberty to act, kindly left the aged and infants unharmed, while the Tories did not scruple to murder them without a pretext. It seemed to be the Tories ruling passion to destroy, torture and murder in the most inhuman ways.
We cannot recall to mind a single instance where the Indians were their equals in torturing, unless it was at the instigation of their pale faced allies: and much as the stigma rests upon the character of the savages, for acts committed during the Revolution, for cruelty and blood-thirst, those of the Tories outvie them all.
The France Family.---The oldest child of Sebastian France was born on the ocean in 1754, and married in 1772 to Luther Kling, a notice of whom may be found elsewhere. Catharine, the second daughter, married Wm. Ottman, who was taken prisoner in 1782. Betsey or Elizabeth, married Paul Shank, (see Cobleskill,) while the sons, Henry, Lawrence, and Jacob, married and reared families. Christopher married but died without heirs. After the murder of John, and burning of the barn buildings, the family removed to Watervliet and remained there until the war closed. Sebastian France was the progenitor of the innumerable Franc family found in Schoharie and adjoining counties, beside an army in the distant west.
Centennial Anniversary.---The incidents of the 18th of October, 1780, were celebrated near the grave of Miss Merckley, on the centennial day. Gilbert France, a son of Henry France, presided, and able addresses were delivered by Hon. Charles Holmes, John Van Schaick, and William S. Clark. An appropriate poem was recited by a descendant, Miss Effie France, written for the occasion by H. H. Johnson. Nearly four thousand people were in attendance, and united to make the day one of interest and long to be remembered. Relics of one hundred years ago were exhibited, among which was wearing apparel of Miss Merckley, worn upon the day of her assassination; the old chair of Sebastian France; Indian accouterments; ancient books, and many other things of interest belonging to the families connected with the early settlers of the neighborhood.
Captivity of the Ottman Children.---Some time in September, 1782, three brothers, William, Nicholas, and Peter, children of Christian Ottman, (then spelled Uttman) who lived where Isaac Ottman now lives, were taken prisoners by a party of Indians and carried to Niagara. Accompanying the Indians was a squaw, who had many times been hospitably succored by the family, whom Mrs. Ottman followed for some distance with such entreaties as only a mother can express, but of no avail. As she appealed to the squaw, she only answered "It's not me! not me!" When the children returned, one of their captors came with them, and Peter desired to follow the Indian back, having become fascinated with Indian life, which highly pleased the redskin. He desired to return to Canada with them, but the parents objected, and not until (tradition says) the Indian cut off the foretop of each, with a small bit of the scalp, would the children consent to remain. Upon his doing so they rushed to the mother and were contented. The story in regard to the foretop however, is without foundation. There were seven sons in the Ottman family who have long since passed away, and were the father and grandfather of the innumerable Ottmans' of today. They were in order of their ages, William, Daniel, John, Nicholas, Peter, George, and Cornelius. The party that took the boys captive passed down to Cobleskill village and made more prisoners, as stated in that chapter.
Christian Ottman, the father, came from Germany in 1761, and settled here soon after. The family name is variously spelled Ottman, Otman, Uttman, Utman, Oatman, yet all direct descendants of Christian. He died at the age of one hundred and two.
The first frame house of worship built in the town was the Rhinebeck Church, which is still standing. About the year 1760, quite a number settled here from Rhinebeck, on the Hudson, and the territory north and northwest of Lawyersville was called "New Rhinebeck." This Lutheran society was organized by Peter N. Sommers in 1772, and a re-organization was effected according to act of 1801, in February, 1808. The edifice was built in 1785, and stands as the only relic in this section, of "ye olden time." The windows have been taken out and the old monument has the appearance of "wrecked desolation." Vandalism has made fearful work upon it. Many years ago it was remodeled, and the high-backed pews and antique pulpit were replaced by those of more modern date. The entrance was effected at the side, instead of at the end of the building, as is the custom at the present day. The pulpit stood opposite the door, and the gallery was upon three sides. The original desk should have been preserved, as it would have been a great curiosity at the present time, and greater still for years to come. It was an octagon, standing against the wall, upon one pillar or leg, requiring eight or ten steps to reach it. Back of the desk was a sounding-board, reaching quite high, and from the center of the top, ribs, similar to those of an umbrella, spread out over the desk, and were covered with thinly wrought boards, giving the pulpit and parachute over it, the appearance of a modern drinking goblet, with another inverted above it. There was not room enough for more than one in the desk, and when its occupant sat down, the congregation could only discern the top of his head. A Baptist minister once preached in this pulpit and made the remark that he "felt like standing in a hogshead and being compelled to speak through the bung-hole." As we stand within the desolated walls of this time-honored temple of our fathers, imagination can but lead us back to the days when aged Sommers, feeble and blind, drew vivid pictures of the sufferings of his Christ, upon whose arm he leaned so many years, and drew from his sturdy and faithful flock their honest "Amen!" as his feeble voice expressed his heartfelt sympathy and love. Here met men, women, and children, our parents and grandparents, after a lonely walk of many miles through the forest, to hear the word of God preached in a plain and unpretending manner.
One Henry Moeller, pronounced in English, Miller, was the first stationed minister, and preached here for many years. Johannes Lawyer, Jr., owning a tract of land here, sold to the Lutherans of Cobleskill, Rhinebeck and "Turlah," in March, 1789, for pound 110, a farm of 150 acres, upon which the church stands, for the support of it. In 1794, the members from Cobleskill built the "brick church," and withdrew from this.
A year or two after, the "Turlah" members built the church we mentioned as standing upon the brow of the hill above Borst's and called it "St.John's."
The "Turlah church" stood in the town of Seward, but a new one was built within a few years, a short distance west, and is in the town of Sharon. Moeller officiated as pastor of both churches, and died here at an advanced age, and was buried in the Rhinebeck cemetery, and afterwards at Slate Hill. The epitaph upon his tombstone he wrote himself, and reads, "After a long and hard pilgrimage, wherein I often erred, my Divine Savior Jesus Christ led me by his holy word and spirit to His eternal home." He was a chaplain in the army, under General Washington, during the Revolution, and settled here soon after peace was proclaimed.
At the time the Cobleskill Lutherans withdrew from Rhinebeck, some difficulty was experienced and lasted several years, in regard to the church property, but it was amicably settled in 1808. In that year fifty acres of the farm was set off for their benefit, which was "in full of all accounts." The structure was built by both Lutherans and Dutch Reformed, each worshipping within the walls with Christian spirit, and when the latter built a church of their own in 1800 at Lawyersville, the Lutherans promised to refund the amount of money the Reformed church had contributed, and did so in 1808, at the time the fifty acres were set off for their benefit. They became then the sole occupants and owners of the church and property. Prosperity smiled upon this society for many years, but like all things earthly it was doomed to trouble and decay. The revolt upon church discipline and technical doctrines of many staunch churchmen, gave rise to the "New School" or "Franckean Synod," and this church received a shock from which it has not and perhaps never will recover. In 1865 the farm was sold, and the last church meeting under the old order was held February 9, 1867, Daniel Engle being elected trustee, and Philip W. Strobeck, clerk. The associate trustees were Paul Strobeck and John J. Petrie.
The pastors of this ancient church have been as follows:--- Peter N. Sommers and others, of Schoharie church, up to 1806, when Henry Moeller came and remained till 1822. Abraham Crounse, from 1823 to 1828. Philip Weiting, from 1828 to 1838. Mr. Emmerick, from 1838 to 1867, when only occasional preaching was sustained.
The "Rhinebeck Church" was called "St. Peter's."
Mr. Lawyer also sold one hundred and fifty acres of land lying to the east of the Rhinebeck lot, for the support of a "Reformed Church," and was occupied by Mr. Kinney. Upon the farm a parsonage was built, but not a church. Judge John M. Brown bought the parsonage in 1805, and removed it opposite of Hager Brown's barn, as a residence, where he lived many years. The church was erected at Lawyersville in 1800.
The first settlers of Rhinebeck now included in the territory of Seward, were the Loucks, Uttmans, (Ottman), Fredericks, and Browns. They were a hardy, industrious class of people and a few of them nobly acted in the cause of liberty in after years, and exhibited a Spartan bravery and an endurance which we take pride in ascribing as characteristic of the American pioneer. A few families of this settlement who were loyal to the Crown were passive, with but two exceptions, and did nothing to injure the Colonial cause.
Many of the old orchards through the town of Seward were brought from Schoharie and Breakabeen by the first settlers, upon their backs. We find they are not backward each season in their old age, and supplying their owners with an abundance of fruit, and we will not be overdrawing facts in saying that the farmers of this town, as a class, are not negligent in taking care of their orchards as well as their rich lands, and take pride in keeping everything around them in order.
Gold Mine.---But a short distance from the "Rhinebeck Church" are to be seen marks of a supposed rich paying "gold digging" that was commenced but a few years ago by one of the enterprising farmers of this locality. A son visited the west, and while there was induced to have his "fortune told" by an expert, that drew his knowledge from a common quartz crystal of a prodigious size, and which was said to be a "diamond." The young man was made acquainted with the cheering news that a gold mine could be found by digging in a certain spot upon his father's farm. He returned to his home, and upon stating the circumstance of the "fortune telling" to the family they became satisfied that there must be a "divinity" in the stone or man, and sent for him. Upon his coming, to use the words of our informant, "he walked right to the spot." Work was soon commenced, and the laborers being "worthy of their hire," a small sum, say a few hundred dollars, was expended. But on reaching the depth as instructed, the gold was not there, but instead, said our friend, a curious soil showed itself, which made the shovels as blue as "indigo bags." They little thought that they were so near the brimstone "pit" upon making the "blue" discovery! Being too eager and excitable, perhaps they "spoke" to each other just before they reached the gold, which would cause the treasures to vanish, according to the belief of our good old Dutch fathers and mothers. There is indeed gold to be found in these noble hillsides and valleys, but not by digging such large holes. It is found in the corn and potato hills, in the rich pastures and luxuriant meadow lands, but careful industry and economy must be used to find it instead of a "diamond."
For many years after 1800, a tavern was kept by John Adam Strobeck, father of the late Paul Strobeck, upon the place of the latter's late residence. Here "general training" was quite often held, with its variety of amusements and gingerbread sales, and "high old times" in general, enjoyed by the hardy sons of the soil which enlivened their wearisome life. An occasional horse-race was seen between the lusty wheat-fed horses, that always enjoyed the fun as well as their owners; also justice, here sat stalwart, amidst clouds of tobacco-smoke and fumes of "nog" and "flip," if the merits of the case could not warrant them against the plaintiffs or defendants. Hon Adam, as he was familiarly known, always drove good horses, and was captain in mischief for fun, especially while on the road to Albany with grain, when several neighbors would go in company, as was the custom, and run horses, turn around signposts, and occasionally have a few "rough and tumbles."
The cost of marketing produce fifty or sixty years ago, was more in gateage than in hotel accommodations, providing they did not drink too often. Lodging was six cents, horse stabling one shilling. The farmer carried his hay and grain to feed, beside his own "dinner box." Every bar-room was furnished with a large table, upon which the farmers would place their victuals and each one "help himself," without preference to claims. In extreme cold weather they indulged in a glass of "flip" to "warm up," and wash the food down; and in extreme heat to "cool off" and assist digestion; but when the weather was moderate---between the two extremes---one or two "horns" were taken, to be prepared for sudden changes. The expense was trifling, three cents for a single drink and a "quarter" for the crowd regardless of its numbers.
Hon Adam was in the battle of Sharon and was wounded in the hip from which he never fully recovered. After peace was proclaimed he settled here and amassed a fine property, and was followed by his son, Paul. Mr. Strobeck was a staunch patriot and a very charitable man, except to Tories, who were objects of his hatred. Long after the war closed, a gathering for training or a lawsuit was made at the Strobeck house, and among the number was an inveterate Tory, whose crimes had been many, by the name of Monk, and who boasted while under the influence of liquor, of his crimes. Strobeck caught him up and threw him in the large dutch fireplace that contained a blazing fire, and nearly burnt him to death. For many years the village now called "Hyndsville" was known as "Hoffmans Mills," which consisted of a grist and saw-mill, the former being the first one at this place, erected in 1795. When the postoffice was established, Squire Hynds received the appointment as postmaster, and the office as well as the place was named after him. It is fitting that all places bear the family name of the first settlers. The village being upon the Sharon & Cherry Valley railroad, which connects with one of the trunk lines of the State, is accessible to all parts, and by enterprise, aided by capital, may be made a flourishing manufacturing town, as the water privileges are very inviting. There is a superior quarry of flagging-stone near the railroad, from which those of large dimensions are obtained. Here are about two hundred inhabitants, tow hotels, two variety stores, two wagon shops, one undertaker and two blacksmith shops, and a tin and cooper shop. A short distance east of the village upon the north bank of the West Kill, is the pleasant mansion of John Hynds, who father, (Henry) was taken prisoner by the Indians on the 4th of July, 1780, as already mentioned. Mr. Hynd's mother was a daughter of Nicholas Warner, another prisoner, and who is a true sample of the original German settlers. His father was absent from home, as a prisoner, two years, and after marrying, settled upon this place. The old gentleman died in 1854, at the age of eighty-four years, and was buried upon a pleasant knoll not far from the mansion. The grandfather, William, settled upon the south side of the creek, where George Winegard now resides, about the year 1756. He was a German, hardy and industrious. When the feeble colonists made a strike in Freedom's cause, we find he fainted not but stood firm, fearless and vigilant. When we consider his situation, in the midst of the forest, upon the hunting grounds of the savage, far from assistance when needed, liable to be tortured and slain any moment for his political sentiments, we cannot but admire and wonder at his bravery and zeal. Such characters brighten the pages of history.
The town has two post offices, one at Hyndsville and the other at Seward station. "Seward Valley" is a village in the north-west part f the town and is pleasantly located. It was formerly called "Neely's Hollow" after one of the prominent citizens and first settlers, Mathew Neeley, from Florida, Montgomery county. He settled upon the place now occupied by -------- Hagadorn, and was a blacksmith and Baptist preacher. He founded the Baptist church at this place over which he presided for several years. He kept the first store in the place, and was a very energetic business man, but removed to Cattaraugus county, where he died at a ripe old age.
Here are two churches, a grist and saw-mill, and about thirty houses. A foundry was run successfully for many years, but at present it "is not." The Seward post office was formerly here, but upon the completion of the railroad through the town, a station was established about one mile distant to the northeast, and named Seward Station, and the post office was removed to it.
Quite a settlement is being formed, which consists of a hotel, two stores, grist-mill and nearly twenty houses. Clark B. Griggs was the pioneer settler of this hamlet, as a merchant and hotel keeper. It being a central station for a large territory, well cultivated and productive, the prospect of its becoming an active business centre seems favorable. Nearly two miles from the station to the north is Gardnersville.
Gardnersville is a small hamlet, named in honor of Dow B. Gardner, who was long engaged in the mercantile business, but removed to Albany, and was the ticket agent of the "Rensselaer & Saratoga" railroad for several years. He was the father of "Billy" Gardner, the first regular conductor on the Albany & Susquehanna railroad, which position he held for many years.
The farm upon which resides Abram France, as we have before mentioned, was the "Crysler farm," but the old house stood farther to the east than the present one. When the property was confiscated after the war, Lawrence France purchased it, whose heir now resides upon the farm.
The large and substantial church standing here was built by the Lutherans of the "new school" that withdrew from the Rhinebeck and "Turlah" churches under the leadership of Rev. Philip Weiting.
Rev. Philip Weiting.--- Mr. Weiting was born in Minden, Montgomery county, N. Y., Sept. 23, 1800, and entered the ministry in 1825, at LeRoy, Jefferson county, N. Y., from whence he removed to New Rhinebeck, in 1828, to officiate over that church and Dorlach, which position he held fro forty years, and brought them from a "fading" shadow to their present high standard, by his untiring labors and fervent godliness. Upon the division of the Synod, Mr. Weiting and his followers claimed the Rhinebeck church property, while the Dorlach charge, which held to the old Synod, commenced litigation to retain it. After many years of legal dispute the courts decided against the new school's (Franckean Evangelic Lutheran Synod,) rights to the property, and Mr. Weiting and flock found themselves destitute of a house of worship. Measures were immediately taken, and in 1849 this church of Gardnersville was dedicated, but the building was burned soon after, supposed to have been the work of an incendiary. Not daunted, the present one soon took its place, in which the greatest efforts of Mr. Weitings life in the cause of the Master, were witnessed. The congregation was large, covering a wide extent of territory, and it became necessary to build a branch at Lawyersville, which was done, in the latter part of 1849, and dedicated in February, 1850.
Mr. Weiting preached his valedictory sermon on the first day of October, 1868, the fortieth anniversary of his pastorate over his charge---in which he said "The aggregate of money raised by these two churches during my ministry is $35,000, or an average of $8000 a year." His last sermon was preached in the new brick Lutheran church at Cobleskill, on the 18th day of July, 1869. The fruits of his ministry in the sparsely settled section in which he was placed were, "received to membership, 1,250, baptized 1,300, marriages solemnized, 800, and 1,700 funerals attended." "Fifteen of his spiritual children," ---says his memoir----"entered or are about to enter the ministerial calling."
On the 7th of September, 1869, Mr. Weiting died, in the sixty-ninth year of his age, and was buried in the "Slate Hill Cemetery" by a large concourse of friends, by whom he was dearly loved.
His biographer says, which is true, also of his whole life in all relations: "The secret of his successful ministry was earnestness, fidelity, perseverance."*
* See portrait, Town of Cobleskill.
Railroads.--- The railroads have proved the death blow to the little hamlets scattered throughout the County that were unfortunate enough to lie away from their lines, as quite a business in a small way was once done there. The "defunct" little Janesville boasted of being quite active and attractive, but its life and energy have flown, and the rattling of the wheels and shriek of the whistle, that pass with the speed of the wind, prove to be exaltations of triumph over their feeble efforts to "do something."
However, the good people have a church, where they assemble and worship; several mechanical shops to drive away "gloomy forebodings," and many homes that are as cheery as if a railroad ran around each one. It matters little, where peace and plenty abound, especially where fond affection draws its golden cord around the hearthstone, and makes it in the true sense of the term a "home---be it ever so humble."
Colonel Willett's Raid for Subsistence.--- During the Revolutionary struggle many farmers of New Dorlach were well-to-do, and raised large crops, and being loyalists, Colonel Willett in command at Fort Plain, occasionally sent foraging parties over to obtain supplies, such as grain, meat, and other articles for subsistence, which they took without "leave or license." But one suit at law emanated from those acts of which we have been made acquainted, from the fact that the articles thus taken were from those who were unable to prove their loyalty to the Colonies. The suit was brought on to recover fees for obtaining damages from the government, which brought out the following facts:---
On the day of the battle of Sharon, Colonel Willett and his men followed the retreating force to Conradt Brown's, (where the meeting was broken up upon hearing the firing,) and made a raid upon his eatable effects. Finding a goodly store, they came at different times. At the close of the war, Brown proved his patriotism and petitioned for redress. The Legislature of New York passed an act in 1785 exonerating Willett, and required him to account to the State for the property so taken, and to pay the value of the same or account to the Treasurer of New York, that it might be brought into account with the United States. It was paid by the Government to New York in 1790, with interest, in order that the persons who were entitled to the same might make application to the Legislature for the amount. The amount in 1790 was $1,575.00. We believe the money was obtained, but whether the heirs of Brown or the agents employed to get the amount realized the most, we are unable to say. Several other claims against the government for "subsistence" thus taken from New Dorlach, were presented, but the failure of the claimants to prove their allegiance debarred them from receiving any compensation.
Mills.---The first grist-mill in the town was built about the year 1765, by Henry Haines, a little below the bridge that crosses the stream near the "Haines farm" buildings. The next were "Rice's Mills" near Squire Sextons, and soon after "Hoffmans Mills." H. A. Warner is the present proprietor of the "Seward Gristmill" near the station, which was built in 1795. A saw-mill is connected, which has for long years assisted to clear the forest, and cause a scarcity of water through the summer months, that has compelled the purchase of an engine to drive the grist-mill, as in many other instances throughout the country. The waste of lumber in past years has been great, while nothing has been done towards the propagation of forest trees.
In 1850 Tobias Garner and G. Miller erected the mill now owned by John McChesney, with four run of stone, capable of grinding three hundred bushels daily. These mills, together with several saw-mills add much to the business of the town beside affording a convenience that may well be highly appreciated.
Merchants.---The first merchant of Hyndsville was Abram Hynds, a son of Henry. He built the present brick store occupied by Philip P. Hilton. Mr. Hilton succeeded him in 1839, and is a son of Peter A. Hilton, for a long time a merchant and supervisor Sharon. His trade is in dry goods, groceries, crockery and hardware, as also is James A. Wilber and Clark B. Griggs, at Seward Station, and Wright Bros., of the Valley. M. E. Myers, of Hyndsville, and N. Southworth at Janesville keep a line of groceries only. Q. & H. B. Calkins, of Hyndsville, Menzo Brown, of Janesville, and Chas. Brown, of the Valley, are engaged in wagon and sleigh making. H. B. Loyd is undertaker and furniture dealer, at Janesville. It is a fact, that before the railroad was built through the county local merchants and tradesmen were more numerous and more busily engaged than at present. Trade of all kinds has been led off to more distant centers, where competition is formed, to invite trade.
The "Hyndsville Cornet Band" composed of fifteen pieces, under the leadership of Henry Bellinger, is an organization worthy of our attention, as it has but few if any equals in the country. It was organized in 1868 by farmers and mechanics, of whom proficiency in musical attainments is not expected.
There are five churches in the town, which consist of three Methodist, one Baptist, and one Lutheran, and are so situated that the inhabitants can conveniently attend divine service.
The Baptist Church of Seward Valley.--- The records of this church prove it to be the oldest organization in the town, excepting the New Rhinebeck, which has long ceased to wield its influence. We find upon the fly-leaf of the church-book that upon the 18th of October, 1820, "Agreeable to request of a number of Baptist Brethren belonging to the towns of Sharon and Decatur, a number of delegates from the following churches met in council:---
From the church of Charlestown-- Elder Elisha Herrick, brothers Ebenezer Norris and Moses Persons; from the church of Summit-- Julian Beeman, brothers Elisha Bruce and David D. Rider; from the church in Schoharie-- Elder Burton Carpenter; from the church in Worcester-- Deacon David Holmes, brothers David Goat, Allen Sheldon and Edward Pinder. After singing and prayer, Elder Herrick was chosen moderator, and Elder Burton Carpenter, clerk. Articles of faith and practice were then presented."
The church was thus formed under the Rensselaerville Association, and Mathew Nealy, a self-made preacher, officiated as such, holding their meetings alternately at this place and the school-house in Decatur. Sometime between 1820 and 1924, Elder Leonard Marsh settled as pastor, but for some transgression of conduct, perhaps did work of some kind upon the Sabbath, which was not unusual, for nearly all of the inhabitants after church service-- especially the German element. A committee was appointed by the Rensselaerville Association, and met in November, 1824, "to inquire into the situation of the church." The result was "As to Elder L. G. Marsh, we are of the opinion that the repeated shifting of his principles and the manner of dealing with the church renders him unworthy of the confidence of his brethren." At a meeting held a few days after at Decatur, the same committee decided to "withdraw the hand of fellowship from Leonard Marsh and Deacon Matthew Nealy, for disregarding the first day of the week as the Christian Sabbath in principle, and for advocating the cause of a transgressor."
Their first house of worship was built upon the south side of the creek, in 1834. Being small for the congregation we find, February 20, 1856, "the building of the Seward Baptist church and shed is let this day to Josephus Simmons by the job at $1,350," and on the 31st of December, the new church was dedicated. this church was not incorporated until the 31st day of December, 1857.
The following have officiated as preachers:--- Elders Herrick and Matthew Nealy to 1824. Leonard G. Marsh, from 1824 to 1825. Herrick, Nealy and Marsh, to 1834. Henry Toping, 1834. Elijah Spafford, 1851. H. H. Chase, 1853. C. Brown, 1854. Elijah Spafford, 1855. Russel H. Spafford, 1859. G. W. Wentworth, 1873. Levi Rury, 1874. P. C. Bently, 1875. The pulpit was supplied by Elder Collins, of Richmondville, to April, 1880, when Homer Denton was called and accepted, and still remains.
Seward Centre Methodist Episcopal Church.--- The first records of this society reach back to September 17, 1831, when Isaac Grant was preacher in charge, and William Diefendorf and Frederick Ramsey were local preachers in the "Sharon Circuit." At a meeting, William Calkins and William M. Wilcox were chosen circuit stewards. The first election of trustees was held on the 18th of March, 1833, when Alfred Williams, William Boyce, William Calkins, Dermon Rowley, and Hiram Sexton, were chosen, and at the same time it was "Resolved, That this religious society shall be known and distinguished as the Zion Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the town of Sharon."
Articles of incorporation were adopted and the society became an established and legal body. Rev. Isaac Grant and David H. France presided at the meeting. The year following, 1834, the present edifice was erected, and the society was one of the largest in the County.
Upon the building of the railroad through Hyndsville, the people of that section anticipated a progressive village, and built a fine edifice as a branch of this church, also the portion of the society living at and near Seward Valley built a neat and substantial church at their place, also as a branch. All three are as one parish, and the pastors of the mother church and the two branches are as follows, with years in which they served:---
1831---Isaac Grant. 1832---Isaac Grant. 1833---Isaac Grant and William Allen. 1834---Edward Dennison and Abram Fish. 1835---Isaac Grant. 1836---George Harmon. 1837---Jared C. Ransom. 1838---Isaac D. Warren. 1839---Alexander C. Daniels and John T. Wright. 1840---Alexander C. Daniels and John T. Wright. 1841---Eben L. North. 1842---Eben L. North and Abram Diefendorf. 1843---Frederick Brazee. 1844---R. M. Van Schaick. 1845---C. Pomeroy. 1846---Amos Osborn. 1847---Amos Osborn. 1848---Amos Osborn. 1849---Joel Squires. 1850---Joel Squires. 1851---C. E. Giddings. 1852---C. E. Giddings. 1853---E. Watson. 1854---E. Watson. 1855---A. Lyon. A break here seems to be made, and perhaps re-united with theRichmondville circuit. 1864---M. B. Mead. 1867---S. S. Ford. 1869---A. J. Day. 1870---W. J. Sand. 1873---G. E. Metcalf. 1874---E. E. Taylor. 1876---A. W. Smith. 1877---W. J. Chapman. 1880---J. H. Clark, at present officiating.
Gardnersville Lutheran Church.--- The early history of this society is so intimately connected with the life and labors of the late Philip Weiting, that we have referred to it in a notice of that veteran's life. Since he resigned the pastorate of this church, the pulpit has been supplied by the following: Chauncey Diefendorf, N. Daniels, H. L. Dox, the present pastor.
Mr. Dox wrote the life of Philip Weithing, from which we glean the facts in our notice of the veteran preacher.
The Dairy Interest of the town has become of marked proportions. The pure spring water of the hills, and succulent grasses, unite to make dairying a special feature of the farmer's pursuits. There are at present three large cheese factories with a united capacity for the milk of fifteen hundred cows, while many dairymen manufacture both cheese and butter themselves, the amount of which we are unable to learn, but of such amount as to rank the town among the first of the County in the dairy products.
The cheese associations are the "Seward Valley Cheese Factory," "Seward Centre Cheese Factory," and "Gardnersville Cheese Factory."
Doctors White, of Cherry Valley, Pinneo, of Sharon, and Shepherd, of Lawyersville, were the early practitioners of this town, and the first resident one was Andrew Hines, about the year 1835. He was followed by Doctors Mosher and Charles Abrams. The latter was a superior scholar, and usually taught a class in the languages and mathematics. Doctors Sutphun and Eldredge, preceded the present, excepting E. O. Bruce, who graduated at the Castleton Medical College, in 1858, and was contemporary with the latter. Doctor Henry A. Myer is a graduate of the Syracuse Medical School, of the class of 1853, and licensed in 1874, by the Eclectic Medical Society.
Doctor Charles Dickerson, of Seward Station, graduated in 1860, at the Albany Medical College.
The town gave bonds to aid in the construction of the Albany and Susquehanna Railroad, to the amount of $30,000. although the road did not reach the bounds of the town. At the time the "Erie railroad war" was waging, the stock of the Susquehanna, and town bonds given to it were at par. The town wisely sold the bonds and was released from paying them. Upon the building of the Sharon and Cherry Valley branch the people once more put forth a helping hand, and issued bonds to the amount of $25,000 to assist in the construction, a greater part of which is unpaid. The road passes through the central part of the town, by following the West Kill, and proves a great convenience to the inhabitants, by making a ready market for their products, at their doors, or cheap transportation to distant marts. We do not know of a township that is more conveniently located, more picturesque in appearance, or is more productive than the town of Seward. It has 20,106 acres of land whose corrected valuation in 1880 was $499,272. The population by census of 1875 was 1772, of which number 416 is found upon the tax list of 1880 with an assessed valuation of $15,475 personal. The total amount of tax for that year was $8, 559.27. Interest and five per cent of railroad bonds was $2,834; rate per cent of tax on each dollar assessed $.0275.
That section of the town called "The Clove," is a romantic spot, and fist settled by the Coss family, who are still its occupants. The valley was originally called "Clauver Kloof," meaning Clover Valley, from the wild clover being found there. In after years Clauver was dropped and it was known as "The Kloof," a name given to such dish-like valleys by the Dutch, and which in English is "The Clove." Undoubtedly Isaac Vroman, (Low Dutch) who did the surveying of the Dorlach Patent, and was here in 1730, together with other Low Dutchmen, who were interested in these lands, gave the valley the Low Dutch name, as those that first settled here were Germans, and in their language would have called it "Klauftche." The hills surrounding were called by the Indians Onnondada.
The following is a list of Supervisors elected in the town with the date of their election:--- 1840---Peter Hynds. 1841---Peter Hynds. 1842---Andrew Hynds. 1843---Austin Sexton. 1844---Austin Sexton. 1845---John C. Shutts. 1846---Abraham Sternbergh. 1847---Abraham Sternbergh. 1848---Robert M. Van Schaick. 1849---Tobias Warner. 1850---Abraham Sternbergh. 1851---Peter Hynds. 1852---Alfred W. Rowley. 1853---Joseph Zeh. 1854---Kirtland Handy. 1855---Nathaniel Soughworth. 1856---John C. Shutts. 1857---John C. Shutts. 1858---John C. Shutts. 1859---Jacob H. Diefendorf. 1860---Isaac Bellinger. 1861---Henry A. Stall. 1862---Isaac Bellinger. 1863---Isaac Bellinger. 1864---Isaac Bellinger. 1865---Abraham Sternbergh. 1866---Abraham Sternbergh. 1867---Abraham Sternbergh. 1868---E. O. Bruce. 1869---E. O. Bruce. 1870---Sylvester Diefendorf. 1871---H. A. Warner. 1872---H. A. Warner. 1873---H. A. Warner. 1874---John G. Empie. 1875---H. A. Warner. 1876---John G. Empie. 1877---John Patry. 1878---Elias Pierce. 1879---Elias Pierce, (deceased.) 1879---John Patry, elected to fill vacancy. 1880---David H. Osterhout. 1881---Menzo Young. 1882---Menzo Young.
The town was represented in the Legislature in 1841, by Nicholas Beekman, and in 1849, by Austin Sexton.