History of Warren County, H. P. Smith
Chapter XXVI: History of the Town of Luzerne
This transcription was produced through the use of Readiris Pro 11 OCR software. Contributed by Tim Varney.
The Page 507township of Luzerne lies in the southern extremity of the county. west of Queensbury and Caldwell. Its western and southern boundary is formed by the Hudson River, which separates it from Saratoga county. The town of Warrensburgh bounds it on the north. The surface is extremely mountainous, two branches of the Luzerne Mountains extending through the town and occupying respectively the northern and southern portions. These branches are separated by the valley which lies to the southwest from the southern end of Lake George, which is filled with a chain of small lakes. Two small streams, rising among these lakes, find their way, the one to Lake George and the other to the Hudson River. It is stated that about one-half of the surface bordering upon the river is broken by high hills, but is susceptible, nevertheless, of cultivation. The highest and most conspicuous mountain peak in the town is Potash Kettle, in the northern part, which lifts its symmetrical proportions to an elevation of about 1,735 feet above tide, and from the summit of which can be obtained broken glimpses of the beautiful Valley of the Hudson. The soil in some parts is pure sand, and in others is relieved by a slight intermixture of loam. Some of the farms are quite productive.
"History has been enriched somewhat by leaves from Luzerne. It was on the regular Indian trail from the great villages of the Mohawks to the head of Lake George. Here King Hendrick and his braves encamped when on their way to join Johnson at the lake in 1775, and it was also the route taken by Sir John Johnson when he came from Canada for his buried treasures at Johnson Hall." (1)
1. S. R. STODDARD'S The Adirondacks, p. 180.
The town was taken from Queensbury on the 10th of April, 1792, and until April 6, 1808, was known as Fairfield. On the 30th of March, 1802, a stripPage 508 of territory one mile wide was set off to Queensbury. The town records have no minutes of the proceedings which were had in the year 1792, nor of the officers which served during that year. The minutes for 1793 are, however, complete, and as the first officers were probably nearly identical with those for 1793, a list of the latter will be of interest. They are as follows: (Elected at an annual town meeting held on April 2d, 1793.) Supervisor, Jeremiah Russell; town clerk, Benjamin Cowles; assessors, John Price, Gersham Darling, Daniel Ashley; constable and collector, Thomas Horton (with Jeremiah Russell and John Price as bondsmen); constable, James Kilborn; overseers of the poor, Gersham Darling and Daniel Ashley; commissioners of highways, Hendrick Loop, John Price and Benjamin Cowles; poundmaster, Daniel Mills; pathmasters, John Austin, Asa Durham, Philo Dexter, Thomas Holdridge, and Jeremiah Darling; fence viewers, John Austin and Asa Durham.
The records of this and subsequent meetings for a number of years are quaint and instructive. Quaint in the manner of expression, penmanship and orthography; and instructive in that they reveal the difficulties with which these daring pioneers had to contend, the novelty of adjusting themselves to their new surroundings, and the courage and perseverance which they exhibited in removing or surmounting all the obstacles which lay in their path. In the record of the meeting at which the above named officers were elected, appear minutes from which the following is an extract: -
"Vote Past by this Meting that Hogs may Run on the common with lawful yokes." ...
It was further resolved that a lawful fence must be four feet and six inches high; that there should be a pound built for this town thirty feet "squire" and seven feet high; that this pound should be built "at the lowest bid," whereupon it was found that Russell Durham was the lowest bidder, at thirty-eight shillings. He was to build the pound of white-pine logs, and to have it finished before the first of June, 1794. The account closed with the following words: "The above Writen Town officers were this day Qualified before Jeremiah Russell, Esqr."
At the annual town meeting held in the spring of 1794 it was, among other things, resolved: -
"Vote past that Hogs may run from the first of may to the first of September, with yokes the width of the neck above the neck, and half the width below and each side of the neck."
It seems that the pound which Russell Durham built was not constructed according to specifications: "The report of the committee that was chosen to inspect the pound, viz: That the Pound was not built according to agreement and that Russell Durham should return the money again to the town or build a good, sufficient Pound." - Town Records of 1795. Which of the alternatives Russell Durham complied with, if either, does not appear.Page 509
By reason, probably of the very early settlement of Glens Falls, it is found that even at this early date a number of rude mountain roads radiated from that place to Lake George and different parts of the Hudson, one coming to Luzerne or Fairfield. The following item is from the records of 1795: "By a Request of the Inhabitants of the Town of Fairfield by a Petition sined By twelve Freeholders Dated April 29, 1793, We, the Commitioners of Highways of the Town of Fairfield, Have Viewed the Road at the Eastward of this Town to Queensborough. We find that is exceeding Difficult passing From the top of the East Mountain to Queensborough Line. We therefore think it Necessary to turn the Road from the first Pitch on the East side of the Mountain and Running a North East Cours to the first water and thence Running a Due East Course By Glans saw mill to Queensbury Line. Said road Laid By us.
During this and the following years seven roads were laid and four were altered.
In these early times nearly every house in remote and pioneer settlements aspired to the dignity of a tavern, where the wayfaring stranger might receive lodging and food and a nameless quantity of the beverage that cheers as well as intoxicates. It would be hard, therefore, to designate this or that house as being peculiarly fitted for the purposes of an inn until a few years later, when travelers became too numerous to be conveniently accommodated at private houses. This early custom might, even without the aid of ulterior evidence, be inferred from some of the records of the period, in which it seems that nearly every inhabitant of the town must have applied for an innkeeper's license. In 1797, in this town, though the names are not numerous, it is more than likely that the applicants were not the owners of establishments which could be classed in the same category with Rockwell's Hotel, The Wayside, or the Riddell House. Benjamin Cross paid six shillings and eight pence (English money) for permission to retail spirituous liquors in his house during the months of January and February, 1797, and for the same privilege for the ensuing year he paid two pounds. Richard Hempstraught paid the first named sum for the same privilege for the months of January and February, 1797. On June 5th, 1797, Medad Bostwick paid for the privilege for one year one pound and ten shillings.
In 1801 there were nine road districts in town and two new roads were laid.
The work of laying out and altering roads was in constant progress from year to year. In 1802 two were laid out.
The courts were more strict then than now, perhaps because by reason of the sparseness of population and the near approach to unanimity of sentiment among the inhabitants, the laws were more easily enforced. Witness the following records of convictions and methods of punishment: -Page 510
"Washington county. (1) Be it Remembered that on the Seventeenth Day of November, In the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and two, Noah Hatch was convicted Before me, Mark A. Childs, one of the Justices of the Peace of said County, For Taking one profane oath. Given under my hand and seal the Day and year above said. MARK A. CHILDS, J. Peace."
1. It will be remembered that Warren county was not organized until 1813.
A conviction is likewise recorded against Samuel Washburn and his wife Hannah, of Hadley, Saratoga county, for frequenting a tippling house on Sunday, December 6th, 1802, at the house of Richard Hempstraught in Fairfield. A few years later at the annual town meeting held in April, 1810, it was "Voted, That there should be a pair of stocks built in the town of Luzerne, not far from William Johnson's now dwelling house, in order to punish disorderly persons, and to be erected by the poormasters, and on the expense of the money of the said Town."
Down to a comparatively recent date the mountains and woods of the vicinity were infested by sheep-killing beasts, such as wolves, wild cats, and even panthers. Premiums or bounties were annually offered to persons who should succeed in killing any of these troublesome brutes, and were continued down to nearly the middle of the present century.
The method of caring for the poor was greatly different from that at present in vogue. The poor were not a county, but a town charge. Money was appropriated from the funds voted for the support of the poor to remunerate persons who had cared for, or should care for one or more paupers for a stated length of time. "This was continued until 1826, when the county-house was erected and the system became what it is to-day.
Of the original settlers here before 1800, their places of residence and their occupations, it is impossible to say anything. The records reveal nothing but their names, and the memory of living man does not extend to a period so remote in the past. But it is certain the division of labor was not very marked in those days. Many of the pioneers were at once inn-keepers, blacksmiths, farmers, and merchants. The names of the settlers as they appear on the records may, however, be of some interest. Some of them have already appeared. Among them are: Jeremiah Russell, Benjamin Cowles, Ebenezer Sprague, Benjamin Cross, George Loveless, Aaron Vandebogart, Gilbert Caswell, Peter Mallory, Elijah Buttolph, Silas Dibble, John Cleveland, Henry Schaff, Eliphalet Lindsley, Isaac Washburn, Medad Bostwick, John Vanduser, Joel Read, James Mosher, Thomas Orton, Jabesh Gray, Abijah Adams, Daniel Ransom, Joseph Stone, Grant Towsey, Jonathan Beebe, John Ferguson, Elijah Brace, and Hezekiah Weatherby.
"Among its early settlers was Edward Jessup, after whom the landing below was named, and odd old Ben Barrett, who was noted for his practical jokes, and to this day, in that region, if a 'joke' comes to light whose paternity isPage 511 unknown, it is at once ascribed to old Ben. He once rode a horse into Rockwell's bar-room, took a drink, then rode out again. At another time he saw a peddler with a basket of extracts, and at once offered to bet a small sum that he could beat him across the bridge, carrying his basket at the time. The bet was taken, they started, and Ben fell, breaking many of the bottles, then solemnly admitting that he had lost, paid the bet, and left the brilliant peddler calculating how much he had made by the operation. . . .
"Mr. Rockwell gives some very interesting reminiscences of earlier times. When a boy he saw an old soldier who, in 1777, with others, was captured by the Indians near Lake George, stripped of their clothing, their hands tied to stakes, and fires built around them, while the savages gathered near to enjoy the sport. He soon managed to slip his hands out of the thongs that bound them, sprang through the flames, seized a little boy who appeared to be the son of a chief, and before the astonished natives could help themselves, sprang back within the circle of flames once more. A rush was made to save the child, and in the confusion the white man, dashing through the lines, made for the woods, with the yelling pack at his heels. Being a good runner, he kept away from them, going through the valley, where the road now runs towards Lake George, past the lake, past Rockwell's, and down the steep bank back of the Wilcox House to a place just below the falls, where he jumped on a rock near the center of the river, thence to the opposite side, and climbing up the rocks, gained the cover of the bushes on top as the yelling savages appeared on the other side. They then gave up the chase, and he succeeded in reaching his friends in safety." (1)
l. The Adirondacks, by S. R. Stoddard, (pp. 180, 181.)
One of the oldest and most prominent of the men still living who can give valuable and interesting reminiscences of the early part of this century is the venerable George T. Rockwell, known more familiarly among his hosts of guests as "Uncle George." He was born in the town of Hadley, Saratoga county, on the 9th day of March, 1807. His father, Jeremy Rockwell, was a prominent business man in Hadley, just across the river from Luzerne, and hence our present interlocutor's early experiences were connected almost as intimately with Luzerne as with Hadley. His memory of persons and events as far back as 1815 is quite clear. Of the residents of Luzerne at about that time he gives the following information: William Leavens, some of whose descendants are now living at Glens Falls, was a prominent man here, and a farmer. He lived on the River road about two and a half miles from the village. Joel Orton kept tavern about the same distance away on the road toward Glens Falls, in the same building now occupied by Mr. Blackwood. John Cameron, a Methodist preacher, resided six miles north of the village of Luzerne on the Hudson. He was an intimate friend of the Rockwell family. Nathan A. Wells, a lumberman, dwelt in the building now occupied by PeterPage 512 Pulver. George T. Rockwell became his son-in-law on the 12th of September, 1831. William H. Wells and Reuben Wells were sons of Nathan A. Wells. Marlborough Ball, who came to this vicinity soon after 1815, was a Quaker. He kept a farm on what is called the Hog's Back, a mountain ridge in the south part of the town. Descendants from him reside there now. Joseph Varney, another Quaker, was engaged in the same business with his near neighbor last above mentioned, and worshiped with equal silence at the same shrine. His brother (?) Nathaniel Varney, lived near him. Another member of this Quaker farming settlement was George Murray. John S. St. John, physician, came here before 1820. He had an office just opposite the present site of Rockwell's Hotel. Nathan A. Wells, in addition to his lumbering business proper, owned a saw-mill and grist-mill on the site of Burnham's grist-mill, the saw-mill being a few rods farther east or up Wells's Creek. At about 1815 Daniel Bocker kept a general store on the corner by the grist-mill. Jeremy Rockwell kept store on the other side of the river. It may be stated here that he came from Ballston to Hadley in 1802, and was originally a Connecticut man. In 1815 the whole country hereabouts was covered with almost impervious forests of pine. Settlements were formed slowly and painfully. There were not more than six dwelling houses of any description on either side of the river at the village of Luzerne or Hadley. Azariah Scofield began, about the year 1818, to keep a store where Edward C. Young now keeps one. A portion of the old building is still standing. A man named Allard used to visit the various families scattered through this vicinity and mend their boots and shoes. He was the only shoemaker known to the community. Descendants from him are now living in Greenfield, N. Y.
The lumber business here for a number of years prior to 1820 was very extensive. Jeremy Rockwell, Artemus Aldrich, Nathan A. Wells, Samuel and Benjamin Rogers, Abijah Adams and a man named Powers were all quite largely interested. The two first named were undoubtedly the most prominent lumbermen here. There were ten or twelve saw mills running in town. Jeremy Rockwell had two mills on the falls below the village. Artemus Aldrich had another near by. The mill of Nathan A. Wells has already been mentioned. Thomas Lee owned a large mill about two miles up Wells's Creek from the village. Abijah Adams had two above Lee. Ware Sherman owned and ran one on Leavens's Brook between two and three miles below the village and about a quarter of a mile from the Hudson, and his son, Augustus Sherman, owned one a few years later. At a distance of about six miles up Wells's Creek John Ferguson had two mills. Very few logs were in those days floated down the Hudson, as these mills just mentioned did all the sawing for home consumption, and even more - enough to keep the choppers at work.
There was more or less of farming conducted in a general way, corn, oats, Page 513 potatoes and rye being then as now the principal products. In the north part of the town (on the north side of Potash Kettle), Gage, Gay, Bartlett, Benedict Putnam, and John Stanton all owned farms. One grist-mill, and one alone, owned by Nathan A. Wells, flourished in town in 1815, and Jeremy Rockwell "kept up his end" on the other side of the river. No tannery as yet existed. Joel Orton kept tavern on the Queensbury Road, and Samuel Van Tassel kept another about six miles from Luzerne village on the Lake George Road - where Joseph Ferguson now lives. There was no distillery about here until 1848, when Jeremy Rockwell built one in Hadley.
The lives of these early settlers were not devoid of incident, both of tragedy and comedy. One of the former kind is related as having taken place about the period of which we are speaking. Jeremiah Russell, who lived in the north part of the town, on the late John Cranell place, was justice of the peace for many years. One Fairchild was charged before him at one time of committing an unnamable crime, and public indignation ran so high against him that Russell was upheld in issuing a warrant for the offender's arrest containing the illegal words, "to be taken dead or alive," Clothed with the supposed authority over life, suggested by this phrase, the officer went to Fairchild's residence, near Ira Lindsey's present home, and seeing Fairchild attempting to escape, shot him dead. The officer was arrested, taken to Albany, tried and acquitted.
Many are the stories told also about "old Ben Barrett," the practical joker. He was a lumberman and merchant in the village of Luzerne - was in partnership for a time with George Cronkhite. He lived on the site now occupied by the house of the widow of Andrew Porteus. It is related that one day, while on a spree, Barrett made a bet of three dollars with a fellow-lumberman that the former could throw the latter across the Hudson at Albany. The wager was made with punctilious sobriety of demeanor. After repairing to the place where the money was to be won or lost, and making due preparation for the effort, Barrett seized his opponent, held him out over the water, and relinquishing a laughably feeble attempt to throw him, dropped him into the river below. When the fellow came up all dripping and demanded his money, Barrett made a plunge for him, with the exclamation that he'd "try it a thousand times before he'd give up the money," whereupon the fellow, as frightened as wet, left the vicinity with all possible speed, while Barrett and his comrades consumed the money in "drinks for the crowd." Another anecdote told of him is that when rafting logs one evening he and his fellows came to a place on shore where a wedding party were cooking delicacies in an open oven. None of the party happening to be near the oven at the time, the jolly lumbermen ran ashore and lifted oven, sweetmeats and all on the raft and pushed on their way down the river. They had not gone far before they could hear the splashing of oars behind them, and prudently concluding that they were pursued, they Page 514 hid the delicacies in the raft and quietly dropped the oven overboard. In a few minutes a man rowed alongside, peered with most inquisitive scrutiny into every nook and corner of the raft, and finally rowed reluctantly back under the impression that they had done the" honest" lumbermen injustice in their suspicions. It is needless to say that the aforesaid "honest" lumbermen immediately "fell to" with ocular manifestations of appetites which would make a giant anaconda hang his glittering head with humility.
Among the other early settlers was Joseph W. Paddock, a lawyer, who came here about 1816, married a daughter of Nathan A. Wells, lived until about 1832 opposite the site of Rockwell's Hotel, and then went West. He died in about 1837 or 1838 at Rondout, N. Y., of cholera. His brother, Ira Paddock, came here several years after the advent of Joseph, and practiced law with him for a number of years. Before 1830 he removed to Glens Falls, the place of his death.
John S. St. John, an early physician already mentioned, lived after 1811 for some years on the site of Rockwell's Vanderbilt cottage. (1)
1. So named because formerly rented of Mr. Rockwell by the famous Commodore himself.
William Johnson, town clerk in early days, lived where John Gladhill now does. He is mentioned in the town records as early as 1806.
Another early physician was Dr. Truman B. Hicks. He married a sister of George T. Rockwell. He lived for a time - and died - in what is now known as the Riddell house.
Dr. James Lawrence, whose history is given in greater detail in the chapter devoted to the past of the medical profession in Warren county, practiced here from about 1825 to January, 1861. His son is the present postmaster of Luzerne.
John Cornwell was an early farmer and lumberman. He came before 1800 and lived near John Ferguson's, about six miles north of the village. Elijah Buttolph settled before 1810 at Jessup's Landing on the Luzerne side of the river. Isaac Washburn, a contemporary with Buttolph, lived on his farm about a mile south of Luzerne village on the bank of the river. Isaiah Parmenter "farmed it" on the premises which now constitute the George T. Rockwell farm. John Austin, farmer, lived more than two miles north of the village on land now occupied by Joseph Gailey. His grandson now lives in town. George P. Cronkhite had an ashery on the place now belonging to Rockwell's Hotel.
In the beginning of the century there was a flourishing school on this side the river. The school building stood right near the site of the present schoolhouse in the village. Daniel Gill taught there before 1815, and was followed by a Mr. Harwood. There was an attendance at times of nearly or quite a hundred pupils. There was formerly but one district in the villages of Hadley and Luzerne, but about 1838 the district was divided and a school establishedPage 515 in Hadley. The first mention of school matters in the town records appears in 1813, when Willard Leavens, Daniel Wagar, John S. St. John, were elected superintendents of school districts, and Jeremiah Russell, Edward Cornwell, John Lindsey, William B. Colson, and David Bockes, inspectors of schools. There were then seven school districts in town.
Religious meetings were held in the school down to about 1815. Rev. Tobias Spicer, a Methodist itinerant, preached here about 1810 or 1812. During the War of 1812 intense excitement prevailed at times in this remote wilderness. Drafts were made here to fill the American ranks. Several men from here took an active part in the battle of Plattsburg, among them one Wells (no connection of Nathan A. Wells), carried the last plank from the bridge at that famous engagement.
The "cold season of 1816" affected Luzerne badly. Rye and corn went up that summer to two dollars a bushels and pork to fifty dollars a barrel. There was a great amount of suffering. Grinding used to be done at the mills without undergoing the usual process of separating the bran from the kernel. Many people became so destitute that they would come to the mills from miles away and sweep the beams for flour dust with which to make their bread. Even then many families went for a month without bread.
Having viewed the town and village during their early struggles it will be of some interest to trace their growth down to a more recent date. A minute made in the year 1835 states that the village of Luzerne then had one gristmill, three saw-milts, clothing works, two taverns, three stores and about thirty dwellings. The grist-mill was still owned by Nathan A. Wells. It was originally built by David Bockes, already named. An old Tory had had one on the same site in Revolutionary times, but it became too hot for him here and he left without ceremony. Abijah Adams still ran a grist-mill and saw-mill on the Lake George road. He died not far from 1840. Jeremy Rockwell and Ben Barrett owned a double saw-mill in the village on the east end of the dam. It was carried away by a freshet in 1832 or 1833. Nathan A. Wells also run a saw-mill at this time. The clothing works were situated just below the grist-mill and were owned by Jeremy Rockwell and Orry Martin. They had been here for a number years, but went down before 1840. The two taverns mentioned referred to George T. Rockwell's, which he built in 1832, and Luke Fenton, who kept one where the Riddell House now is. Before Mr. Rockwell bought his hotel premises Luke Fenton run a similitude of a tavern there. He was there several years and was preceded by Edward Scovil, uncle to P. C. Scovil. Azariah Scoville preceded Edward Scovil as early as 1815. A store was kept in one part of the house. The three stores in the village in 1835 were that of Daniel Stewart and William H. Wells, who, under the firm name of Stewart & Wells, kept a store just across from Rockwell's Hotel; that o Henry Rockwell, brother to George T. Rockwell, which was situated on the Page 516 site of the store now kept by Walter P. Wilcox, and which he kept from about 1820 or 1825 for many years; and that of Barrett & Cronkhite (Ben Barrett and George P. Cronkhite), which stood just north of the present Riddell House. Soon after 1830, however, Zina H. Cowles and William B. Martindale succeeded Barrett & Cronkhite. George W. Ruggles succeeded Cowles in the partnership in a few years, and about the year 1840 Martindale & Ruggles failed.
John Durham and Ira St. John were at this period wagon-makers on the creek in the village. Jeduthan Lake was then a farmer in the south part of the town where he still lives; Isaac Barrows was a neighbor to Lake; Ebenezer Martin ran a farm in the north part of the town. These are only a few of the many names that might be mentioned of this date, but they are important.
From the town records of the period covering the year 1840 and the following ten years it is learned that at the former date there were twenty-eight road districts in town. In 1843 statements reveal the fact that there were then fourteen school districts, three hundred and thirty-five pupils, and four hundred and eighty-eight books (school property). This was a period of temperance agitation, undoubtedly, for there was considerable opposition to the granting of any licenses. In 1845 the commissioners of excise granted tavern licenses to William A. Pierson and Stephen Lake. In the spring of 1846, the town resolved by a vote of 133 to 37 that no licenses should be granted. The resolution was re-enacted in the following year. At the annual meeting of the excise board on the 31st of May, 1849, the following applications were presented: Grocery licenses, T. D. Stewart, and Taft P. Town; tavern licenses, Stephen Lake, Orlin Pember, Carmi Lindsey, and George T. Rockwell. I. P. Wilcox applied for a temperance license. Among the various resolutions passed by this honorable body was one to the effect that no grocery licenses be granted; that three tavern licenses be granted, viz.: to Stephen Lake, George T. Rockwell, and Orlin Pember; that a temperance license be granted to I. P. Wilcox, and that "no rot-gut be sold in the town."
When the War of the Rebellion broke out, the town of Luzerne responded promptly and heartily to the imperative demand for men and money to preserve the Union from dissolution. The first item in the town records appears under date of November 6th, 1862, when the town auditors allowed to Newton Aldrich the sum of $15.38 for the relief of soldiers' families, and $225 for the payment of balances clue to the soldiers themselves. On the 5th of November, 1863, the sum of $130.71 was allowed to Daniel Stewart for soldiers, and for relief to the families of soldiers; and Morgan Burdick, appointed by the auditors a committee of relief, as required by statute, reported that he had received from the town $25.00, out of which he had paid for the relief of the families of soldiers the sum of $14.61.Page 517
On the 6th of July, 1864, the following document was presented to the town clerk: -
"Call for Special Town Meeting to raise Bounty Money to pay Volunteers. "To the Town Clerk of the Town of Luzerne: -
"We, the undersigned, citizens of Luzerne, request you to call a special meeting of said Town, to vote upon the question whether a tax shall be raised upon said Town to pay bounties to volunteers under the call to be issued by the President of the United States. Dated July 6th, 1864.
"Henry McMaster, Orrin Moore. Perry C. Scovil, W. W. Rockwell, A. Hemstreet, O. Dean, A. J. Cheritree, Daniel Stewart, J. B. Burneson, George T. Rockwell, George Eddy, George W. Inman."
Whereupon, William H. Wells, town clerk, gave notice of such meeting to vote upon the question as to whether or not the sum of $5,000 should be raised. The result was that out of 141 votes cast upon the question, 89 were in the affirmative, and 52 in the negative. At the same meeting it was determined that not more than $100 was expedient to be voted to each volunteer. On the 5th of August following this last measure was rescinded, and the sum made $200 for each volunteer, or person furnishing a volunteer. The aggregate sum, however, was not to exceed $5,000. On the 23d of August, 1864, it was resolved by a vote of 70 against 30 that the additional sum of $3,000 be raised to pay bounties. On September 12th it was decided to raise a still further sum for bounties, but the additional amount is not named.
Between the 23d of August and the 5th of October, 1864, bonds were given aggregating $11,125.
At a Special Meeting held on February 11th, 1865, called to decide whether or not sufficient money should be raised by tax to pay volunteers and prevent a draft under the president's call for 300,000 men, and to defray the expense of enlisting men and mustering them into service, it was resolved by a vote of 74 to 31 that the necessary amount be raised. Subsequently Andrew J. Cheritree, in his capacity of supervisor, was authorized by the auditors to enlist men with money which had been placed in his hands to pay bonds not due, said obligations to be met when due by a sale of town bonds.
Under all these enactments and measures, men enlisted freely and fought bravely. Homes were deserted and hearts broken, but the grand object of saving the Union was accomplished.
Following is a list of the town supervisors from the first annual meeting to the year 1885: 1793-1800, Jeremiah Russell; 1801 and 1802, Mark A. Child; 1803. Willard Leavens; 1804, Jeremiah Russell; 1805-1808, Erastus Cross; 1809-1811, Willard Leavens; 1812 and 1813, John S. St. John; 1814, Willard Leavens; 1815-1817, John S. St. John; 1818, Joel Orton; 1819, John Cameron; 1820, Willard Leavens; 1821-1823, John Cameron; 1824, Willard Leavens; 1825-27, Nathan A. Wells; 1828, Willard Leavens; 1829-1831, Page 518 William H. Wells; 1832-1836, Reuben Wells; 1837 and 1838, Daniel Stewart; 1839-1841, James D. Weston; 1842-1845, George T. Rockwell; 1846, William H. Wells; 1847, Jonas Selleck; 1848, Daniel Stewart; 1849 and 1850, Thomas Butler; 1851-1853, George T. Rockwell; 1854, William H. Wells; 1855 and 1856, Newton Aldrich; 1857, Thomas Butler; 1858, Ira Lindsey; 1859, Newton Aldrich; 1860, Thomas Butler; 1861, William H. Wells; 1862-1869, Andrew J. Cheritree; 1870-1872, J. C. Porteus; 1873 and 1874, H. P. Gwinup; 1875 and 1876, Benjamin C. Butler; 1877, Wilson Smead; 1878, Clark Hall; 1879, James G. Porteus ; 1880 and 1881, Andrew Porteus; 1882, J. B. Burnison; 1883-1885, John Peart, jr.
The following are the present officers-elect of the town: Supervisor, John Peart, jr.; town clerk, James H. Lawrence; assessor, Eugene D. Howe; justices of the peace, Charles Trumbull, William Anderson, H. W. Lindsey, Perry C. Scovil, L. E. Stearns; commissioner of highways, W. W. Ramsay; collector, John L. Burneson; overseer of the poor, Alexander Fisher; inspectors of election, E. K. Thomas, Perry C. Scovil; constables, John L. Burneson, Thomas H. Taylor, Ira H. Putnam, Wallace Bullice, W. C. Howe; game constable, Fred Rorder; commissioners of excise, John Batter, one year, George W. Beadmore, two years W. H. Putman, three years.
The population of the town of Luzerne has varied since 1850 as follows: 1850, 1,300; 1855, 1,286; 1860, 1,328; 1865, 1,136; 1870, 1,174; 1875, 1,303; 1880, 1,438.
The village of Luzerne, as has already been learned, consisted, in 1810, of a saw-mill, a grist-mill, and not more than half a dozen dwellings. In 1835 there was a grist-mill, three saw-mills, clothing works, two taverns, three stores, and about thirty dwellings. The village had grown to reasonable proportions. It has grown since then, though not, perhaps, in the same proportion, but it has acquired a reputation for healthfulness and salubrity and unrivaled beauty, which has made it the favorite resort of a large class of people from Troy and Albany, and New York, and other cities, which cannot be diminished by any comparison with other resorts more loudly advertised, and more fervently described by artists and pleasure seekers. On the northeastern boundary of the village, on a more elevated plane, and yet concealed from view until the approaching traveler is almost upon it, lies Lake Luzerne, imbedded in the hills and slopes covered with evergreens, like a gem of pearl in a setting of emerald, and bearing on its tremulous bosom a solitary island so small that it seems to float. On the other side of the village, separating it from its sister village, Hadley, tumbles the historic Hudson among boulders that stubbornly resist the course of the waters and often retard the progress of the logs that float upon its surface. Out in every direction - over mountains to Glens Falls and Stony Page 519 Creek, through mountains to Lake George, and between mountains along the Hudson River, lead roads that carry the admiring sight-seer through an endless and unrepeating succession of pleasing surprises. Luzerne is peculiar. "It has no brother and is like no brother," and these beauties and this peculiarity crowd its excellent hotels each summer to overflowing.
Mr. George T. Rockwell says that until perhaps 1835 the post-office which had been established at Hadley received mail for the inhabitants of Luzerne. About that year the post-office was established and Harmon Wells received the appointment. He held the office for a number of years and was succeeded by his brother, Reuben Wells, who remained in office until 1856. Then John B. Burneson was appointed. In 1861 he was superseded by Andrew J. Cheritree, now county judge of Warren county. Charles Schermerhorn was appointed in 1862, and performed the duties incident to the position until 1866. In that year Augustus H. Cross was empowered to control the distribution of mail to the good people of Luzerne. In 1871 he gave place to Thomas Butler, who remained until 1878. James P. Darling then took the position, but in 1882 was replaced by the present incumbent, James H. Lawrence.
Hotels. - In preceding pages it has been stated that the present site of Rockwell's Hotel is the oldest hotel site in the village. For years before 1832 Luke Fenton had kept a tavern here. In that year the venerable proprietor, George T. Rockwell, purchased the property of Nathan A. Wells, rebuilt the old structures, and on the first of May opened his hotel. In 1852 he rebuilt the house a second time, and from that time has occasionally made such additions, attractions and repairs as the vigilance of the owner suggested were necessary. The hotel proper, with the four cottages attached, and the barbershop and grounds, covers an area of about four acres. One hundred and fifty guests can be comfortably accommodated. A farm of six hundred acres provides many of the substantial and wholesome articles of food which load the deservedly famous table of mine host Rockwell. Mr. George T. Rockwell claims, with a strong probability of truth, that he is the hotel proprietor of longest standing of any in the United States. He certainly knows the business, and has taught his sons the art with equal success. His son and partner, George H. Rockwell, went in 1866 to Lake George and assumed the proprietorship of the Lake House, in company with his brother, H. J. Rockwell. In the fall of 1867 he bought out his father in Luzerne and remained here until 1879, when he went to Glens Falls as part proprietor of the Rockwell House at that place. In 1881 he came back to Luzerne and has remained here until the present. They set one of the finest tables in this part of the country.
The Riddell House, E. E. Riddell proprietor, was originally built about 1810 by Josiah Fuller. Luke Fenton kept it until about 1825. Mr. Riddell's predecessor was Charles Wilcox, who gave place to the present genial proprietor in 1884. The house can accommodate eighty guests.Page 520
The Wayside was built in about 1869 by B. C. Butler, and kept by him for a while. The present proprietor, H. J. Rockwell, son of George T. Rockwell, opened the house in 1882 for summers only. He was formerly (1) of Rockwell's Hotel, Luzerne; of the Rockwell House at Glens Falls; of the Lake House and Fort William Henry, at Lake George, and present proprietor of the American House at Troy. The hotel is built in the Swiss style of architecture. There are nine cottages on the grounds. About two hundred persons can be accommodated.
Mercantile Interests. - The oldest store in town is the drug store and pharmacy of George Y. Miller. Mr. Miller resigned from the U. S. Navy on the 7th day of April, 1865, and on the 10th of May opened his store in Luzerne. He moved into his present store building in May, 1866. James H. Lawrence has kept a general store here since 1867. He began in the lower part of the village, but himself erected his present store building in 1875 and immediately occupied it. Mr. Lawrence, besides his experience as postmaster, served as town clerk from 1867 to 1879 and since 1882. E. Dayton, jeweler, began business here in 1871. He started on the corner now occupied by Morton's store, and moved to his present location in the spring of 1884. Walter P. Wilcox started a grocery here in the spring of 1873. He began operations in the store now occupied by T. C. Stillwell, and moved to his present quarters in the spring of 1883. C. W. Wagar first commenced dealing in general merchandise here in 1873. He went out in a short time and W. H. Ives occupied the building for a general store. About 1876 he removed to Glens Falls and Webster & Co. opened a hardware store in the building. In 1878 M. C. Wagar bought them out and placed the management of the business in the hands of C. W. Wagar. In 1882 the latter bought out his brother and has since that time conducted the business alone. He now has both a hardware and a general department. Stephen V. Morton opened a grocery and meat-market in his present location in 1878. W. T. Garnar started a dry goods and grocery business in Luzerne in the spring of 1880 in company with W. S. Porteous. Since the latter withdrew in 1881 Mr. Garner has conducted the business alone. Edward Young has had a tin-shop here about three years and a half. He came into his present building in 1885. David Frank, dealer in dry goods and ready-made clothing, came here on July 1st, 1882. J. J. Parker, general merchant, began business in Luzerne on the 1st of May, 1885.
Lumber. - The only lumber business extensively carried on here at present is controlled by P. H. Pulver, L. E. Wait and George H. Rockwell, under the firm style of Pulver, Wait & Rockwell. They own tracts of timbered land on both sides of the river towards Lake George, aggregating about four thousand acres. Logs are floated down the Hudson to Glens Falls. They
1. S. R. STODDARD's Adirondacks, p. 178.Page 521 have peeled as many as four thousand cords of hemlock bark in a year. The firm of Pulver, Wait & Rockwell is of recent formation, though Pulver & Wait have been together for years.
Leather Business. - The business now carried on under the title of The Garnar Leather Works was established in 1867, by Raymond & Ely. Thomas Garnar bought from them in 1869 and conducted the business without a partner until 1879, when he associated with himself J. V. Walsh and E. M. Garnar, and changed the firm name to Thomas Garnar & Co. In 1869 the concern employed six hands and turned out about six hundred dozen sheepskins per month. The business has been so enlarged that at present forty hands are constantly employed and three thousand dozen sheepskins are prepared per month. The goods are used for book binding.
Attorney. - The only practicing attorney at law in Luzerne is H. P. Gwinup, who was admitted in January, 1876, at Albany, after passing a clerkship with Judiah Ellsworth, late of Luzerne. He has practiced here ever since his admission.
Physicians. - Dr. J. B. Burneson was graduated at the medical college of Castleton, Vt., in June, 1852, and came at once to Luzerne. Dr. James Seth Cooley obtained his medical education in the medical department of the University of New York, and received his diploma in February, 1877. He practiced in Sandy Hill until 1880, when he came to Luzerne. Before entering upon his medical career he had unusual experience as an instructor. Graduated from Williams College in 1869, he became professor of ancient languages at Fort Edward Institute, which position he held for three years. He was vice-principal and professor of the natural sciences there for the scholastic years 1872 and 1873. He was also principal of the Glens Falls Academy from 1873 to 1876 inclusive.
Churches. - The first church organization in the town of Luzerne was of the Methodist denomination, who were largely predominant at the time of the building of the first church edifice in town. This edifice is the old Union or Methodist Church still standing, on the River road about three miles north of the village. It was raised on the 10th of June, 1807. The services for many years were conducted by various denominations working together. The Methodists, however, maintained their ascendency in numbers, and, consequently, in influence. The Rev. Tobias Spicer and the Rev. Henry Coleman were about the first preachers in town. In 1837 the several denominations, still united, removed to the village of Luzerne and erected the house of worship on the site of the present Presbyterian Church. In 1852 the Methodists became a distinct and separate body, and erected their present edifice. It was built by James Hegeman, now of Glens Falls, and Silas Dayton, now in the West. Owing to the destruction of the old records by fire, the figures showing the cost of erection, etc., cannot be obtained. At the time of the building of this edifice, the Rev. Page 522 Henry Williams was in the pastorate; the Rev. Stephen Stiles came in before the edifice was completed. Since 1841 the pastors, so far as their names could be learned, have been as follows: Revs. Adam Jones and Solomon H. Foster; Albert Champlin and Abel Ford; Alanson Richards and John L. Robertson; Ezra Sayre, Joseph Connor, L. D. Sherwood, Henry Williams, Stephen Stiles (1852), Chester Chamberlain, C. C. Bedell, P. M. Hitchcock, G. W. S. Porter, Bennett Eaton (1861), E. Morgan, W. H. Tiffany, E. A. Blanchard, Joseph Cope, F. K. Potter, Edwin Genge, R. J. Davies (about 1879), J. B. Wood, 1881. In 1882 came the Rev. J. B. Searles, the present pastor. About 1864, during the pastorate of Rev. E. Morgan, the parsonage was burned and the church records lost. The church property is now valued at $3,000 including the parsonage. The present membership is one hundred and eighty-five, with twenty-seven probationers. The present officers are: Orrin Moore, H. Burnham, M. L. Willard, R. N. Ramsay, Charles Thomas and William Wagar, trustees; Orrin Moore, H. Burnham, George Crannell, William Wagar, Linus Wendell, Edwin Kerr, James Taylor, Orson Ball, Myron Selleck, George Anderson, and M. L. Willard, stewards.
The old church on the River road (Call street) is supplied from the pulpit of the Methodist Church at Luzerne, and has a membership of about forty.
The first Sunday-school held in Luzerne was started in 1817 by Mrs. Ann C. Dunham at the old Ira St. John house that stood near the present residence of P. C. Scovil. There was then no resident minister nor church edifice here. In 1818 Nathan A. Wells and Josiah Fassett led the Sunday-school in the old school-house. Mrs. McUmber and a Miss Jones had charge of it. In about the year 1822 Mrs. Henry Coleman, wife of the Methodist clergyman, superintended one in the old Shearer house, where Mr. Garnar now lives. From that time until 1837 no record can be found throwing any light on the history of this school. The first Sunday-school superintendent in the Union Church in the village was Zina Cowles. He was followed by Ira St. John, William H. Wells, Reuben Wells, D. B. Ketchum, James Taylor, Sylvanus Scovil, Newton Aldrich, C. R. McEwan, W. H. St. John, W. S. Taylor, Orrin Moore, M. L. Willard, W. S. Taylor, and R. N. Ramsey, the present superintendent. The average attendance at present is about 125.
The Rockwells Falls Presbyterian Church was organized on the 17th day of January, 1856, by a committee of the Albany Presbytery composed of Dr. Woodbridge, of Saratoga, Rev. Tully, of Ballston, and Rev. Lyon, of Fish House. The first elders were William Scofield and Charles Rockwell. The first members were Mr. and Mrs. Charles Rockwell, Mrs. Anna Younglove, Miss Susan Benedict, Mr. and Mrs. William Scofield, Mrs. Catharine Wells, and Miss Jane Ann Barnes. A few days afterward the following were added to the church: Mr. and Mrs. Robert Ramsey, Mr. and Mrs. William Ramsey, Mr. and Mrs. John Dougherty, Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Gayley. Before the Page 523 formal organization of the church the Rev. --- Benedict, who came in 1852, and was the first Presbyterian clergyman resident at Luzerne; Rev.--- Myers, who came in 1854; and Rev. Charles H. Skillman, who came in 1855, and remained five years, preached to the Presbyterian congregation of this place. In the summer of 1860 Rev. J. H. McLean, of Washington county, began a stay here of four months. Rev. C. A. Patterson came in 1861 and remained about a year as minister. In February, 1862, F. B. Hall was ordained and installed as pastor. In November, 1862, he entered the army, and did not return to active labor here. The church was then for three years without regular supply. During the summer of 1864, however, Rev. Dr. Duryea, then of Brooklyn, occupied the pulpit. During this period of the church's history it became greatly reduced in numbers and efficiency, but began to recover in 1866. On August first of that year. Rev. Elihu T. Sanford came to act as stated supply. He remained one year, and was succeeded by Rev. Walter Nichols. He in turn was followed in May, 1868, by Rev. George Craig, who remained three years. In the summer of 1871 Rev. William Durant filled the pulpit. Rev. --- Whittlesey favored the church with frequent pulpit ministrations during the following fall and winter. Rev. Alexander Rankin has been the minister here since 1872, and is at present.
The building first used by this church as a house of worship was the old Union Church erected in 1837. In about 1855 the ground and edifice became the sole property of the Presbyterians, who reclaimed it from its dilapidated condition, refitted and almost remodeled it at an expense of about $500, and on the 17th of January, 1856, solemnly dedicated it to the worship of God. In 1881 the question as to the feasibility of building a new edifice was agitated. The present edifice was begun March 20th, 1882, and by December first following was so far completed as to be fit for occupancy. It was not dedicated, however, until July 28th, 1883. The cost of the building, in round numbers, was $10,000. The present value of the church property, including the parsonage, is about $13,000 - a low estimate. The membership of the church is now eighty-four. The present officers are: Elders, Charles Rockwell, who has been elder from the beginning, Clark Hall and J. S. Cooley, M. D.; trustees, Clark Hall, J. S. Cooley, M. D., George H. Rockwell, William Snell and Alexander Fisher.
There has been a Sunday-school connected with the church since the organization of the latter. The first superintendent was Charles Rockwell. The present superintendent is Dr. J. S. Cooley. The average attendance of pupils is about 110. (1)
1. The old church, built in 1837, is now used as a store by Walter P. Wilcox.
The Roman Catholic Mission at Luzerne was formerly attended from Saratoga. It was attached to Warrensburgh in 1874, and under the supervision of the new pastor, Rev. James A. Kelley, a handsome little edifice was erectedPage 524 in July, 1876. The lot was donated to the society by the late Colonel B. C. Rutler. The building cost, when completed, about $2,500. The society was liberally aided in the work by summer visitors and non-Catholic residents. (1) The number of adult communicants is now about one hundred and thirty. Since the erection of the edifice a Sunday-school has been organized, and is superintended by the pastor.
1. Rev. William O'Mahoney, of Warrensburgh, is authority for this statement, and, indeed, through his kindness the whole matter concerning this church was obtained.
The first pastor of the Church of the Infant Jesus, as it is titled, was Rev. James A. Kelley, who resigned in 1881, and after the interval of a year was regularly succeeded by the present pastor, Rev. William O'Mahoney, of Warrensburgh. (2)
2. We regret our inability to insert a sketch of the Episcopal Church parish here, but we visited the rector several times, and received each time a promise of answer to the questions which we left with him, and were each time disappointed. We finally left our address with him, and came away with his promise to mail us the sketch. We wrote to him for it, but could get no answer.