Schoharie County NYGenWeb Site

The following booklet written by Catharine D. Lawyer, Town of Fulton Historian, in 1959,
was submitted by Harriet D. Brewster, her daughter, in July 1997

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE TOWN OF FULTON

Schoharie County New York State

1828 - 1959

In Observance of New York State's Year of History

Compiled and in part written by Catharine D. Lawyer, Town Historian

Cover by Ruth McGiver

Dedicated To

the children and youth of today,
who will be the citizens of tomorrow.
May they appreciate and respect their heritage;
strive to their utmost to preserve and defend
the land of the free and the home of the brave.

AND

in memory of Miss Katherine Murphy, granddaughter of Timothy Murphy, with whose friendship are associated some of the fondest memories of my youth. When asked why she had never married, Miss Murphy replied that she had never found a man with a name for which she would trade the one of Murphy.

The above dedication was written by Mrs. Catharine D. Lawyer, Historian of the Town of Fulton. Mrs. Lawyer has been Historian for over ten years and her dream of a town celebration has become a reality today. It is because of her interest, determination, research, encouragement and especially her love for the Town of Fulton that this booklet and program are possible. We can't dedicate a book which she has compiled to her, but we can and do give her our thanks and gratitude for her time, talent and inspiration.

The Committee
AUGUST 1, 1959
Printed by The Richmondville Phoenix

LIST OF TOWN OFFICIALS - 1959

Supervisor and service officer - Albert E. Lawyer
Justices of the Peace (2) - Robert Bohringer, George Spencer
Councilmen (2) - Abram Keyser, Dorwin Hamm
Town Clerk - Elinor E. Holliday
Town Superintendent of Highways - Corwin Denny
Assessors - Gordon Swart, chairman; Henry Beisler; William Miller
Constable and Dog Warden - Franklin Edwards
Town Historian - Catharine D. Lawyer

INDIAN OCCUPATION

Doubtless the first inhabitants of the present Town of Fulton were migratory Indians who came for hunting and fishing. The first recorded Indian settlement, the Schoharie tribe, was located on an angle of land formed by a bend in the Schoharie River, called by the Dutch, Wilder Hook, signifying Indian Corner, a portion of the farm now owned by Mr. and Mrs. Albert E. Lawyer. It contained their principal village, a burial ground and a strong wooden structure called a castle, capable of being used as a fort or place of refuge in case of necessity. This castle was one hundred feet square, the timers were sunken endwise into the ground and touching sides of the timers were squared to fit closely together. Its structure was authorized by Sir William Johnson at the beginning of the French and Indian War. The chief, Karighondontee, a Canadian Indian, prisoner of the Mohawk Tribe, whose wife was a Mohawk squaw, was given the land by his father-in-law to remove him from danger of harm; as the Mohawks, who hated the Canadian Indians, might kill him during a drunken frolic. In addition to the Mohawks, the Schoharie Tribe was composed of: Mohegans (1683), the Stockbridges (1700), Tuscaroras, Delawares and Oneidas. The tribe's sign was the turtle and snake. Historians have placed the number of its warriors from three hundred to a thousand. These Indians were friendly to the white settlers and taught them many helpful things about life in the new land. As the crisis between the Colonists and England drew nearer, thru jealousy of the white man's increase, promise of booty by the British and superstition, all but a few of the Indians sided against the Colonists.

VROOMAN'S LAND

Adam Vrooman, an Indian trader residing in Schenectady, purchased two tracts of land from the Indians. The first, on August 22, 1711, for which he reportedly paid 110 gallons of rum and a few blankets; the second, April 30, 1714. These combined tracts totaled 1100-1400 acres and were known as Vrooman's Land, the patent for which was executed, August 26, 1714.

On March 30, 1726, Vrooman obtained a new Indian title to these river flats, bounded north by a point of the Line Kill (present boundary between the towns of Fulton and Middleburgh) and the Onistagrawa (Mountain of the corn fields); on the south by the white pine swamp (near Samuel Lawyer residence, now occupied by Mrs. Margaret Brown) and a brook running from it; the western boundary was the hills and the eastern boundary was the Schoharie River. The Wilder Hook, site of the Indians' strongest castle, was not included.

The Palentines, who had settled across the river at Weiser's Dorf (Middleburgh) two years previously, envied Vrooman's fertile acres. They pulled down his house, trampled his crops, for which Conrad Weiser was arrested, but later released.

Peter Vrooman, son of the patentee of Vrooman's Land, commenced improvements soon after the purchase and settled there. During the first summer he employed several hands, planted corn, fenced some of the land and in the fall returned to Schenectady to spend the winter, leaving a hired man, Truax, and two colored persons, Morter and his wife, Mary, to care for his property. Not long after Vrooman's departure, Truax was murdered in his room. Morter and Mary were tried and convicted of the crime although Mary persistently declared her innocence. They were burned at the stake in Albany. After several years a man named Moore, who lived in Weiser's Dorf at the time of the murder, later moved to Pennsylvania, on his death bed, confessed that he and Morter were the murderers, Mary being ignorant of the whole affair. The house in which this, the first murder in Schoharie County, occurred was located between the present residence of Mr. and Mrs. Albert Lawyer and the Schoharie River. The second season after the murder, Peter Vrooman returned and established a permanent residence. Several other Dutch families settled in the area about the same time.

With the exception of minor differences the German and Dutch settlers finally resided peacefully in the valley, but remained distinct for a long time with few intermarriages between them. The Dutch were generally wealthier than the more hardy and laborious Germans. Gradully the barrier became obliterated and hereditary distinctions in society disappeared.

At the beginning of the Revolution, from the Line Kill to Breakabeen was cleared, dotted with large barns, houses and luxuriant growth of grain. One family, who started housekeeping, left a huge maple stump in their log cabin, smoothed it with an ax, hewed out the center as a butter bowl and used it for a table. They made smaller wooden bowls from which each member of the family ate his food.

Blankets, trinkets and rum were traded to the Indians for land, furs and roots.

Slaves were introduced by the Dutch. They were always well treated, entrusted to deliver crops to market and comfortable homes were provided.

When the story period of the Revolution commenced a few of the settlers sided with the British, but the majority were ardent patriots.

With the possible exception of: boots, certain articles of furniture, metal tools and implements, cooking utensils, tea, coffee, spices, earthen dishes and glass, each Colonial household was self sufficient. A few examples of their ingenuity: from their own flax and wool they spun yarn from which linen and woolen materials were woven, which furnished clothing, towels, sheets, pillow cases and blankets. Dyes were made from sumac bobs, which produced a different color each month of the year. Sugar was obtained by processing the sap from the sugar maple. (The writer has a wooden chest: 21 inches wide, 22 inches high, four feet long, handed down from her great grandparents, which was filled annually for the year's supply of maple sugar). Corn meal, buckwheat and wheat flour were ground at a local grist mill. Before the advent of kerosene lamps, lights were furnished by tallow candles, stored in the traditional candle boxes. Fruits, berries and vegetables were dried in large, shallow, splint baskets, oftentimes made by slaves during the winter. Shingles, timbers and lumber for the buildings were first hand hewn, then sawed by the upright saws, forerunner of the circular ones. Both hard and soft soaps made from lye (obtained by leeching wood ashes) and refuse grease, solved the laundry problem. A bunch of bullrushes firmly tied, was the forerunner of modern scouring devices.

EARLY SETTLEMENTS

Fultonham, Rabbit Bush, was settled by the Germans in 1714-1718. A rude meeting house was erected at the Mohawk Village (Wilder Hook) in which missionaries of the Low Dutch Reformed Faith doubtless preached years before the Middleburgh or Schoharie churches were organized. In the Atlas of 1866, Fultonham contained: the Union Church, a saw mill, a carpenter shop, a store and post office, a blacksmith shop and a hotel.

It now contains: a grange hall, Union Church with kitchen, Sunday School room and recreational room, general store and post office.

In early times the name Breakabeen applied to the territory from Vroomans Land to Charlotteville. The name Brakabeen was given by the Germans owing to the broad flats being covered by brakes, a species of fern. At the beginning of the Revolution but three houses were found in this place, the Keyser residence stood near the home now owned by Mr. and Mrs. Howard D. Mann. There were three sons, Abram, Barent and John, who removed to the Upper Fort due to the treachery of the Indians: Barent taken prisoner and died in captivity in Canada; John taken prisoner by the Indians, while sent from the fort to get the cows, was hurried off to Canada from where he returned after the war; Abram, father of Abram Keyser, once county sheriff and State treasurer from 1826-1838. There had been other settlers but when Sir William Johnson searched the land titles in 1759 declaring null all obtained from the Indians without a purchase by the government; a few living here removed elsewhere. In the Atlas of 1866, Breakabeen contained: Reformed church, Lutheran church, two blacksmith shops, two hotels, a hardware store, three general stores, a carpenter shop, a cooper shop, a cabinet shop, a grist mill, a tannery and a foundry.

It now contains: a general store, a Presbyterian church, a grange hall, an archery club, a hotel.

Watsonville, Hard Scrabble, was named for Charles Watson who came here at the beginning of the nineteenth century from Albany and conducted a store and an inn. According to the Atlas of 1866, Watsonville contained: a carpenter shop, Watson's store, a shoe shop, wagon shop, blacksmith shop, doctor, manufacturer of wagons and sleighs; in 1872-3 it acquired a glove manufacturing shop giving employment to about ten hands (Thomas Foster).

It now contains: a general store.

West Fulton (Byrneville), with its luxurious growth of timber was the center for the manufacture of shingles, lumber, staves and burning charcoal. According to the Atlas of 1866, West fulton contained a doctor, hotel, three stores, Methodist church, blacksmith shop, shoe shop, grist and saw mill.

It now contains: a Methodist church, a post office, a general store, a fire department, a plumber, a ceramic manufacturing studio.

Other hamlets were settled at: Pleasant Valley, Patria (Greenbush), Rossman Hill, Vintonton, Fulton Hill (Fairland), Dibble Hollow, Huson Corners, Armlin Hill, Bouck's Falls (Cooper Street).

Additional industries and professions were: farming, apiarian, cabinet making, tailoring, tinsmith, school teaching, singing teacher, broom manufacturing, carriage making, masonry, carpet weaving, civil engineering, horse dealing, peddling, dressmaking, millinery, undertaker, sash and blind factory, painters, machinists and moulders, manufacturing of platform churn powers, harness makers.

The upper fort was built in the fall of 1777, upon a farm then owned by John Feeck, (now on the farm owned and occupied by Mr. and Mrs. J. Roger Barber and the farm owned and occupied by Mr. and Mrs. John C. Bouck and son Dale), on the west side of the Schoharie River. One side of the enclosure was picketed in, while the other three were breastworks thrown up of timers and earth, eight or ten feet high, the top of which was wide enough to admit drawing a wagon, with short pickets set in the outside timbers of the breastwork. A ditch surrounded the breastworks, with military barracks and small log huts inside the enclosure to accommodate the soliders and citizens. Block houses and sentry boxes were built in the northwest and southeast corners, each containing a small cannon for protection.

This fort guarded the possible entrance on the southwest from Summit Lake; as one of the principal Indian trails led from Middleburgh, up the Schoharie River, to the Kenhuragara (Panther) Creek, thence to Summit Lake, crossed to the Charlotte River, down which it passed to the Susquehanna River.

THE REVOLUTION

The settlers of the present Town of Fulton, who had proven their patriotism by their assistance of the Mother Country during the French and Indian Wars gave generously of their provisions and man power for support of the Colonial forces during the Revolution. Their sufferings and losses were great, almost to the point of annihilation in the year 1780.

August 10, 1777, Captain McDonald with 28 men joined Adam Chrysler with 25 Indians and 70 Tories, who had spent the night at Chrysler's farm, after scouting to the lower end of Vrooman's Land. The Colonists advanced upon them (battle of the Flockie) and lost Lieutenant David Wirt with two patriots wounded, one by the name of Rose died three days later. The losses of the enemy are not known, but they proceeded toward Oswego; while the weary Colonial forces returned to the Upper Fort. David Wirt was the first man, who fell in Schoharie County, defending the principles of free government.

August 9, 1790, a scouting party of three was sent by Captain Hager to the western part of the Town of Fulton. They were instructed to return immediately to the Upper Fort without firing, if they saw any enemies. In West Fulton they sat upon a fallen tree to eat their breakfast, while they were eating a white man dressed as an Indian appeared. One of the scouts could not resist firing at such a good target, which he did and killed him. He proved to be a surgeon in Brant's employ. His body was left to decay beside the stream, which ever since has been known as Dead Man's Creek.

That same month a band of Indians and Tories invaded the central part of Vrooman's Land killing five men, women and children, among whom were Captain Tunis Vrooman and wife. Many settlers were taken captive, their crops, homes, cattle and swine were destroyed. The enemy proceeded up the valley and after taking wheat flour it contained, set the grist mill of Adam Chrysler, the Tory, on fire that it might not serve the rebels. The burial of the dead took place the next day on the John Feeck farm, near the Upper Fort.

In October of the same year Colonel John Johnson and Joseph Brant at the head of nearly one thousand British Regulars, Tories and Indians entered the valley bent on its despoilation. They encamped above the Upper Fort, whose garrison of about one hundred citizens, soldiers, militia and regulars was in command of Captain Jacob Hager. Johnson, supposing it to be well strengthened, passed on to the Middle Fort with his men.

The enemy, in small numbers, stealthily appeared in the neighborhood from time to time; but little was to be gained, as the few remaining inhabitants either stayed at the fort or removed to more populous sections until the war closed.

TIMOTHY MURPHY

Timothy Murphy was born in Susses County, New Jersey; as a boy lived in Northampton County, Pennsylvania. In 1769 the family removed to the Whyoming Valley, Pennsylvania, in 1773 to the West Branch of the Susquehanna in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, where they settled permanently. As a youth, Tim was indentured as an apprentice to a Mr. Van Campen, who removed to the Wyoming Valley, Pennsylvania; where he remained until he was sixteen and then struck out for himself. In 1773 he was employed as an axeman by a party of surveyors in Pennsylvania, where he perfected himself in the use of the rifle, for which he later became famous. He also learned the wiles of the Indian and quickly learned that in order to make his way in the world there would be times when he would have to depend on his rifle and his wits. When the call came for men to fight in the impending struggle, the American Revolution, Timothy Murphy responded by enlisting for five years in the Colonial cause and joined General Morgan's corps of riflemen. At Bemis Heights it was Murphy, who felled General Fraser, which fete has been declared the turning point of the Revolution in favor of the Colonists. Murphy was sent to help defend the Schoharie Valley, where he proved his worth as an Indian scout.

On one of his excursions, fate steered Timothy Murphy's footsteps toward the Upper Fort, where he met Margaret (Peggy) Feeck, one of the prettiest girls in the valley, the only child of Johannes and his wife, Bertha Aemelia Feeck, Dutch farmers, and in prospective wealth the richest girl in the Schoharie Valley. It was love at first sight for the young couple and when Murphy's comrades remarked upon the frequency with which he found it necessary to pass by the Upper Fort, Murphy told them with a twinkle in his eye, that the scenery was the most beautiful in that direction. Peggy's parents did not view Murphy as a favorable suitor for their daughter, as they considered him desperately poor. Murphy was informed by his sweetheart's parents, that his visits were no longer welcome; but the lovers continued to meet and determined to be united in marriage. They agreed to meet upon a certain evening, which they did and after embracing rode away on horseback to the lower fort.

They were married at Duanesburg, October 1, 1780. A reconciliation with her parents was soon made, the marriage prospered and they lived for many years in Watsonville, in the Feeck home (near residence now owned and occupied by Mr. and Mrs. John (Jack) W. Bouck). After the war Murphy became a prosperous farmer, erected and operated the Murphy Mill, located at the Mill Dam, on the Schoharie River, near the spot from which they had eloped. They became the parents of five sons and four daughters. Mrs. Murphy passed away September 7, 1807, and on April 22, 1810, he married Mrs. Mary Robertson, a widow, removed to Otsego County. They had four sons. In later life he was engaged as a real estate agent.

Timothy Murphy expired June 27, 1818, at the age of 67, and was buried in the Feeck family plot, later called the Murphy burying ground on the farm now owned and occupied by Mr. and Mrs. John C. Bouck and son Dale, which was within the palisades of the Upper Fort. In 1872 his remains were removed to the Middleburgh cemetery, where a bronze plaque was erected. It seems rather ironic that his body was removed from its normal, final, resting place beside that of his faithful wife, Peggy, which still remains in the now neglected Murphy burial plot. The writer doubts, that Tim would have desired it thus.

Allen Burton of Gallupville is the possessor of an over-under, double barreled rifle, octagon shaped barrels, made by Worly of Pennsylvania (possibly Lancaster) which his research has proven almost conclusively was the one used by Timothy Murphy. He is working diligently to prove its authenticity beyond a doubt. Mr. Burton acquired the rifle from a doctor, a collector of guns, in Pennsylvania, who obtained it from a gun dealer in Oneonta, before which its owners are unknown. Mr. Burton has in his files this quotation from J.R. Simms: "Much has been said about Murphy's double barreled gun and more than it merited; at least, so a son of Murphy assured the writer, he had often heard his father say. He had such a gun, while at Schoharie, but it was so heavy he seldom used it, except on garrison duty."

OTHER WARS

Progress, improvement and development were halted temporarily during the War of 1812, the Civil War, the first and second World Wars; as the Town of Fulton contributed its share of manpower, material and financial aid and helped to conserve strategic material. Resting in many graves on Our Town's soil are those, who made the supreme sacrifice, that we may enjoy the pursuit of happiness in a free land.

TOWN FORMED

The Town of Fulton was formed April 13, 1828, from the Town of Middleburgh and is the central town of the county with a population of 2,146 at that time. It is bounded as follows: north by towns of Summit, Richmondville, Cobleskill; east by towns of Middleburgh, Broome; south by towns of Middleburgh, Broome, Gilboa, Blenheim, Summit; west by towns of Blenheim and Summit. One of the highest points in the town is Petersburgh Mountain, 2311 feet, on which a fire tower, which is manned from spring until fall, is located and where picnic facilities are available. The highest elevation in the town is near the Fairland Cemetery, 2337 feet. The area in the middle of the nineteenth century was: improved 20,508 1/2 acres, unimproved 17,351 acres, total 37,859 1/2 acres. The geology of the town is Hamilton and higher formations.

The Town of Fulton embraces the whole or a part of the following patents: Vrooman's Land, granted to Adam Vrooman, August 26, 1714; William Bouck's, 1250 acres, east of the creek, granted May 8, 1755 and another, about the same size, west of the creek; Hendrick Hager's, 900 acres, granted July 13, 1770; Isaac Levy's, 4333 acres, surveyed July 1770; Michael Byrne's, 1800 acres, granted December 14, 1867; John Butler's 8000 acres; Edward Clark's 100 acres; part of John Butler's 100 acres; Also: Eckerson, in part; DePuyster-Clark; Lawyer, Bouck, Lawyer;Vrooman; Becker, Mathias; Strasburgh; Great Retail Lot; Bouck;Vrooman and Nicholas York, 1723 (Chrysler's Hook).

There are 42 cemeteries and private burial plots in the town, the complete vital statistic reports from which are on record with the town historian.

The business of summer boarders, which flourished from the beginning of the present century until the early 1930s, which brought many visitors to several parts of our historic town and which was a financial benefit has declined noticeably.

At the present time (1959) the miles of road in the Town of Fulton are:

Towns roads - 69.25 County roads - 24.14 State roads (Rte. 30) - 8.76

CHURCHES

As each new community was formed a concerted effort was made to erect a house of worship and a school house. If the latter were built first it often served both purposes. Churches were erected at:

Breakabeen: Union--1815; Reformed--in the early twenties of 1800; Lutheran--January 30, 1844. They were combined in 1909 to form the present Presbyterian church.

Fultonham: Union, incorporated, February 18, 1850; the church was built previously.

West Fulton: Methodist--1825; Baptist--1884

Peter Smith, a lover of the Lord purchased a portion of the Michael Byrne patent and in 1831 he built a church in the hollow for the people with the steeple upon the hill. At that time the highway ran between the two and from the steeple projected a board over the road upon which he caused to be written in large letters: Time and Eternity, Consider. Desiring only the orthodox to enjoy the privilege of worshipping within his church, he caused a board to be placed against the wall in front of the audience, bearing the following inscription: Reputable ministers of the Gospel of all denominations of Christians are invited to officiate in this house, dedicated to the service of Almighty God, until its exclusive use shall be given over to a Dutch Reformed, Presbyterian or Congregational congregation. The Methodists first used the church; later the Baptists purchased the edifice, moved it to its present site, repaired it and conducted services there until early in the twentieth century. It is now the summer home of John McGiver, an actor of stage, screen and TV, his wife and family.

The oddity of this church, separted from its steeple by the highway, made Ripley's: Believe It or Not column. As far as is known, but one other similar example existed in the U.S.A. and that in one of the southern states.

Vintonton: Methodist--1863

Pleasant Valley: Methodist--1876

Fulton Hill (Fairland): Baptist and Methodist (one building)

Patria (Petersburgh): Methodist

Rossman Hill: Methodist

West Middleburgh: St. Paul's Episcopal, the former Vrooman's Land schoolhouse, was organized in the spring of 1934 as a mission under the Diocese of Albany, it now has a resident pastor, the Reverend William West.

Remaining in service: Breakabeen Presbyterian, Fultonham Union, West Fulton Methodist and St. Paul's Episcopal, West Middleburgh.

SCHOOLS

Schoolhouses were erected at:

Armlin Hill, Breakabeen, Cooper Street (Bouck's Falls), Dibble Hollow, Fultonham, Fulton Hill (Fairland), Hamm District (Dearstine), Huson Corners, Jones District, Macedonia, Patria (Petersburgh), Pleasant Valley, Rossman Hill, Shafer District (Swart-Morey District), Vintonton, Vrooman's Land, West Fulton, Yankee Street.

The town is now a part of the Cobleskill, Richmondville and Middleburgh Central School Districts.

POST OFFICES

Post offices were maintained at: Breakabeen, Fairland, Fultonham, Patria, Vintonton, West Fulton. Still in operation: Fultonham and West Fulton.

DOCTORS

Moses Lawyer, son of Jacob Lawyer of Schoharie was the first resident physician in the town. After graduating from New York College of Medicine he settled in Watsonville in 1821 and the year following married Elizabeth, daughter of Cornelius Vroman. He continued the practice of medicine there until his death in 1855. His son, Valentine M. Lawyer, who had studied in his father's office, attended lectures at the New York City Medical College, continued the practice until his death. Dr. Val, as he was familiarly known, developed a cure for diptheria. Many of the city doctors desirous of learning prescription for same requested him to lecture on the disease at the New York City Medical College; at the end of the lectures, as aforehand planned hoping to outwit Dr. Lawyer, they asked him what treatment he would prescribe? Dr. Val's reply: "By jocks, that is my own business." Knowledge of his remedy went to the grave with him--never disclosed to anyone.

In 1882 Dr. William W. Burgett settled at Fultonham, where he practiced medicine until his death. Dr. Charles Rosen practiced for a few years before World War II in Fultonham.

Doctors who resided in Breakabeen were: Dr. Baxter, Dr. Schaeffer, Dr. Fosburgh, Dr. Mathews, Dr. Squires, Dr. Weckell and Dr. Albertson.

At West Fulton, Dr. Havens settled in 1838, previously Dr. James had settled on Rossman Hill, later removing to West Fulton. Also Dr. John D. Wheeler, Dr. Allen, Dr. Rossman, Dr. Akeley, Dr. John Wilber, Dr. H.S. Gale, Dr. J.S. Akeley and finally Dr. Tibbitts.

There are no resident physicians in the town at present.

                  SUPERVISORS OF THE TOWN OF FULTON

1829   Charles Watson          1895   William Chapman
1830   John F. Mattice         1896   Garret W. Mattice
1831   Jonas Krum              1897   Garret W. Mattice
1832   Eben G. Foster          1898   Garret W. Mattice
1833   Homer Whitely           1899   L. Akeley
1834   Philip Bergh, Jr.       1900   Lorenzo Akeley
1835   Harmon Vroman           1901   Frank Akeley
1836   Robert W. Lamont        1902   Frank Akeley
1837   Philip Bergh, Jr.       1903   Jay Hilts
1838   Moses Lawyer            1904   Jay Hilts
1839   John Spickerman         1905   Jay Hilts
1840   Joseph Becker           1906   Jay Hilts
1841   Charles Watson          1907   Jay Hilts
1842   John Spickerman         1908   Jay Hilts
1843   Gideon D. Hilts         1909   John R. Haynes
1844   Ephriam Vroman          1910   John R. Haynes
1845   Alston F. Mattice       1911   John R. Haynes
1846   Philip Bergh, Jr.       1912   John R. Haynes
1847   Peter A. Borst          1913   John R. Haynes
1848   David Gorse             1914   John R. Haynes
1849   Washington Bergh        1915   John R. Haynes
1850   Peter Murphy            1916   Harry J. Nelson
1851   John Spickerman         1917   Harry J. Nelson
1852   Joseph Becker           1918   Harry J. Nelson
1853   William Best            1919   Harry J. Nelson
1854   John Spickerman         1920   Harry J. Nelson
1855   Jonas Krum              1921   Harry J. Nelson
1856   Roswell Driggs          1922   Arkel Spickerman
1857   David Gorse             1923   Arkel Spickerman
1858   Gideon D. Hilts         1924   Mott Keyser
1859   Charles Bouck           1925   Mott Keyser
1860   Riley Adams             1926   Charles H. Holiday
1861   Washington Bergh        1927   Charles H. Holiday
1862   David J. Vroman         1928   George E. Hanes
1863   John D. Wheeler         1929   George E. Hanes
1864   William H. Freemire     1930   Brewster Bouck
1865   Charles Bouck           1931   Brewster Bouck
1866   John Spickerman         1932   Leslie Van Wie
1867   William H. Freemire     1933   Leslie Van Wie
1868   Abram Haines, Jr.       1934   Layman Burgett
1869   George Spickerman       1935   Layman Burgett
1870   Washington Bergh        1936   Layman Burgett
1871   David J. Vroman         1937   Layman Burgett
1872   Orson Spickerman        1938   Layman Burgett
1873   Washington Bergh        1939   Layman Burgett
1874   Washington Bergh        1940   Layman Burgett
1875   Washington Bergh        1941   Layman Burgett
1876   John H. Mann            1942   Leslie Van Wie
1877   John H. Mann            1943   Leslie Van Wie
1878   Orson Spickerman        1944   Leslie Van Wie
1879   Orson Spickerman        1945   Leslie Van Wie
1880   Orson Spickerman        1946   Leslie Van Wie
1881   Marcus Zeh              1947   Leslie Van Wie
1882   Marcus Zeh              1948   Chester Hotaling
1883   George Vroman           1949   Chester Hotaling
1884   George Vroman           1950   Chester Hotaling
1885   Orson Spickerman        1951   Chester Hotaling
1886   Orson Spickerman               John H. Durie, Jr.
1887   Orson Spickerman        1952   Albert Lawyer
1888   Orson Spickerman        1953   Albert Lawyer
1889   Orson Spickerman        1954   Albert Lawyer
1890   Orson Spickerman        1955   Albert Lawyer
1891   Orson Spickerman        1956   Albert Lawyer
1892   William Chapman         1957   Albert Lawyer
1893   Stephen E. Wiltsie      1958   Albert Lawyer
1894   William Chapman         1959   Albert Lawyer

SCENIC SPOTS

BOUCK'S FALLS

Bouck's Falls, where water dashes down in a twisted descent over 120 feet into a pool it has excavated at its base, are on the Kenhuragara (Panther) Creek approximately a mile from where it empties into the Schoharie River. The cliffs on either side are rugged and shelve inward. On his first visit to this waterfall, October 1837, J.R. Simms, the noted historian, named it after Col. J.W. Bouck, a son of Gov. William C. Bouck, who accompanied Simms to it. There are many Indian and other legends about this cascade and the adjacent area.

KRUM FALLS

Krum Falls, near Huson's Corners, on the Keyser Kill are worthy of note. A more beautiful spot is hard to imagine.

A FEW STATISTICS

Acres of land: Improved - 20,508 1/2
               Unimproved - 17,351
               Total - 37,859 1/2

Miles of roads in the town (1866) - 104

Population (1865): Males 1,305
                   Females 1,368
                   Total 2,673

Number of dwellings: 533
Number of families: 568

Schools: number of districts: 17
Children taught: 875

Live stock (1865) horses and colts: 688
Meat cattle other than cows: 1,140
Cows: 1,327
Swine: 781
Sheep and lambs: 2,641

Bushels of grain (1865): winter: 4,484 1/2
                         spring: 398,142 1/2

Tons of hay (1865): 3,176 1/2
Bushels of potatoes (1865): 27,888
Bushels of apples (1865): 18,124
Pounds of butter (1864): 153,691
Pounds of wool (1864): 14,159
Yards of domestics manufactured (1864): 8,244 1/2
Pounds of pork (1864): 130,026

Farming was the chief industry in 1904, and the value of the town's
products: corn, grain, hops, apples, potatoes, stock raising and
dairying ranked fifth or sixth in the county. Flagstone quarries
and undeveloped mineral springs also existed.

CHARLES WATSON

Charles Watson was a son of Charles Watson, who came from Albany County in the beginning of the nineteenth century and engaged in the mercantile business in a small way and kept an inn. His residence and business here gave to the immediate neighborhood the name of Watsonville. The father died when Charles was but a lad attending school and his mother engaged her brother-in-law, Harvey Watson, to superintend the business until young Charles attained age and education.

Charles Watson II was a merchant in Watsonville for many years and the leading business man of the town. He was the first supervisor of the Town of Fulton; served in the State Assembly in 1830; was justice of the peace for many years, which provided the stepping stone to the judicial bench of the Common Pleas Court, which he attained in 1838 and held until the Constitution of 1846 took effect. After his death, January 29, 1872, the Canajoharie Radii said of him: "Where is another man in any county, who has measured calico, weighed tea and counted eggs for more than a half century, that has paid one hundred cents on the dollar and never lost a customer?"

Upon the death of Charles Watson II, Alonzo and Charles Best as Best Brothers succeeded in the business and were followed by Albert G. Rosecrans, Mrs. Mary Muller, Mr. and Mrs. William Brayman and Mr. and Mrs. Ray Larned. The former store property, owned at the time by Mr. and Mrs. Henry Miller, was destroyed by fire in February, 1959. The Watson homestead is now owned and occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Charles Lewandowski, Sr.

GOVERNOR WILLIAM C. BOUCK

William C. Bouck was born January 7, 1786, in the old family mansion on Bouck's Island. At the age of nine years he attended an English school in the neighborhood, the first one in the town, commenced in 1795.

His first public position was town clerk, next supervisor of Schoharie, local offices, county sheriff in 1812, the following season he was elected to the State Assembly with reelection in 1815 and 1817. In 1821 and 1822 he was State senator; on March 29, 1821, he was appointed Canal Commissioner which office he held until 1840. In 1842, Mr. Bouck, was elected Governor of the State of New York, to date the only governor Schoharie County has ever produced. He proved one of the most economical governors ever to serve his State.

A few excerpts from Governor Bouck's message to the Legislature of the State of New York--"For the first time since the organization of the government, the chief magistrate has been selected from the agricultural portion of the community.

"Whatever distrust I may feel in taking upon myself an untried station of so much importance and difficulty, I repose with confidence on the guidance of the Almighty! on the cooperation of every department of the government and on the indulgence of a generous people, who are always ready to overlook unintentional errors.

Were it not for the great excesses previous to 1837 when agriculture was neglected, when extravagance and an inordinate desire for wealth prevailed and the whole nation was deluded by a fictitious prosperity, the people would now be comparatively happy in the full enjoyment of case and plenty.

"There is no nation so highly favored as the people of the United States; and if they properly improve the advantages they possess, time will show that in point of greatness they are, as yet, in their infancy."

The anti-rent wars occurred in part during his term as governor.

In writing a thesis on Governor Bouck, Kirby Baker declared that he had decided him to be one of the only three or four honest men of his time.

In 1846 Mr. Bouck was elected a delegate to the Constitutional Convention and the same year entered the assistant treasurer's office of New York City, which position he held until 1849, when he retired to private life upon the Island. His wife was Catharine Lawyer, to which union eight children were born. He passed away at his Island home in April 1859 and was buried in the family plot on the homestead (later removed to the Middleburgh Cemetery).

SOME EARLY PRODUCTS

In its time broom corn became an important crop in the town. Several broom shops which manufactured house, whisk and barn brooms were established. William D. Lawyer, of West Middleburgh, still owns and operates intermittently such a shop across the highway from his home in the town.

Apples were a principal crop in parts of Our Town at the beginning of the present century. Some farms produced several hundred barrels, each of which held three bushels, packed at the farm and usually shipped by rail from Middleburgh. The apple packers moved from farm to farm often receiving room and board.

Hops were an important crop here during the last quarter of the nineteenth century until near the end of the first quarter of the twentieth century. Prohibition and disease caused the end of hop growing; but one has not really lived, who has not worked during hop picking: in the field very early in the morning, the kissing loops, with a hop dance at the end of the day often lasting until the dawn.

FLOODS

Spring and fall freshets have occurred often causing great loss of both property and live stock. The greater ones took place in: the spring of 1784, the spring of 1858, the fall of 1869, the spring of 1870, the fall of 1905; with the worst one in October, 1955, when the former residence of Mrs. Belle Nelson of Breakabeen was completely destroyed by the flood waters of the Keyserkill Creek. The waters of the Schoharie River fairly reached from mountain to mountain, families had to be rescued, property damage and loss was excessive.

C.C.C. CAMP

One of the C.C.C. Camps, whose purpose was to relieve the depression, was built near Bouck's Falls in 1934 on land leased of Mrs. Kathryn Partridge. It was discontinued in 1941 and remained unoccupied with a caretaker in attendance until it was purchased by Percy and Kathryn Partridge. The property is now owned and operated by Mr. and Mrs. Madison Hilts as Madison Garden Village. The Town of Fulton acquired the garage on the property for housing town equipment.

In 1958, under the State administration of Governor Averell Harriman with Sharon J. Mauhs, Cobleskill, Commissioner of Conservation, New York State purchased several acres of land, east of the Kenhuragara Creek, to be developed for a State Picnic Area and Campsite, the only one in the county and to be known as the Toepath Mountain Picnic Area and Campsite. Operations for its development were begun in the summer of that year. On May 28, 1959, with Edward Van Voris, caretaker, the site, with picnic tables, benches, charcoal burners and parking space was opened to the public. Further facilities are planned for the future and to date it has proven its popularity.

A BIT OF HUMAN INTEREST

At about the beginning of the present century the male organist in the Fultonham Union Church accompanied the music with extreme physical exercise. His usual garb was a "swallow-tail" coat, stiff bosomed shirt, dress trousers and button-shoes. During the spring, when the wasps are so plentiful in certain buildings such was the case in this church. The musician possessed a long, sharp, pointed jack-knife, which he kept open on the organ during the church services and whenever a wasp came within reach he would spear it with his faithful blade, whether during a hymn or some other portion of the service. Doubtless to say his actions often caused more interest than the sermon and many were the signs of suspense uttered by the congregation.

During hop picking on the John Feeck farm (Prell farm, now owned by Mr. and Mrs. Max Shaul), Bouck's Island in the summer of 1887, Mrs. Reuben Wayman called to her husband, that their child had died. Mr. Wayman upon hearing the message stated that he would have to go home to put his boots to her for letting the child expire. John Avery, a prominent churchman, who resided on The Lane, where Mr. and Mrs. Seward Lewis now live, was requested to make a prayer for the deceased youngster at the grave (burial plot on the Prell farm), which he did. On the way home Mr. Avery became dizzy, while crossing the Banekill, and fell into the water. Had it not have been for the presence of several neighbors, who accompanied him and who pulled him out of the water, he might have drowned.

CONCLUSION

In closing may we note some of the changes in Our Town during its 131 years of existence. Many of the family farms have been combined into what may well be termed ranches, with some vegetable and corn fields a mile long. The Onistagrawa retains its meaning--the Mountain of the corn fields. Dairying, which is on the decline due to several economic factors, is being correlated with or supplanted by cash crops of vegetables. Several large chicken and egg production establishments are scattered throughout the town, some products from which find a market in New York City and New Jersey. General stores are conducted at: Watsonville by Mrs. Lillian Collins; Fultonham by C. Edgar Rhinehart; Breakabeen by Mr. and Mrs. William Moeckel. Hotels are operated at: Breakabeen, Walhalla Inn, by Mr. and Mrs. William Skowfoe; Bouck's Falls, Madison Garden Village, by Mr. and Mrs. Madison Hilts and the Bouck's Falls House by Mr. and Mrs. Karl Grom. A new industry, Veer Ceramics, is operated very successfully at West Fulton by Mrs. Victor E. Vere.

Now, that we have entered the atomic age may it be used exclusively for the good of mankind rather than for his destruction.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

In part material used was obtained from:

Frontiersmen of New York, J.S. Simms, 1882

History of Schoharie County, N.Y., William E. Roscoe, 1882

Historical Collection of the State of New York, John W. Barber,
Henry Howe, 1841

The Schoharie County Directory, Pierre W. Danforth, 1899

Timothy Murphy, Hero of the American Revolution, Michael J.
O'Brien, L.L.D., 1941

Summary of Schoharie County, Solomon Sias

Schoharie County Directory, 1872, 1873, Hamilton Child

Atlas of Schoharie County, 1866

Russell S. Bergh, Middleburgh, Photographer

Alice M. Bouck, Watsonville, Colloquial Town Map

Harmon Haines, Fultonham

Abram Keyser, Fultonham

Albert E. Lawyer, Star Route, Middleburgh

Clara Mickle, West Middleburgh

Ruth B. Nelson, Breakabeen

Myron Vroman, Middleburgh, Curator Old Stone Fort Museum, Schoharie

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