History of Edmeston, New York/1800s

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The history of Edmeston, New York: 1800 through 1809

1800[edit | edit source]

This settlement had gained the name "Peet Hook" principally from the fact that Benjamin Peet conducted a tavern on the site of the present Brady House [location of Fire House in 2005]. Other Peets also settled in the locality and Hook is a Dutch word meaning settlement. West Burlington was called Upper Hook or Tory Hook or Moss Hook from the Moss family. — Myrta Kelsey

Why should I mention Benjamin Peet of the early 1800s — a tavern owner? Because this settlement is still nicknamed "Peet Hook" — "Hook" being the Dutch word for settlement. — Sandra Lohnas Haggerty

Edmeston had a physician at this time, for Dr. Gaines Smith had come here from Vermont in 1800 and was highly respected. — Hazel L. Jones

The first physician in the township was Dr. Gains Smith who came with his family from Vermont about 1800 and settled on the road from Edmeston to West Burlington. He had a large practice and was highly esteemed in the community and died in 1819 aged 75. One of his daughters, Diantha, married Benjamin St.John in Saratoga County. Their son, Hon. David B. St. John became a resident in 1820 and became a prominent citizen. He was Supervisor and a member of Assembly and a surveyor who surveyed much of the land in this vicinity. — Myrta Kelsey

The coming (from Vermont) in about 1800, of the township's first physician – Dr. Gains Smith – must have had a huge cultural impact on the area. Now there was a "professional" to help with births, sickness, and to prolong life. This doctor's son [grandson David B. St. John] was Supervisor, member of Assembly and surveyor. His surveying of area land enabled real property transactions to take place. — Sandra Lohnas Haggerty

Reolff Tenbroeck and his wife, Maria, called Polly and born a Vanderveer, came from Rock Hill, New Jersey. They may have prior acquaintance with Judge William Cooper; it is reasonable to suppose that some contact with him had influenced them to make the long journey north and found a new home in the incredibly rich lands to which Cooper had recently acquired title. Tradition has it that Polly's wedding dowry had been $20.000 and two black body servants. (the actual amount of dowry is in dispute) The black servants were husband and wife.

We can only guess at the reasons why Reolff chose the thousand acres on the Westernmost boundary of Cooper holdings for his Dutch Valley home. As was the custom of the Dutch, the house was located in the center of the farm. Was Reolff able to discern all the great natural advantages even before the land was cleared? That we do not know, but at any rate here they located. A saw mill was erected and the lumber cut for erection of the house. It started as a small, story and a half structure which would later be the "ell' to the mansion. — Alice H. Swinney, Tenbroeck heir

[The 1800 Federal Census for Burlington, which then included Edmeston, shows the following households containing non-whites:]
Household White
Total non-white

Reverend Daniel Nash was one of the first clergymen to be permanently located in Otsego County beginning his labors in what were later Morris and Exeter. A house which Father Nash often conducted religious services was that of Percifer Carr. On the other end of the road running Easterly [Carr road]. — Huntington Papers

Carr claimed to be a man of strong religious convictions. Father Nash, an Episcopal minister, used to hold meetings there and at Tunnicliff's and on these occasions large quantities of whiskey were drank. Carr's hospitality was known far and wide and he was very kind to the early settlers. — Huntington Papers & Irving R Sholes

Pine knots were often used in Edmeston for lights during nocturnal fishing in the waters of the Unadilla.

In the same period came the first physician of all this region in the person of Dr.Gains Smith from Vermont who, accompanied by his family, settled on the road leading from Edmeston Center to West Burlington.

For quite a number of years following the coming of the first settlers after the Revolution, according to an assertion once made by Elder Stephen Taylor, the hill lands on the Edmeston patents brought materially the higher prices in all sales made in that section. — Huntington Papers

Ed. Gazette — I said I would give you as good a history of the pioneers of this town as I could from its early settlement. I will begin at the east line of the turnpike, and go through West Edmeston.

The first settler was David Chapin, where his son Laurentine now lives. He settled there about 1800 and started a tannery and a shoe shop, and used to keep as many as ten or twelve hands in his shop and tannery. He died in 1821, and was buried in Masonic order.

The next settler was William Southworth, on the corner where Jared Robinson now lives. He sold to Deacon Lee, father of Martin Lee, who carries on the carding and cloth dressing, where John Taylor is now.

Rufus Graves was next, a weaver by trade. He kept the first tavern and small store. Erastus Waldo married his daughter, and was clerk for him until her went into business for him.

The next was Joseph Southworth, who built where David Talbot now lives, and kept a tavern some fifty years. The next was James Kennedy where Joseph Talbot now lives. He built the first mill at Edmeston Centre. Next came his brother Wm. where Daniel R. Barrett now lives. They were Irish from Cold Rain, Ireland, and died some fifty years ago. The next was William Bates, on the hill where the old tavern now stands, and next was Isaac Stern, who built a carding machine and cloth dressing mill where Truman Bootman's shop now stands.

The next was John Sheldon's old log house, on the site now occupied by James Ackerman, and next the old square roofed school house, where Joslyn's house stands.

Then came Prentice Fitch's in his log house on the hill, where Edwin Phelps now resides. Next beyond was Jabez Groose, a brother of John Groose, the cooper.

The next was a Scott on what is known as the Walter Chapen place. The next was Ebenezer Alby, who had a distillery] under the hill. The next was Daniel Chapen, who built a tavern house, and kept it until he died some fifty years ago. His son John lives on the place. Gabriel Bilyea came next, on the farm occupied by James Hume, while just beyond Ingalls, where Dupee now resides.

Next was Capt. John Gross, the cooper, then old Mr. Dupee, on the premises where his grandson now resides. Before him was Esq. Turner, who went South near Binghamton. The next was a Tozer, on the premises now owned by Orson Toles.

We now come to South Edmeston. The first settlers here were Abel DeForest, Gideon, his brother, and a family of Gazlays, who were so slow and moderate that they named the place snail town. There was also a Mr. Welch — I think he was the father of General Augustus Welch, of your village [New Berlin], — and was a taylor by trade.

Down the river was Philo Bennett and Abijah Beardsly, and a Mr. Banks, while further east, on the Dupee road, was a Frederick Gorham and two brothers by the name of Goodrich, where Charles Goodrich now lives and Thomas Page.

On the other road south from the Chapen place, was Deacon Aylsworth, father of Abel Aylesworth, who built a potash where Joseph Brown now lives. A little farther was Esq. Silas Peet, one of the first men in town. He had five sons among them were Levi, who went to Cataragus County, and Benjamin, who built the first tavern, hence the name Peet Hook.

On the corner where the Dennison wood mills was a Mr. White, the bell maker — all the name I remember — the father of your townsman [New Berlin], Thompson White Esq. Then was Peter Hawkins and in the hollow was Arthur Hawkins, who built a saw mill., the first in town; Then came Nelson Sherwood, where Hiram Briggs now resides, and next the Reolf Tenbrock place, down on the creek. On the Deming road was Benjamin Parker, and on the east line was Miragher Bennett. He had two sons, William and Sheffield some twentyfive. Beyond Bennett's was Dea. Martin Luther, and next was Eber Gallop, a blacksmith who had a shingled house, sides and roof.

Next we come to Col. Aden Deming, who bought the battlements of Thomas Slocum, my Grandfather. Then Deacon Stedman and Benedict Catly, near Col. Deming; Then a Mr. Hawkins, where Ed Wales lives, and Westly Tenbrock, where John Doolittle is. He had slaves for a good many years after he settled in town. They are buried on the Doolittle farm. The Tenbrooks were all Jersey Dutch were good inhabitants, they had plenty of money to begin with, but most of the settlers did not. They had to depend upon the gun for meat. They would take turns in hunting, one week, and another the next, until they all went through the neighborhood, the rest doing his work that week. Esq. Peet told me he had not a pound of pork or beef in his house the first two years he was in town. They lived on potatoes, beans, partridge and cod fish. You must remember this was all woods then. I think at that time there was not more than six or seven framed buildings in town, the rest were all log houses and barns or barracks, thatched with straw. There were no saw mills so they had to split basswood for their floors, no glass, so they used paper soaked in lard for windows, no chimneys, so they built up a back against the logs in one end for a fireplace, with a hole in the roof for the smoke to go out. They had north and south door, and if they had too large a backlog for two men to draw in, they hitched a horse to it, the horse going in one door and out the other. — James Slocum

Col Adin Deming came here he told me, with a bundle in a handkerchief, and an ax on his shoulder. He took a job chopping. David Chapin built a tannery and shoe shop. He ground his bark with a stone set up edgeways in a curb with a sweep, and the bark was broken into the curbs and was smashed by the stone — that was the way they ground bark in those days. He kept about six hands in the shoe shop, and about the same in the tan yard. Mr. Graves was a weaver by trade and had three daughters and two sons. One daughter married Erastus Waldo, and the other Doct. Bingham, the third lived an old maid. Mr. Waldo was his first clerk in his store, and afterwards built for himself near the Southworth tavern. That was all there was of Edmeston at that time. About this time (1808) Edmeston was set off from Burlington.

Mr. Southworth had four sons and three daughters. His oldest son Joseph went to Michigan in 1830. Thomas lived on the old place until he died, about twenty years ago. He was in the war of 1812, and drew a pension. His youngest, Horace, lives now in Leonardsville, the rest of the family are dead.

South of Adin Deming's was Perry Pope. He came into town in 1820 and built a blacksmith shop, and carried on the home business. Later he built a sawmill on his place. A little farther south was Caleb Perkins and John Deming, who died soon after he settled there. Next the Phelps place was Grindley Jackson.

This is all I can remember south of the turnpike. We will next turn our attention to the north part of town. When the first settlers came in here there were no saw or grist mills; no roads, only marked trees. Mr. Crowel Gross told me he went with his oxen and sled to Oaks Creeks Mill; was gone three days, and carried grists for the neighbors. He went all the way through the woods guided only by blazed trees, while bears and wolves were plenty. those who could not send to the mill had a stump hollowed out by chopping in the top and putting in coals and chips and burning out a deep hole. In this way they put the corn or other grain and mashed it with a pestle. they could get no boards so their floors were split basswood. They would pick themselves out a spot in the woods on their lot, fall the trees around and chop them into the right length, and call their neighbors for miles around, who would assemble and put them up a log house the next day, and cover it with bark — or straw if it was to be had — with two windows, one on each side, with as we have said before, paper saturated with lard for glass, and two doors, one at each end, to draw the logs in, at the chimney and fire places as stated last week, being only a back of loose stone up against the logs at one end, and a hole in the roof for the smoke to go out at. I have seen many a log drawn by a horse, but we usually draw them in by sticking an ax into one end and two men put their shoulders together and taking hold of the lever, would draw a pretty big log. As for barns they did not have many — only once in a while one needed any, and when they did have it was of logs. When they got to raise grain, they built what they called barracks, put up four parts, with an umbrella top thatched with straw.

It was pretty rough digging for a number of years, until the mills and mechanics and merchants put in an appearance. When one of the pioneers had chopped down timber and got it in shape, he would make a logging bee, get two or three gallons of New England Rum, and the next day the logs were in great heaps. — After the logging was over they would have a wrestle, and sometimes a Rhode Island boxing scrape. they would be a black set of fellows when it came night, for they had burned the bushes and the ground all over, but they did not care for that, for they had their lintsywoolsy, made by spinning wool and flax, and twisting it together. I have seen men come to meeting on Sunday with that dress, and barefooted. Their wives, would come with their copious colored petticoats, short gowns and checked aprons, all made by themselves from flax and toe. They would bring their shoes and stockings till they got almost to the meeting house, and then put them on. Children never thought of wearing shoes in the summer. men wore shoes all winter, with leggings. I knew a man to chop over sixteen acres one winter, and never had a boot on his feet. — James Slocum

The first building erected in Edmeston village (hamlet) was a still and potash building that stood in the vicinity of Perry Knights home, opposite the grist mill, where the Wharton creek was dammed in the rear of Mrs. Bessie Chase home, was built in 1801 by James and William Kennedy. In 1836 this first mill was replaced by a stone mill, built by William Stickney.. A few years ago this stone mill was taken down by Ambler Underwood and the stones carried to Utica where he built of them a home for his daughter, Mrs. Lisle Harrington. — Myrta Kelsey

James Kennedy was an active pioneer at Edmeston Centre and with William Kennedy built the first grist mill in the town in 1801. Later this was the sight of a stone mill. They, also, built the first saw mill in the town about the same time. These were located on the present East Street. The "Gazateer of 1860" states: "the first inn was kept at this place by Rufus Graves, a weaver by trade." Possibly this was the first regular inn, but Percifer Carr for many years kept a public house which was well known in the surrounding country. — Hazel L. Jones

There were some settlements north of the Centre, but a considerable distance apart. There was William Greene, father of Esq. St.John's wife, and Asa Jakeways, John Mitchell, David Nichols, father of Nelson Deming and William Coon's wives. The remaining part of the town was not settled for a number of years afterwards, owing to the death of Robert Edmeston, who owned the land, and his heirs being in England it was a long time before they could get any title. but after a time it was taken up by what they called squatters. They would go into the woods and build themselves a log house, chop off the timber, burn it into ashes, and make them into black salts, carry them to the store to get their groceries with. They would come down out of the woods Saturday in the afternoon, like William Tell from the mountains, with their ox teams, men, women, and children; then there was a gala time in the afternoon. — James Slocum

1801[edit | edit source]

Before 1800, the nearest mill to grind people’s grain was so far away that the men had to be gone over night; supposedly the mill was at the John Tunnicliff marker near Schuyler Lake. The damming of Wharton Creek in 1801 provided power so their own grist mill could be built. No longer was that long trip necessary. — Sandra Lohnas Haggerty

1802[edit | edit source]

In 1802 the Catskill-Susquehanna Turnpike Company constructed an important highway over the Indian trails. This made Edmeston much more accessible to travelers, who might settle, and to friends or relatives seeking to join the growing settlement. — Sandra Lohnas Haggerty

There was no other method of travel except by horseback, at that early date. There was a rude road, which had been an Indian trail, over the Catskill mountains from the Hudson River at Catskill, to the Susquehanna at Wattles Ferry, which was at the site of the present village of Unadilla. In 1802 and important highway was constructed over this trail by the Catskill and Susquehanna Turnpike Co. I think the Eastern part of this route is the present beautiful Rip Van Winkle State Highway. All the earliest settlers of this western part of the county and of the southern part probably came over this route. There was another road to Cherry Valley from Albany and the Mohawk Valley. — Myrta Kelsey

1808[edit | edit source]

The Town of Edmeston, originally a part of the town of Burlington, was organized April 1, 1808. It had a population at that time of 1300. — Hazel L. Jones

Edmeston was formed from the town of Burlington, on the 1st of April, 1808, the same year in which Westford, Decatur, and Maryland were organized. — John Barber

Thereafter the towns were not settled rapidly because of the talk of the war of 1812, and the suppression [impression] by British of American Sea men. Hence settlers did not come so rapidly as they had previously. — Up at Smith's Pond, then called, now Summit Lake, outlet there was a large flax works, conducted by one Weatherhead. Here afterward, George Link and his brother manufactured linen cloth. — Edmeston Local

Snail Town: For years, the pleasant little village of So. Edmeston has been locally known as Snailtown. It is said that years ago and old resident started to climb the hill, which I shall speak of later, and that a snail that started at the same time arrived at the top before the old resident. This was the cause of the name Snailtown being given to the hamlet.

Sixty years ago, when I rode down to Snailtown with George Edmonds on his milk wagon, as we neared the foot of the hill on the east side of this hamlet we passed on out left the home of Mr. Gilmore. It was a wood-colored house, where he lived with his wife and son Adrian. As we made the turn to penetrate further into this hamlet, on the right hand we passed the barn and red painted house of William (Billy) Phelps, which was located on the corner where the road led out of Snailtown to the north. Billy's vocation was filing saws and driving his black horse around the country to buy dekin calfskins. On the opposite corner of this north street was the well kept yard and home of William Calkins, who was a merchant in the hamlet and conducted a store where a general line of dry-goods, boots, shoes, and groceries was sold. The next building beyond to the west was the hotel "Hod" Terry owned and conducted until his death, after which, his son Seth Terry operated it during his life. Alonzo Hooker rented rooms in this hotel when he first entered mercantile pursuits and ran a store there until he erected a new store, which we will speak of later. Then came the hitching sheds and barn that belonged to the hotel property.

Since that time, a new dwelling house has been erected between the Calkins home and the hotel, which was built for and owned by a Mrs. Cushman, who came from New York. Her son Charles, who was an instructor of piano music, resided with his mother and later removed to Sherburne, N.Y.

The next building west beyond the hotel barn, was the blacksmith shop run by Alonzo Davis. A driveway separated them, which led into the log yard and to the saw and grist mill of Stephen Walling. this was a first class mill in all its appointments and was noted for the accuracy of its sawed products and quality of the flours and meals that was ground between its stones. Stephen Walling was an expert millwright and had patents granted him for valuable inventions and improvements in milling machinery.

Next beyond the Davis shop was a small building in which Truman Waters trimmed carriage tops and made the cushions for the famous vehicles made by Hiram Hooker. Hershall Chase also had a bench there where he manufactured boots and shoes and did cobbling. then across the driveway that led out from the mill property was the well built residence of Stephen Walling.

The next house there was Tracy Hawley, an expert carriage painter lived. Mr. Hawley did the painting and decorating of the wagons and sleighs made in Hiram Hookers carriage works for many years. The writer, when 15 years old worked for Tracy in the shop for a time. Then came the two mercantile establishments, run as general stores. One was conducted by William Calkins and the other by Nelson Matterson at that time. Lewis Lamb occupied one of these at a later date, where Hon. C. L. Banks served a clerkship when a young man. Dr. Wiltsie occupied a small office building near the little brook that crosses the street here.

This completes the North side of the street as far as my memory allows. On the south side opposite the "Billy" Phelps residence was a house and barn that was occupied by tenants and a short distance west was the house then occupied by Milton Hubby, a very devout man. With Mr. Hubby lived his widowed sister, Mrs. Caroline Fox, and a lady named Nellie Tilton, who later married Dr. E.Darwin Hayward. Alonzo Davis resided next in a house nearly opposite his blacksmith shop, which we have mentioned, across the street. The next house was occupied by Orin Howard and his daughter Helen, a maiden lady. Mr. Howard was justice of the peace for a long term of years.

Then we come to the residence of Hiram Hooker and his wagon shops, which occupied all the street as far as the little brook, across which was the house and lot owned by Alonzo Hooker, where he erected a store when he moved from the hotel. This property was sold to Leon S. Page, who conducted this store many years and now enjoys a lucrative business there.

Here we cross the road that enters the hamlet from the south and on this west corner was the residence of John Palmer, who was the vulcan at the forge in the blacksmith shop of Hiram Hooker's carriage works for many years. His craftsmanship may have been equaled, but was never surpassed. Caleb Card was a skilled man, who made the wheels and woodwork, with the utmost precision for the Hooker wagons for a long term of years. A Mr. Morse, who worked at another bench, at gear and body construction, turned out work without a flaw.

We will now go down the west side of the street leading south. The first building beyond the John Palmer house was the church that was but recently built at that time. Arthur Spurr lived next beyond and in the rear was located the cheese factory, which was erected by Albert C. Parker and then was being operated by Arthur Spurr. Then we passed the homes of Angelia Graham and Henry Holt, whose wife Malena, was the author of several books of fiction. Beyond these lived Smith Schemerhorn, Eunice Spicer and Leon Page.

We will now recall those who — Beyond the "Billy" Phelps home was where Charles Hooker lived. He followed the vocation of carpenter and builder. Lon Page and Frank Page lived on this north street and both were carpenters.

The mason and brick laying trade was ably represented by Joseph K.Lloyd and Orlando Brooks. The vocation that followed in ancient days by Tubal Cain, was taken care of by Andrew Dutcher, who had his home and shop on this street and was the father of three very attractive daughters. Joseph Gilmore also lived on north street. If there were others I fail to recall.

Well! Well! I have rambled around Snailtown until George Edmonds has gone home from the cheese factory and left me to walk home. But it is not too far across lots, up the east hill and through Roswell Simmons' pasture. So long. — Spencer B. Pope

The first settlers in South Edmeston were Abel and Gideon Deforest, and a family of Gazleys who were so slow and moderate that they named the place "Snailtown". — Hazel L. Jones

1809[edit | edit source]

  • Town Supervisor: Wessle TenBroek
  • Town Clerk: Isaac Brown
  • Resolved that neither horses hogs nor sheep shall be allowed to run at large.
  • Resolved that rams shall not run at large from 10th of Oct. to 10th of November.
  • Resolved that the Town of Edmeston be called Mount Vernon. [never mentioned again]
  • Resolved that the nex anuel Town meting be held at the house of Joseph Southworth
Note the penalty for rams running at large is $1
Register of Property

Continue to 1810s[edit | edit source]