FIRST SETTLEMENT - BROWN'S MILL AND STREAM - COBLESKILL MILITIA - BUILDING A FORT - INVASION BY INDIANS AND TORIES - FIRST SCHOOLHOUSE - LAMBERT LAWYER - JACOB L. LAWYER - CHAS. COURTER - AUGUSTUS C. SMITH - HOTELS - AND INNS - EARLY MERCHANTS - CHURCHES - MRS. BORST - THE SCHAEFFER OF SHAFER FAMILY - VAN DRESSER FARM - RICHTMYER FAMILY - CAPTAIN BROWN - HENRY SHAFER - BERNER SETTLEMENT - DOCTOR WERNER - KILMER SETTLEMENT - WETSEL FAMILY - BRAYMAN'S MILL - HOWE'S CAVE - MINERAL SPRINGS - PAUL SHANK - METHODIST CHURCH OF MINERAL SPRINGS - LAWYERSVILLE - FIRST SETTLERS - ANGLE FAMILY - YOUNG FAMILY - GENERAL DANA - JOHN REDINGTON - WILLIAM ELMANDORF - JARED GOODYEAR - ISAAC H. TIFFANY - THOMAS LAWYER - JEDEDIAH MILLER - DOCTOR SHEPHERD - SHUTTS FAMILY - THOMAS SMITH - HENRY SMITH - J. H. RAMSEY - WILLIAM H. YOUNG - CEMETERY - WAKEMAN FAMILY - REFORMED CHURCH - LUTHERAN CHURCH - EARLY MERCHANTS - PHYSICIANS - LEGAL FRATERNITY - MANUFACTURING INTEREST - MASONIC SOCIETY - GOOD TEMPLARS - F.A.R. POST - NATIONAL BANK - FORMATION OF THE TOWN - FIRST OFFICERS - SUPERVISORS - EFFORTS TO REMOVE THE COURT HOUSE - BOUNDARIES.
The town of Cobleskill possesses peculiar attractions, particularly to the Geologist and Historian. The greater part is underlain with limestone, in which is detected the various changes that nature has made through countless ages, and presents fossiliferous strata that are well worthy the researches of the inquiring student.
The mighty changes nature has wrought through the far back centuries have left immense fissures in these rocks that are the wonder and admiration of the world.
Within their dark recesses are found the most beautiful stalactitical formations which the dripping waters of ages have slowly and tastefully arranged by percolation through the rock above, as well as other mineral deposits peculiar to such caverns, all of which are worthy the attention of the student, and have attracted such from all parts of the educated world.
The historical interest that clusters along the Cobleskill is deep and of such a nature as to excited one's sympathy and patriotism. Here was a border settlement, during the struggle for liberty--of staunch patriots, whose valor and stability, under the most withering circumstances, have but few equals and no superiors. Along the valley, devastation and death, by the hand of ruthless Tories and Indians, rudely swept, and blighted the hopes and aspirations of many happy firesides--saturated the soil with patriots' blood, and laid the beautiful and prospering vale in waste!
Here, too, many scenes and incidents of other times occurred that are of interest, which we will from time to time notice as we unroll the scroll upon which the past has written with a truthful pen.
The name of the stream, town and village, at present is written Cobleskill. From what originated the word and its meaning is not definitely known.
Many traditionary tales are told by the oldest families and documents as to its origin, but the one that has been given credence, is from the late Judge Brown, as stated in his pamphlet history of Schoharie published in 1823.
"So called after the name of a man who cleared a spot at the outlet under the pretense of building a mill thereon, but was never brought about, but by the Indians was called Ots-ga-vaw-ge."
Author Simms visited the Judge a short time before he died and was told by him "he had been there to mill." It is very doubtful to us that a mill was built where conjectured.
There was a small mill built by John Peter Kneiskern upon a rivulet, as we mentioned in the Esperance chapter, near William Shout's work kitchen about the year 1740, and it was in use up to the time of the Revolution, and was no doubt burned by Colonel Johnson and Brant, October 17, 1780. We think as memory carried the Judge back upon Mr. Simms' visit, he being very aged and somewhat in his dotage, the Kneiskern mill was the one he visited and that he was correct when he wrote his pamphlet history. The man that received the credit of building that mill, and others in the Schoharie district, was Jacob Kobell.
The Schaeffer tradition is to the effect that the cows of the first settlers were pastured along the creek and one or more of each herd having a bell attached to the neck, for the purpose of finding them, led the settlers to give the stream the name of Cow-bell Kill---kill meaning creek.
Another family states that owing to the bed of the creek in many places being covered with round stone, it was call Cobble Kill. While the late John G. Young, whose ancestors came at an early day said "I was informed by my grandfather and other old settlers, that there lived an old Indian near the West Kill junction, whom the people call Cobus, and they gave his name to the stream." Turning now from tradition, we will glance over old documents that speak plainly and bear strongly towards Mr. Young's idea, and then leave our readers to draw their conclusions.
The oldest writing that we have had the pleasure of examining that alludes to the stream bears the date of 1728 and uses the creek as a boundary and calls it Cobus. A royal land grant now in the possession of Tiffany Lawyer, bearing date of 1753, also speaks of the stream a Cobus "or as the Indians call it Ots-ha-le-ga" and still at a later date when the boundaries of the town were described in 1801 by act of the Legislature, we read Cobuskill and the town receiving the name of Cobelskill. Thus we see the original name of the stream was Cobus kill while the town and village has borne the name of Cobels and Cobleskill. It was formerly thought that the West Kill was the main stream instead of being a tributary.
Johannes Schaeffer of Ulster county, purchased six hundred acres east of the present village, in 1749, and in the year following, his son John, and Peter his nephew, settled upon it. At the same time Jacob Borst settled upon the south side of the creed, opposite the Schaeffer brothers. John built a log house where Mrs. Peter Lawyer's fine residence now stands, and Peter built to the west, across the brook, near where Charles Hamiltion now resides. Johannes Schaeffer was a large land holder as will be seen by many of the old titles, and whether he was a relative of the Schoharie Schaeffers or not we are unable to tell. In after years, they became connected by the daughter of Peter marrying Christian H. Schaeffer, the father of the present Gideon, Martin L., Jacob H. and Mrs. Russell.
John was long known as Hans Schaeffer, and built the Mrs. Lawyer mansion for an inn, about the year 1815, and for many years was a respected "host."
The orthoepy of the family name is Schaeffer but that branch of the family found in and around Cobleskill have changed it to Shafer and Shaver.
In 1752 Jacob Borst and Johannes Lawyer, 2nd, of Schoharie purchased the lands to the west of Schaeffer's and Borst's, upon which the village now stands and an addition was made to the settlement from Schoharie and Middleburgh. They were Lawrence Lawyer, son of Jacob Frederick Lawyer, 1st, John Bouck, George Ferster and John Frimire.
About the year 1765 Christian Brown, brother of the late Judge Brown, settled upon the farm now occupied by James Becker, and built a saw and grist-mill, which was the only one west of Schoharie creek.
It was a small affair as most of the mills were of that day in the border settlements, merely cracking the grain, leaving the flour and bran to be separated by the ingenious matron. A bolt was placed in the mill after the Revolution but being ignorant of conveyers to carry the grinding from the stone to the bolt, it was carried in a basket and fed from a hopper. Indian corn and wheat were the chief products of the soil, the former being used chiefly for subsistence from the fact that it was easily prepared.
Brown's Mill was placed nearly opposite Mr. Becker's residence upon the south side of the stream that issues from a fissure in the rock after following a hidden path for several miles.
Several streams in the town of Carlisle flow in the fissures, so abundantly found in the lime rock strata, and it is believed that all of them, with but one exception, unite in emerging at this place. The prominent feeder is a swampy pond lying to the west of Carlisle village, known as "Shank's Pond." The water enters a crevice in the rock upon the east bank, over which is placed a saw-mill, and runs beneath hills and valleys the distance of nearly two miles and appears above ground, upon the lands of William Brown. Being utilized here again by another mill, it passes on one-fourth of a mile, and again seeks its underground course, to emerge as before stated at Becker's.
This may be called the main stream and is fed during the fall and spring months, by another swamp lying sough of Carlisle village upon the farms of Henry I. Ottman and Jacob H. Kneiskern, known as the "Cranberry swamp." This underground tributary joins the one before mentioned, before it emerges at Brown's mill, as a succession of indentures may be traced upon the surface beneath which the water flows. Still another swamp upon the north side of "Owelus Sowlus" or Karker's mountain upon the lands of Adam Lawyer, during high water seasons is drained of its surplus by a similar fissure, and helps swell the volume that here bubbles up from the rock-bound cavern.
During the Revolution, the people of the valley were continually on the alert for Indian invasions, and kept scouts out along the border to watch for their appearance and the movements of the Tories, and when they were detected lurking around, the women and children were sent to the lower fort at Schoharie or the middle at Middleburgh, much depending upon the location of relatives, with whom they could visit. Household valuables were also removed there for safe keeping, if not buried beneath leaves or brush in the forest or secreted in hollow trees.
A family tradition says that Christian Brown returned to his farm, after removing his family to the lower fort, to thresh some grain, and while busily engaged a bird flew in and perched itself upon his shoulder. Thinking nothing of the affair he continued threshing and the same bird repeated the act again and again, as if warning him of an impending danger. Like all the sturdy Germans, Brown was imbued with superstitious omens and fears, and upon the bird's last appearance his fears were aroused, and upon reconnoitering through he chinks of the log barn, he saw a squad of Indians cautiously skulking along a brush fence, running at the edge of the woods along the side hill to the sough. Being a Captain in the militia service his capture or scalp was a tempting trophy for the redskins to present to their king as a mark of prowess and loyalty. The Captain slyly retreated and returned to the fort.
It was here the wedding took place, during the war, between Captain Brown's man and maid servant, while Brown and family were at the lower fort. The frequent invasions of the Indians required a company to be formed in the valley, of which Brown was Captain. They were held for duty regardless of any individual interest in agriculture or mechanical labors.
Protection was the watch-word, and from the battle fought by them in 1778 to the close of the struggle, they were kept in arms, and if upon foreign duty, others filled their places. It was at a time when the soldiers were quartered here that author Simms says a wedding was celebrated. Pork, beans, and sour-krout were the viands and undoubtedly the "marriage bells" rang as merrily as if all the extravagances of modern weddings were indulged in. The militia were the invited guests and it was a gala day for the weary and hunted yeomen whose loves were but seasons of hardships and privations.
The first hostile invasion in the valley was on the 1st day of June, 1778, under the command of the Mohawk chieftain, Brant. His force was estimated to number about four hundred Tories and Indians, but probably it did not number more than half of that. The Indians were principally the Aquago's of the Susquehanna, as blood-thirsty and revengeful a race as could be found.
The battle being fought in the present territory of Richmondville, we have there given a full account of the transaction, and shall refer now only to such incidents as occurred upon that day within the present limits of the town. After the retreat was made by the patriots, and while the enemy were engaged at the Warner house, a messenger was dispatched on horseback down the valley to apprise the inhabitants of their danger of being slain or captured. Lawrence Lawyer's house was the first from the west, and stood upon the south side of the stream between it and the present residence of Peter Tingue. Lawyer was in the engagement, and fled with the remaining militia to the fort, and on coming to his house found his family had been apprised of the defeat and had fled. Mrs. Lawyer was three days in the woods secreted, not knowing the fate of her husband, or what to do with herself. She finally returned to her home, but found nothing left but ashes; house and out-buildings gone, and devastation on every hand. The dwelling of George Ferster, which stood where the Courter house now stands, that of John Bouck, John Schell, John King, Adam and Jacob Shafer, all within the immediate neighborhood, were but smoking ruins, and their occupants refugees in the cheerless forest. She, with others, broken-hearted, fled to the lower fort, and arrived there on the fourth day. Farther down the valley lived Henry Shafer, (the late Judge,) where his grandson, George Shafer, now resides, and the Borst family near by, also John and Peter Shafer, upon the opposite side of the creek.
For reasons unknown, the enemy did not move down to them, and they were the only buildings left standing from Zea's, above Warner's, to the school-house east of the village, except the latter, and a log house of Warner's.
Flight of the Shafer and Brown Families*--- . . . . . . *From Mrs. John J. Borst, daughter of Jeremiah Brown.
The messenger apprised the women and children of Peter and John Shafer's families, who, in the company with an aged German schoolmaster by the name of Paughoer, fled to Captain Brown's house, and taking Mrs. Brown and children with them, entered the forest to reach the fort. Without doubt, the messenger exaggerated the result of the conflict and the proximity of the savages. As these families were so frightened, they did not know which way to direct their course, although they had traveled over the ground many times. They became lost and lay beneath a hemlock tree over night.
The night being cold and the children timid, a fire was built at a late hour and around t they knelt, while the teacher, with hushed voice, invoked the protection of the Friend of the troubled and helpless. As soon as daylight appeared, they started, and near noon arrived at "Sidney's" on the Schoharie creek and were taken by him in a lumber wagon to the fort, where they found their husbands and fathers, they having arrived the evening previous.
Captain Brown and Henry Shafer (late Judge) were running together in the retreat, and were followed by a squad of Indians, that were anxious to obtain as valuable a prize as Captain Brown, whose scalp would bring eight, and body, alive, delivered at Niagara, twenty "current dollars of British money." As they were climbing over a brush fence Shafer was shot in the thigh, which paralyzed his limb so as to make it impossible for him to proceed. Brown turned to assist him, but the Indians being very near, Shafer told him "to run and not stop for him." The Captain bounded in the thicket and eluded his pursuers and reached the fort early in the evening, expecting Shafer to have been killed. As the Indians jumped over the fence they did so close by Shafer, and he said two of them looked him in the eye, but passed on to capture Brown, expecting, no doubt, to return and take his scalp.
The Judge, as he was familiarly known for many years after, was a rather tall, muscular man, with the nerve of a Spartan, and he crawled, rolled and tumbled along, to the thicket near, and secreted himself until danger passed.
J. R. Simms says of Shafer in his excellent "History of Schoharie and Border Wars:"--
"He directed his steps toward Schoharie, and on the way, fell in with Peter Snyder, his brother -in -law. They traveled together nearly to Punchkill, when Shafer, too weak to proceed, concealed himself and requested his comrade to inform his friends at the fort where he might be found, desiring them to come after him. His fellow traveler went to the fort, but instead of doing the errand as desired by his wounded relative, he reported him dead. Shafer tarried beneath a shelving rock until Monday morning, when by great exertion, he arrived at the house of a friend in Kneiskern's dorf. As he was much exhausted, he was prudently fed gruel until he revived, when he was taken to the fort and cured of his wound."
The company that was formed in the valley early in the war was called the Cobleskill militia, and was not attached to the regiment of the Schoharie and Duanesburgh district as a company, yet each of the members were enrolled upon that "muster roll," as will be seen by consulting Chapter III of this work. The most of the company belonged to the present territory of Cobleskill, and consisted of nearly thirty members. Only twenty of them, however, were engaged in the conflict of June 1st.
They were as follows:--- Christian Brown, Captain. Jacob Borst, Lieutenant. Nicholas Warner, Ensign. George Warner, Jr. Private. John Frimire, do George Frimire, do Jacob Frimire, do John Shafer, do John Zea, do Leonard King, do Johannes Bouck, Jr., do John Schell, do Martinus Ferster, (Fester) do George Ferster, do John Ferster, do Henry Shafer, do Lawrence Lawyer, do Jacob Shafer, do Peter Shafer, do William Snyder, do Those that were killed in the engagement and at the Warner house were:-- John Zea, Jacob Frimire, Jacob Shafer, John Ferster, Martinus Ferster.
Leonard King, Peter and Henry Shafer were wounded, and according to author Simms "the whole number killed, including Captain Patrick and his men, was about twenty-two, five or six of his men were also wounded and two were made prisoners."
Having written the name of John Schell, we cannot pass on, but relate an incident in the life of the firm old patriot that has not been told in print.
After the close of the Revolution the old soldiers were venomous towards the Tories, and whenever an opportunity offered they handled them unmercifully.
While attending a horse-race at Lambert Lawyer's, two Tories from the "Rhinebeck settlement," whose record of brutality was bad, drank to excess and while under the influence of liquor boasted of some heinous crime during the war, and ended by hurrahing for King George.
Schell's ire was aroused, and procuring a rope and a "black snake" whip, he tied the two together, by their necks, and led them to the hitching post, and whipped their coats off their backs. Giving them a resting spell, he drove the pair through the streets, as cattle, taking particular pains to remind them of his presence by an occasional stroke. He filled their pockets with small stone and compelled them to rattle the same, and cry out, "King's money! King's money!" as an offset to the derisive act of filling the mangled soldiers' mouths with Continental money, at the Warner house! As night drew near, he hitched them again to the post and gave them another severe chastisement, and let them go, declaring to them if they ever boasted of their crimes again he would kill them. It seems singular that many of the old Tories often boasted of committing crimes in which there was no truth, at least, so far as their having any complicity in them, except the principle of assent.
Building of a Fort.--- Nothing of any importance occurred in the valley after the battle, till the spring of 1781, except the building of houses and an occasional fright by the appearance of Tories and Indians in the neighbor-hoods that sympathized with them in the cause, as reported by the vigilant scouts.
The lower and middle forts being too small to accommodate the settlers of the surrounding country, many of the women and children were taken to the "Camps" upon the Hudson, where nearly all of them had relatives, with whom they could visit and be safe from the savage enemy; owing also to the distance the settlers of this section were compelled to travel daily, for protection, when invasions were threatened, beside, the hospitality of private families becoming wearied in quartering soldiers, the citizens applied to the committee of safety for the building of a block-house at some point in the valley.
Captain DeBoise, of the regular service, being stationed at the lower fort, was ordered to superintend its structure, which was commenced in the spring of 1781, and finished before the harvest, by the aid of soldiers and citizens. It was built nearly opposite the residence of Charles Hamilton, and was of sufficient capacity to accommodate the settlers in itself, without their being compelled to build tents of huts within the pickets, as at Schoharie, for the comfort of those that resorted to it. It's shape and construction is not known, more than that a cupola or observatory was built, from which the valley could be seen for a long distance.
The house of Peter Shafer stood where Hamilton's now stands and was enclosed in the pickets. A moat surrounded the whole in which the water of the brook running near, was turned and from which the garrison was supplied. The brook was much larger than at the present time from the fact the one running through the western part of the village upon which Harder's shops are built, made a turn near the residence of Mathew Burhans and ran east past Virgil Kling's into the channel of the brook now seen. Lambert Lawyer changed the course of the stream when he first settled upon the Courter place, for mill purpose.
Here the militia were stationed and obtained their supplies from the people gratuitously and we may imagine lived upon the "fat of the land." The hen roosts and granaries of the Tories of "Rhinebeck" were often visited by the soldiers in their scouting expeditions and their "donations" thankfully and most agreeably received. Nothing of a warlike character occurred here until the fall of 1781.
Invasion of 1781--- As has been intimated the Cobleskill militia and citizens that remained in Fort DeBoise obtained many of their supplies from the Tories of New Rhinebeck. They said in substance: ---"If your party destroy our crops and other means of subsistence, we will live upon you."
After thus helping themselves to their productions the Tories became greatly incensed and concluded to follow the adage of "diamond cut diamond" and devastate the valley; consequently in the latter part of September 1781 a party of Indians from the Mohawk appeared in the Karker neighborhood and were joined by a number of the Tories to carry out their designs.
The leader was from "New Rhinebeck" and full of vengeance as he had been stripped of his cattle by Willet and hunted by the Cobleskill scouts. They crept slyly to the valley unperceived and began the work of devastation in burning Lawrence Lawyer's, John Bouck's, George Ferster's and John King's house, that had been rudely rebuilt after the invasion of 1778. They passed down the valley and kept at too great distance from the fort to enable the few that were within it, to fire upon them with effect. They passed round to Judge Shafer's buildings, and applied the torch to the house, after plundering it of such goods as they could carry conveniently. They burned his log barn and stacks, and passed on to the Borst place below. That family was at the middle fort. The party here put up for the night, and held a pow-wow over their success. Mrs. Judge Shafer was in the fort, we are informed by Mrs. David Shank, a daughter, and saw the flames rising from her house. She went alone and extinguished them, but the barn and stacks were laid in ashes. As she was returning to the fort she said the burning of property up the valley was a sad and discouraging sight.
Abram Bouck, then a lad, was at home and was captured as he was starting to return to the fort. George Frimire and brother John were at Ferster's and in making an attempt to escape, George was killed and scalped---John it was thought was a willing prisoner as he had followed the invaders of Vroman's Land to Canada the previous year, but stoutly denied the charge. George Ferster was also taken and rudely dealt with.
Early the following morning the invaders burnt the Borst buildings that sheltered them through the night and retraced their steps up the valley. They burnt Judge Shafer's house and drove his few cattle along, together with others they could collect, in all about thirty head. Every building from Lawrence Lawyer's to the Borst place was burnt, except the fort and Peter Shafer's (enclosed within the pickets) and Hans Shafer's, that stood where Mrs. Peter Lawyer's fine residence now stands.
Hans lost nothing. His reticence throughout the struggle after the battle of 1778 was considered suspicious, and cause the patriots to deep a watch over his movements.
The Ferster and Frimire families seemed to be the most unfortunate of any in the valley during the war. The former was stripped of all its male members, upon the capture of George the father, at this invasion, and the massacre of John and Martinus, the sons, in the conflict of 1778. John Frimire and his second son, Jacob, were killed in that memorable battle. One son fled to Canada with Zea as related in Chapter XVIII, while George and John were taken prisoners at this time. From those two families came the brightest examples of unselfish heroism and patriotic sacrifice that are to be found in the annals of our country.
The enemy passed up to the present village where the New Rhinebeck party separated from the Indians and skulked to their homes. That night they had a meeting at one of the clan's houses and two buxom Tory daughters enlivened the occasion by playing upon fifes, while the Tories themselves refreshed their weary bodies by drinking Ferster's potato whiskey.
There could not have been many men in the little fort at the time, as it seems if there had been, an effort would have been made to check the savages' progress.
Undoubtedly the men were off upon duty as scouts, or in the Schoharie valley assisting their brethren in their fall work. Our Tory informant says "they watched their chance and did good service." Thus it was as the white-capped cloud suddenly arises in a clear sky, changing sunlight to darkness and bringing hail and Nature's other destructives, so those monsters "watched their chance" and when all seemed quiet and secure, they pounced upon unprotected settlements, and with the torch laid them in ashes and bathed the ruins with brothers' blood.
Lawrence Lawyer was on his way from Schoharie the afternoon the buildings were burned, and when near the present hamlet of Punchkill, he came suddenly upon three Indians, who were driving a few head of cattle, but they not seeing him, he crouched down by the side of a log and they passed on without noticing him, although they were within a few feet of him. Quite a number of cattle were driven from the valley by the invaders at this time.
Lawrence died in 1848, at the age of eighty-nine years and ten months.
First and Later School Houses.--- While we are dwelling upon the incidents connected with this neighborhood, it may not be amiss to refer to the first school house in the town.
An old man whose head is silvered by the reflection of eighty-seven years, well spent, and whose father and mother learned to read and write High Dutch correctly within its rude walls, pointed out the little knoll upon the north side of the road, east of m. W. Hearn's residence, and east of the gate-way, near the willow tree, as the spot upon which the first school house was built. It was a log building, and for the want of a "creaking door," a large blanket was pinned up in winter, under which the pupils were forced to crawl in going in and out. A small hole was made upon the south side for a window, over which the teacher's cloak was hung to keep out the wind. A large hole in the roof allowed the smoke to escape from the fireplace and through which light was admitted to enable the scholars to study. The teacher was a Mr. Paughoer, to whom we referred in the flight of the Brown and Shafer families, and who taught as early as 1770. At the close of the war a frame building was erected upon the same spot, in which many of the oldest inhabitants, now living, well remember attending school. Two buildings for that purpose have been erected and abandoned since, before the one at present in use was built; each exhibiting the degree of prosperity and pride the people possessed. The present one marks the progress of the day and the deep interest taken by the citizens of the village in the cause of education.
We have before us the report of J. H. Salsbury, Superintendent of Common Schools, made in 1845, in which he says, in referring to new school houses:---
"That of Cobleskill, (the third one built in the district) is a splendid building, reflecting credit upon the inhabitants of the district, and particularly upon Messrs. C. Courter, Thomas Smith, D. Lawyer, M. Swart and others, by whose voluntary subscriptions a sum sufficient was raised to rear it. It has two rooms, with a portico in front, and a beautiful cupola upon it, and for comfort, convenience and elegance, it is perhaps surpassed by few, if any, in the State."
Upon the building of the present one, the former was abandoned, and was used for many years as the Index printing office, and of late as Dean's Marble Works.
Upon the building of the railroad, the village gave promise of becoming a thrifty business center, and there was an influx of settlers, which required more commodious school rooms.
In 1867, the present brick structure was built, and the schools soon adopted a graded course, which has now become equal to any school in Central New York, having three departments---Primary, Intermediate and Academic---with an attendance of four hundred students.
The present Board of Education of the village is Charles H. Shaver, President: James W. Lawyer and Albert Baker, whose design is "to furnish to the youth a school equal to any of its kind in the State, and to afford to all who desire it, an opportunity to be fitted for college, for business, for teaching, and, above all, for the practical duties of life."
Additional Settlers.--- Immediately after the Revolution closed, measures were taken to rebuild, and other settlers, principally from Schoharie and Middleburgh, made a choice of land near, and by the year 1800, the present limits of the town were entirely taken up, except those lands lying upon the precipitous hills, which were considered of little value. Prominent among the new settlers was Lambert Lawyer, a son of Johannes Lawyer, 2nd, of Schoharie, who purchased in 1752 the land upon which the village stands. Lambert settled in the log house rebuilt by Ferster, and in which the latter kept an inn after he was released. The old house was built of logs, and stood where the court house now stands. Lawyer built on a frame addition, and continued the business up to the year 1802, when the house was burnt. There being quite an amount of travel of families from the Eastern States, to Otsego and other western counties, beside a good local trade, he built the present house, which was the largest in this section. The building was erected the same year, (1802). The road ran upon the south of the house at that time. The house was for many years the town house, where the hardy yeomen met to transact official business, hold law-suits, etc.
Here it was voted as late as 1802, "That stocks be built at the expense of the town," which appears as if they had "unwary ones" in those "good old times," as now.
Among the town records we find that in 1820, "by a vote at Lambert Lawyer's, the paupers of the town of Cobleskill shall be sold at auction annually, on the first Tuesday in May, when the licenses will be granted to retailers of spirituous liquors."
Lambert growing old, and very wealthy, for those days, wished to retire from the business, so in 1815 he built a brick house where the Hotel Augustan now stands, into which he moved with his son David S., while another son, Jacob L., took possession of the inn, and continued the business many years. He was a soldier in the War of 1812, in Captain Kellogg's Company, and in November, 1828, was elected Sheriff of the County. He died July 30, 1850.
Mrs. Jacob L. Lawyer, is still living at the advanced age of eighty-five. She was a Driesbach, of Schoharie, and when she came to Cobleskill the first time, there were but few houses, and the surrounding farms were nearly covered with heavy timber. Her father came from Pennsylvania in company with Jabez Kromer, and after a short stay in Albany, they came to Schoharie. The former located at that village as a mechanic, and the latter settled in Cobleskill as a physician, in 1793, both being progenitors of the families now living in the County bearing those names.
Jacob L. Lawyer sold the property to John P. Bellinger, and Peter Van Patten, father of the late Abram Van Patten, continued the hotel business to the year 1839, when Charles Courter purchased the property. Upon the building of the turnpike in 1810, the back of the house was made the front, and upon Mr. Courter purchasing the property he removed the horse-sheds, and upon the ground they occupied, he built a store, in which he kept a general assortment of merchandise up to the year 1864, when he sold his stock to Simeon Deyo, who was also in trade in the "Watson house," or present "Kilts Hotel." Mr. Deyo was a practical business man, with a host of friends, and did as large a business here as he had done in Schoharie village, for eighteen years in succession. He closed his mercantile affairs in 1864, and purchased the "Mineral Springs," where we will again refer to him, in dwelling upon incidents and facts relating to that place.
Charles Courter * was born in the town of Schoharie on the 4th of June, 1808.
* See steel portrait and biography at the close of this chapter.
After the death of Lambert Lawyer, which occurred in 1832, David S. came in full possession of the brick house property, and in the course of a few years he sold the same to Marcus Sternbergh. It was kept as a hotel by him for a long series of years, when LeRoy Eldredge, of Sharon, purchased it, who in turn sold to A. C. Smith, in 1867. Perhaps it may be interesting to state that the property was sold by David S. Lawyer, for a trifle over six thousand dollars, while the consideration for the same between Smith and Eldredge was twenty-one thousand dollars, which must be placed to the credit of the railroad. Mr. Smith repaired the house at great expense, and made it as inviting to guests as any in the County.
Increase of business required another extension, and many conveniences within, but through a conflagration that originated in the hotel stables in 1873, the whole was laid in ashes, together with all the buildings to the east as far as School street. In the two years following Mr. Smith built the structure now standing as Hotel Augustan, upon the ground occupied by the old buildings.
It is a large three-story brick building, with well ventilated and spacious rooms, capable of accommodating one hundred guests without inconvenient compactness. to it, has flocked, each heated term, many from different cities, to enjoy its hospitality and the beautiful scenery surrounding it. Scarcely had Mr. Smith finished and furnished the building to his satisfaction, when he was stricken by disease. He died November 14, 1877, at the age of forty-nine.
August C. Smith was a very genial and energetic business man. He conceived the rapid growth of the village would ensure safety in making the heavy expenditure of building such an edifice, and had he lived, undoubtedly by his enterprise and perseverance, he would have enjoyed the realization of his plans. He was a successful school teacher for a number of years, and was elected school commissioner over the western district in the autumn of 1856. Mr. Smith ever took a deep interest in the cause of education, and in entering upon the duties of the office, he threw his whole energies in the work and awakened an interest throughout the district, that caused the schools to advance from the lethargy in which they were found. He was re-elected as his term of office closed, and throughout his official career performed his duties with such faithfulness, as to ensure it was not as much for the emoluments of the office, he worked, as to meet the interest he felt in educational matters.
As we are dwelling upon hotels and hotel proprietors, perhaps we may with propriety refer to others that were in past days and then come down to others that are now existing in the village. In olden times an inn was considered as indispensable as the highway, as by the town records we find in 1800, and for many years following, nine persons were licensed to "keep an inn," in the town, and "who appear to be of good moral characters, and are of sufficient abilities, each to keep a public Inn or Tavern, and that each of them has accommodations to entertain travelers."
Undoubtedly owing to the rush of business the board considered it "necessary for the accommodation of travelers that a tavern be kept at their several places of abode in the said town of Cobleskill."
The nine that received licenses were:--- Lambent Lawyer, Peter Bouck, William Snyder, Nicholas Rouse, Jacob Newton, Nicholas Smith, William Baker, Caleb Lamb, Lambert Shafer.
The town being much larger in area at that time than now, there were but four of the nine in the present territory---Lawyer, Bouck, Shafer and Rouse.
Peter Bouck kept where Martinus Swart now resides; Shafer upon the VanDresser farm. Rouse near Punchkill, and Lawyer as before shown.
Coming down to a later date (1810) Dr. Jabez Kromer opened his house (which stood where Kennedy's wagon shop now stands) as an inn. The building was burned about the year 1830, and the present wagon shop soon after erected. John Foland succeeded Kromer as host. He was father of the late John and present Peter Foland, whose reputation as landlords are too well known by the traveling public to need an introduction here. The house passed into several hands from time to time, and in its last days as a hotel was known as the "Nisbeth " House.
In 1842 Abraham L. Lawyer purchased the building now known as the United States, and changed it from a store (for which it was intended,) to a hotel by building an addition.
Martin Watson, son-in-law of Lawyer, took possession and continued the business to the year 1852, when he removed to Albany and gave place to others. Since that date the house has been occupied as a store and hotel, Simeon Deyo being the last to occupy it as a store-house.
From 1864 to 1868 several different "landlords" held forth, but in the latter year Levi Kilts purchased the property and still remains the proprietor. During the present season the building has received an extensive addition which makes a great contrast from its appearance forty years ago, when it was a small store, and the present time. Across the street from the United States Hotel stood for many years a long building with the gable towards the street, which from time to time was used fro various purposes. Abram Van Patten rebuilt the house and for several years enjoyed a lucrative patronage. His genial countenance and unbounded hospitality drew a host of friends around him, who deeply regretted his untimely end.
Mr. Van Patten fell from a wagon at some distance from home and when found life was extinct. The house was managed by his family awhile, who was followed by ------Benedict to the present year, when Jefferson Eldridge became the occupant, and remodeled the establishment in appearance and convenience.
Upon completion of the railroad to this place, James Blodgett erected the present Commercial Hotel, near the station, as the Blodgett House, for the convenience and comfort of commercial travelers. The fall of 1866 found it completed under the management of the builder, who was followed by several different firms and of late by Morgan Lewis, son-in-law of A. C. Smith and former proprietor of the Hotel Augustan. The house has accommodations for one hundred guests. Besides the increasing patronage of the traveling public this house has become a favorite summer resort. The village being so pleasantly situated, in a fertile and interesting valley, free from malaria and accessible to all parts, many whose custom it has been to pass the heated term at the fashionable watering places, find it more beneficial to health to pass their summers here in quiet, and each season finds their numbers increased.
Early Merchants.--- Who was the first merchant in the place, it is indeed hard to tell, but we are led to believe one Staats, who was here in 1790. Josias Kellogg was here as early as 1800, and was connected in after years with Curtis Thorp.
The Lawyer family were the most wealthy of any in the Schoharie settlements, and were engaged in nearly every enterprise in which money was to be made, and undoubtedly through them the first settlers were supplied with such goods as they required. The wants of the settlers as we have before mentioned were few---the chief being rum and tobacco---aside from their wearing apparel and eatables, which they manufactured and grew themselves.
After Kellogg and Thorp came John Peter Bellinger. Upon the ground now occupied by the United States Hotel stood a building which was occupied as a store during the 20's, by Jacob Slingerland; the building was burned and rebuilt by Han Yery Bouck, and he or his brother engaged in the mercantile business in partnership with Jerome Kromer. Mr. Bellinger was in trade part of the time with Jonas Bouck. Charles Courter came in 1837, and formed a copartnership with Minard Harder, in 1855, and continued the connection until the spring of 1860, when the business reverted to Mr. Courter. During those years, Martin Watson, A.B. Larkin and J. M. Falkner, were engaged in trade, the latter two, after those dates.
Simeon Deyo being established in the "Watson house." purchased Charles Courter's goods and interest, and became the only merchant in the village for some time, as we before stated. There may have been other merchants of short residence here from time to time, of whom we have not made mention, but we have given the leading tradesmen up to the year 1862. Long years before the latter date, the chief station for trading was at Lawyersville, and still later, Bernerville. We will here state that the business portion of the village for many years was clustered around the present United States Hotel.
Alonzo Ferguson was the pioneer hardware merchant of the place, and commenced the business in 1851. He was followed by C. H. Shaver in 1854, who still is in trade.
Mr. Ferguson removed to Otsego county, and upon the commencement of the Rebellion, he enlisted and served through the war as Colonel of the 72 nd Regiment of Volunteers.
In 1879, he returned to the village, and again engaged in trade, haveing purchased the stock of goods of Charles Hamiltio, who had been in the trace nearly two years. The three gentlemen alluded to are the only merchants ever engaged exclusively in the hardware trade in the village.
Morris Cohn removed from South Valley in 1864, and engaged the most extensively in the dry goods trade, and still remains as the largest dealer in the County. Jacob H. Diefendorf, also commenced at nearly the same time, and after a few years closed. In 1872, Martin Borst and Edgar S. Ryder, formed a co-partnership in the dry goods and clothing trade, and the firm became in 1878, Ryder & Ostrom, Borst having retired and George D. Ostrom succeeding him. The same year the firm again changed by the retirement of Ostrom, and connection of R. T. Lefevre, making the principals "Ryder & Lefevre."
The first general druggist of the town was -----Howland, who commenced in 1865, and was succeeded by Jonas Dillenbeck, in 1867, who is still in business, having of late taken an associate, and the firm is known as Rowe & Dillenbeck. The conflagration of 1873 burnt Mr. Dillenbeck's large and well stocked establishment, but it was immediately rebuilt, and still retains the reputation of a first-class house, which was early won. Several other firms have "come and gone" since Mr. Dillenbeck embarked in the business, and at the present but one other is in the trade. Hogan & Borst commenced in 1879, and still continue with the confidence of the public. Doctor Ezra Lawyer, in connection with his practice, was a favorite druggist for a few years up to 1879, when he retired from the business. To chronicle all the business men of the town, and the changes they have made from time to time, would be an endless task, and by not going over the whole field, we are confident we will not be accused of favoritism. We have only intended, in writing the foregoing necessarily brief sketch, to notice the pioneers in each branch, but in our retrospect, we find we have missed Henry Smith, who built and furnished with goods, the house standing near the old school house, and in which William T. Moak was clerk, in the years 1853 and 1854. The basement was occupied in 1865 by "Lon" Harder, as a grocery, which he removed to the building now occupied by the druggists Hogan & Borst. "Lon" built the store in 1867, and created quite an excitement by his prize "Tea Sales," in which he disposed of thousands of pounds of tea, and brought together crowds of hundreds of people, to witness the distribution of the prizes.
James W. Lawyer was the pioneer in the exclusive grocery trade, and was followed by Alonzo Harder. Daniel J. Dow removed from Sharon Hollow, and engaged in that business, and since then, G. R. Culver, John J. Dickerson, and J. M. Dean, as Dickerson & Dean, who were succeeded by Decker & Wright, martin D. Borst and James Herrick, have established flattering trades, who, with D. J. Dow, make a specialty of crockery, in addition to groceries.
Lawrence Lawyer's House and Family.--- When Lawrence Lawyer settled here, about the year 1770, he built a house near the creek a little to the north of Peter Tingue's present residence. The road ran south of Lambert Lawyer's to that house and fro thence northwest to Adam Shaver's, now Madison Shaver's, and then west to William Snyder's inn, now occupied by Sylvester McDonald. Lawyer was twice burned out during the war, and in 1810 built a large mansion upon the hill west of the village. It was in after years occupied by his son, Abram L., who was followed by Nicholas Russell, and still later by Peter Coburn, in whose possession it was when burned.
Lawrence had two sons, John L., and Abram L. The former, father of the present James W. Lawyer, was killed by a log rolling upon him. Abram became a very useful and influential man. He represented the town in the board of Supervisors in 1823, 1824, 1825, and 1829, and was sent to the Legislature in 1830, and again in 1851. The years 1835, 1836, 1837, and 1838 found him in the State Senate, which position he filled with commendable efficiency, as repeated elections prove. He died at his residence on the fifteenth of December, 1853, at the age of sixty-two.
Mr. Lawyer married a daughter of Peter Bouck, and his daughter (Mrs. Harvey Watson, of Esperance,) is the only surviving member of the family.
Churches.---From the first settlement of the valley, in 1750 to 1764, the people were destitute of a house of worship. Peter N. Sommers, of the Lutheran Church of Schoharie, and Dominie Schuyler, of the High Dutch Reformed, together with missionaries, occasionally performed divine services in houses and barns. When not thus provided, the people either walked to Schoharie or near the present Methodist Centre Church in Seward, where stood a rude log building in which meetings were held quite frequently. During the Revolution, they were careful in venturing upon the usual paths to Seward, as the settlers of that section were principally Tories, in whom they had but little confidence.
After peace was proclaimed, the Rhinebeck Church was built by the combined efforts of the people of Dorlach, Rhinebeck and Cobleskill and both societies, Lutheran and Reformed, worshipped in the building up to the year 1800. The Lutherans of Cobleskill became dissatisfied with the management of the church property, and being able to erect a church of their own, they did so in 1794. An effort was made by them to obtain a division of the farm, but not being successful, the matter was dropped until 1808, when they obtained fifty acres as their portion. The building, for those days, was a fine one and, being of brick, it was known and referred to as the "Brick Church," for many years after, by the people of the surrounding country. The building became too small for the congregation and a new one was erected in the year 1868, at a cost, together with the furniture, of thirty-six thousand dollars, that will compare favorably with any in the country.
The old one was cleared away in 1869, and upon the ground occupied by it, and the old grave-yard, the brick block known as the "Russell Block," now stands. The store of Martin Borst occupied the old site. It is sacrilege to destroy every such relic of the past merely for the financial gain that is reaped out of the small plats upon which they were placed.
The founder of this organization was the Rev. F. H. Quitman, and in gleaning from the records we are enabled to give the following facts relating to the church, and in our labors were assisted materially by Mr. Archibald Kilmer, whose interest, with others, became excited in behalf of the "old land mark."
In September, 1793, Lambert Lawyer gave to the organization one acre of ground for building purposes, and during the following winter and summer the edifice was erected. At what time the first meeting was held to organize the society as a separate church, we are unable to tell, but by consulting the New Rhinebeck papers should judge that part of the proceedings were performed in the early part of that month (September). We find Nicholas Warner and Henry Shafer (late Judge) were the first Wardens, and Lawrence Lawyer, Henry Shafer, David Bouck, Johannes Bouck, George Mann and Peter Shafer the first Trustees, while Henry Shafer acted as Clerk. From the books we find the organization spoken of as "The Lutheran Dutch Church, called 'Zion of Cobleskill.' "
The builders of the edifice were:--- Henry Shafer, Adam Shafer, Peter Shafer, John Shafer, David Bouck, Lawrence Lawyer, Lambert Lawyer, George Warner, Nicholas Warner, David Zeh, Peter Mann, John Bouck, George Warner,all wealthy men, not only for that, but our own day, as farmers; and being situated in a rapidly growing community, the pulpit was supplied by the best preachers of the day.
As we have stated Rev. Frederick Quitman founded the church and was the first pastor from 1794 to 1800, and Anthony T. Braun (Brown) from 1800 to 1805, yet they were also preachers at Schoharie; Rev. Mr. Braun from 1791 to 1795, and Rev. Quitman from 1795 to 1799, when Rev. Mr. Braun again officiated from 1799 to 1805. Those two men followed in the footsteps of P.N. Sommers, and like him preached at Beaverwyck, Stone Arabia, Greenbush, and to scattering congregations within a circuit of forty miles, but unlike him in doing the work double handed.
These men were succeeded by one of the noblest men that adorned the church, Augustus Wackenhager, who began his ministry at Schoharie and here in 1805 and ended them in 1816. He was the first President of the County Bible Society and on its semi-centennial anniversary at Schoharie in October, 1863, the Society voted him a Bible, as a mark of their honor and affection. Upon the receipt of the token, at Clermont, he wrote a touching letter of acknowledgment, that well deserves a place upon the minutes of that Society. Though four score years had passed over his venerable head, yet in that epistle the earnestness, energy and mental powers of the man could be at once seen and felt.
John Molther followed in 1816 and remained to the year 1819, when George A. Lintner came and officiated till the year 1834. At that date this organization became a separate parish under the pastorate of W. H. Watson, who remained until the year 1841, when James Lefler followed till 1844, and officiated also at Middleburgh. Rev. J. Fenner came that year and was succeeded in 1846 by A. L. Bridgman, who came only to fill a vacancy and was relieved by Rev. M. J. Stover, who remained till 1851, when S. Curtis came. The year 1855 brought P. A. Stroble, and 1858 Henry Keller, who is the only one of the long list of pastors that permanently settled in the village. His pastorate ended in 1861, and I. S. Porter followed him and remained till 1867, when A. P. Ludden filled his place to be relieved by C. P. Whitecar in 1873. Mr. Whitecar remained but one year and removed to Middleburgh where he labored till 1876. S. Stall followed Mr. Whitecar in 1874 and closed his pastoral duties here in 1877, when G. W. Hemperly, the present pastor, was called. One fact we will here state in connection with this church that is of deep interest in its history:---
Rev. Walter Gunn, the first missionary from the Evangelical Lutheran church of the United States to heathen lands, was a resident of Carlisle, and while but a young man was awakened to a deep sense of his duty to God and man by the Holy Spirit, and but a short time after his conversion expressed a strong desire to enter the missionary field.
Being too poor to prepare himself for the work, he applied to the pastor of the Schoharie Lutheran church fro advice in the matter, who could give but little encouragement, yet with that earnest resolution that characterized all of Dr. Lintner's works, the matter was brought before several members of the Hartwick Synod. Dr. Lintner in his memoir of Mr. Gunn says:---
"At the meeting of that body, at Cobleskill, in the year 1837, it so happened, or rather it was directed in the providence of God that several wives of clergymen belonging to the Synod accompanied their husbands to the meeting. During the session of the Synod Mrs. Nancy Schafer, wife of Colonel Schafer, of Cobleskill, invited the ministers' wives to spend an afternoon at her home. Here they met without any pre concerted arrangements and had a season of prayer, while their husbands were engaged in the deliberations of the Synod. the ladies present at this meeting were Mrs. Crounse, Mrs. Senderling, Mrs. Lintner and Mrs. Schafer. After prayer it was proposed to educate Mr. Gunn for a foreign missionary."
"Each pledged herself fro a definite sum and agreed to work among the ladies of their respective neighborhoods and solicit their aid.
"This gave rise to the Female Association of Hartwick Synod for the Education of Foreign Missionaries. This meeting was the germ of the foreign missionary spirit, which went forth through the Harwick Synod to other Synods and subsequently led to the establishment of our foreign mission."
Reformed Church.--- There being several families located at and near the village that held to the Calvinistic doctrine, a building was erected in 1819 for public worship. The pulpit was supplied principally from the Reformed Church of Schoharie and Middleburgh. There never was a resident pastor connected with this church, and through some mismanagement or disagreement upon doctrines, the society was disorganized and the church property sold. The building at present is occupied by the post office, and James W. Lawyer's grocery. The last deacon of this church was the late Isaac Ottman.
Methodist Episcopal Church.--- The early records of this church were not kept, but by the assistance of Mr. Minard Harder, we are enabled to give an accurate history of the same as taken from papers relating to it in his possession. In the summer of 1853, meetings were held fro the first time, in the residence of John Schermerhorn by circuit preachers, and the year following the present edifice was built, and dedicated about the month of October of that year. The Sunday-school was held in the rear part of the present residence of William C. Ottman, in a room arranged by Josiah L. Hawes, for a select school. Elisha Watson was preacher in charge during 1853, and we find Charles M. Anderson was an assistant, and Truman Seymour, presiding elder. In 1854 Arunah Lyon was preacher, and Andrew Heath acted as colleague. During those two years this charge was in the Seward and Cobleskill circuit. In 1855 and 1857, it was in the Cobleskill circuit, which included Bernerville, Punchkill, Greenbush, Grovenor's Corners, Mineral Springs, Petersburgh, Bramanville and Cobleskill, and consisted of eight classes.
In 1855 Andrew Heath was preacher, and Stillman B. Gough, associate.
In 1856 Joseph Conner was preacher, and Joseph Cope, son-in-law of David Shank, associate.
In 1857 the same clergymen were reappointed and served.
These were the last pastoral duties performed by Mr. Conner, as his health failed. He settled at Warnerville and died soon after with consumption.
In 1858 the circuit included Richmondville, and was called "The Cobleskill and Richmondville Circuit." During that year S. S. Ford was preacher in charge, with D. W. Gould, associate. The year 1859 was supplied by the same.
The pastors in 1861 were Alvin Robbins and William J. Sands; in 1862, A. Hall and F. T. Hanna; in 1863, A. D. Heaxt; and in 1864 and 1865, Aaron Hall.
In the latter year, Grovenor's Corners, Bernerville and Cobleskill were set off as a separate circuit.
In 1866, Abel Ford filled the pulpit, followed in 1866-1868, by D. W. Gates; in 1868-1871, by Homer L. Grant; in 1871-1873, by R. H. Robinson; in 1873-1876, by T. Dwight Walker; in 1876-1878, by W. H. L. Starks; in 1878-1879, by Milton Tater; and in 1879, by J. S. Bridgford, at the present time officiating. In 1867, Grovernor's Corners was taken from the circuit.
This church was made a "station" and separate from any other, with the exception of Bernerville, that was retained a few years after.
The present officers are:--- Trustees:--- Rueben Harder, W. H. Hawes, Elmer France, George D. Harder, Francis France. Stewards:--- Minard Harder, Louis Hess, John Van Voris, George D. Harder, Abram Gorden. Leaders:--- M. S. Decker, S. Wright, C. P. Boarne, C. H. Shaver, Chester Barner.The Sabbath school has 175 officers and teachers with Louis Hess a superintendent.
St. Paul's Roman Catholic Church.--- This church was organized in 1870 by Rev. T. W. Reilly, with a membership of seventy-five. The edifice is a substantial brick structure, and was built the same year at a cost of eight thousand dollars.
The following pastors have officiated:--- Rev. T. W. Reilly, Rev. ------Muldoon, Rev. E. Philips, Rev. John Brosenen at present officiating and resident.
To return to the old families of the valley we find at the time of the Revolution they had increased in numbers, and in a few years, each had settled down to fill up the interstices between distant neighbors.
Jacob Borst the elder had passed away leaving Joseph, Jacob, Jr., and Yost in his stead. The former two, by their energy and faithfulness in the cause of liberty, enrolled their names upon Freedom's column as true and tried patriots. Jacob was employed chiefly as scout and braved many dangers from which others shrank. In the fall of 1780, he in company with others were taken prisoners at Moak's Hollow, and driven to Canada. He was harshly treated and held until the war closed, when he returned to his home, but was soon confined by consumption, which he contracted through exposure and soon after died. Joseph retained the old farm and his children were Peter, Christian, Henry, John J., and Maria, (Mrs. Abram Brown). They too, with the father, grew old and died, leaving a record however, of being worthy children of a worthy parent.
The widow of John J. Borst is still living at the advanced age of eighty-three, with all the vivacity of many at fifty. Mrs. Borst was a daughter of the late Jeremiah Brown, who was one of Captain Brown's children that fled with the school-master. Thus we find running through her veins, the true blood of Revolutionary patriotism, such as has caused volumes of brilliant pages to be written and to be admired through all coming time.
Yost or Christian was too young during the war to take a part. He was the grandfather of Josiah Borst, the present resident of the village.
Peter Schaeffer had but one child who, we before stated, married Christian Schaeffer of Schoharie.
John Schaeffer reared a large family of boys, and one daughter, she being Eva, the wife of Jeremiah Brown, and mother of the present Mrs. John J. Borst. John or Hans Schaeffer took out a license in 1804 as an innkeeper, which business he followed to his death, in conjunction with the farm. He was followed by his son Peter, who was long known as Colonel Peter, being honored with a commission in the State militia, under the old military law.
The oldest son, Henry, was located upon the farm now owned by John Weiting and built a small grist-mill upon the south side of the knoll east of the house. It was called the "Corn cracker" and many of the old citizens of the town well remember visiting the same. The second son, David, settled upon the farm, and built the large yellow house that was recently torn down, so long owned and occupied by William Walker.
Mr. Walker's firm opposition to bonding the town to aid in the construction of the Susquehanna railroad can but be fresh in the minds of the people of the town. He fought the project long and bravely but the bonds were given and caused as he predicted "trouble and anxiety." Mr. Walker removed from Grovenor's Corners to this farm.
Lambert Shafer, another son settled upon the farm now owned by the Van Dresser Brothers. Here he kept an inn which was for many years a rendezvous for the neighboring farmers to indulge in horse racing. The race course was from the house, west to the turn of the road and upon it many of the wheat fed horses displayed their speed regardless of the day of the week or state of the weather. The present residence is the one then used and in which were witnessed many sports peculiar, we may say, only to those days. Here one Michael Haenig formerly a Hessian soldier and taken prisoner at Saratoga being rather full of "flip" and troublesome "nog" hurrahed for King George, upon some occasion, when a lusty yeoman caught him up and threw him in the fire-place swearing he should be burnt up. Peter, father of Milton Borst, being present, caught the poor fellow and dragged him out, but not soon enough to save him a severe scorching.
The farm was purchased by Abram and William Shutts two brothers who occupied it for many years and sold to John Van Dresser and is now successfully managed by his sons Jacob and Henry under the title of Van Dresser Brothers, Mr. Van Dresser having died in 1880.
Richtmyer Family.--- Joining the Van Dresser farm is found one of Schoharie's oldest families and in whose veins, ran staunch, patriotic blood. Conradt and William Richtmyer settled here in 1791---the latter upon the sough, and the former upon the north side of the woods. The two brothers first located upon the west side of Karker mountain opposite of Joseph and Solomon D. Karker's ---as blacksmiths soon after the Revolution, but not being successful they changed to this neighborhood where each grew old and died full of honor as exemplary citizens, conscientious Christians and successful farmers. They were sons of Chris John Richtmyer, of Middleburgh, who was a spy through the war and comrade of the famous Tim Murphy.
Joining the Richtmyer's upon the sough, where Bradley Wetsel now resides, Abram Bouck settled at the close of the Revolution. He was taken prisoner in the fall of 1781 but escaped and to the day of his death was venomous towards Indians and Tories. He carried one gun through the war and gave it at last to George Becker, of Carlisle, who christened the relic "Old Abr'm Bouck."
Mr. Bouck was a son of John Bouck who settled where Martinus Swart now resides. The old gentleman was succeeded on the place by another son Peter, who kept an inn in the commencement of the century. Peter married Maria Hynds who was taken by Adam Crysler and a squad of seven Indians in Dorlach upon the 4th of July, 1780, as will be seen by consulting "Seward."
Abram Bouck lived to a good old age and by frugality and industry accumulated a fine property.
Captain Christian Brown died soon after the war closed. His children were Jeremiah, William, Christian, John Jost, Eva, (Mrs. David Barner) and Christina (Mrs. David Becker, of Fox's creek). They too have passed away as long years have intervened since they fled with their mother through the forest to escape the vengeance of an unprincipled foe.
Henry Shafer settled upon the farm now occupied by his grandson, George Shafer, some time before the Revolution, but not as early as the other Shafer families, and was the youngest brother of John Shafer. He became a prominent man in the County, being appointed Assistant Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, in 1796, and represented the district in the Assembly in 1806, 1807, and 1808, besides being Supervisor of the town twelve terms, viz:--- 1802, 1803, 1804, 1805, 1806, 1807, 1808, 1809, 1810, 1811, and in 1814, 1820, 1830, 1831. He was also Justice of the Peace for many years, all of which official duties he performed creditably to himself as a self-made man under adverse circumstances, and acceptably to his constituents. As we have before mentioned, the German Dutch invariably had in each of their settlements, one to whom they would look up as the business man. He was to take their cares of business upon himself, and whatever he considered best to be done, was done, and Shafer, possessing in a degree, the characteristics required---honesty and ability, was the chosen leader. There were many living within the town during his day, superior in ability, but they were of different blood, and had not the confidence of the German element. The Judge was followed in the people's confidence, by General Thomas Lawyer, and it is doubtful if the town will ever claim two men again, that were more highly esteemed by the people of the County, than the Judge and General Lawyer.
Mr. Shafer had two sons and two daughters, George, Peter, Mrs. Samuel Ward, and Mrs. John Brown. He died on the 15th of April 1839, at the ripe old age of eighty-two years.
Many of the grandchildren are residents of the town, and highly respected citizens, prominent among whom are William and George Shafer and William Brown.
Mrs. Shafer was a daughter of George Warner, Sr., and performed many hazardous acts during the struggle. Previous to the erection of Fort DeBoise, she collected such eatables and other comforts as the citizens of Cobleskill could donate for the garrison at Schoharie, and carried them on horse-back alone, without guide or guard.
While on the way at a certain time, with a plentiful supply, she came across a squad of Indians, who were roasting a pig near the present residence of Mathew Bice.
Assuming friendship and courage, she drew her horse up to the party, and asked one of them to cut a whip, as her horse was lazy. He complied with her order, and she passed on her "way rejoicing." Three different times she ran from the Fort to extinguish the flames the Indian torch had lighted against the side of her log home. (Mrs. David Shank.)
In the orchard near Dr. Werner's residence stand two tomb-stones that mark the graves of Joseph Berner and his wife, the first settlers of the place. Mr. Berner was born in 1755 and settled upon the farm now owned and occupied by Peter Myers, and was soon followed by his brother George. A permanent settlement was not made until the close of the Revolution, as frequent invasions of the enemy made it hazardous, being quite a distance from others. Mrs. Berner was a daughter of Jacob Borst, and sister of Joseph and Lieutenant Jacob. Berner built a grist-mill about the year 1789, where Dr. Werner's barn now stands, and a few years after removed it to the site of the old paper-mill. His son, David I., became the possessor and built a larger mill where the present Quackenboss mill now stands, which was burned. In the year 1810 Joseph Berner placed the first burr stone in his mill that was used upon the Cobleskill, it being removed from Alexander Boyd's mill in Middleburgh, to give room for a larger one, which the increasing grain crop of that section demanded. The early built mills were very small, containing but one run of stone, that being either a common sand-stone or a "Sopus," scarcely over two feet in diameter. Fall and spring freshets made it necessary to rebuild several times within a few years, but not being particular about the architectural beauty of the structures, the losses were not considered heavy. Mr. Berner was fortunate in escaping from the Indians in the winter of 1782, as related by author Simms and verified by Jeremiah Berner, the only son of the old patriot at present living, he having arrived at the age of eighty in full possession of his mental, as well as physical faculties.
"On the 11th of December, 1782, Nicholas Warner and Joseph Berner went from the Schoharie fort to the Warner farm to obtain a sleigh. When Warner and Berner were fastening one sled to the other, one of the horses broke loose and ran into the woods, and while they were recovering the animal the enemy arrived. Catching the horse they fastened the team to the sled and in driving past the house they discovered the Indians, three of whom attempted to take them. Two of the Indians fired upon them, the third reserving his fire.
"The horses ran partly over a log and the hindmost sleigh, not running true, struck a sapling and drew the box off and Warner under it. Berner, having the reins, was drawn over the box and remained upon the sleigh bottom. The Indian that reserved his fire advanced with steady aim upon Warner, who seeing it was useless to undertake to regain the sleigh, he told Berner to secure his own light and leave him to his fate. Berner drove to Schoharie, while Nicholas and his father were driven in captivity."
Dr. Philip Werner, to whom belonged the old mill site, for many years the only physician of the place, is of the same family that reside at Warnerville, in fact of the whole County, as they are descendants of four brothers that came from Germany, at different times, the last about the year 1760. The great-grandfather of the Doctor was Christopher, a brother of George, to whom we just referred as being taken prisoner. This branch of the family retain the original name Werner, while others give to "e" the German sound of the English "a," and wrote it so. The Doctor's family settled at Beaver Dam, in Albany county, where a large settlement of Germans was made at an early day. He came to this place in 1846, and retained a practice to the year 1881, when he removed to Washington, DC. His son, Edgar S., is editor and proprietor of the Monthly Voice, a periodical printed in Albany, devoted to the cultivation of the human voice, and which meets with a success beyond the expectation of its energetic editor.
This little hamlet has been for many years quite an important one to the surrounding country, owing to the different mills that have been constructed from time to time. The Quackenbush grist-mill has been a substantial enterprise for a great many years, from the fact that its water privilege is one of the best found in the country, enabling the mill to run in dry seasons long after many others have been obliged to cease. The machinery is of the best and produces the choicest brands of flour, which reputation it has always enjoyed.
Farther down, upon the Cobleskill, Isaac Riley built a fulling-mill, about the year 1814, and superintended the same until his death, which occurred in 1823, when he was succeeded by his brother-in-law, Milo Bradley.
Mr. Bradley removed to Richmondville, and was followed here by Azariah Riley, who successfully carried on the business until his death, which occurred in 1880. Mr. Riley was a through business man, and after several years connection with the mill accumulated a fine property. In his death, the town lost one of its best men, and the neighborhood a substantial member.
Beside the two mills alluded to, a paper-mill was in operation for a number of years, but it was burned, and no efforts have been made to rebuild.
James Gale & Sons, have for several years manufactured revolving horse-rakes, chairs, wagon felloes, and other wooden merchandise, besides running a clover mill.
Being a business center for the farmers of the vicinity, a store was opened by John Berner, about the year 1825, and was followed by Lawrence Becker, in 1830, Jacob Russell and Jehiel Larkin, 1835, and Clark B. Griggs after.
It was subsequently managed from 1847 to 1851, as a "Company store," the "company" being farmers and mechanics living near. The idea was to lessen the cost of goods to the stockholders, they having the privilege of obtaining such articles as they wished to purchase, at cost price.
An agent of manager was chosen by the Company at a salary, and for all goods bought by those who were not stockholders, a profit was realized, which it was thought would pay the running expenses of the concern. There were several like institutions throughout the country, but all of them proved failures, and causes of litigation. The one at this place went down after the experience of four short years, and the building remained idle for a long time. John J. Berner built a distillery upon Peter Myer's present place in 1830. The bridge was built in 1832.
Union Church.---The church at this place was built by different denominations, in 1845 and 1846. The pulpit is regularly supplied by the Methodist Episcopal and Free Methodist.
The pastorate in past years has been in connection with other churches, particularly Cobleskill and Mineral Springs, but what years with each, we are unable to learn. We stated it was built as a Union Church, but the deed of the lot says it is to be privileged first to the Methodist Episcopal society, and when the pulpit is not supplied by a minister of that society in good standing, it was to be privileged to other denominations.
Passing down the stream, we come to Cary's Mill which was built in 1816 by Nelson Eckerson and at present is owned by John Cary. The Eckerson family early settled near and have been from the first settlement of the Schoharie valley, especially during the Revolution, one of the head families of the County. The early fathers were intimately connected with the Reformed churches of Schoharie and Middleburgh, and were the substantial supporters of those organizations. Thomas Eckerson a nephew of Major Thomas Eckerson, of Middleburgh, settled after the Revolution, upon the farm now occupied by Alexander Hays. He held a commission as Major after that war, and was a very sagacious and energetic man. He early enrolled himself in the Colonial cause and was the miller of the present Stevens mill, near the lower fort, during the Revolution. He was a son of John Eckerson, and nephew of Thomas, Jr., the major under Colonel Peter Vroman, of the 18th regiment.
This Thomas, had seven children who were as follows:---
. . . . .John, Nicholas, William, Cornelius, Angeline (Mrs. Nicholas Snyder), Maria
(Mrs. John Dykman), and Catharine (Mrs. Henry H. Aker). The names Ecker, Eckerson and Aker are often confounded as one, but it is a mistake; while the first two are one, the latter is an entirely different family. The changes through which the former name has passed, with a general history of the family may be seen by consulting the chapter upon Middleburgh.
Kilmer Settlement.--- In the year 1799, John Kilmer and his two sons, George and John, came from Clermont, Columbia county, and settled where John Kilmer, Jr., now resides. The whole territory throughout this neighborhood was a dense wilderness, with the exception of small flats cleared by Joseph Berner, Major Eckerson, and James Viele (now George Young.)
The original family name was Kilmore, but since the family immigrated from the Old Country it has been known as Kilmer.
The father died and left his two sons in his stead, whose children too, have nearly passed away, leaving honorable records as energetic and useful citizens. Those of George, were John, Jeremiah, Joshua, David, Mrs. Jesse Patrick, Christina and Nancy, wives of David I. Berner.
Those of John were Peter, Jonas, John, Jr., David, Thomas, Mrs. T. J. Myers, Mrs. Jacob Zimmer and Mrs. John Werth.
John Kilmore is still living upon the old homestead, at the age of eighty-three, in full possession of his faculties, and we are indebted to his retentive memory for many facts that would have been lost and which are of interest.
About the year 1811, there came to this neighborhood, John Jost Werth, from Schoharie, who settled upon the farm now occupied by his son-in-law, Tobias Bouck.
Mr. Werth was the grandson of the first resident practicing physician and surgeon in Schoharie County, and son of Dr. Johannes Werth, who succeeded his father in the profession and practiced a short time before, and during the Revolution. A few of the old gentleman's instruments are retained by the descendants, and in comparing them with those of the present day, we can see but few things present a greater improvement than surgical instruments.
Mr. Bouck was appointed Under Sheriff by John S. Brown, in 1842. During his official term the famous Anti-Rent war occurred in the south part of the County, referred to in Chapter IV, of this work. Upon the expiration of Sheriff Brown's term of office, in 1845, Mr. Bouck was elected to the position which he filled creditably to himself and economically to the County. He represented the County in the Legislature in 1857, being elected from the town of Schoharie, where he made his home for many years.
The family now known as Wetsel early settled in this section, and are a branch of the Wessels who came form Holland about the year 1655 or 1660. There were three brothers, and the descendants of one settled upon the Mohawk, one in Columbia county, and one in the Schoharie valley, at a much later date. How or why the name was changed to Wetsel we are unable to say, unless it came through the old German pronunciation, as in many other cases. The change has been of such long standing, it is impossible to convince many branches that a change was made, and even that the family were the true, or Holland Dutch.
John W. Brayman, of the Scotch Patent, established a fulling-mill about the year 1830, and carried on quite an extensive business for many years. He built the present building now occupied by George Casper as a cider-mill, and being the business man of the little hamlet, it received the name of Brayman's Mills, by which it is at present known.
But few fulling-mills are to be found in the County now, where thirty years ago there were many. We find Brayman's mill turned to other uses. Mr. Casper is extensively engaged in the manufacture of cider, making from fifteen hundred to two thousand barrels annually. When we consider the numberless smaller mills that surround it, each making a few hundred barrels yearly, we can have a faint idea at least, of the amount of cider manufactured in the County.
The hamlet being closely connected with Howe's Cave, around which has sprung up quite a settlement, the citizens of the two places and surrounding neighborhood, erected a fine Reformed Church in the season of 1875. It was in fact a removal of the Reformed Church of Schoharie Mountain, or Punchkill. The society was formed in 1808, and the church supplied by the Schoharie Reformed Church up to the year 1834, when James E. Quaw was called and preached that and the year following. He was succeeded as follows:---
Paul Weidman, 1836 to 1846.J. M. Scribner, 1847 to 1848. R. Wells, (in connection with Schoharie,) from 1848 to 1855. E. Veeder, 1855 to and including 1863. From the latter to 1872, no regular appointments were made. J. Markle, 1872 to 1875. A. C. Millspaugh, 1876 to 1878. W. D. Buckelew, 1879, and present.
This church was originally the "High and Low Dutch Reformed," and the first celebration of the Lord's Supper was in February, 1809. Elijah Dickinson was the first clerk, and held the office for a long term of years. The first records are not to be found, consequently the first officers cannot be given.
The present ones (1882) are:--- Elders:--- Tunis Swart, George Casper, Theodore Owen. Deacons:--- Martin Collins, John King, Peter Rockefellow, Alexander Hayes.
Rev. Buckelew, within the past year, has been active in organizing a society at Central Bridge, and in building an edifice in which to worship, in connection with this church, and through his energy and earnestness in the cause, has been successful in the accomplishment of his aim.
Following the stream down one-half mile and looking upon the side of the rock-bound hill, amid the clicking of the workman's hammer strokes, --the rumbling of machinery reducing the rock to dust, and the puffing clattering steam-cars, is safely ensconced the entrance of the celebrated Howe's Cave.
This recess of darkness and wonders was discovered by Lester Howe, a farmer living near in the year 1842. In regard to its discovery we will here copy an article that was published in the New York Tribune in August of that year by one of the first visitors that traversed its aisles, whose initials were E.G.S.
"It may be well before going any farther, to give some account of the discovery of this cavern. Since the early settlement of this part of the country, it has been known to the inhabitants of the vicinity, that there was a spot somewhere along the ledge of the rocks on the side of the mountain north of the stream, from which issued a strong current of cold air---so strong indeed that in summer it chilled the hunter as he passed near it. It was familiarly called the "blowing rock," and no person ever ventured to remove the underbrush and rubbish that obscured the entrance, lest probably some hobgoblin or wild beast should pounce upon him as legal prey. Mr. Howe, who has recently removed into the neighborhood, accidentally heard some intimation of its existence in May last, and with commendable curiosity immediately determined to visit it, and set out alone without delay for that purpose. He found the fact as stated, and upon removing the underbrush he discovered a spring, some four feet square, from which proceeded a current of cold air, plainly to be felt at the distance of several rods. Satisfied that there was a cave of some extent, he returned next day with a friend and entered it by the aid of lights to a great depth. He renewed his visits from time to time, proceeding a little farther each time, until about the 15th ult., when, after penetrating to the distance of a mile, his passage was interrupted by a lake of water. Since then he has transported materials, built a boat, crossed the water, and explored the Cave to the extent of five miles by measurement, and the end is not yet. How much farther it extends is unknown."
Mr. Howe's financial condition was such as to debar him from opening the discovery to the visiting world with that display of advertising etc., which is necessary to an immediate success at the present time, and it was long weary years before its wonders were advertised and the cavern made easy of access by blasting and removing debris, that for ages had been crumbling from the ceiling through the action of frost and water at and near the entrance. the proprietor built a hotel near and at a later date extended the same over the entrance which was burned the 19th of January 1872. The year following, the present gothic structure was erected and owing to the increase of patronage it became necessary to make large additions to it in the winter of 1880 and 1881. Great improvements have been made without and within for the convenience, comfort and safety of visitors.
It is generally supposed that such caverns are caused by convulsive upheavals that occurred in the far back unhistoried centuries, making fissures in the rocks, through which streams of water pass and slowly wear them deeper and broader, by dissolving the carbonate of lime of which the rock is chiefly composed. In entering we find no signs of upheaval in displacement of strata or dip of rock, but the most peaceful regularity. The side chambers issuing from the ceiling, the "rotunda," and various other sections of the cave, present evidences of the water's work, in their smooth rounded form as 'pot holes, " so often found in the rock bed of many rivers. As like scenes in nature produce unlike thoughts and feelings to different beholders, so also this dark aisle may exert different impressions upon different minds. The mighty Niagara awakens in some an indescribable awe, while to others it is but a water-fall, possessing a certain beauty, but without grandeur or greatness. A visit to this cavern may give to such the same impression. As we stand within these massive walls, deep down in Nature's vaults, in impenetrable gloom, we cannot but feel the silent majesty of the works of God! When we trace the lines of far-back centuries, written so plainly upon each atom, and vainly attempt to count the ages that have preceded ages, and rolled their events within this lower world, as memoirs of their creation, we exclaim, "Thou Art Infinite!" Here are above, below and all around, the evidences of such power. Our mind is lost in wonder, and the soul cries aloud, "Yea, Lord: Thou art mighty!" This unfamiliar beauty, and the order of these formations, humbles our genius to acknowledge that Thou art also Wisdom!
The entrance to the cave is guarded by masonry that we approach with gloomy foreboding, but which are soon dispelled by the inhalation of cool oxygen, that seems to exhilarate the lungs and awakens a lively curiosity to peer deeper into the walls of darkness. The rippling of crystal waters and musical sounds of distant water-falls, the now low and then lofty arches that overhang the foot-path, and faint sparkle of dim crystals and calcareous formations as the light approaches, lulls all fear of danger and creates an eagerness for discovery that makes us forget the fatigue that similar efforts would cause in explorations among familiar objects in the outside world.
One of the first attractions is "Musical Hall," where a whisper is reverberated with musical, and at first, pleasant effect. Any tone of voice is sent through the darkness with such distinctness, and grandeur of action or vibration that one is silenced, so to speak, with reverence and humility. We stand appalled at the reverberation of sound and anxiously pass on, that the tell-tale walls of Musical Hall might not waft an irreverent word or thought beyond their dim confines.
In passing along, each step awakens deeper interest, and must especially to the geological student, afford double pleasure. The visitor is soon confronted by a small sheet of water that is formed by loose rocks that have dammed the stream that has followed its "hidden path" and assisted to form one of the wonders of the world.
This is Stygian lake, to us inaptly called as its calm, pure sparkling water is in too great contrast to the seething fumes of the Ancients' fabled Styx. As the faint light overpowers the darkness that here crowds upon us, and reveals the stalactitical formations, that interest which we have felt before, is turned to solemn awe and wonder. Here, above we find pendent from the ceiling stalactites of every conceivable pattern, each differing in size and form. From each one a pearly drop of water is gathering to fall below and give place to another, and which has thus for ages been slowly and silently forming, to beautifully and artistically adorn as 'Prentice' says these
Beyond upon a lower ceiling they are found with less attraction, as nearness robs them of their beauty. But a few more strokes of the oar reaches an elevated arch that again carries the mind to the far back centuries, and we can but ponder upon the extent of time that these larger specimens of Nature's handiwork has been forming. Here imitations of animate creatures are found, such as birds, beasts, branches of trees and a calcareous pile called Lot's wife. She is represented as arrested upon the instant of her enjoying the last and forbidden retrospect of the doomed city of Sodom.
The rough and rugged rocks of the Rocky mountains must be mounted to enable the student to study and the adventurer to claim a conquest. The hammer of the geologist is here allowed to click at his strokes in quest of aragonite, and from the lofty pile---beneath which the rippling water rushes---side chambers can be entered that are within themselves equally as curious and wonderful as the main cavern.
Descending to the brook again we push on through spacious rooms and the "winding way" and we emerge into a circular room whose dome-like roof is, the guide will tell you, beyond the fiery rocket's reach. Within this space we are bade to extinguish the lights and sit in silence. What the light of the sun is to the taper, this darkness is compared with the darkness of the outer world. It is darkness profound; and when the torch is again lighted its feeble rays are gratefully appreciated. And thus we go on and on in narrow defiles and broad openings---beneath low ceilings and again lofty arches until passages diverge to narrow crevices ---all filled with beauty and grandeur that are indescribable. Throughout are side openings that lead to other aisles---perhaps of greater length and equal beauty but not more impressive. The rushing of the waters, the thunders of distant waterfalls that send their reverberations through these apartments---the grand majesty of the rocks and impenetrable darkness, all unite with the sermons so plainly written upon the whole that "God only is great" and to bow the soul in reverential awe!
In returning over the ground we find the "Chapel" was not noticed which is one of the interesting features of the cave. It is so called from a beautiful combination of stalactites falling over a projecting rock at one extremity of the room and resembles an altar with its fringe and drapery.---Above is an opening in the roof of immense height and from its edge are innumerable stalactites whose beauty can be appreciated only by a visit, and the aid of the gaslight that illuminates the cavern as far a s the lake. Here many have retired to celebrate their bridal nuptials to give romance perhaps to imagined tragical scenes.
As we emerge from the cavern, how welcome is the light of day and as we gaze upon the beautiful scene around, the words of Prentice receive an echo from the heart when he says:---
"How oft we gaze With awe and admiration on the new And unfamiliar, but pass coldly by The lovelier and the mightier! Wonderful Is the lone world of darkness and of gloom, But far more wonderful yon outer world, Lit by the glorious sun. These arches swell Sublime in lone and dim magnificence. But how sublimer God's blue canopy Beleagued with his burning cherubim, Keeping their watch eternal."
In crossing the Cobleskill from "Howe's Cave," to the hillside, we soon come to the small hamlet that bears the humble name of Punchkill. The small rivulet that passes down the steep bank, and which, through ages, has worn a deep ravine to give wildness to the scene, was named Punchkill, as historian Simms tell us, by Johannes Lawyer, while surveying, from the fact that the party indulged in a draught of whiskey-punch upon its bank.
The hamlet was long known as "Schoharie Mountain," and "East Cobleskill," but, as if to retain the remembrance of the potent punch, those names have long since been dropped, and Punchkill "unanimously adopted."
An inn being erected here upon the building of the Loonenburgh Turnpike through the place in 1808, and a church the same year, an effort was made to found a village, but net with poor success. At one time it was a busy hamlet, but when the railroad was constructed in the valley below, it received a paralytic stroke, like all other hamlets along the line situated as this, from which it will never revive.
The first church built here was the "Reformed," and stood near the present Methodist site. After the "fathers" of this neighborhood worshipped within its plain walls forty years, they built the edifice tot he west, and dedicated the same on the 27th of December, 1848. Upon building the new church at Braymanville, as we have noticed, the Christian denomination purchased the Second Reformed church building, and now occupy it, its pastorate being in connection with Warnerville and Richmondville.
The Methodist Church was connected in pastorate with the Cobleskill Methodist church, up to the year 1866, it being the fifth class in the circuit of eight. A list of the pastors officiating previous to that date, can be seen by consulting the list of pastors of the Cobleskill church, and of late years those of Mineral Springs. The present edifice was built in 1846.
In the beginning of the century, the highway passing through this place from Cobleskill to Schoharie, was obstructed by gates and bars wherever the road crossed a farm line, as was nearly every road throughout the country. Upon the passage of the Legislative bill, authorizing the building of the Schoharie bridge, petitions were circulated among the townsmen for signatures, praying to the Road Commissioners to open the road "to the free and unobstructed travel of the publick."
The owners of the land refused to accede to any demand, and openly prevented many from traveling over their lands, which awakened such a feeling against them, that a score or more of the townspeople appeared before the Grand Jury, with Jared Goodyear at their head, and obtained bills of indictment against them for "obstructing the highway with gates and bars."
The people were successful through Jedediah Miller, to sustain their charges, on the ground that the road had been in use as a public highway, for over twenty years, without molestation. This occurred about the year 1811.
In passing along to the west towards "Mineral Springs," the visitor is charmed with the picturesque view that presents itself in looking up and down the valley. Here is a scene that is worthy the attention of both the lover of nature and of art. As the warm sunshine has a soft refreshing influence upon the earth after summer showers, so this scene refreshes and invigorates the spirit of adoration and wonder, that fills us in beholding the grandeur and boldness of the hills that surround it, and in traversing the winding aisles of the cave, and listening to the thundering of its waterfalls, deep down in the bowels of the earth. It seems to be more of a panorama, upon which art, guided by the hand of the Omnipotent, has pictured nature in beauty and peace, without marks of a revengeful power, up heaving formations to give grandeur, as if in contrast to the scene around it.
Along this road, it being then but a path, the early settlers of the Cobleskill cautiously and wearily traversed daily to and from their homes, to elude the wily savage and revengeful Tory, during the days that tried men's souls. How often did those troubled ones, while on their weary march, look back and forward to catch the last or first glimpse of their homes, to assure themselves they had such. And with what feeling of anguish they must have looked back on their flight on the second day of June, 1778, and seen the maddening flame lap up their labors of years, and heard the demoniac shriek of their savage victors, over the mangled corpses of fathers, sons and brothers!
This little hamlet was for many years known as France's Corners, after Jacob France, an early settler. He was a son of Sebastian France, of Turlah, an honest man, and true patriot, who long since passed the sad ordeal of death, leaving a large family to perpetuate the name and profit by his worthy example. The waters of the spring being utilized for medicinal purposes by Mr. Simeon Deyo in 1867, at great expense, the name of the hamlet was changed to give eclat to the surroundings. Mr. Deyo did much to bring these waters to the notice of the public, but it was at a time when the country was laboring under the pains of civil war, and only old established watering places were patronized, and they but sparely. Of late years, the Cobleskill valley has become a familiar haunt for city pleasure seekers, of quiet temperament, and if the accommodations that Mr. Deyo furnished were standing they could but be profitably utilized.
Betsey or Elizabeth, the daughter of Sebastian France, and sister of Jacob, whom we noticed, was the companion of Miss Catharine Merckley the day she was assassinated in 1780, in Turlah. She married Paul Shank, who settled here and reared a large family. She died on the 27th of October, 1846, at the age of eighty-eight years. Paul Shank was a soldier under Cornwallis, and upon that General's surrendering his sword, Mr. Shank drifted to Watervliet and learned the tailor's trade. The France family living there at the time, he became acquainted with Elizabeth and married her at the close of the War, and settled upon the farm now occupied by David Kromer, and worked at his trade. The children were as follows:---
John, Sebastian, David, Mrs. John Frazier, Mrs. Jacob France, Jr., Mrs. Peter France, Mrs. Henry Fox.
David is the only son living, and is in his eighty-first year of age. He has been for many years one of the chief supporters of the Methodist church, and an energetic business man. To him we are indebted for information in regard to the Methodist Church of Mineral Springs and Punchkill, whose records are but scraps, and not accessible.
Methodist Episcopal Church of Mineral Springs.--- The first meeting for organization was held October 28, 1844, and Samuel N. Wilber, David Borst, John Shank, David Shank, Daniel Shafer, Henry P. Shafer, and Harvey France, were elected trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church at France's Corners.
The church edifice was built in the latter part of that year and the early part of 1845, and dedicated in May of the latter year. It was built during the pastorate of Revs. Pomeroy and Warner, but dedicated under that of Revs. Amos Osborn and Absalom Mosher, their followers, who officiated in 1846 and 1847. The successive pastors have been as follows:---
Amos Osborn and Samuel Covil, 1847-1848. Joel Squires and Z. Hurd, 1848-1849. Joel Squires and William H. Tiffany, 1849-1850. J. Giddings and William Diefendorf, 1850-1851. Elisha Watson, and Charles Anderson, 1851-1852. Elisha Watson and Diefendorf, 1852-1853. A. Lyon and Andrew Heath, 1853-1854. Andrew Heath and S. B. Gough, 1854-1855. Joseph Conner and Joseph Cope, 1855-1857. David Gould and S. S. Ford, 1858-1859. Alvin Robbins and William J. Sands, 1860-1861. Hall and Hanna, 1862-1863. A. D. Heath, 1864-1865. Hiram Harris and Eli Baker, 1865-1866. Eli Baker, 1867. Henry Wright, 1868-1869-1870. William Earl, 1871-1872. Jarvis Devol, 1873-1874. William M. Stanley, 1875. D. McShell, 1876. Alfred Eaton, 1877-1878. J. J. Austin, 1879; the present pastor. The present officers are:--- Trustees:--- Harvey France, Lester France, Jameson Cheesbro. Stewards:--- Harmon Robinson, Nelson France, Christian Bouck. Recording Steward:--- Nelson France. Leaders:--- Harvey France, Jameson Cheesbro.
In the spring of 1760 there came a number of families from Rhinebeck upon the Hudson, and settled to the northwest of this hamlet, taking up lands that were then owned by Jurian Young, a resident of Albany county. The settlement was called New Rhinebeck, and a few, only, of the farms then taken, at present lie in the town of Cobleskill, but principally in Seward and Carlisle. The farm now belonging to the Engle Brothers is the principal one (at that time settled) in this neighborhood, and upon it John Conrad Engle and Johannes Yunk (now Young) settled, the latter taking the north and the former the sough part of the farm.
Young was a cousin of Peter Young, the first settler of Carlisle, and his children were Benjamin, Ephraim, Gideon, Johathan, Elias, David and Margaret, (Mrs. Abram Teater.)
Engle and Young were brothers-in-law, Engle having married Eva Maria, a sister of Young. The farm was occupied by the two families until the year 1801, when Gideon Young, the son, being in possession sold to Engle and removed to the present territory of Carlisle. From the two families that settled here has sprang the innumerable families of Engle and Young that are to be found throughout the western part of the County and a vast army in the Western States.
Engle's children were:---
. . . .Anna, (Mrs. Hoffman, who was killed with her husband Michael Hoffman, in Turlah, by Indians on the 10th of July, 1780). Mathias, Anna Caroline, Kathrina, (Mrs. Tunis Kneiskern,)
John William, Eva, John, Elizabeth, Jergon, and Margaret, (Mrs. Jacob Strobeck).
The daughter Catharine, or Kathrina, was at the house of Michael Hoffman, in Seward, when the Indians approached to murder the family. She fled to the woods and from her concealment saw the double murder committed. Being frightened in the extreme, she fled through the forest, she knew not whither, and emerged upon the flats at Central Bridge. A few men working in the field saw her running as if a lunatic, and giving chase caught her, but her fright was so great it was some time before they could calm her excitement to glean the facts of the cause of her fright. the distance she ran was at least ten miles, through an unbroken and trackless forest. It was one of the many acts of endurance, as well as providential escapes from ruthless murderers that the patriots of the Revolution were forced to experience in their struggle for liberty and independence. During their exciting lives that so often threatened to terminate in bloody tragedy, the hand of Providence frequently warded off the invader's blow and changed appalling scenes to pleasing romance.
In after years, when the deep forest's stillness was no longer broken by the stealthy warrior's whoop; and venomous hate that had saturated Schoharie's soil alike with Patriot's and Tory's blood, was bound by the joyful proclamation of peace to brotherly privileges and Christian acts, Teunis Kneiskern, of Kneiskern's dorf, one of the young lady's captors in her fright, did a "wooing go" to the house of Conradt Engle, and claimed his captive as a bride. Long years of faithful, domestic service did she render to her husband, and reared a family whose pleasure it is to recount, in their old age, the story of their mother's escape from death. Teunis favored the cause of the Crown, with his brother Peter, of Carlisle, while his brothers Jacob and William were true and faithful advocates of freedom. The latter was taken prisoner at Myndert's (Moak's Hollow) by a band of Indians in the fall of 1780, and made his escape from Rebel Island by lashing two brandy kegs together and floating to the main land. During the war the Engle and Young families with many others sought safety at the Camps. The male portion occasionally returned to care for their personal effects.
The lands of this neighborhood are comprised in a Royal Grant bearing date 1730, by some people designated as New Dorlach patent and were chiefly owned by Johannes Lawyer, second, of Schoharie, and given by him, to Johannes, the third, (in land succession) as stated in Chapter IV.
After the close of the Revolution, General James Dana of Connecticut, settled to the south of Engle's, upon lands now owned by Gilbert Dana, and was followed shortly by John Redington another Revolutionary soldier and several others from the Eastern States, of whom we will make mention hereafter, as their lives were useful and exemplary ones, and added much of interest to the history of our County.
The new settlement here formed and of which the pleasant hamlet of Lawyersville is the nucleus, being principally made up of Eastern patriots, it bore the name of New Boston for many years.
Another name was applied to the place in after years by many, which may still be heard from the old people. It being upon the Royal Patent granted to Goldbrow and Banyar and others, in 1752, and which lay wholly in the old town of Cobleskill, this place was designated as the Patent and Cobleskill Patent, as well as by its present name Lawyersville.
There not being any Revolutionary incidents connected with this neighborhood more than the part taken by the heroes that settled here we will review their lives to which are justly due, our honor and veneration.
James Dana was born in Ashford, Connecticut, on the 10th of October, 1732, O.S., and was a meritorious officer in the struggle for liberty. Isaac Hall Tiffany, a legal gentleman, living here, in the early days of the settlement, and a neighbor of General Dana, left a manuscript relating to Dana's life, and dictated by him, of which we were fortunate to procure a copy. It reads as follows:---
"He appears to have commenced his military career among the provincial troops under Sir William Johnson. He assisted in building the fort a Lake George, and was at the battle of Lake Champlain, when the fortification was attacked by the French, and General Johnson wounded.
"At the commencement of the Revolution, he was a captain in Colonel Storrs' regiment in General Putnam's brigade of Connecticut militia. He arrived at the American camp at Cambridge where General Ward commanded immediately after the affair at Lexington.
"He was among the troops ordered to throw up a breast-work on Bunker Hill. A half-moon fortification of facines and dirt was erected during the night.
"Colonel Prescott was the engineer and requested Dana's Orderly-Sergeant to assist in laying out the fortification.
"When the second division of 500 troops landed, they marched up Malden river to gain the rear of the American fortification. This movement was perceived by Captain Dana and communicated to General Putnam. By his orders 500 of the Connecticut troops were marched down and took up their position and formed two deep behind a fence. Captain (afterwards Colonel) Knowlton commanded this detachment.
"Dana was second in command. Putnam in giving his orders, said to these officers, 'Do you remember my orders at Ticonderoga?' 'Yes,' was the reply. 'You told us not to fire until we could see the whites of the enemy's eyes.' 'Well' said Putnam, 'I give the same orders now.' The British advanced with muffled drums and soft fifes and the officers and soldiers got over the fence, south of the American lines. Captain Dana was posted in the center, towards which the British column was advancing. The order was 'Death to any man who fired before Captain Dana.' When the column was eight rods distant, Dana ordered the rear rank down flat; at this word the British officer faced about and ordered the column to deploy from the center. At that instant Captain Dana, Lieutenant Grosvenor and Orderly-Sergeant Fuller fired and the British commanding officer (supposed to be Major Pitcairn) fell mortally wounded. The British troops broke and retreated, formed and advanced again-which probably occupied thirty minutes. When they arrived at the fence again they fired; Lieutenant Grosvenor was wounded in the hand and a bullet also passed through a rail and lodged in his shirt, flatted and harmless! Captain Knowlton's musket barrel was broken off by a cannon ball and a like ball struck a rail against Dana's breast which knocked him down breathless. He however recovered and remained until the line was ordered off.
"When he arrived at his quarters he was confined to his room and unable to dress or undress himself for several days. The first countersign given by General Washington after the battle of Bunker Hill was 'Knowlton' and the parole 'Dana.' In July after, an oration was delivered by Dr. Leonard, Washington's chaplain.
"After the oration and declaration had been pronounced, an Aid of General Washington advanced from the headquarters bearing the American standard, with an order from the General, directed to Captain Dana to receive it and carry it three times around the front or interior circle of the army; furthermore, that in so doing he must not let the colors fall, as it would be considered as ominous of the fall of America. The Captain declined, fearful of his ability to perform this duty in a proper manner. The Aid returned to headquarters with the apology, but soon came back with General Putnam, who in his familiar way, clapped Captain Dana upon the shoulder and said, 'God curse it, Dana, you look like a white man; take the colors and clear away.' The army immediately opened a passage to the right and left for his excellency, General Washington, and the other officers. The next day the General in his orders expressed the most flattering approbation of the manner in which Captain Dana had performed the ceremony of displaying the flag. Captain Dana was six feet and one inch in height, noble and commanding in his appearance, but modest and retiring in his manners. He was frequently offered promotion in the army, but uniformly declined. The celebrated General Eaton, afterwards so distinguished in the war with Tripoli, was, at the age of fifteen, his waiter and secretary. He was put under Captain Dana at the request of his father. After the close of the Revolution Dana removed to Cobleskill, where he occupied a small log house till his death.
"Notwithstanding his humble circumstances, the Legislature of New York, in consequence of his meritorious services in the Revolution, appointed him Brigadier-General, being the first who held that office in the County of Schoharie."
General Dana's log cabin stood at the bend in the road between Barney Ottman's and Abram Shutts' residences, on the east side of the road, where he died on the 16th of October, 1817, at the age of eighty-five.
His children were:---
. . . . . Joheph, William, Thomas, Alvin, Mrs. Anna Gairie, Mrs. Nancy Brgham, Mrs. Sophia Scripter, Mrs. Elizabeth Butler, and Polly.
But few of the grand-children are living in the vicinity.
John Redington.---Soon after Dana's settlement, came John Redington, a private in the Revolution, and settled where Jared Van Wagoner now resides. Redington was principally in the service around Boston, and was taken prisoner by the British near Horse Neck and placed in the loathsome "Sugar House," in New York, where he remained until the close of the war, and was forced, as thousands of others who were incarcerated there, to endure the greatest amount of suffering; but possessing an iron constitution he lived through the whole, and a few years after peace was proclaimed, settled at this place. He was honored with a Captain's commission for his faithful services, sufferings and patriotism through the war, by Governor Lewis, and was an efficient officer.
The Captain, as he was familiarly called was a business man, and held several offices of trust in the old town of Cobleskill, and in the year 1812 represented his district in the State Legislature. He kept an inn for many years, but becoming involved in a land speculation, he was forced to part with his pioneer home, and upon doing so built the house where Peter Diefendorf now resides, in 1811, and where he died on the 12th of April, 1830, in his seventy-fourth year. Upon the death of Washington in 1799, Dana and Redington held a funeral service at the house of the latter, under the order of Free Masonry, which was, perhaps, as imposing a ceremony as was ever witnessed in this part of the State. The two heroes were the chief mourners, and the high appreciation in which they held the sainted General and President for his virtues and patriotism, dictated a sincere observance of the country's irreparable loss. The coffin was placed upon a bier, used in those days to carry the dead, and a heavy pall thrown over the whole, upon which were strewn flowers and evergreens by the immense throng of country-folk who assembled to assist in the ceremonies.
While Dana and Redington undoubtedly were the only ones that were immediately under Washington's command that assembled here upon the occasion, yet hundred of the plain, sturdy sons of the soil and workshops of old Schoharie, whose daily lives had been vicissitudes of danger and privations in the cause of Freedom, felt the loss, and united in mingling their tears, and made the occasion solemn and imposing.
Captain Redington was instrumental in the building of the Reformed church at this place in 1800, and was an active and consistent member. Whatever position he occupied, he proved himself a practical, energetic and thorough business man and useful citizen. His children were as follows:---
. . . . . John Redington, Jr., Mariam, (Mrs. James Blodgett,) Joseph A., Cornelia, (Mrs. Abram Shutts,) Elizabeth S., (Mrs. Simeon Edison,) Julia M., (Mrs. John C. Furguson,) and Laura A.
Dana and Redington lie within a few feet of each other, in the quiet cemetery here, and but a trifle beyond this, a neighbor and hero of 1812.
William Elmandorf, though a plain, awkward type of stout yeoman, was an unflinching patriot, and was the first to step forth when the bugle of war was heard, to defend our frontiers from the invasion of our English foes in 1812. The late Dr. Sylvanus Palmer, a son-in-law of Elmandorf, left a manuscript of the Major's life which we will her insert, and which undoubtedly is the only true knowledge that can be obtained of the veteran's military career.
"This veteran of the War of 1812 is understood to have been born in Sharon, Connecticut, on the 22nd of February, 17--. From a blot on the last figure of the family record, the year is unknown, but is supposed to have been about 1769 or 1770. He worked at the carpenter and joiner's trade with an elder brother in New York as early as his sixteenth year. With that brother he immigrated to Lawyersville in 1795, when, excepting an early sojourn of a year or two at Poor Town on the West Kill, and a later one of a similar length at Huntersland, he spent the remainder of a long life.
"Here he bought a few acres of land to which he afterwards added a farm, being a gore left our of, or overlooked in all previous surveys, and therefore, still the property of the State. After some years of delay his petition for a grant of this gore, backed by his friend, the late William C. Bouck, then in the Legislature, was granted on paying incidental expense only. At Lawyersville he changed his occupation for that of a wagon maker, in which he excelled all others in workmanship. Between his trade, farm and saw-mill his time was fully occupied until June, 1812, when war was declared against Great Britain, and the artillery in which he was First Lieutenant, being ordered to drill in Sharon, (Beekman's Corners.)
"Captain Josias Kellogg being in command, Lieutenant Elmandorf proposed that the whole company should enlist. As the Captain declined, Lieutenant Elmandorf, with the music (having first enrolled his own name) marched around the grounds, at the head of those he had persuaded to enlist. the number increased at each circuit, till most, or all, including Captain Kellogg had joined him and all soon after marched to the lines and joined the regiment under Colonel Forsyth.
"As little is said of Lieutenant Elmandorf's life in camp, we pass that over until we come to the skirmish at Ogdensburgh on the 22nd of February, 1813.
"The British forces lay at Prescott, in Canada, diagonally across the St. Lawrence river. They moved upon Ogdensburgh early in the morning.
"At this critical juncture Captain Kellogg was invisible. There being no time for red tape, Lieutenant Elmandorf mustered his men and flew to their gun which they found disabled by one of the trunions have been knocked off during the previous night, whether by home treachery or British powder was never known. The gun was soon put in order and brought to bear upon the enemy and the aim directed by Lieutenant Elmandorf who mounted another gun to witness the enemy's movements. He always spoke with great satisfaction of the execution of his piece and of the regular and frequent occasions he gave the red-coats to full up their depleted ranks but still they came, nobody else making any effectual resistance. Few seemed in the sudden panic to realize for what they were there placed. After a number of spirited rounds, each scattering legs, arms and owners over the bloody ice, they suddenly saw a larger force had crossed directly in front of the village and now coming around in the rear and must in five minutes more have made prisoners of the only defenders of Ogdensburgh, who were brought between two now rapidly closing columns of the foe. Further resistance being useless, they now retreated in good order up the right bank of the river, pursued by the enemy including Indians. Lieutenant Elmandorf ran back and spiked the guns and upon finishing his task ran in front of the enemy whose balls were whistling from every side past him, but providentially escaped.
"Owing to privations and hardships, Lieutenant Elmandorf was taken down with the epidemic that raged to such an extent in the army, and he was allowed to return to his home.
"When some years after the war, an organization of the Veterans of 1812 was effected, with the late Gen. John S. Van Rensselaer, as commander-in-chief, Lieutenant Elmandorf was raised to the rank of Major. He lived a long and useful life, respected as an honest man, a kind parent, and a marked patriot. He died the 22nd of February, 1869, aged ninety-six."
Jared Goodyear.--- Near the resting places of the veterans of the two wars that established and vindicated the best government the world has ever known, lies another Eastern man, a descendant of the pilgrim band who, at an early day, settled here, and added one more resident to New Boston. Jared Goodyear was from Connecticut, and after traveling to the western part of the Stare with an ox team, and not finding a locality that suited his mind as well as this, he retraced his steps and located near the residence of his grandson, Jared VanWagenen. After years of patient, unremitting labor, he procured means enough to purchase in 1810, the farm of John Redington, and here reared a large, intelligent and useful family, whose lives were blessed exceedingly, but who have nearly passed away. he most prominent of them was Charles Goodyear, who was early fitted for the Bar, and who settled at Schoharie village in 1827, and held a lucrative position for many years.
He was elected to the Assembly in 1840, and Representative in Congress in 1845, 1847, 1865, and 1867. In February, 1848, the Governor and Senate appointed him First Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, which office he held for five years. When the Schoharie County Bank was organized (1852), he was chosen president of the organization, and held the position to the year 1868, when he removed to Charlotteville, Va. He was again appointed to the Juducial bench in his new home, and was tendered another term, but declined. He died, lamented by a large circle of social and political friends, on the 9th of April, 1876, in the seventy-second year of his age.
Isaac Hall Tiffany.--- About the year 1798, Isaac Hall Tiffany, after finishing his legal studies in the office of Aaron Burr, of New York City, and his brother, George Tiffany, of Schoharie village, settled in Cobleskill village, and made his home at the house of Lambert Lawyer. Mr. Tiffany was from New Hampshire, and a graduate of Dartmouth College, and was unquestionably the best scholar to be found in Schoharie County at that time. the residents of New Boston being Yankees, and those of Cobleskill village, German Dutch, it was natural for congenial spirits to settle together, consequently Mr. Tiffany removed to this settlement in 1800. Here he gained a large practice, and was highly appreciated by the people in general, and remained until the year 1810, or 1811, when he removed to Esperance, which was fast becoming the most progressive place within the County, it being upon the Great Western turnpike, the thoroughfare of the day. While there, he was appointed one of the Judges of the Court of Common Pleas, which position he held about twenty years, but owing to his retiring disposition, officiated but few times upon the bench. He became deeply interested in the breeding of fine wool sheep, which proved disastrous to him, financially, although fortunate to the farmers throughout the country, in improving the grade of sheep. Esperance failing to continue in he progressive march, through the building of the Erie Canal, which drew away the products of the western counties from the turnpike, Tiffany once more removed and established an office at Fultonville, Montgomery county, where he died at the god age of eighty, on the 25th of February, 1859. Mr. Tiffany was tall and slim, of dark complexion, high carriage, ever looking straight ahead, but scrutinizing in the extreme. A perfect man in principle, and gentlemanly in manners. A philosophic reasoner, eloquent speaker, and ready debater. His principles of etiquette and tidiness caused him to appear to many eccentric. He was never married, and tradition says that a strong love existed in his heart for Theodosia, the daughter of Aaron Burr, in whose office he studied. However that was, the strange fate of that lady made a solemn impression upon the heart of Tiffany. The sister of Tiffany married Thomas Lawyer.
Dr. Jesse Shepherd.--- We cannot leave this pleasant time-honored ville, without noticing another Yankee, who came here about the year 1800, from Plainfield, Connecticut, as he was one of the first regular read physicians in the town, and for many years a prominent business man. Perhaps the County has not contained a more skillful practitioner, until later years, than Doctor Jesse Shepherd. His ability as a natural scholar, was conceded, and gave him precedence in society, while he ready flow of wit made him a pleasing companion, and a host of friends.
Being somewhat versed in law, he was frequently engaged in Justice's Courts, and gave to the people an immense amount of amusement in his arguments. He made himself famous throughout a broad extent of territory, as a wit, and his expressions are still referred to and repeated as examples of the most cutting sarcasm. The Doctor was a zealous politician, and was placed upon the bench of the Court of Common Pleas, in 1804, by Governor Morgan Lewis, but how long he held the office we are unable to say, as the records are incomplete during Governor Morgan's term of office. He married a sister of Henry Hamilton, and fruits of the union, that are now living, are Mrs. Thomas Smith, Thomas, Sidney, Clarence, John, Edward and George. He passed away at the age f fifty-eight, in the year 1832, and was buried by the Masonic Order, in the Lawyersville cemetery, where his ashes still lie with those of his early friends and neighbors.
Hon.Thomas Smith.---Among the many well educated and energetic men that settled at Lawyersville in the early part of the present century was Thomas Smith. He was of English ancestry and was born in the town of Westerlo, Albany county, on the 15th of April, q804. After attending the district school of the neighborhood and Greenville Academy, he wandered off to Connecticut at the early age of sixteen and engaged in teaching school, receiving his certificate of qualification from the District Court, attested by its seal. A few years after we find he entered the Military Academy, at West Point, as a Cadet. The most prominent among the pupils at that time were Jefferson Davis and Professor Church, the latter remaining in the institution his life-time, as Professor of Mathematics. Military life not being suited to the taste of young Smith, he withdrew from the school and removed with his parents to Westford, Otsego county, N.Y., from whence he located at Lawyersville as a teacher, and employed his time not occupied by such duties, in reading law in the office of Jedediah Miller.
After being "admitted" to all the Courts, he married a daughter of Dr. Jesse Shepherd and settled within the hamlet and began his active life as a lawyer and politician, removing however, in the course of a few years to the village of Cobleskill. The young lawyer soon entered the political field as an ardent Whig, and became the leader of the party in the County. There being an overwhelming Democratic majority to overcome, in both town and County, Mr. Smith could not expect success, much less official honors. However, he applied himself to the work, and the year 1839 found him in the Board of Supervisors. Upon the election of Governor Seward, the year following, he was honored with the appointment of Surrogate, which office he filled four years, with such credit to himself as to gain many friends, who elicited an anxiety for his further promotion. In 1846 he was elected to the Assembly in the interest of the removal of the Court House site to Cobleskill, and re-elected the year following. He made a lively canvass in 1848 for Representative in Congress from Schoharie and Otsego, but was defeated by a small majority for the district. He was also nominated by the Whigs of Schoharie and Delaware for State Senator, we think in 1849, but was again defeated by a greatly reduced majority. It will be seen he was highly honored by his party, and as a leader was a hard worker and sagacious to gain the positions and bring about such results in the various canvasses in which he was engaged, when such extreme odds were against him. "As a Lawyer," says a contemporary of Mr. Smith, "starting with a finished education and manners, well grounded in all the branches of elementary law, with a growing practice and studious application, he gained a standing at the Schoharie County Bar second to none, and in the argument of causes before a Court in Banc he was equally strong among strong men."
He was a gentleman of fine appearance, unaffected in manner, of medium height, erect and well formed, a full developed head that early in life was covered with snow-white hair, which gave to him the appearance of a man much older. He died in Albany on the 6th day of December, 1861, and was interred in the family plot in the Cobleskill cemetery.
Of Mr. Smith's family the most prominent is Honorable Henry Smith.
Hon. Henry Smith was born at Lawyersville on the 14th of March 1829. he early enjoyed the legal gentlemen found at the ville and the benefits arising from the circulating library, long sustained by the neighborhood. Beyond such facilities to improve his mind, the village schools and the Esperance academy alone furnished means to prepare him for the prominent and active life he has passed. When but a lad he was engaged in the city of Detriot as clerk in a hardware house but that not being congenial to his tastes, he returned home and applied himself to the study of law in his father's office.
Such was his rapid progress that he was ready for an examination nearly two years before reaching the age the law required the applicant to attain, to receive a license---which time was employed in the office and occasionally trying causes in Justice courts where he early proved himself adapted to the profession agreeable to his genius. After Mr. Smith was admitted he soon rose to the front rank in the County as a pleader at the Bar, as his oratorical powers are above the general and his ingenious reasoning captivating. He removed to Albany and formed a co-partnership with "Bancroft and Moak" one of the leading legal firms of the city and became prominent as a criminal lawyer and has been engaged in many such cases, that have enlisted the world's attention within the last fifteen years, beside other State and National causes in which the best talent of the day was retained.
In 1872 he was elected to the State Assembly from Albany City and was chosen Speaker. The session was marked as one in which partisan spirit predominated and the cause of the people was little heeded---making the position Mr. Smith occupied anything but pleasant and unusually onerous. Yet through his affability and precision, he passed through the ordeal with dignity and received high encomiums as an able officer from the honorable body over which he presided.
Hon. Joseph H. Ramsey was a student of Miller's, whose indefatigable energy displayed in the building of the Susquehanna Railroad gave to him renown, as a legislator and persevering worker. Mr. Ramsey was very successful in his legal business at this place and formed a co-partnership with his tutor, Jedediah Miller, afterwards with Joshua M. Donaldson and still later with his student the late William H. Young. In 1855 he represented the County in the Legislature, and in 1856 and 1857, was State Senator from this District. He removed to Albany and represented the 14th District in the Senate in 1860, 1861, 1862 and 1863, and occupied the position of President of the Susquehanna Railroad Company for several years. Mr. Ramsey is still living at Albany, and is deeply interested in the proposed "West shore Railroad" of which company he has been President. Also long and closely connected with Mr. Ramsey at this place was William H. Young.
William H. Young was a son of Jacob Young now of Carlisle, and was born in Cobleskill. Being unfortunate in the use of one of his limbs, under great disadvantages he fitted himself for the legal profession, which he entered in the office of Mr. Ramsey, with whom as before stated he formed a co-partnership.
"Billy" as he was familiarly called possessed a quick, perceptive mind, and also a large heart, that won for him a host of warm friends, and added much to the firm's success. For several years the court's calendar noticed but few cases in which the firm was not employed. Mr. Young was elected District Attorney in 1862, and was re-elected in 1865, which was the only office with which he was honored, as his sudden and untimely death debarred his friends from conferring upon him the election of Senator, as anticipated. Soon after the removal of Mr. Ramsey to Albany, Mr. Young removed to Cobleskill village where he identified himself with the progression of the village and its business interest, in behalf of which his generous labors and purse were not withheld. On the 25th of August, 1874, in the bloom of his manhood and legal success, he suddenly passed away, at the age of fifty-five, deeply lamented by the community and the legal fraternity. It was said of him by the local press "in the public walks of life, whether in an official or professional transaction or character, his position was openly, squarely and manfully taken and maintained, for he cordially spurned every semblance of unworthy compromise, and abhorred a spirit of truckling policy in barter for principles he deemed right, for the mere purposes of a temporary advantage.
Shutts Family.--- In 1805, Abram Shutts moved from Columbia county, New York, and settled upon the farm now occupied by his son, Abram, and reared four sons---John C., Henry, Abram, and William, each of whom followed agricultural pursuits, with the exception of Henry, who engaged in mercantile business at Lawyersville with the late Charles Courter, as before stated, and at Sharon Hill, with Abram A. Kneiskern of Carlisle, in 1839. He was endowed with a literary mind, and is one of the leading miscellany writers of the day. The productions of his pen have been voluminous, and published by many of the leading periodicals of high standing, instead of book form, with the exception of a pamphlet of forty-two pages---the first and second edition of which appeared in 1857 and 1859, entitled "Tobacco,---a Satire by a Non-Sucker," excusing that the latter assumed incognito thus:---
The laconic preface exhibits the author's generosity of ideas, as he says:---
"This work the author here inscribes in brief,
To all who love and all who loathe the Leaf."
Mr. Shutts' writings are marked, as fluently written, precision, weight of thought and honest aim and expression. He married Mary Ann H. Dodd, of Hartford, Conn., in 1855, and the union proved to be congenial to both, as she was of rare literary taste and ability. Of her, Caroline May, in her "Female Poets," says:---
"Mary Ann Hanmer Dodd was born at Hartford, Conn., in 1813, and educated alternately at Weathersfield, and in her native town. Her productions first appeared in the Hemethenean, a magazine conducted by the students of Washington College, Hartford. Since that time she has been a frequent contributor to the Ladies Repository and the Rose of Sharon, an annual edited by the late Mrs. Mayo. She possesses a poetical sensibility and the power of deducing moral lessons from the changes of life."
R.W. Griswold, in his "Female Poets of America," makes mention of several of Mrs. Shutts' productions "as of rare excellence," as "The Mourner," "The Dreamer," and "Burns."
The writer's attention was particularly attracted by "Charity," "Brighter Hours," and "In Life's Young Morn," from her work published in 1844, as efforts of literary excellence. Mrs. Shutts was a lady of culture, modest and unassuming, and drew around her a large circle of friends, particularly those of literary taste. She died near Albany City on the 18th of January, 1878, at the age of sixty-four.
But few places of even greater size can produce a better record than this little ville. It has seemed to be the scholar's home, where logic has shed its classic rays on unpretending worth, and produced men that were a host within themselves. while we of another school from them, under the light of brilliant literary advantages, take pride in boasting of our superiority in exigent times, yet when we calmly look back upon such men as have graced the legal profession from this place, we cannot but acknowledge their superiority, and when we look upon their legislative career we cannot but admire their candor and integrity. Their opportunities to become corrupt were as good as to-day, but they did not give way to the temptations; they based their acts upon honor as men, and when they were laid down in their narrow homes, that honor remained, unstained, irreproachable.
We cannot leave this quiet cemetery, in all its rusticity, without a thrill of veneration for the illustrious that lie here so silently, and have left such lasting and honorable impressions of their "once having been." Here the warrior, statesman, philosopher, and peasant lie side by side, noble by acts in life---generous by example, in death. Wave after wave of earth's changing scenes may obliterate much that man has built and fostered, yet well spent and useful lives like theirs, remain and shine with brighter luster as the foaming spray of less honorable ones, dash against their worthy records.
The house so long occupied by General Lawyer, was built in 1810, by Seth B. Wakeman, the father of the present owner and occupant.
Mr. Wakeman came from Connecticut about the year 1796, as a carpenter and joiner. His first work within the County, was in the building of Judge Beekman's palatial residence. In 1802, while at work upon that building, Lambert Lawyer was burned out, and called upon Mr. Wakeman to build the present Courter mansion.
In 1808 he built that of Lawrence Lawyer, and in 1810 and 1811, the General Lawyer and John Redington houses. He was one of the most methodical men found in the country, and none was respected more. He kept a diary from his boyhood, and to it we have been indebted for many dates and transactions, that could not have been obtained with accuracy without it. His children, Horace, Alonzo and Horatio, were tutored in conformity with his ideas of duty and order, and are the brightest examples of manly integrity and systematic business men.
A public library was sustained at this little hamlet at a very early day, and we believe it was the only one in the County. The school found here was in a prosperous condition, with a well educated teacher as early as 1800; and in looking over the sketches of the lives of the settlers, which we have not intended to overdraw, we can imagine Lawyersville to have been a "green spot," in a new country. To say that the settlers were free from taint---that their characters as Moralists and Pietists, were without blemish, would be exaggeration. But in knowing "to err is human," and that they were men of action ---brain action---and were useful in propagating sound, intellectual, political and social principles, we can well afford to draw the folds of the curtain of Charity over their faults, and look with respect and pride upon the bright pages their lives have written.
The Reformed Church standing here, was founded in New Rhinebeck, in 1788. Upon the records we find in German:---
"In the year of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, 1788, was by the Grace of God here at Durlach and Rhinebeck, founded a High German Reformed church by the Reverend F. C. L. Droffel (Broeffle), of Schoharie. The following officers were ordained:---
Peter Young, Philip Karker, Abram Mereness, Martinus Vrooman, Conrad Eker, William Heintz, (Hynds,) Johannes Engle, Hendrick Adams."
The settlers of Rhinebeck, belonging to this society, worshipped in the present Rhinebeck church, with the Lutherans, until an edifice was built at this place in 1800, which stood a few yards to the sought. The Society intended to build upon the present Winne farm, which was given by Johannes Lawyer for that purpose, but as the citizens of Dorlach built the present Reformed church in 1795, and quite a settlement was anticipated here, the Rhinebeck branch decided to build as they did, and formed a legal organization in 1797, as required by law.
The sacrament of the Lord's Supper was first administered to this branch on the 21st of August, 1796. The first settled minister of the united congregation of Dorlach and Rhinebeck was Rev. Christian Bork, of the city of Berlin, and was ordained in Albany on the 2d of March, 1796. Those that have followed are as follows:---
M. Gasple, Isaac Labagh, (1805,) Nicholas Jones, Isaac Labagh, (recalled in 1821,) B. Bassler, William Lockhead, Cyriel Spaulding, E. S. Hammond, D. B. Hall, H A. Raymond, J. H. Van Wort, J. Markle, G. A. Reis, William P. Davis, present pastor.
Upon the record in the clerk's office, at Schoharie, we found the following:---
"Whereas by virtue of an act entitled 'An Act making such alterations in the Act for Incorporating Religious Societies' as to render the same more Convenient to the Reformed Protestant Dutch Congregation passed 7th March, 1788.
"We, the subscribers, Christian Bork, Minister, Johannes Young, Joshua Cook, Salah Jackson, John M. Brown, Elders, and William Brown, Johannes Kerger, Sylvanus Parkinson, Deacons, of the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church or Congregation, formed and established at Rhinebeck, in the county of Schoharie, having assembled together at Rhinebeck in the county aforesaid on this 20th day of April, in the year of our Lord One Thousand Seven hundred and Ninety-Seven, by virtue of said act, do by these presence Certify that the trustees of the said church of Congregation, and their Successors in office, forever as a body corporate, shall be called, distinguished, and known by the Name, Style and Title of the Minister, Elders and Deacons of the Dutch Reformed Church of Rhinebeck, in the county of Schoharie. In Witness whereof we the said Minister, Elders and Deacons have hereunto set our hands and seals this day and year last above written.
Signed Sealed and Delivered in the presence of Nicholas Kerger, Peter Bork, Christian Bork, Minister. Johannes Young, Joshua Cook, Salah Jackson, J. M. Brown, Elders. William Brown, Johannes Kerger, Sylvanus Parkinson, Deacons.
Lutheran Church.--- the Lutheran church at this place, as well as the one at Gardnersville, is a monument of the labors of Rev. Philip Wieting. During his pastorate of many long years in the old Rhinebeck church, many of his flock lived in this neighborhood, and upon abandoning the old church and building the one at Gardnersville, the distance compelled the charge to divide, and erect a house of worship here in 1849. Both churches were supplied by the same pastor during the life of Mr. Wieting, but for the last eleven years the Rev. Marcus Kling has officiated in connection with Little York.
Mr. Kling is at present the veteran Lutheran minister of this section, having preached for the term of thirty-three years. he was born in the town of Sharon, on the 6th day of January, 1820. He entered the Hartwick Seminary in 1842 and received his license to preach the Gospel in July, 1848. His first charge was Argusville, Little York and Centre Valley, and he held the same without interruption for eighteen years and nine months. These churches, upon the commencement of Mr. Kling's pastoral duties, were struggling weakly, but through his earnest labors they became strong and active, and are firm monuments of his work under the help of Providence. The Lutheran church of Johnstown, Fulton county, gave him a call to which he responded in July, 1867, and remained two years and eight months, when, there being a vacancy at Lawyersville and Little York, he returned to a portion of his early field of labor. Eleven years he has successfully officiated in the latter two churches, making as before mentioned thirty-three years of ministry. But few pastors draw around them more confiding flocks than Mr. Kling. His earnest sermons, persevering labor, and watchful care over the spiritual interests of his charge, awakened a confidence that but few are fortunate to gain.
During the interval from Rev. Wieting's resignation, (1868) to the commencement of Mr. Kling's pastorate, this pulpit was supplied by Rev. P.H. Turner, in 1869, Chauncey Diefendorf and N. Daniels.
Early Merchants.--- The first general store of merchandise at Lawyersville was kept by George W. Porter, a native of Vermont, and soon after Sprague & Dana, of Esperance, followed. Peter Osterhout, of Schoharie, Goodyear & Frisbee, Courter & Shutts, Herrick & Redington, George Goodyear, Abram Osterhout, Gilbert Kneiskern, and j. Van Wagenen, successively followed. At times there were two and three stores, each doing a lively business, while the present Cobleskill village was dormant, or inactive.
Undoubtedly the first practical physician in the town of Cobleskill was Jabez Kromer, of Pennsylvania, who came in 1793, and established a practice but did not obtain a license for several years after. Others of a school of quacks, from time to time had stopped for a while to attend to the ills of the settlers, by "talking" the disease away, the patient swallowing charmed minerals or drinking gallons of syrups made from the medicinal roots and herbs with which the forests abounded---the latter being the only practical method and undoubtedly one they as little understood.
Dr. Shepherd, as we have already noticed followed Dr. Kromer about the year 1798 or 1799.
Dr. Patrick Gannon removed from Columbia county in 1815, in company with his father-in-law William Huddleston who was assassinated in 1818, while performing his official duties and whose remains lie in the cemetery at Lawyersville. Dr. Gannon settled upon the farm now owned and occupied by ex-Judge William C. Lamont and practiced until the year 1830, when he removed to Albany City where he died in February, 1851, at the age of seventy-five.
Contemporary with Dr. Gannon's first years of practice was Dr. Cornell who practiced till the year 1830 when he settled in the Western States. Dr. Cornell occupied a small yellow house, still standing nearly opposite of Harder's machine shops and commanded an extensive practice.
Dr. Daniel H. Kibbe immediately after finishing his studies with Dr. Greene of Esperance, settled at Lawyersville and enjoyed the confidence of a large section of the country, but his health became too much impaired by falling from a horse, to allow him to endure the exposures his profession required him to meet. The Doctor married a daughter of General Thomas Lawyer. He died after a lingering illness on the 8th of January, 1850.
Dr. Rowley, of Warnerville, (at the same time Kibbe practiced) also claimed a lucrative patronage, as did Dr. Lorin Thompson who was a resident of the village. Mr. Thompson was a student of Dr. Delos White, of Cherry Valley and removed from Carlisle in 1835, and remained here until his death which occurred in 1846. Dr. John H. Benham was a co-partner with Dr. Thompson a short time. he removed to the city of Hudson in 1847, where he still resides. The vacancy made by the death of Dr. Thompson was immediately filled by Dr. John J. Flint, a student of White and graduate of the Albany Medical College. After a practice of six years Dr. Flint removed to Fort Edward leaving his fellow student at college, David Frasier, alone in the field. Dr. Frasier, at present practicing physician of the Allopathic school, was born in the town of Richmondville (then Cobleskill) November 23, 1819. He entered the office of Dr. C. VanDyck in 1844, and that of Swart & Crounse in 1845.
He graduated at Albany in 1847, and settled at this place, where he still holds a lucrative practice. Beside his professional duties he has been called upon at various times to perform official duties, to which his constituents have given him encomiums of credit, such as only careful and earnest offices receive. He represented the town in the Board of Supervisors in the years 1867, 1868 and 1869.
Michael G. Delany, a nephew and student of Dr. Gannon, settled at Lawyersville, but did not practice medicine. He entered the United States Navy in 1830, and remained in service for many years. he removed to and died in Geneva.
Augustus Lawyer, son of General Thomas Lawyer, studied in the office of Dr. Henry Greene, of Esperance, and entered the United States Navy in 1838. He circumnavigated the globe in the "Brandywine," under Commodore Parker. During the Mexican war, under Commodores Conner and Perry, he acted as surgeon, and was in several engagements, and received creditable commendations for his skill in surgery.
Lemuel Cross, contemporary with Dr. David Frasier, from 1861, was born in the town of Sharon, and for several years was a successful school teacher. He entered the office of Dr. Leonard Hawkins, of Newport, and after that, of Dr. Amenzo White, of Cherry Valley, for the study of medicine, and graduated in 1856 from the Albany Medical College. He practiced a portion of the year following at Canajoharie, and then became connected with Dr. Gleason as an assistant in surgery, with whom he traveled two years. In 1861, he located at Cobleskill village, In the beginning of the war he was appointed by Governor Morgan examining surgeon for the draft, and in 1829 to the same position by the United States Commissioner of Pensions, for the counties of Schoharie, Otsego and Delaware.
Dr. Valentine Cornell removed from Richmondville in 1874, and settled here as an Allopathist, but being a victim to consumption, he died in March, 1877.
Dr. Ezra Lawyer was born in Carlisle, in August, 1826, and studied in the office of Dr. Isaac Mayham, of that town. He graduated in November, 1854, at the Casleton Medical College, and settled in Broome county, N. Y., and removed to Cobleskill in 1874. In connection with his practice, he engaged in drugs and medicines in 1876, and discontinued the same in 1880, to give more attention to practice, in which he is successful.
Dr. Charles K. Frasier, son of Dr. David Frasier, studied in the office of the late Dr. J. H. Armsley, of Albany, and graduated at the Albany Medical College in 1874. He immediately settled here, and is flattered by a lucrative practice.
Dr. C. Durant Welsh, of the Homeopathic school, settled in the village in 1880, and Dr. Allen, of the Eclectic school, at Lawyersville, and was followed by Dr. W. Tyler Miller, an Allopathist, the same year.
As has already been stated, Isaac Hall Tiffany was the first professional lawyer in the town, and was followed by General Thomas Lawyer, Jedediah Miller, Thomas Smith, Demosthenes Lawyer, Joshua M. Donaldson, henry Smith, Joseph H. Ramsey, Josiah L. Hawes, Jeremiah Fox, and William H. Young, as principals, and those that now reside here, a sketch of whom may be found in Chapter VI. Of those we have here particularly mentioned, all, with the exception of Smith, Ramsey and Hawes, have passed to the Bar of the Eterna. court. While the three stand as links to bind the past with the present, and the old school with the new, they well represent the qualities that their tutors possessed, such as energy, studious application to professional duties, and professional integrity. The Legal critic would be at a loss to find better talent, in a country town, than those men possessed that have passed away. They were a host within themselves, upon whom the Bar of today can look back and find worthy examples to follow in the practice of their duties as advocates of honor and justice. Their struggles under adverse circumstances in preparing themselves for the important duties they so successfully performed, are also worthy examples for the youth of our country similarly situated, to follow, in the intricate and discouraging labors against poverty's pressing burdens.
The first regular manufactory of the town, outside of flour and lumber by the numerous small mills that were early built, of which we have any knowledge, was a hattery by one Miller, established about the year 1810.
Joseph Betts was a journeyman in the factory, and upon his settling above Lawyersville, and launching out in a business manner, Miller's works at this place were abandoned. S. Tapping revived the works a few years after, but did not continue them long. Benjamin Barton settled upon the farm now occupied by Martin and Chester Berner, sometime previous to 1820, and manufactured the well-known "Barton Grain Cradle," an implement of his own invention, and said to surpass all others. He manufactured it up to the year 1825, when he removed.
The cradle is made at the present time, only by Christian Bouck, of Mineral Springs, and is still known as the "Barton."
Besides the grist-mills already mentioned, one was built immediately after the Revolution, by David Bouck, a short distance to the east of Sough Grand street bridge, and was succeeded in 1830, by the present mill owned by Milton Borst. Alexander Boyd, of Middleburgh, built the structure, and brought the present "flour run" from his mill at that place. The property was owned at one time by George Goodyear, and was for a long time called the "Goodyear mill." Mr. Borst, the present proprietor, was for many years the owner of the "Scribner mill," of Middleburgh, previous to his removal here.
The first agricultural manufactory in the town of which any knowledge can be gleaned, was carried on by Jacob Shafer upon the farm now occupied by "Boss" Hilts. He manufactured a two-handled plow, which was considered by most people a humbug. They have been described to us as long, awkward implements, yet they did good service for those who could be induced to use them. Shafer spent quite a property in the project, and persisting in the business he was called "crazy Jake," by which name he was known to the day of his death. Soon after, a firm bearing the name of "Bouck & Butler" made a specialty of straw cutters, worked by a lever. An occasional one may be found in the County at the present time after a usage of over forty years.
Empire Agricultural Works.--- The next establishment of any note was the "Empire Agricultural Works." Reuben and Minard Harder purchased the foundry and small agricultural works of David Anthony, erected by the latter gentleman about the year 1850. Before we go farther we cannot in justice to genius, pass by Mr. Anthony, without giving notice of his superior qualities as a mechanic. He was a native of Sharon, and before locating at this village was engaged in a foundry at Moak's Hollow  where he struggled with his genius in a small way and laid plans for an extensive business at this place. At Cobleskill he manufactured, in connection with the foundry, horse-powers and other implements of his own invention, but was in such circumstances as not to engage largely therein. He was looked upon by prominent mechanics throughout the country as a superior. Messrs. harder purchased Mr. Anthony's interest in May, 1859, and at once enlarged the buildings and increased the facilities to manufacture agricultural implements, making horse-powers and threshers a specialty. In April, 1870, Reuben's interest was purchased by Minard, under whose management the establishment has been and is still conducted. While other firms in like business have and are manufacturing a greater variety of machines, this firm have confined themselves largely to railway horse-powers and threshers of their own, and Mr. Anthony's inventions and patents, and none other, claiming superiority over other in the saving of power, ease of draught, durability and saving of grain.
At the time these machines were first manufactured they were almost entirely unknown outside of the County, but now they are in use throughout the United States and portions of Europe. The "Fearless" as these machines are called were awarded a medal and diploma of merit at the "World's Fair" in 1876, as by report, which says "For special features in the tread-power, to secure light running and minimum friction. Also for the ingenious form of straw shakers, which ensure the proper agitation to separate the grain from the straw." Two gold medals were also awarded to the Harder's by the New York State Agricultural Society, and like emblems of merit received from other sources too numerous to mention.
The establishment is an honor to the county and we feel justly proud of the genius that invented these machines, together with those that have worked them up to world renown, in a systematic and energetic business way. They are neither of foreign birth but germs that sprang from the farm and the rude district schools of our own County.
In 1872, John H. Overpaugh and Charles Courter purchased the sash and blind factory of Alexander and William H. McHensh & Co., who had been engaged in the business a few years, being the first firm making a specialty of those articles in the town. Improved machinery was procured to facilitate manufacture, and heavy purchases of lumber for building purposes made, to which has, been added from year to year, as increased demand has required, all the necessary machinery and stock for a first-class factory and lumber yard. The firm received a check in business affairs through a conflagration in 1877, that burnt the building and destroyed the machinery, entailing a loss of several thousand dollars. The buildings are commodious and the machinery first-class, consisting of various saws, powerful planers and jointers driven by a forty-horse power engine.
A co-partnership was formed between John VanVoris and H. Harder, of Eminence, in November, 1880, for the production of flagging, curb and mantle stones, from the quarries of Fulton, which bids fair to become an extensive business.
Peter Feek, son of John Feek, of Gallupville, commenced the manufacture of carriages extensively in 1870, and was succeeded by James Kennedy the year following. In 1872 John Feek took possession of the buildings near the fair-grounds and manufactured alone until 1873, when Thompson Perrine became connected, who is now the sole proprietor. These firms have made a specialty of light buggies, carriages and cutters, and during their existence have made them by the hundred. Beside supplying the increasing home demand, large shipments have been made yearly to distant parts, and their superior workmanship and style of finish make an increased demand, that can but require an extension of facilities.
William H. and N.B.Davis, of Quaker Street, N.Y., came to the village in April, 1880, and engaged in the manufacture of boots and shoes. They employ from then to fifteen workmen, and make a specialty of kid and calf goods, that find a ready market.
Cobleskill Lodge, No. 394, A. F. and A. M., was organized at Summit and removed to Richmondville, and soon after it was wafted to Cobleskill. It was chartered on the 24th of June, 1856, and the name changed, as at present, in June, 1862.
The first officers of the organization were:--- Isaac Mann, W. M. Seymour Boughton, Sr., S. W. Edward Kinnicutt, J. W. It numbers at the present time about one hundred and seventy-five members and is in a flourishing condition. The present officers are:--- S. J. Thatcher, W. M. John M. Dean, S. W. William Farqher, J. W. Jeremiah Borst, Treas. Clarence Fox, Sec. Henry Bellenger, S. D. Irving E. Ottman, J. D. Rescue Lodge, No. 209, I. O. G. T. of Cobleskill was organized on the 23d of March, 1880. The charter officers of the society were:--- R. T. Lafevre, W.C.T. Ida Fuller, W. V. T. Reuben Harder, W. C. L. L. Griggs, W. S. Mrs. Wm. H. Weeks, W. A. S. Elmer France, W. F. S. Elnora J. Beare, W. T. John Mack, Jr., W. M. Mrs. W. C. Shafer, W. D. M. Anna Hyser, W. E. G. Charles France, W. O. G. Maggie E. Kling, W. R. H. S. Libbie Overpaugh, W. L. H. S. Jerome Niles, P. W. C. T. The order numbers one hundred and eight members, and has one of the finest rooms of any society in the County, which are also occupied by the Anchor Temple, No. 44, of Juvenile Templars.
The following are the chartered officers:--- Rev. J. S. Bridgford, C. T. Mary Hurst, V. T. A. J. Niles, R. S. Jay Cady, P. C. T. Edward Borst, T. S. Rose Hallenbeck, T. Chartered January 13, 1881.
Post Snyder G. A. R. ---This Post was formed in 1868, and named in honor of Lieutenant George W. Snyder, of Sumter memory. The object of the order, as copied from the "order card" is:---
1. To preserve and strengthen those kind and fraternal feelings which bind together the soldiers, sailors and marines, who united to suppress the late Rebellion, and to perpetuate the memory and history of the dead.
2. To assist such former comrades in arms as need help and protection; and to extend needful aid to the widows and orphans of those who have fallen.
3. To maintain true allegiance to the U.S. of America, based upon paramount respect for, and fidelity to the National constitution and laws; discountenance whatever tends to weaken loyalty, invites insurrection, treason, or rebellion, or in any manner impairs the efficiency and permanency of our free institutions; and to encourage the spread of universal liberty, equal rights and justice to all men.
"The Grand Army of the Republic is an organization purely patriotic, social and charitable."
The charter officers of this lodge were:--- C. E. Foote, Com. Charles Hamilton, S. V. M. D. Lewis, Jr., V. C. Eugene Coffin, O. D. J. M. Esmy, Q. M. John S. Collett, Adj. Peter E. Borst, O. G. Walter Dingman, Chaplain. The First National Bank of Cobleskill was organized February 8, 1864, with a capital of sixty thousand dollars, under the following Board of Directors:--- C. Courter, C. H. Shaver, Alonzo Wakeman, Johathan R. Herrick, Minard Harder, Stanton Courter, Charles Courter, President. Stanton Courter, Cashier. The capital has been increased to one hundred thousand dollars. The present Board of Directors are:--- J. R. Herrick, C. H. Shaver, Alonzo Wakeman, Abraham Sternbergh, James Becker. The officers of 1882 are:--- J. R. Herrick, President. D. C. Dow, Cashier. Archibald Kilmer, Teller.
The village of Cobleskill was incorporated by Legislative act passed April 3, 1868, with the following officers as Trustees:--- Charles Courter, William B. Calkins, David Frasier, Charles H. Shaver, William H. Young, Henry Smith. A meeting was held on the 17th of April, of that year, when the following were elected officers:-- Charles Courter, President. S. J. Thatcher, Clerk. J. S. Pinder, Police Justice. William Shafer, Treasurer. David Lawyer, Collector. James F. Blodgett, Street Commissioner. John A. Segar, Police. Anson R. Bell, Police. Alonzo Douglass, Police.
The town of Cobleskill was formed at the same time as the County, but the limits were not defined until 1801. The first town meeting was held in May, 1795, when the ballots were deposited in a hat for the following officers:---
Supervisor:--- John Shaver. Clerk:--- Jacob I. Cuyler. Assessors:--- David Zea, David Schuyler, John Redington, Mathew Young, Henry Shafer. Commissioners of Highways:--- George Wright, George Warner, Ephraim Young. Overseers of the Poor:--- Christian Brown, Peter Shafer. Collectors:--- William Brown, Jacob Bouck. Commissioners of Schools:--- John Punk, Sylvester Nash, David Schuyler.
The following is a list of the supervisors, with the date of their elections:---
1797---John H. Shaver. 1840---Thomas Smith. 1798---John H. Shaver. 1841---Charles Courter 1799---John H. Shaver. 1842---Charles Courter. 1800---William Ferris. 1843---Jacob Russell. 1801---William Ferris. 1844---John Westover. 1802---Henry Shafer. 1845---John Westover 1803---Henry Shafer. 1846---David W. Lawyer 1804---Henry Shafer 1847---Philip Mann. 1805---Henry Shafer. 1848---Philip Mann. 1806---Henry Shafer. 1849---John Brown. 1807---Henry Shafer. 1850---John Brown. 1808---Henry Shafer. 1851---Daniel Kilmer. 1809---Henry Shafer. 1852---Abram A. Osterhout 1810---Henry Shafer. 1853---Abram A. Osterhout 1811---Henry Shafer. 1854---Daniel Shafer 1812---George Mann 1855---Daniel Shafer 1813---George Mann. 1856---H. L. Russell. 1814---Henry Shafer. 1857---Charles H. Shaver. 1815---Peter W. Snyder. 1858---Marcus Sternberg. 1816---Philip Van Sternbergh. 1859---Teunis Slingerland 1817---Philip Van Sternbergh. 1860---Asaph Roberts. 1818---Philip Van Sternbergh. 1861---Harmon Becker. 1819---Philip Van Sternbergh. 1862---Harmon Becker. 1820---Henry Shafer. 1863---John Brown. 1821---Jonas Westover, Jr. 1864---John Herron. 1822---Jonas Westover, Jr. 1865---Daniel Shafer. 1823---Abram L. Lawyer. 1866---Daniel Shafer. 1824---Abram L. Lawyer. 1867---David Frasier. 1825---Abram L. Lawyer. 1868---David Frasier. 1826---John P. Bellinger. 1869---David Frasier. 1827---John P. Bellinger. 1870---Theodore Owen 1828---John P. Bellinger. 1871---Charles Ryder. 1829---Abram L. Lawyer. 1872---Charles Ryder. 1830---Henry Shafer. 1873---David B. Lawyer. 1831---Henry Shafer. 1874---John J. Dickinson 1832---John P. Bellinger. 1875---John J. Dickinson. 1833---John P. Bellinger. 1876---Peter Lawyer. 1834---Thomas Lawyer. 1877---Peter Lawyer.* 1835---Peter W. Snyder. 1878---David B. Lawyer. 1836---Peter W. Snyder. 1879---Peter Tingue. 1837---John H. Mumford. 1880---William Shafer. 1838---John H. Mumford. 1881---William Shafer. 1839---Thomas Smith. 1882---William Shafer.
* Deceased. + Elected at special election.
In 1846 when the County Court House was burned, the inhabitants of Cobleskill took active measures to remove the site to the village of Cobleskill, and elected Hon. Thomas Smith to the Legislature to engineer a bill through the House to that effect. He was unsuccessful and the new building was placed on the old site. Upon the burning of the building in 1870, renewed efforts were made to accomplish the removal. The grounds upon which the Hotel Augustan stands, were then strewn with the debris of the conflagration of that year and the citizens of the village agreed to donate that as a site and also erect a court house at their own expense, without incurring any upon the County. The provisions of the statutes were such as to make a removal, yet the citizens of Schoharie village, to ensure the buildings being placed there, made a like offer of building without cost to the County and the Board of supervisors voted to accept their proposals. Being thus foiled two times in an attempt to make Cobleskill the county-seat, differences arose in the Board of Supervisors and the citizens of the several towns in the year 1881, on the equalization of towns, in which Schoharie and Esperance were the aggrieved parties. Another effort was made in that year to remove the site to Cobleskill and Middleburgh. A preamble and resolution was read before the board by William Shafer, the Supervisor of Cobleskill, which was as follows:---
WHEREAS, In the opinion and judgment of the Supervisors of the several towns composing the County of Schoharie, hereby expressed at the annual meeting and session of the "Board of Supervisors of Schoharie County," for the year 1881, that the public convenience, and best interests of a large majority of the citizens, and particularly of taxpayers of said County, and of the various towns of said County, will be best promoted and secured by a change of the present site and location of the County Court House, County Judge and Surrogate's Office, County Clerk's Office, and of the Common Jail of said County, from the village and town of Schoharie, elsewhere, therefore,
Resolved, That under the provisions, and in the proper exercise of the power conferred and vested in Boards of Supervisors by the provisions of Sections one, two and five, of Chapter 482, of the Laws of 1875, entitled "An act to confer on Boards of Supervisors further power of local legislation and administration, and to regulate the compensation of Supervisors, passed June 5th, 1875, the present site and location of the County buildings of the County of Schoharie, being the County Court House, County Judge and Surrogate's Office, County Clerk's Office, and the Common Jail of Schoharie County is hereby removed from the village and town of Schoharie, in the County of Schoharie.
Resolved, That the village of Middleburgh, in the town of Middleburgh, and the village of Cobleskill, in the town of Cobleskill, in said County of Schoharie, be, and the same are hereby fixed, designated, and established as half-shire towns in said County of Schoharie, for the location and site of the County buildings of the County of Schoharie, being a County Court House, a County Judge and Surrogate's Office, County Clerk's Office, and a Common Jail for the use of the County of Schoharie.
Resolved, That the present County buildings, known as the County Court House, in which is located and fixed the office of County Judge and Surrogate, and the office of the County Clerk, together with the Common Jail of Schoharie County, with all the material composing the same, and all the fixtures, furniture and property therein belonging to said County, may be taken and removed from the village and town of Schoharie, into the village and town of Middleburgh, there to be re-erected and reconstructed into such buildings, and used therein for the use of the County of Schoharie, but without charge, cost or expense to said County of Schoharie, or any of the towns of said County, or of the tax-payers therein, except such sums as shall be voluntarily contributed therefor.
Resolved, That the citizens of the village and town of Cobleskill, Schoharie County, are hereby authorized and empowered to erect and construct suitable and proper buildings to be used and appropriated to the free use of the County of Schoharie as a County Court House, a County Judge and Surrogate's Office, a County Clerk's Office, and a Common Jail for the County of Schoharie, upon the express condition that the same shall be without cost, charge or expense to said County, or of any of the towns of said County, or of the tax-payers of said town or County, except such sums as shall be voluntarily contributed by them therefor.
Resolved, That for the purpose of carrying into effect the object and intention of the foregoing resolution, William Shafer, of Cobleskill, Hadley Snyder, of Middleburgh, Henry C. Lyker, of Sharon, Marcus Zeh, of Fulton, and Moses S. Wilcox, of Jefferson, be and they are hereby authorized, appointed and empowered a committee to serve without expense to the County of Schoharie for such purpose. Resolved, That Hon. Addison P. Jones, as Senator elect, and Hon. Edwin D. Hager, as Member of Assembly elect in the Legislature of 1882, be, and they each are hereby earnestly, yet respectfully requested and solicited, by all proper methods and means of legislation, to favor and procure the passage of all needed and appropriate laws, if any are required, for the purpose of giving full force and effect to the provisions, object and intent of the foregoing preamble and resolutions.
Resolved, That the Clerk of this Board be, and he is hereby directed to prepare and furnish to our Senator and Member of the Assembly elect, a certified copy of the foregoing preamble and resolutions.
The resolution was passed by twelve voting for and three against, the latter being the representatives of Schoharie, Esperance, and Wright.
The matter was to be left to the people, at the ensuing town meetings, but Middleburgh through a town meeting of her citizens, refused to raise the required amount to remove the building and the matter dropped entirely, and was chaffed by electors in general as being foolish and illegal.
In 1813 the Legislature described the boundaries of the town as follows:---
"And all that part of said county of Schoharie bounded by a line beginning at the north-west corner of the town of Jefferson, and running thence northerly along the bounds of the county until it intersects a line described in the following manner, viz:---Running from the westerly corner of the dwelling house of John Reddington in a direct line to the westerly corner of the dwelling house now or late of Peter Bogardus, thence in a straight line to the northerly corner of the dwelling house now or late of Joseph Webb, thence in a direct line to the westerly corner of the dwelling house now or late of Nicholas Smith, thence southwesterly to the nearest point in the division line between the counties of Schoharie and Otsego, thence northeasterly along the line so intersected to the southwest corner of the town of Carlisle, thence along the sough bounds of Carlisle to the west line of the town of Schoharie and Middleburgh to the north bounds of the town of Jefferson, and thence along the said north bounds of the place of beginning, shall be and continue a town by the name of Cobleskill.