History of Warren County, H. P. Smith
Chapter XXV: History of the Patent and Town of Queensbury - Part 1
This transcription was produced through the use of Readiris Pro 11 OCR software. Contributed by Tim Varney.
With Page 332the stirring events of a military character which were enacted within and near to the boundaries of the present town of Queensbury down to the close of the Revolutionary War, we have endeavored to make the reader familiar in preceding chapters of this work. Previous to that memorable struggle for liberty, settlement had progressed on the original Queensbury patent to the proportions of a considerable community; but its peaceful thriftPage 333 and progress were disturbed and interrupted by the Revolution, and most of the settlers were prompted by prudence to desert the homes they had reared, or were driven forth by war's stern necessities. When they, or their successors, returned at the end of the conflict, they found little but general desolation and the partial re-establishment of Nature's supremacy over the soil; but the arts of peace were resumed and prosecuted with vigor by the pioneers, and ere many years had passed the foundations of the present prosperous and intelligent communities were broadly and deeply laid. It remains for us to note the progress of those early settlements, the public civil acts of the inhabitants, and the later growth of the town and its institutions.
Immediately following the granting of the Queensbury patent, its survey and partition among the proprietors early in the year 1763 (as detailed in previous pages), the infant settlement was begun. (1) Abraham Wing and Ichabod Merritt came in from Duchess county in the summer of the year named and made an opening in the wilderness. The first building erected was a log dwelling, which stood on the Sandy Hill road near the site of the residence occupied in late years by Charles Parsons. Here Abraham Wing and his family lived for a time. Mr. Merritt and his family, it is believed, temporarily occupied the block-house in the neighborhood of Charles Green's steam saw-mill. The second house was built in 1764 by Abraham Wing, who gave up the first dwelling to his son; this was also a log structure and stood a few rods in rear of the site of the old McDonald mansion, now owned by Gurdon Conkling. The third building was a log house erected by Abraham Wing, jr., and stood on the site of Kenworthy's crockery and variety store.
1. It is stated on tradition, that at the time of the division and drawing of the town lots, one John Duck drew a lot now partly embraced within the limit, of the corporation of Glens Falls, and when the surveyor's bill was, presented, being unable to meet his assessment, he sold or offered his interest for a peck of beans - Holden's History of Queensbury.
The valuable water power in this vicinity very naturally attracted the early attention of the pioneers and steps were taken in 1764 to improve it. On the 9th day of July in that year an agreement was entered into between Moses Clement and Moses Phillips, by which the latter agreed to build a mill for Clement, working for "7s. per day, Jos. Taylor, his journeyman at 5s. and John his prentice at 2s. per Day." In the final account rendered Mr. Clement was credited by Phillips with "£9.12.0. for Boarding, Drinking, Washing and Lodging," with other items. A dispute arose over the contract and suit was brought (probably in Albany) to recover payment for building the mill; this occurred in March or April, 1765. The result of the action is not recorded, and it is of importance only that it was probably the first law-suit arising in the community.
The location of the mill can only be conjectured, but is supposed to have been near the mouth of Cold Brook, at the eastern boundary of the town, the Page 334 power being supplied by a wing dam extending across the island near the left bank of the river.
There must have been a saw-mill in operation here previous to the erection of the one just described. Whether it was built by Mr. Wing alone, or in connection with his son-in-law, Nehemiah Merritt, or by the John Bracket alluded to, is not known. The fact is amply substantiated, however, by the following document found by Dr. Holden among the Wing manuscripts: -
"CITY AND COUNTY
"The deposition of Simeon Chandler taken upon oath before me Patt Smyth Esq., one of his Majesty's Justices of the Peace, for the county aforesaid etc. That in the year 1763, James Bradshaw did in my hearing, agree with Mr. Abraham Wing, and Mr. Nehemiah Merritt, for as many planks and boards as should be wanted for the work necessary to be done for the said mill in Kingsbury, in said year 1763, and on said Wing, and said Merritt departure from Queensbury, said Bradshaw did desire the above said Wing and Merritt would give orders that said Chandler should have what was then wanted for said work and said Wing and said Merritt did send a token to John Bracket to saw what planks were wanted for the work aforesaid.
"The above is a true copy of what was wrote by the hands of Simeon Chandler the 18th day of Dec., 1763.
"Patt Smyth, Justice."
In the year 1765 the interest of Nehemiah Merritt in a mill here was transferred by the document quoted below to Abraham Wing; this mill, it appears, was built by those two men and may be identical with the one above described. Following is the assignment by Merritt: -
"Know all men by these presents that I Nehemiah Merritt, of Beekman's precinct in Dutchess county, and province of New York, gentlemen, for and in consideration of the sum of five shillings current money of New York, to me in hand paid by Abraham Wing, of Beekman's precinct in Dutchess county and province of New York aforesaid, have and by these presents do for me and my heirs, remise, release, and forever quit claim unto him, the said Abraham Wing, his heirs and assigns in his peaceable and quiet possession, now being all that one full and equal half of all that saw-mill on the great fall in Queensbury township in Albany county and province of New York aforesaid which we the said Merritt and Wing in joint partnership built together, as likewise furnished said mill with utensils necessary, likewise the dwelling house standing a little northward about ten rods from said mill.
"Now therefore, what is herein contained and intended is that I the said Nehemiah Merritt for me, my heirs and assigns will and hereby do release and forever quit claim unto him the said Abraham Wing his heirs and assigns, the one full and equal half of all that mill, dwelling house and utensils belonging Page 335 to said mill, and furthermore the one equal half of the water, and water course to said mill, as likewise the equal half of said mill-dam, raceway, logway, and all other privileges advantages and profits thereunto belonging, unto him the said Abraham Wing his heirs and assigns forever.
"In witness whereof, I the said Nehemiah Merritt to this my release have set my hand and seal this seventh day of the tenth month in the year of our Lord one thousand, seven hundred and sixty-five.
"Nehemiah Merritt. [Seal.]
"Sealed and delivered in the presence of
"Benjn. Ferris junr.
This mill stood, according to Dr. Holden, near, "the site of the old Spencer tavern, or Glen House, under the hill."
Early log dwellings other than those mentioned were built at various points, among them being one at the Butler Brook on the plank road; another on the brow of the hill near the present residence of Duncan McGregor, and still another near the residence of Henry Crandell.
It was about this period that the proprietors of Queensbury deeded to Abraham Wing a section of thirty acres of unappropriated land immediately at the falls, in consideration of his having been to the trouble and expense of building a saw-mill and grist-mill for the accommodation of the inhabitants. The instrument by which this act was effected is as follows:
"To the honorable proprietors and owners of Queensbury township in Albany county, your humble petitioner showeth: -
"That Abraham Wing, late of Dutchess county, now resident of the above said township have at a great cost and charge built mills in and on a small tract of undivided land in the above said township to the great encouragement for settling ye above lands which is and must be an advantage to the owners.
"Wherefore in consideration for such cost and encouragement, I desire ye owners of said lands on which the mills stand will convey the same to me as is underwritten, etc.
"This indenture made this seventh day of March in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and sixty-six by and between we the subscribers of the one part, and Abraham Wing late of Dutchess county, now resident in Queensbury township, Albany county and province of New York of the other part witnesseth, that we the subscribers for divers good causes and considerations us hereunto moving, the receipt whereof we do hereby acknowledge, have granted. bargained, quitclaimed and confirmed, and by these presents do grant, bargain, quitclaim, alien, and confirm unto the said Abraham Wing his heirs and assigns forever, all the right, title, interest, claim and demand that we now have, ever had, or ought to have in that certain tract or parcel of undivided land in the township of Queensbury in Albany county and province above said situate
lying on the Great falls by Hudson's river in the above township, bounded to the east by lands of Nathaniel Stevenson and William Haviland, to the north and west by lands of Abraham Wing, and to the south on Hudson's river, containing about thirty acres of land, be the same more or less; and also all trees, wood, underwood, water, water courses, profits, commodities, advantages, hereditaments whatsoever to the said messuage and undivided land above mentioned belonging or in anywise appertaining, and also the reversion and reversions of every part thereof, and also all our estate, right, title, interest, claim, and demand whatsoever to him the said Abraham Wing, his heirs and assigns forever, to have and to hold the above granted, bargained and quitclaimed premises above mentioned and every part thereof to the only proper use and behoof of the said Abraham Wing, his heirs and assigns forever. And we the subscribers for ourselves, our heirs and assigns will warrant and forever defend from any claiming from or under us by these presents. In witness whereof to these presents we have hereunto subscribed our names and affixed our seals the day and year above written.
"Sealed and delivered in the presence of
These early mills were of the greatest importance to the settlers; they are the first necessity in all new communities. They were far different from the mammoth establishments that now occupy the vicinity; but they sufficed to supply rough lumber from the magnificent pines which abounded in the immediate locality, and were the beginning of the subsequent great lumber interest in which the early inhabitants engaged and which added largely to the thrift of the town; while the grist-mills were a still greater accommodation in giving the families facilities for grinding their grains, which they otherwise would have had to transport long distances.
The need of transportation across the river was felt at an early day and a ferry was established about the period under consideration, which, according to Dr. Holden, extended "from the upper rollway across to the head of Water street descending to the river from the old Folsom house, on the south side of Page 337 the falls. The old road followed the course of the ravine leading from the canal basin to Park street. This ferry was continued with little interruption up to the close of the century. The first ferry house was a log building on the south side of the river, and on its bank a few rods above the dam, and was occupied by one of the Parks family. The cellar is even now visible. The house was burnt during the Revolution. The second, which was in use subsequent to the Revolution, was built on this side the river near the rollway."
These various early improvements aroused the apprehensions of the Indians, particularly the Mohawks, who complained and protested to Sir William Johnson, then superintendent of Indian affairs for the northern department. The Indians witnessed the encroachments and improvements of the whites with jealous eyes; but the wise jurisdiction of the superintendent and their confidence in him prevented any outbreak, and their claims were subsequently amicably adjusted.
The first white child born in the town was a son of Ichabod Merritt; this child became the grandfather of Isaac Mott, now living at Glens Falls and a prominent attorney of the county.
On Tuesday, the 6th day of May, 1766, the first town meeting was held in the town of Queensbury, when the following officers were chosen: -
Abraham Wing, moderator; Asaph Putnam, town clerk; Abraham Wing, supervisor; Jeffrey Cowper, assessor; Ichabod Merritt, assessor; Asaph Putnam, constable; Ichabod Merritt, collector: Benajah Putnam, pathmaster; Truelove Butler, pound-keeper; Abraham Wing, overseer of the poor; Caleb Powell, overseer of the poor.
Here were eleven officers and only seven men to fill them; those seven without doubt, constituted the entire population eligible to office, and of the seven, only two were proprietors of land. The modern scramble for political station was then unknown, and it was not much of a man who could not have two or three offices if he was ambitious in that direction.
It now becomes incumbent to mention with more or less detail some of the earliest settlers in the town, besides Abraham Wing, sen., and Jeffrey Cowper, who have been alluded to. While the latter was, probably, the first man to locate permanently on the patent, it does not appear that he was a person of any considerable prominence in the community. The three Merritt brothers, Nehemiah, Daniel and Ichabod, married the three eldest daughters of Abraham Wing, the pioneer. The first two never removed to Queensbury, but Ichabod and his wife Sarah did, and his name appears above in the list of town officers for 1766. The oldest son of Ichabod and the first white child born in the town, was named Joseph, who was born December 17th, 1766. From Ichabod Merritt are descended the numerous families of Motts and Carys in this and the adjoining town of Moreau. He held other offices in the town and is said to have erected the first frame-house in Queensbury; it was Page 338 situated on one of the town plot sections near the Half-way Brook and was burned during Burgoyne's advance, together with the mills at the Falls and several other dwellings. In the early part of the Revolutionary War the family returned to Duchess county, whence Joseph removed to the town of Moreau where he died in 1826.
Daniel Jones was one of the earliest settlers of Queensbury and was a brother of David Jones, whose fame rests upon his having been the betrothed of the hapless Jane McCrea. The family, consisting of the widow and six sons, settled in Kingsbury, having removed from Leamington, N. J. After Daniel came to Queensbury he became one of the foremost in developing its water power and was interested in the first saw-mill and grist-mill built at Glens Falls; they were located just above the bridge. He married Deborah Wing, sixth child of Abraham and Anstis (Wood) Wing. He also bought the islands in the river of the Jessups of Luzerne, which he afterwards conveyed to Abraham Wing; one of them still bears the name of Wing's Island. At the outbreak of the Revolution he adhered to the king and fled to Canada. His lands here that had not been previously disposed of were confiscated and sold after the war. At the time of Carleton's invasion in 1780, his house was burned by the invaders. His wife died in Montreal March 28th, 1782, in childbed, which fact he communicated to her father in a feeling letter. After the war he settled in Brockville, Upper Canada, where he received a large grant of land in consideration of his losses here. In latter years the heirs endeavored to recover the value of the lands from the State, but were unsuccessful.
Zachariah Butler was in Queensbury previous to the Revolution, and also adhered to the cause of the king. He secreted his effects, burying some of them in the cellar, and fled to Canada. His dwelling, on the Bay road, was burned by the invaders under Carleton, and Butler never returned. It is believed that Butler Brook, a small affluent of Half-way Brook, and consisting of three small streams rising in the swamps west of the village, received its name from him. It was at the northernmost of the three branches that Washington and his staff stopped to drink while on their way to Crown Point in 1783.
Jacob Hicks was a son-in-law of Abraham Wing, having married Content, the seventh child of Mr. Wing, when she was but fourteen years of age. She was born the 11th of April, 1755. His name frequently occurs among the Wing manuscripts of an early date. In a statement of account elated Albany 22d May, 1773, rendered by James Dole, merchant, of that city, for £68, 16s. 8 3/4d., as quoted by Dr. Holden, the latter is credited by boards, plank, etc., and Daniel Jones's bond, together with cash nearly sufficient to cancel the same. The conclusion reached by this is, that Hicks probably had the management of Jones and Wing's saw-mill at the falls. Among the Wing papers is a receipt, dated 7th July, 1774, given by David Dickinson at Stillwater, for thirty-one shillings in full of all demands in favor of "John Hix, Deseest." In Page 339 another receipt given for payment of a bill of goods sold Jacob Hicks, 5th Aug., 1772, the paper bearing date 7th May, 1774. Benjn. Wing is named as executor. These data leave the inference quite probable that Hicks died in the latter part of 1773, or the early part of 1774. Two daughters, Sarah and Anstis, were the fruit of this marriage. Both survived and both married and raised large families.
The family and descendants of Abraham Wing, the pioneer, demand much more extended reference than we have accorded them in an earlier chapter, in referring merely to the first settlement of the Queensbury patent in its chronological order with contemporaneous events. It is believed that Mr. Wing's circumstances in the latter years of his life were considerably straitened, owing largely to his losses from the war. The following extract from his last will, furnished Dr. Holden by Judge Gibson, of Salem, N. Y., throws some light upon the extent of his estate: -
"Wing, Abraham, of Queensbury, Wash. Co., last will and testament dated '20 day of 9 month' 1794. Give to my wife Austis the sole use of my house and farm containing about 342 acres and all my stock, farming utensils and household furniture during her natural life. To my son Benjamin and to his heirs, etc., the above homestead with stock, etc., on farm at death of my wife, to my grandson Russell Lewis at my and his G. mother's decease, if he shall live with us till that time or when he shall be of age one yoke of oxen and two good cows, to the remainder of my children and G. children, viz.: Abraham Winge, Phebe Merritt, Patience Babcock, Content Hixon, Mary Lewis, Grd. children, Joseph, Mary and Deborah Merritt, Richard and Mary Jones, Russell Lewis and Willett Wing all the rest of my estate, viz.: 50 acres of land at the meadow, rear of first Division lots No. 87, 86, 85, 37, 19, 17, and half of 10 and 4, to divide among Abraham, Phebe, Patience, Content, Mary, Joseph, Mary, Deborah, Richard, Mary, Russell and Willett, and if any or either of Grd. children should die without a lawful heir, then their shares among the survivors. Appoints his wife Anstis exx. and his son Abraham, and friend Elisha Folger exrs. Witnesses: Warren Ferriss, John A. Ferriss, Reed Ferriss. Proved before the surrogate of Wash. Co., 27 May, 1795, and the same by Abraham Wing, qualified as exr."
Among the children of Abraham Wing, sen., was Abraham, jr., who was the youngest son. He was born on the "29th of 6th month, 1757, and married Mary McKie." They had seven children, the youngest of whom was born in Glens Falls on the 17th of August, 1791, and was also named Abraham. The little settlement was then known as Wing's Falls. Mr. Wing secured the elements of a sound business education and joined the late Josiah L. Arms in mercantile business in the town of Wilton, Saratoga county. He was subsequently associated with several of the leading business men of Glens Falls in various enterprises. Upon the opening of the northern canal Mr. Wing saw Page 340 his opportunity and engaged heavily in the lumber business. The extensive pine region in the Brant Lake Tract passed to the possession of parties in Troy, who sought out Mr. Wing to manage their extensive business. "To his sagacity and clear-sighted judgment," wrote Dr. Holden, "do we owe the present system of river-driving and booming which annually replenishes our mills, furnishes employment to a vast array of labor and which has substantially helped in building up our village to its present urban proportions." When he assumed this responsibility the lumber business in this vicinity was looked upon as nearly exhausted, and the water power here as nearly worthless; no one thought the extensive forests to the far northward would ever become tributary to this immediate vicinity. But Mr. Wing instituted a new order of things and gave a vigorous impulse to the entire lumbering business on the Hudson River and its tributaries. He soon became a partner in the business and ultimately sale proprietor of this and other large lumber interests, and accumulated a great fortune. He was thrice married; first, to Abigail Barnard, of Townsend, Vt.; second to Angeline B. (Vail), widow of Alexander Robertson, of New York; third, to Mrs. Frances A. Glass (née Bowman). He had children only by his first wife, and two daughters only reached adult age. He died in the entire respect of the community on the 13th of June, 1873.
Daniel Wood Wing was the second child of Abraham, jr, and Polly McKie Wing, and was born on the 25th of July, 1780, at the paternal homestead, the log dwelling before mentioned, that stood in rear of the old McDonald mansion. In October, 1780, "the year of the burning," as it was afterwards called in fireside story, while he was still a tender babe in his mother's arms, she fled at the approach of Carleton's marauding expedition and took refuge in the friendly recesses of the big Cedar swamp, that still borders, with its dense undergrowth and tangle of luxuriant vegetation, the eastern boundaries of the village. The night following she lay concealed near the spring at the foot of Sandy Hill. It is said of her that she emigrated to this country when she was but seventeen years of age. She was a woman, if all accounts be true, of fine presence and rare personal attractions; of undoubted courage and heroism, well adapted to the rude times and rough border scenes of danger and peril in which she lived. It is stated that in the early days of the settlement, while living in the old log tavern on the site of Kenworthy's hardware and variety store, she killed a large rattlesnake which she found coiled by a spring of water, still in existence under Vermillia's market, whither she had gone for her daily supply. The rocks and ledges by the river banks, and the numerous swamps and swales of the neighborhood, afforded shelter and refuge in those days to vast numbers of rattlesnakes, and their extermination is believed to be due chiefly to the active agency of swine running at large, rather than any other cause. (1)
1. Holden's History of Queensbury, p.82.Page 341
The records show that in 1802 Mr. Wing was keeping a tavern in the village of Glens Falls on the corner of Ridge and Warren streets, where he probably remained for a number of years as a landlord and merchant. In 1809 he was in Sandy Hill keeping a tavern and in 1814 was again in Queensbury. Not long after this date he removed to Fort Edward where he carried on mercantile and lumbering business and amassed a fortune. He married first, July 25th, 1803, Rhoda Stewart, of Kingsbury, and second, August 18th, 1825, Almira Higby. He died May 25th, 1856.
Other descendants of Abraham Wing and the prominent part taken by them in the building up of the town will be mentioned in the proper place a little further on.
Phineas Babcock was one of the earliest immigrants to this town and it is thought accompanied Abraham Wing when he made his first settlement here. He married Patience Wing, daughter of Abraham, and raised a large family. He held most of the town offices, and that of supervisor several times. He suffered heavily from the war and received therefor little or no compensation. He resided at one period at the head of the lake. Not far from the year 1790 he removed to St. Albans, Vt., and located about a mile west of the site of that village. There he erected the first framed house in that vicinity.
"Here," to quote the language of a member of the family, "by the practice of frugality, and cheered by the consolations of religion, he pleasantly passed the remainder of his days in the bosom of his devoted family, and literally amidst the fragrance and beauty of surrounding shrubs and flowers planted by the hands of his affectionate companion, a woman of elevated aspirations, and refined taste and culture."
He died about the year 1820. His wife survived him about fifteen years. She died at the house of her son-in-law, Willard Jewell, esq., St. Albans, Vt., in the month of February, 1836, aged eighty-four years.
The name of Truelove Butler appears as having been chosen to the office of pound-keeper at the first town meeting (1766). Of him Dr. Holden says: "The only information the author has succeeded in obtaining in regard to this personage, is derived from the following, which is a copy of a paper contained in the Wing manuscripts.
"'Memorandum this Ninth day of November in the year 1769, that I Jemima Butler widow, formerly wife to John Butler Deceased formerly both of Beekman's Precinct in Dutchess County and Province of New York Did Put and bind By Indenture our Son Truelove Butler an Apprentice to Abraham Wing him faithfully to Serve During the time the Sd Indentures specifyed which was about thirteen years and that time Being Expired ye Sd Apprentice is free and We the Said Butlers Did take and Receive an indenture of Abraham Wing, According to Custom and form obligating the Said Wing to Preform Sundry Duties and Preformances and Payments to our Sd Son, at the
end of his Apprentice, which the Sd Abraham Wing has faithfully, honestly, and Compleatly fulfilled payed and don according to the Indenture, and our Satisfaction, and the Indentures which we had Being Not to be found and Lost, We the Subscribers Do By These Presents Acquit, Release and for Ever Discharge the Sd Abraham Wing from all agreements Promises Covenants and Payments in Sd Indenture Contained whatsoever. As Witness our hands the Day and Year above Written.
"'John Smith Jr.,
Andrew Lewis was another of the several sons-ill-law of the founder of Queensbury. He came hither from New Milford, Conn., and married Mary Wing, the youngest daughter of the family, sometime previous to the Revolution. He became a resident of the island at the falls, known as Wing's Island. He was twice made a prisoner during the Revolution, and taken to Canada. On the first occasion he was one of a fishing party at the head of Lake George at the time of the capture of Fort Anne; on the second occasion he was captured during Carleton's invasion and remained in Canada until the close of the war. Descendants of Mr. Lewis still live in Warren county. He held the office of constable in 1775 and down to 1780.
James Higson (spelled "Hixon" in Mr. Wing's will) came to Queensbury previous to the Revolution. His name appears in the records as having held the office of assessor for nine years between 1777 and 1800. On the 18th of January, 1777, he advertised that he had taken it upon himself to act as the "executor to the estate of Jacob Hix, [Hicks] deceased, in place of Ichabod Merritt." "It is presumed from this, and other circumstances" says Dr. Holden, "that he had married a year or two previously, and perhaps longer, Content, the daughter of Abraham Wing, and the widow of said Hicks, who had died about the year 1774. Higson was taken prisoner together with Andrew Lewis, his brother-in-law, and William Robards, while hunting strayed cattle or horses near the Blind Rock at the time of Carleton's raid, in 1780. Another version of the affair states that they were preparing to go a fishing near East Creek, on Lake George, one of the number being engaged in chopping; the noise of which attracted the enemy, and they were surprised and captured. They were all taken to Canada, and after running the gauntlet, were rescued from the savages, and confined in prison. Robards afterwards escaped. The other two remained until the close of the war, being provided for to some extent, and probably kindly treated through the influence of some of their kinsmen who Page 343 were refugees in Canada at that time. After his return Higson built upon and occupied the land known as the Rosa farm, about one mile north of the village on the Ridge road. On the authority of the late Mr. McDonald, Higson's wife was an intimate friend and confidant of Jane McCrea; they often exchanged visits, and after the atrocious massacre, the Indians exhibited Jenny's scalp, with its long tresses of golden hair, at her father's house near the lower freight house, back of the McDonald mansion. Higson had three children, two daughters and a son John. The latter removed west. From Betsey the second child, are descended the Burnhams of this village."
William Robards, who was born in Canaan, Conn., February 10th, 1749, and married Phebe Fuller in 1774, came to Queensbury before the Revolution and probably soon after his marriage. His name appears in the records in 1786 and from 1790 to 1794, in which years he held the office of supervisor. He purchased a valuable farm on the Ridge and was a large land owner in other parts of the town. Dr. Holden writes of him as follows: "He was merchant, farmer, manufacturer and magistrate; a man of large influence and wide popularity. During the war he was twice made a prisoner and conveyed to Canada. The first time was in 1777 at the date of Burgoyne's advance, when, with his wife's brother, Andrew Fuller and two of Wing's sons-in-law, Andrew Lewis and James Higson, a flying-party of Tories and Indians made them prisoners, and conveyed them to Montreal, where they all had to run the gauntlet. Robards, being fleet of foot, made his escape, but was afterwards recaptured. He afterwards succeeded in escaping again from his prison house by breaking through the windows and scaling the wall, and after terrible exposures and sufferings reached his home. He was again made prisoner while hunting for stray horses in the neighborhood of the Blind Rock at the time of Carleton's advance and was exchanged at the end of the war." He died August 9th, 1802, and was buried in the family burying ground by the Round Pond at the Oneida. (1)
1. What was known as "Oneida Village" as early as 1818, and as "The Oneida" in later years, was a settlement on the Ridge road about five miles north of Glens Falls. It derived its name from Tom Hammond, a half-breed Oneida Indian, who kept a store here prior to and during the last war with Great Britain.
Asaph Putnam was a pioneer of Queensbury and must have immigrated very soon after Mr. Wing's advent. It is thought he was related by marriage to Mr. Wing. He held the office of town clerk from the year 1766-1777 inclusive, and was, like most of the pioneers, a member of the Society of Friends. While he resided here he lived in a log house which faced South street, on the estate of the late Roger Haviland, near the big dam.
The preceding personal sketches embrace most of the pioneers of Queensbury who settled here prior to the breaking out of the Revolutionary War, as far as records are now accessible. They came here and labored in the wilderness, hopeful and confident of the future, to build for themselves and their Page 344 posterity homes which they believed would rapidly increase in value and advance in attractiveness under the shelter of the peace then resting on the country. How these illusions were disturbed we shall endeavor to describe.
Of the region of Queensbury as found by these pioneers, it may be said that it presented an undulating surface of wilderness, which was, in the language of Dr. Holden, "but slightly broken by the numerous streams and ponds within its circuit, whose volume has been greatly diminished by the clearing up of the forests and swamps from whence they derived their supplies.
"Three small clearings at the three picket forts previously named barely served to break the monotony of the old military road which led from near the intersection of Glen and Warren streets, in an almost direct line to the lot well known in the early part of the century as the Mallory place. The banks of the river, fringed with forest verdure, the island, the falls, then appeared in their native and undisturbed grandeur. The site of the village was broken by three deep gullies, or ravines, stretching for some distance from, and running at right angles with the river. One of these ravines now forms the principal sewer of the village, running down past the old foundry, and in that early day opening upon the river precisely at the point occupied by the Glens Falls Company's grist-mill. In the upper part of this ravine John A. Ferriss constructed a fish pond of considerable size, which in 1802 was well stocked with trout, and was then considered one of the ornaments of the place. The second ravine may to this day be distinctly traced, commencing at Cross street and running parallel with Elm, crossing Park street, reissuing through the old Berry estate, and finding its outlet in the river just at the head of the falls. At a later period Judge Hay built a fish pond in this ravine, and Mr. Cushing erected a diminutive water power in connection with the old red market, on the old Spencer place. The third followed the course of Basin street, and after effecting a junction with two small rivulets at the basin, opened on the river nearly opposite the steam saw-mill. Each of these ravines were in those primeval days the channels of rivulets, which, fed by springs, and supplied by the wash and drainage of the adjacent table lands, lent their constant supply to feed the waters of the Hudson."
With the exception of Jeffrey Cowper, as previously mentioned, the first settlers of Queensbury were members of the Society of Friends, or Quakers, and after the little community was established, one of the first acts of the inhabitants was the inauguration of religious services after the simple forms of that faith. These services, it is supposed, were first held in the humble dwelling of the founder, Abraham Wing, later the old log Quaker church was erected on the south side of Half-way Brook, on the west side of the Bay Road. Following is a copy of the first permit :-
"Minute of a monthly meeting held at Nine Partners in Dutchess county and Province of New York the 19th of the 3d month, 1767.Page 345
"At this meeting Abraham Wing in behalf of friends at Kingsbury (1) and Queensbury (and by way of Oblong preparative meeting) requested liberty to hold a meeting for worship there once a week, and its allowed at present to be held each first day at twelve o'clock. And said Abraham Wing and James McKenney are appointed to have some care and oversight thereof and make report to this Monthly Meeting once in three months, or as often as they can, how the meeting is kept up and conducted, and what satisfaction they have in meeting together in that GREAT, and necessary duty.
"Pr. Zebulon Ferris, Clerk."
The old town records for the year 1767 bear the following record: -
"At the annual town meeting held in Queensbury on Tuesday, ye 5 day of May, 1767, for the township of Queensbury.
1 voted, Abraham Wing, Moderator.
2 voted, Asaph Putnam, Town Clerk.
3 voted, Abraham Wing, Supervisor.
4 voted, Abraham Wing, and Asaph Putnam, Assessors.
5 voted, Asaph Putnam, Constable.
6 voted, Ichabod Merritt, Collector.
7 voted, Benager Putnam, Pathmaster.
8 voted, Benjamin Wing, Pound-keeper.
9 voted, Abraham Wing and Ichabod Merritt, Overseers of the Poor.
10 voted, Benjamin Wing and Phineas Babcock, Fence-viewers."
1. James Bradshaw and other petitioners for and settlers of the Kingsbury patent, were residents of New Milford, in the colony of Connecticut, whence, also, some of the patentees and first settlers of Queensbury also came. In both of these towns the Quaker element was originally very strong, and in the latter for many yens predominant; spreading hence to various parts of Warren counry. - Holden's History of Queensbury.
The town records of olden times contain not alone matters of importance to the historian, but many entries so quaint in themselves as to render them worthy of transcription and preservation. Under date of May 5th, 1772, we find that it was voted that "a Pound be Built about 10 rods North East from the house of Abraham Wing and to meet at the house of s'd Wing on monday the first day of June at Eight o'Clock in the fore Noon to Build said pound on the penalty of Six Shillings each man for non-appearance."
Again, in 1786, it appears that another pound was needed in another locality, the entry concerning which reads: "Voted that their shall be a pound built west of the brig [bridge] over the half-way brook near the publick road on the forty acres left for such purposes to be built on Saturday the third day of June next Ensuing, each man to pay six shillings for his nun appearance on said day."
Scarcely less quaint is the following entry made in the next year: "Voted that hogs shall be Free Commoners by warein a yok the debth of the Neck Page 346 above the neck and half the depth blow, and the Cross peace twice the Length of the thickness of the Neck."
In the same year it was "Voted that there be a bounty of Forty Shillings For Cilling each wolf killed in The Town of Queensbury, To be paid by the Town Treasurer if it be collected before the seting of the assessors, otherwise to be maid in a Tax."
The prevailing absence of fences and the difficulty of keeping domestic animals sufficiently within control to even enable their owners to recognize his own without distinguishing marks, is indicated by the numerous entries in the records describing "ear-marks," as they were generally called. There is a quaintness and flavor of unintentioned humor about some of these that is enjoyable.
In the year 1792 is noted, "Shadrack Hubble's ear-mark," which is tersely described as "a Crop in the Rite ear and a hole in the same." "David Sealye's ear mark, a Crop of the left ear and two half pennyes the under side of the same;" Other marks were "a swallow fork of the right ear," "a slantin crop of the upper side of the left ear," "a double U in the end of the left ear," etc.
The same absence of fences mentioned led to the annual recording of numerous stray animals, a practice which came down to as late as 1850 in some parts of the town. In 1802, according to the records, there "came into the inclosure of the subscriber about the 1st of Jan. inst. a redish brindle Cow with a bell on a white spot in her pate, on her left side behind her fore shoulder is a large white spot, all her feet white, some white under her belly, about three or four years old.
One more of these entries which occurs in the year 1833: "The undersigned whose place of residence is in said town has on his enclosed lands in said town, one Stray Cow, and the following is a description of the colour and marks natural and artificial of the said stray, a Red and white cow with a white spot in her forehead and the ends of her horns sawed off, four years old.
In 1770 the enterprise of Abraham Wing prompted him to the erection of better facilities for sawing lumber and he entered into a contract with Daniel Jones, of Fort Edward for the erection of what they termed a Dutch saw-mill, with fourteen saws, which was the joint property of the two men. The original contract was preserved among the Wing papers. The first clause of the contract was as follows: -
"Whereas, the said Daniel Jones and Abraham Wing, are this day become joint owners and proprietors of a certain fall or stream of water and a saw mill with ten acres, two quarters and fifteen rods of ground adjoining the same with their appurtenances by deeds between them this day executed; and, whereas it is proposed that the said Daniel Jones shall erect and build another Page 347 saw mill little below the said saw mill there already standing, for the joint use and benefit of them the said Daniel Jones and Abraham Wing their executors, adm'rs and assigns."
Other provisions of the contract were to the effect that the parties and their assigns should "at all times hold and keep or cause to be holden and kept in good, proper and sufficient repair the said two saw mills with their sluices, dam and appurtenances at their equal and joint costs and expense." The parties bound themselves to the fulfillment of the contract "in the penalty of the sum of one thousand pounds lawful money of New York." The saw-mill to be built was forty-seven feet in length and eighteen feet in width. The contract was witnessed by Chris. Yates and John Glen.
Previous to the erection of the grist-mill at the Falls (a date which is not definitely known), the settlers were forced to go to Stillwater for their grinding; that place was reached partly by boat and partly by the old military road which was constructed ten or twelve years previously.
The date of erection of the first grist-mill is placed previous to 1771 by the following document, also, which indicates that Samuel Brownson was a partner to some extent in the business of Abraham Wing: -
"Queensbury the 4th day of February, 1771. We the subscribers have this day settled all our accounts on book excepting the saw mill and grist mill affairs and there remains due to Abraham Wing to balance book account, nine pounds, fifteen shillings York currency as witness our hands.
Samuel Brownson, named above, must be classed with the pioneers who came to Queensbury prior to the Revolution; he held the office of fence-viewer in 1769. The changes in the town officers were for several years and down to the breaking out of the war but slight; accessions to the settlement were few and consequently the same men had to be repeatedly chosen. In 1770 Job Wright was elected to several of the offices and Ebenezer Fuller was chosen pound-keeper. In 1771 Daniel Jones, before mentioned, was made pound-keeper, and Benjamin Hix (or Hicks) was elected assessor. The next year Nehemiah Seelye was placed in this office. He was the ancestor of the Seelye families now living in this vicinity. At the same election Ichabod Merritt and Jacob Hicks were chosen "firemen," - the first incident connected with the establishment of a fire department in Warren county. Just what the duties of the office were at that time, is not now known. During this year Albany county was divided. That portion embracing the settlements to the west and southwest of Schenectady was set off and called Tryon county and Page 348 Charlotte county, set off March 12th, 1772, embraced the territory now comprised in Washington, Warren, Essex and Clinton counties, and part of Bennington, Rutland, Addison, Chittenden and Franklin counties, in Vermont. This county was so named in honor of the Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburgh-Strelitz, the consort of King George the III. Considerable strife ensued over the location of the county seat, Crown Point, Skenesborough (Whitehall), and Fort Edward contending for the honor. The latter place triumphed and on the 8th of September, 1773, an ordinance was issued by the governor with the advice of the council, "establishing a Court of Common Pleas and a Court of General Sessions of the Peace to be held annually in the county of Charlotte, at the house of Patrick Smith, Esquire, near Fort Edward, on the third Tuesday in the months of October and May." The first court in pursuance of this, order was held on the 19th of October of that year, with William Duer and Philip Schuyler as presiding justices.
In the town records of 1773 we find the names of David Buck and Benedick Brown added to the civil list, the former as constable and the latter as overseer of the poor. Benedick Brown was the ancestor of the Brown families now living in the town and probably came hither in 1772, settling at the outlet of Long Pond, then often called French Pond; mills were built at that point at a very early date. (See biographies of George and Daniel V. Brown, herein.) The Harris and Brayton families came to Queensbury about this time and settled near the southern part of Fort Anne, then known as the Artillery Patent, or Westfield township, which included that portion of the town of Queensbury now known as Harrisena and embracing all that portion of the present town of Queensbury north and east of the bounds of the original patent. Zachariah Butler's name appears as a path master in 1774; we have already referred to him and his career.
The pioneers found several small Indian settlements in this vicinity, to which a few families came during the summer and autumn months for hunting and fishing, and occasionally in winter for trapping; these settlements were at Harrisena, Dunham's Bay (at the southern extremity of Lake George), at the outlet of the Long Pond, at the Big Bend (the sweeping curve of the Hudson about three miles above Glens Falls), and at the foot of the Palmerton Mountain on the south side of the river. They still claimed these localities as their hunting grounds, enjoyed them without disturbance and maintained the most peaceful relations with the families of the pioneers.
At the expiration of the first decade of settlement improvement had progressed to an encouraging extent; besides the mills and other industries described, twenty or more clearings had been made, each containing its humble log dwelling. Previous to settlement a frequently followed trail of the Indians was a portage of less than a mile between Fort Edward Creek near Moss street, and Wood Creek, leading past Fort Anne, the remainder of the route being Page 349 made by canoe. Within ten years after settlement began in Queensbury three or four corduroy wilderness roads were opened; one leading to the Ridge, another towards Dunham's Bay, one across by the outlet from the upper picket fort to Harrisena and thence to Fort Anne; the old military highway from Fort Edward to the head of the lake, and a cross road along the north line of the town plot. There was also a bridle path through the plains to the Big Bend, and the old well-trodden Indian trail leading along the east side of the town and connecting Wood Creek to the outlet of the Big Cedar swamp.
It is believed, according to Dr. Holden, that anterior to the Revolution, and certainly at a very early period, a somewhat pretentious log dwelling was erected on what is now the corner of Ridge and Warren streets, in Glens Falls. This structure was originally occupied by Abraham Wing for the double purpose of a store and an inn, where the few adventurous spirits who were drawn hither found primitive accommodations, and the pioneers such goods as could then be had in the wilderness. Here, says Dr. Holden, "according to the Wing papers, hundreds of pounds worth of liquor of various kinds was brought from Albany, Montreal, and on one occasion from Nova Scotia. Here the Jessups, Hugh Munro, Capt. Bradshaw and the neighbors with but few exceptions, held high revel and ran up bar bills of lusty proportions. And hence from the location of this tavern the little settlement soon became known, in addition to its proper name of Queensbury Patent, and its foster name of Wing's Falls, as Wing's Corners, and finally The Corners."
The reader will be able to picture in his mind the appearance and condition of the settlement of Queensbury as it existed at the time that the country was about to be overwhelmed by the momentous outbreak of the struggle for American liberty. The clearings, burned and blackened, dotted with stumps and surrounded with rude fences; the surrounding unbroken expanse of heavy forest, through which deer, moose, elk, wolves, lynx, panthers, wild cat and bears in great numbers roamed; the incipient efforts of the inhabitants to develop the resources of the locality; the meager beginnings of mercantile business; the primitive inns - all this was but a repetition of the experiences of American pioneer settlements made just before or soon after the Revolutionary War. The settlers all suffered and enjoyed in similar ways, their enjoyment lying less in the present and its rude surroundings, than in the fond hope of future plenty and content.
Cattle and sheep had been brought to the settlements in limited numbers, contributing to the food supply of the community and giving an air of peaceful civilization to the clearings in the forest. The settlers sometimes found it no easy task to obtain their current food supply, and it was often even more difficult to procure sustenance for their stock. This might have been actually impossible but for the two large beaver meadows, one of which was on the Five-mile Run (so-called from its being about that distance from the head of Lake Page 350 George), which was on this account given the name of Meadow Run; and the other on the outlet of the Big Cedar swamp on the east side of the town; this stream ran through Great Lot No. 3, owned in early days by Reed Ferriss, and came to be known as Reed's Meadow Creek. Cattle were also driven to the woods to browse in winter, thus eking out the scanty supply of hay. During one winter of extreme severity, it is related that the cattle could not be driven to the swamp as usual, and the settlers were compelled to feed them with salted fish, trout and suckers, which had been caught in the fall and with which all the streams abounded. One of the early settlers brought in, with great trouble, a small flock of sheep, which he placed in a log pen near the house, for security from wolves. During the night the ravenous beasts thrust their noses between the logs and succeeded in killing all but two of the flock. Those two were killed the next day, to save them.