The Town of Laurens


Image and text from Otsego county New York Geographical and Historical
by Edwin F Bacon, Ph B. 1902 Oneonta NY

Page 35. LAURENS. Area 26,116 acres. Population 1,483.

Laurens was formed from Otsego in 1810. Otego creek, the principal
stream, flows nearly south through a fertile and well cultivated valley.
The first white settler within the present limits of the town was Joseph
Mayall. He located in 1773 about one mile north of the present village.
He was a man of great courage, and during the Revolution was celebrated
as an Indian fighter. In the same year Richard Smith came from
Baltimore and erected a fine colonial mansion, called "Smith Hall," one
and a half miles north of the village. It has recently been purchased
and restored by William V. Huntington, esq. An early settler was the
Quaker, John Sleeper, who maintained a peaceful neutrality during the
Revolution, though for a time compelled to leave on account of danger
from the Indians. He reared here a family of seven sons and five

The day before the massacre of Cherry Valley, Mr. Sleeper started for
New Jersey, and upon arriving at Cherry Valley was urged by his friends
to remain over night. But he declined and continued his journey to
Bowman's creek, several miles distant, and thereby saved his life.

The day following the massacre, a party of savages passed through
Laurens and robbed the family of Mr. Sleeper and burned their buildings.
Brant, the Indian chief, arrived soon after, and finding Mrs. Sleeper
still there, exclaimed, "My God! Mrs. Sleeper, are you still alive?"
She replied: "Yes, but they have destroyed all of our property." Brant
charged the destruction upon the Senecas, saying: "They would kil their
best friends," and offered to pay her for her loss, but Mrs. Sleeper,
being of the Quaker faith, refused, as she believed that he had come
wrongfully by it. The family soonafter returned to New Jersey suffering
terribly on the way.

At the close of the Revolution Mr. Sleeper returned with his family and
rebuilt the house and mill. In 1794 he sold his grist and saw mils and
1,000 acres of land to Griffin Craft of Cherry Valley, who was the first
supervisor of the town in 1811.

In 1813 General Erastus Craft succeeded to his father's estate. He was
a member of assembly in 1810, '13 and '14, and served as supervisor of
the town for thirteen years. He married a sister of Judge W.W. Campbell
of Cherry Valley and has descendants in this vicinity and in the west.
Other early residents were General William Comstock, a leading merchant,
William C. Fields, who represented his district in congress in 1866,
General William Armstrong Erastus and Ezra Dean, Chauncey Strong, Samuel
Allen, Jacob Butts, Nathan Newell, Cyrus Hudson, Solomon Harrison, Peter
Scramling, Calvin Straight, a Quaker preacher, Solomon Edlred, Rufus
Steere, Stephen Whipple and Josha Matteson.

Rufus Tucker and Daniel Weatherly were early settlers at West Laurens.
Dr. Ezer Windsor settled above Laurens on the Mount Vision road in 1794.
His son Amos was sheriff in 1842.

Thomas Keys came with his large family from Connecticut in 1805. His
descendants are influential citizens at Oneonta and elsewhere.

VILLAGES: There are three villages in this township, viz.: Laurens
(population 233), Mt. Vision (population 300), and West Laurens
(population 117). Otsego Park, near Laurens village, on the line of the
O.C.&R.S. electric railway, eight miles from Oneonta, is a new and
popular pleasure resort.

CHURCHES: There are three churches in the village of Laurens, viz.:
Methodist, Christian and Presbyterian; at Mt. Vision, Baptist and
Methodist; at West Laurens, Christian and a Friends meeting house.

SCHOOLS: Number of districts 12; teachers 14; children of school age

Laurens village has an efficient school of eight grades, with two
teachers and 80 pupils. It has a library and school apparatus and
prepares for Regents' examinations.

NEWSPAPERS: The Otego Valley News, a weekly paper is published at
Laurens. Established, 1899.

Transcribed by Karen Flanders Eddy. 

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