History of Warren County, H. P. Smith
Chapter XXVIII: History of the Town of Bolton
This transcription was produced through the use of Readiris Pro 11 OCR software. Contributed by Tim Varney.
This Page 529town lies on the eastern boundary of the county, between Hague on the north and Caldwell on the south. A part of Lake George forms its eastern boundary and the Schroon River separates it from Warrensburgh on the west. The surface is occupied principally by the lofty mountain ridges - a part of the Kayaderosseras range - which rest between Lake George and the Schroon River. The three prominent peaks of this range are: Tongue Mountain, on the peninsula between the lake and Northwest Bay, rises to an elevation of about 2,000 feet above tide; Pole Hill, in the northern part of the town, 2,500 feet high; and Cat Head, in the center, from 1,500 to 1,800 feet above tide water. The mountains generally rise abruptly from the lake, but toward the west the surface assumes the character of a high, rolling upland. High up among the hills are a variety of lovely lakes, embosomed in the very summits of the mountains. The principal among these are Trout Lake, Marsh Pond, and Edgecomb Pond. Trout Lake is 1,000 feet above the surface of Lake George. The soil, which is a light, sandy loam, is not wholly unproductive, especially along the lake, where fruits are successfully cultivated. The general surface of the town, however, is so stony and broken, that not more than one-half of it is susceptible of cultivation.
Bolton was formed from the old town of Thurman on the 25th of March, 1799. It originally comprised, in addition to its present territory, all of Hague, which was taken off in 1807, a part of Caldwell, until 1810, and a part of Horicon until 1838. Among the early settlers who survive to tell of the wilderness days of yore, is Mrs. Arabella Anderson, who was born in Shelton, Massachusetts, in 1793, and came here with her father, Daniel Nims, in 1802. Her husband, Allen Anderson, was born in the same town of Shelton in 1787. His father, David Anderson, and Daniel Nims both fought in the Revolutionary War, and Allen Anderson himself was a soldier in the War of 1812, and was within hearing of the guns that were fired at the battle of Plattsburg, being a little too late to take part in that famous engagement. For his services in this war his widow, Arabella Anderson, now draws a pension. He died in 1867. Orlando Anderson, son of Allen and Arabella, now lives in the serenity of old age with his widowed mother, and recounts adventures which would be dated antique but for the reminiscences of his mother, which modernize his earliest memories. He was born here on January 7th, 1813. When Arabella Nims came here in 1802, the inhabitants were fewer even than they are at present. The mountains and valleys were covered with trackless forests. Indians roamed about the vicinity in considerable numbers. There were only four or five Page 530 framed houses in town - all the rest being rudely but not uncomfortably constructed of logs. James Ware, a prominent man in early days, one of the first town assessors, and supervisor from Bolton for the years 1801-1803, and 1805-1807, then lived where Stephen Braley now dwells. His daughter, Lydia Ware, was the first white child born in town. David Nash lived on the farm now occupied by Reuben Wells. James Tuttle lived on the north and south road west of the village, and Hezekiah Moody lived a little north of Mr. Nash's, on the top of the hill. Jonathan Coolidge, grandfather of T. S. Coolidge, now of Glens Falls, settled here about 1805. Jonathan Coolidge, 2d, father to T. S. Coolidge, was born here soon after. There was no church edifice in town so early. As was customary in the pioneer days of all these towns, religious meetings were held in barns and in the houses of neighbors. The first church in town was a union house, erected about 1811. Rev. Reuben Armstrong was the first preacher.
There was one school-house in this vicinity - situated about three miles north of Bolton Landing. After a few years (about 1804 or 1805) a new one was built just south of the site of the Mohican House.
The primitive and wild condition of the country can scarcely be imagined. The hills and woods were full of Indian relics, tomahawks, knives, pipes, etc. The mountains were mantled to their very summits with pine forests, which were felled so rapidly after the arrival of the first settler, that before 1820 they had become a memory. The farming implements used by the settlers were rude enough, axes and scythes being just as they came from the hammer. Abel Walker; the venerable centenarian still living, was here then and was in the battle of Plattsburg. He draws a pension for his services there.
In 1802 there was no regular tavern in this vicinity, but at every house the doors were open to guests, and liquor was dispensed with intoxicating liberality. It was so pure, however, that there was proportionately less drunkenness then than now. On the site of the Mohican House, Roger Edgecomb had a frme house, from an ell of which he sold liquor. He soon enlarged the building and converted it into a professed tavern. Myrtle Hitchcock came in there in 1807. The first store in town stood on the point off the Mohican House. It was built by Myrtle Hitchcock and kept by Samuel Brown. About where the Mohican House dock now is was a little stone dock, and in the floor of this primitive mercantile house was a mysterious trap door, opening into a cellar wherein were bestowed goods which had been smuggled from Canada. Samuel Brown soon after owned a factory for the manufacture of potash near the Mohican House. Another ashery stood near the site of the Bolton House. By 1815 Reuben Smith had one on the hill north of the "Landing," and Thomas Wright ran one on the site of "The Huddle." Wright also owned a store and carding-machine here, and about 1830 started the only forge that was ever run in the town. Lumbering, however, was the principal business Page 531 here. The pine logs were constructed into immense rafts which were floated to the head of the lake, and the material from these taken south to points along the Hudson. The woods were full of wolves, bears, panthers and deer. The latter would follow the brooks down to the lake, where they fell an easy prey to the venison lovers of those early days. It was not safe to leave sheep out of doors all night. In 1802, to return to early settlements, Timothy Stow built a house on the site of the Bolton House. John Vanderbergh was the owner. The Huddle was not entitled then to the dignity of the name "hamlet." About one and a half miles to the west of it was a grist-mill, on the brook that flows through The Huddle. Mr. Squires was the miller. Near the mill stood a small tannery run by David Lockwood. Near by lived John Moss, the first judge of Washington county. At this time he was the proprietor and conductor of a small saw-mill on the stream last mentioned. One or two saw-mills were also run by Samuel Brown some distance up Edgecomb Pond (1) Brook. There were several saw-mills, too, at Northwest Bay. Men used to come across the lake from Easttown, Washington county, to carry on the lumber business. As early as 1820 John J. Harris, of Queensbury, built three mills there and carried on an extensive business. Harris sold to one Barnard, of Albany. A short time before the war these mills were closed because of the scarcity of lumber.
1. Edgecomb Pond derived its name from the pioneer inn-keeper, Roger Edgecomb.
Of the four churches now in town, the Presbyterian Church was erected originally as a Congregational Church, and was torn down about 1845 or 1850, and the present edifice built on the Lake Road nearly two miles towards Hague from the Landing. There have been no regular services there for several years. The only stated pastor they have had is the Rev. Eldad Goodman, who was also the first preacher in the new building. The Episcopalians have held summer services in the little chapel on the Lake Road for ten or twelve years past. The Baptist Church was erected about 1833 or 1834, and the Methodist edifice followed some eight or ten years later.
During the War of 1812 the brawn and bone of Bolton left their homes to defend their country; and when it was learned that Plattsburg was threatened, men flocked from the entire region round about to Chestertown whence they moved in a body rapidly toward the menaced village. In due time news came that a battle had taken place there and that all the patriots were killed. Mrs. Anderson remembers most vividly the following Sunday, when the meeting house was filled with women and a few old men. She remembers their sad faces, and their constrained attempts to cheer each other.
The cold season of 1816 affected Bolton about as might be expected. There was a great deal of suffering, and the people used to cross the lake into Washington county to procure game and food.
The first town meeting of Bolton was appointed to be held on the 2d of Page 532 April, 1799, at the house of John Clawson, but "for want of accommodation" said meeting was adjourned to Captain Stow's grist-mill. The following town officers were elected: Supervisor, Asa Brown; assessors, Samuel Bigelow, Oliver Pettys, James Ware; commissioners of highways, James Ware, Oliver Pettys, Starbling Waters; poormasters, Asa Brown, John Clawson; constable and collector, Starbling Waters; constable, Samuel Bigelow; poundmasters, Samuel Begelow, Isaac Lyman (their yards pounds); fence viewers, Simeon Fuller, Jeduthan Dickinson; pathmasters, No. 1, John Hall, No. 2, Rufus Roberts, No. 3, Henry Babcock, No. 4, Benjamin Hays, No. 5, Daniel Beswick, No. 6, Samuel Dickinson, No. 7, John Squires, No. 8, Daniel Lamb, No. 9, Stanton Brown. On the lake shore: No. 1, Andrew Edmunds, No. 2, Sherbael Fuller, No. 3, James Sturdevant, No. 4, James Tuttle, No. 5, Eleazer Goodman, No. 6, John McKnight, No. 7, Elisha Belden.
Among the resolutions passed by this august body was one to the effect that "swine shall not run at large the ensuing season;" that any person that shall receive or take the charge of cattle belonging to people of other towns to run upon the commons in this town shall pay a fine of $2.50, and that cattle driven or left promiscuously shall be treated as strays, one-half of the money to go to the prosecutor, and one-half to the use of the poor. Thirty dollars was voted to the support of the poor. Two dollars and fifty cents bounty was offered for each "painter" or wolf killed in the town.
The proceedings of subsequent annual town meetings were of the same character. Roads were surveyed, laid out and altered, and internal improvements were gradually commenced. In 1840, for example, a committee, consisting of Roger Edgecomb, James Ware and James Wood, was chosen to look out a road to "Scroon Lake." In 1811 it was voted "That the poor be sold at vendue to the lowest bidder." In 1817 the road to Brandt Lake was surveyed.
When the War of the Rebellion threatened the destruction of the Union, Bolton, with her scant population did, nevertheless, her duty. It is a notable fact that all the towns in Warren county were remarkably prompt in answering the president's call for volunteers. Unfortunately the town records contain no minutes of the action taken to furnish volunteers.
The present postmaster at Bolton post-office is J. S. Gates, who received his appointment in 1880. His predecessor, George W. Seaman, entered upon his duties about 1871. Elam B. Miller preceded Seaman for about three years. Before Miller, Stephen Pratt, who was appointed in 1862, officiated. Hiram Philo was appointed in 1857, and Stephen Pratt in 1856. Before that Gilbert M. Gale held the office for a long time. The post-office of Bolton Landing was established in 1882, and the first postmaster was Frederick W. Allen, who still officiates. Its purpose was to accommodate the summer guests who were grouped in greater numbers about the Landing than elsewhere.Page 533
There are only two stores at the Landing and one at The Huddle. The latter is kept by Gates, Tanner & Co., consisting of J. S. Gates, Morgan H. Tanner and George S. Gates. The partnership was formed on April 16th, 1884. Before that J. S. Gates had kept store there for ten years. The same firm began a like business at the Landing at the same time. For two years preceding April, 1884, Sidney W. Mead had kept store in the same building, and was himself preceded by E. E. Riddell, now of the Riddell House at Luzerne, who was merchant here three years. This building has been used for a store for a period of not less than fifty years. Stephen Pratt used to keep store here, and about 1845 or 1850 Truxton Pratt was proprietor of the same concern. The other stores in town are, that kept by F. W. Allen in connection with the post-office; of A. A. Tanner, who has had a store for over twenty years about two miles north of the Landing; of George Bentley, who for not less than fifteen years has run a store four miles north of the Landing; and John Ormsby, who has had a store for three years near the Landing.
The only manufacturing done in the town is done by the saw-mills owned respectively by Isaac Streeter and Davin Putney. They have conducted each his business for ten or fifteen years.
There are no practicing attorneys in the town, and but one physician - Charles Robbins, M. D., - who received his degree at the University Medical College of New York city in March, 1852. He came to Bolton about 1860.
Hotels. - The peculiar thing about Bolton is its splendid situation between mountains and lake. Although not strictly within the technical province of history, a passage or two written in description of Bolton, as it is known to the tourist and summer visitor, will not, perhaps, be deemed entirely inappropriate. In order to be as brief as possible, a description of a single view will be given as presenting a good idea of the general impression formed upon the mind of the susceptible lover of nature who looks from the same point of view. Within a short walk northward from the Mohican House, a characteristic view is found, looking across the mouth of the Northwest Bay to the Narrows. From the eminences, or from the line marked by the gentle waves of the Horicon, the landscape here is of wonderful simplicity, breadth and grandeur. As an enthusiastic writer said more than thirty years ago, it is seen most justly as the morning sun peeps over Black Mountain and its attendant peaks. Looking southward from various points yet further on, fine views of the head of the lake are obtained, terminating a pleasant stretch of lawn, hill and islanded water. It is while the eye is filled with such scenes as these modest hill-tops offer, more, perhaps, than when lost in the musical solitudes of the island shades, or than when meandering by the murmuring shore, that the soul becomes conscious of the subtle nature of the charms which make us cling to and even to dwell forever on the shores of Lake George. The sublimity of the mountains, the quiet beauty of the wooded islands, - neither of these Page 534 qualities can alone satisfy the soul and sense without a change or feeling of ennui. But the insinuating, blending of all in nature that is sweet to the sight and pleasing to the ear, a grandeur which does not terrify, and a beauty which does not clog, is found on the bosom and along the shores of the historic and the romance-inspiring Horicon.
Mr. S. R. Stoddard, in his entertaining and instructive guide-book entitled Lake George, says (p. 77. et seq.): "Strangers are sometimes at a loss to locate 'Bolton' properly. To the guests it means the hotels. A little further north the 'Huddle,' - where the post-office is situated - is Bolton. It is also gathering around the churches; and the shoemaker, pegging industriously away in the north part of the town, fondly imagines that that will be the spot where, at some future day, will gather the elite of this highly diffused village. From a point in the steamer's course, after rounding Recluse Island, is obtained the finest general view of Bolton and of the lake also."
From the same source is obtained the information best stated in the same order of detail which Mr. Stoddard himself has employed. "Bolton Bay" is the name generally applied to that portion of the lake on the west, between Recluse and Green Islands.
Belvoir Island is near Recluse Island on the west, and separated from the main land at its southwestern extremity by a narrow strip of water. Its owner is Rev G. W. Clowe, of White Plains, who may often be seen swinging the axe or piling brush as energetically as the most enthusiastic votary of muscular Christianity could desire. Hiawatha Island, west of Clay, and farther down in the bay, is owned by Dr. Jacobi, of New York. Leontine Island is a charming bit of verdure north of Hiawatha Island. Huddle Bay is the local appellation of the deeper portion of the bay reaching south.
Among the numerous and various hotels of Bolton the oldest is the Mohican House. Over thirty years ago people used to come here summers from New York and Philadelphia. Before that the place had only a local or limited reputation as a good point for hunting and fishing. We have seen that Roger Edgecomb kept tavern and Samuel Brown (uncle of M. O. Brown, now manager of the Sagamore), kept store on the site and grounds of the present Mohican House, at the beginning of the present century. Just how long Edgecomb remained here is not known. About 1820 Thomas Archibald bought the tavern and considerable land with it for three hundred dollars. Before 1830 Truman Lyman purchased it of Archibald for $600, and kept the house until after 1840. Gilbert B. Gale followed Lyman and remained a number of years, becoming locally famous for the excellence of his table. A writer in 1853 says: "Bolton, in the vocabulary of the stranger, is nothing neither more nor less than the 'Mohican House,' whose esteemed commandant is Captain Gale, a name next to that of 'Sherrill,' most gratefully interwoven with the carnal history of Horicon. Yes! the Mohican House is Bolton, and Bolton Page 535 is the Mohican House; even as Bardolph was his nose, and his nose was Bardolph. Great are both!" Captain Gale was the man who erected the flagstaff surmounted by the wooden effigy of an Indian warrior, which has ever since been used as the trade-mark of the house. After Gale came Hiram H. Wilson, and next his son Hiram S. Wilson, and M. O. Brown was proprietor for years prior to the time when Mrs. E. B. Winslow took it in the spring of 1883. "The Mohican House has two cottages connected with it, both being directly on the shore of the lake, The larger one, only a few steps from the hotel, has rooms en suite. The cottages are tastefully furnished, adding considerably to the attractions of the place, and affording altogether accommodations for about eighty guests."
The next most ancient house is the Wells House, so named because Dorcas Wells used to take boarders there nearly twenty years ago. The house stands back a few rods from the Mohican House, on the road that leads up the mountain side. It will provide for about forty guests. The present proprietor is H. A. Dearstyne.
The Bolton House, at Bolton Landing, just north of the Mohican House, is three stories high and is topped with a French roof and two observatories. A portion of the building was erected in 1870. Seven years later it was enlarged to double its original size and remodeled, so that now it will conveniently accommodate 125 guests. The first proprietors, Norton & Phillips, ran the house for five years. Hiram Wilson conducted the business for the four succeeding years. Barton & Phelps then assumed possession and remained four years. M. O. Brown followed them, one year. In 1883 the present proprietor, H. H. West, entered upon the performance of his duties here. Other hotels or summer boarding-houses are the Locust Grove House, about midway between the Mohican House and The Huddle, J. H. Vandenburgh, proprietor; the Lake View House, just south of the Locust Grove House, capacity for 100 guests, R. J. Brown, proprietor; the Vandinberg House, north of the Bolton House, capacity for thirty, Jacob Vandinberg, proprietor.
The Sagamore, the proudest hotel on the lake, perhaps, excepting the Fort William Henry, was first opened in the spring of 1883. As Mr. Stoddard says: "The Sagamore is not a savage, although representing in its title the proudest chieftain of a vanished tribe, and like its distinguished prototype standing a head and shoulders above its fellows, but the new hotel on Green Island, at a point for years looked upon as the hotel site par excellence of this section, now utilized through the energy of Philadelphia capitalists and one of Lake George's most popular landlords, together forming a company possessed not only of a knowledge of what the best people have at home, and naturally desire at a hotel, but also the skill and experience necessary to successfully manage the innumerable details in the business of a great hotel.
"The hotel building stands on high ground, and commands, on every side, Page 536 extended views of the lake and mountains. It is built in the style popularly supposed to belong to the sixteenth century, its varied porticos, balconies and gables all admirably displayed by the harmonious colors with which it is painted. Within will be found every hotel convenience and comfort, including hydraulic passenger elevator, electric bells, telegraph office, etc. It is supplied with an abundance of pure running water, brought through pipes from a mountain on the mainland two miles distant. Many of the rooms are arranged en suite with outside entrances, and all rooms are illuminated with the Edison electric light. The interior finish is in the best of taste, the furniture being of native hard woods, polished." (1) The house will accommodate 300 guests. Lessee and proprietor, M. O. Brown.
1. Stoddard's Lake George, page 85-85.
Following is a list of the supervisors from Bolton from the beginning to the present: 1799 and 1800, Asa Brown; 1801-1803, James Ware; 1804, Timothy Stow; 1805-1807, James Ware; 1808, Edward Reese; 1809, James Archibald; 1810, Thomas M. Wright; 1811-1815, Frederick Miller; 1816-1818, Allen Anderson; 1819, Frederick Miller; 1820-1826, Allen Anderson; 1827 and 1828, Thomas McGee; 1829, William Hammond; 1830 and 1831, Allen Anderson; 1832-1834, Truman Lyman; 1835, Stephen Pratt; 1836, Allen Anderson; 1837 and 1838, Rufus Anderson; 1839, Samuel C. Goodman; 1840, Aaron L. Judd; 1841 and 1842, Asa C. Winter; 1843, Orange Colton; 1844, Homer Davis; 1845, Warren Thomas; 1846-1849, Luther Brown; 1850, Louie Charette; 1851, Stephen Pratt; 1852, John B. Coolidge; 1853, Allen Anderson; 1854, George B. Reynolds; 1855-1857, Layton Wells; 1858, Jonathan Coolidge; 1859, Sidney W. Tuttle; 1860 and 1861, E. B. Miller; 1862, Layton Wells; 1863, E. B. Miller; 1864, Jonathan M. Coolidge; 1865, W. M. Coolidge; 1866 and 1867, George W. Seaman; 1868, T. N. Thomas; 1869, George W. Seaman; 1870 and 1871, E. W. Phillips; 1872, Truman N. Thomas; 1873-1875, M. O. Brown; 1876, H. A. Dearstyne; 1877, Truman N. Thomas; 1878, Myron O. Brown; 1879, Elbridge Cilley; 1880, Myron O. Brown; 1881, Harvey Robinson; 1882, Truman H. Thomas; 1883, Elbridge Cilley; 1884, Myron O. Brown; 1885, Frederick Allen.
The present officers are as follows: Supervisor, Frederick Allen; town clerk, George Gates; commissioner of highways, H. A. Dearstyne; collector, Chauncey Murch; assessors, Marvin Truesdell, Asa Dickenson, Hosea Barber; overseers of the poor, William J. Griffin, David Putney; commissioners of excise, Dodge S. Gates, Oscar G. Finkle, Edwin Norton; constables, E. La Gay, Chauncey Murch, Wilber Bentley; sealer of weights and measures, William Taylor.
According to the census reports since 1850 the population of the town has been as follows: 1850, 1,147; 1855, 1,167; 1860, 1,289; 1865, 1,221; 1870, 1,135; 1875, 1,121; 1880, 1,132.