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Barent Keyser and Wife


The Keyser and Schaeffer families came to the upper part of old Breakabeen some time after the year 1750. They became related by marriage, and were closely connected in many business transactions.

It is said the stream that forms a junction with the Schoharie near the present village, or modern Breakabeen, was named Keyser Kill, after the first settler, and grandfather of the subject of this sketch. That pioneer built a small grist-mill about the year 1765 at some point in this part of the valley, but the exact location is not definitely known. He also reared a family of boys who numbered at least four, but through the agency of the Revolutionary war--diverse political opinions--and death by exposures, peculiar to those times, but two families were left in the States at the close of that war, Abram, as stated in Chapter XIII, and the family of the grandfather of our subject, Barent. One of the sons married Catharine, a daughter of Jacob Schaeffer, from whom she received a farm lying in the town of Sharon as her portion, to which the family removed about the year 1795. Barent, the son and third in name, was there born on the 5th day of August, 1799. In 1805 the family returned to the valley and settled upon the farm now owned and occupied by Mr. Keyser.

The family being large, Mr. Keyser "worked out" by the month among the farmers of the valley, and by following the frugal customs of the day he laid by a few hundred dollars, which he was induced by his mother to pay upon debts against the homestead. He assumed the responsibility, and in a few years became the owner of the farm. It being mostly covered with heavy timber, it can be imagined an immense amount of labor was required to bring it to its present state of cultivation. But industry coupled with energy and frugality, made the great change, and gave to Mr. Keyser a competency and pleasant home to enjoy in his old age.

When his labor commenced upon the farm, he states that the woods abounded with deer, and it was not an unusual occurrence to see several in a herd grazing upon the side of the mountain, especially in the spring of the year, when they could find the low and tender bushes. During one winter in Mr. Keyser's time, the snow being very deep, with a heavy crust upon it, a neighbor of his killed over seventy with an ax. Bears were also numerous and plagued the farmers by killing their hogs and sheep. It is indeed pleasing to those that experienced the trials and labors attending the pioneers of the hills of Blenheim to recount them over and over again, and contrast those days with the present, and draw from it lessons worthy to be heeded by their children and grandchildren who enjoy the fruits of their labors.

Mr. Keyser early married a sister of the present HonYost Warner, of Warner Hill, who long years ago passed on to the spirit world, after assisting the husband in his early struggles against the thousand obstacles that were placed in his way, and rearing the following family of children: Mrs. John Mattice, Mrs. Henry Parslow, Mrs. Henry Smith, Mrs. Henry Keyser, George, John and Jacob.

Being a hard-working man, Mr. Keyser has never aspired to official honors, therefore never held any office beyond local trusts imposed upon him by the neighborhood of which he has so long been a respected member.

When a young man he served his time in the State Militia, and was detailed as guard at the execution of Casler in 1818, and also of Van Alstine the year following.

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