ALTHOUGH not one of the oldest towns of the county, yet ranking among the foremost in all the statistical ratios that evince growth in social wealth and refinement, this town deserves especial mention at the hands of an impartial historian. Organized March 18th, 1800, from parts of Franklin and Kortright, with a population of 237, each decade of its early history showed rapid growth in population and agricultural advancement. The character of the land, a gently rolling country, well watered by the Ouleout and Elk creeks, made its development comparatively easy, while the liberal course of the owners of the soil tended to encourage immigration. There is no record of any general colonization within the town boundaries, the settlement having been gradual and generally uniform.
In all points but numbers, in which the population of the town passed its maximum many years ago, the people have shown a rapid and encouraging improvement, and can boast to-day that even with enlarged boundaries, caused by the annexation of a portion of Davenport in 1878, there is no land within Meredith's limits that can properly be described as "waste;" while the high state of cultivation existing on many of her farms shows the possibility of still greater advancement in the future.
Closely allied with the best interests of the county at large, and so situated as to obtain the earliest, most reliable information, the people of Meredith were not engaged in the disastrous anti-rent excitement, save those who volunteered in behalf of the State, under the proclamation of Governor Wright. During the trial of those accused of the murder of Steele, Milton Bostwick of this town, was one of the jurymen.
EARLY SETTLEMENTS, EVENTS AND INSTITUTIONS.
The early settlers in the west end of the town were: Joseph Bramhall, who came to the new country in 1787; Captain Amos Bristol, who settled in 1790; Clark Lawrence in 1791 and Moses and Nathan Stilson. and Nathaniel Stewart, who settled at the same time on a thousand-acre tract, covering lots now owned by L. H. Boyd, A. L. Vantassle and others. Next in order, and during the year 1793, Caleb Strong, Oliver Dutton, Daniel North, David Bostwick and Truman Stilson entered the new settlement. Nathan Stilson was a zealous member of the Baptist church, and, though not an ordained minister, soon commenced holding meetings in private houses and in the first school-house erected, which was so arranged as to serve the double purpose of a school room and meeting house.
Lucy Austin taught the first school in a dwelling house near where the residence of Hon. Milton Bostwick now stands.
The encouragement given to settlers by Judge Law, the agent of the patent lands, who himself settled at what he named the "Square,' proved an incentive to immigration, and in the next decade many families came to the as yet almost unbroken wilderness to share the perils of a frontier life. Of these, the Jacksons, Leets, Bostwicks, Carpenters and Hines became prominent in the local history of West Meredith.
Nearly contemporaneous with the settlements of the Ouleout valley was the influx of population along the line of the Catskill turnpike; and in 1810 we find the law-abiding people of the town protesting by a solemn league and covenant against the growth of intemperance and crime, occasioned by the frequency of houses of entertainment, as they were often termed, of which there were at the time we mention no less than seven inns in the township, besides several flourishing distilleries.
The earliest church on record was founded by the efforts of Nathan Stilson early in the present century. The building was located near the cemetery and prior to its erection the first settled pastor, Elder Kingley, preached in the schoolhouse and taught school in the same building. After the death of the elder Stilsons Nathan Stilson, jr., was a prominent supporter of its interests, contributing a large share of the pastor's salary, and leaving a considerable sum to be paid annually for a term of years. Before the expiration of that time, however, a dissension which seems to have had its origin in anti-slavery differences resulted in a division of the church, the seceding party joining a new organization at Croton, and leaving the church so weak that after disposing of its old building the remaining members disbanded. The old building met a tragic fate. Having been purchased by another denomination, while being prepared for removal it took fire, and the startled inhabitants witnessed the total destruction of the only remaining monument of the West Meredith Baptist church. Its list of deacons comprised the best known men in that part of the township. Among them were the following: Cyrenus Stilson, Ichabod Brownson, Medad Jackson, William Remington and Elias Jackson, none of whom are now living.
Nathan Stilson, who founded the church, although not an ordained minister, held the first meetings in the town and preached occasionally to his neighbors and fellow pioneers. The first meetings at the center of the town were held by itinerant preachers in a barn belonging to Judge Law, at Meredith Square. The United Presbyterian Church at that place is the oldest church building in town.
The first frame house built in the town is now used as a bay barn by Hon. Milton Bostwick. The date of the old Lawrence tavern was about 1793.
The earliest marriage on record was a runaway match between Elijah Georgia and Keziah Stewart, in the fall of 1796.
The absence of flouring mills in early days made long trips necessary, and the old men of to-day tell of their fathers' experience in going to Schoharie, many miles distant, to obtain flour and meal.
This want was, however, supplied by the building of the Fall mill on Fall brook, in the town of Delhi, about the close of the last century; and in 1802 David Spoor built a mill at Meredith Hollow, the ruins of which can still be traced on the banks of the Ouleout, a few rods above the present mill.
Wolves were a prolific source of trouble in the early settlements, and after the organization of the town large sums were paid in bounties for their scalps.
The first tannery in the town was. between the Square and the Hollow, on the place now owned by William Wolfe.
The oldest school districts in the town were one at West Meredith, one at the Square, and one on the upper Elk creek, Schools were taught as early as 1800. The town now contains eighteen districts, several of which are joined with adjoining towns. The public money in 1879 amounted to $1,562.45, the number of children of school age to 498.
The first inn was kept by Clark Lawrence, the next by Captain A. 0. Bristol, at West Meredith, which was soon after supplemented by another, built on the same road (the Catskill turnpike) only a few rods distant, by Isaiah Jackson.
About the same time Martin Leet and Nathan Stilson had distilleries in the same locality, and it is interesting to note, that two of these men (Stilson and Jackson) were members of the Social League, the only temperance organization in the County at that date.
Prior to the building of the Bristol inn, Clark Lawrence dispensed hospitality in a log house on the old State road. He was elected sheriff of the county in1801.
Next in order was a man named Thornton, the remains of whose distillery are still to be viewed on the farm of Andrew Gilchrist, on Elk creek.
In the western part of the town, where Captain Bristol and his hardy associates located, the children of early residents still treasure incidents of frontier life that go far to convince the farmer of to-day that what he calls " hard times" would have been welcomed by his father as the heyday of prosperity.
Mr. Harmon Smith relates that his father, Daniel Smith, used to travel through the wood before daylight to work on Bristol's farm, and at one time his wages were one gallon of soap per day.
In "the good old days" of the Catskill turnpike Martin Leet, the early postmaster at West Meredith, used to rise at 2 o'clock in the morning to change mails, often receiving no more than "eighteen pence" (the postage on a single letter) during a quarter,
At the raising of the old grist-mill at the Hollow, a workman, while driving a pin to hold in place an tipper plate, slipped and fell; and while the horror stricken bystanders were paralyzed at the sight of his apparently certain destruction, he caught at the pin in falling, swung himself back by main strength and cooly ordering them to hand him up his beetle which he had dropped from his hand, resumed his work, without a moment's delay, seemingly oblivious of the terrible peril from which his presence of mind had rescued him.
Ammon Bostwick and his brother used to often run over to a friend's house in Kortright, eight miles distant, spend an evening and run home by moonlight.
Judge Law used to, tell the following story of his first summer in Meredith: He reached the center of the patent of which he was agent in company with two men, whom he had hired as assistants, and having heard that a hunter lived near he looked about for his house. About thirty rods cast of where his mansion now stands, lie found a log cabin with a single room, in which the hunter, his wife and two children lived, and, introducing himself, asked for board. "Board!" said the follower of Nimrod, "we've nothing to eat." "Well," said the judge, "we can live where you can," After consulting his wife he decided to board them, but the good woman informed them that the water was bad and would not cook pork. Rolling up a log sleeping room, the judge and his men accepted the situation, and for months lived on venison and bear meat, only once during the summer changing the diet by sending to Judge Frisbee, of Delhi, a request for a piece of pork and a few potatoes. On leaving in the fall the judge proffered payment, which was refused, and finally only accepted as a bright thought struck the hunter, that next time he went to Schenectady he could buy a new rifle with it. Next spring the cabin was found deserted, the family having moved on beyond the encroachments of civilization.
The first white family who spent the night in Meredith came through Harpersfield looking for a home, and finding in the eastern part of Meredith a "fly," or natural meadow, concluded to settle there; and building a cabin, commenced cutting hay, during which operation the cabin unfortunately took fire and was destroyed, the family losing their wearing apparel. Returning to Harpersfield they made known their loss, and the good people of that town, relieving their necessities, fitted them out anew and sent them back to Meredith, There they remained for a time, but soon tiring of their lonely situation they removed to some unknown locality. The name of the family is forgotten, the date rumor places shortly after the close of the Revolutionary war.
The oldest post-office in the town is that at West Meredith. It has been in operation since 1815. J. D. Ferguson was the first postmaster, Martin Leet succeeded him, holding the position thirty years. In the days of the "old turnpike" mails were received daily, now three times a week.
The next in date was the Meredith office, opened soon after; Isaac Burr postmaster. This office now receives daily mails from Delhi and Oneonta.
Later an office was established in that part of Davenport now annexed to this town, named Ouleout. Ezra Osterhout is the present incumbent. This office receives daily mails via Oneonta and Delhi.
In 1868 the office at East Meredith, known by that name, was established, with L. 0. Hanford postmaster. The present postmaster is John H. Thompson. Mails are received three times a week.
Meredith Hollow office was opened in 7876. Chester Shaver was the first and is the present postmaster. Daily mails are received by stage from Delhi and Oneonta.
Clark Lawrence served the county as sheriff in 1801, Jabez Bostwick being elected to the same position in 1811 and re-elected in 1815 and Isaac Burr filling the office for the term commencing 1820. Meredith has sent to the State Assembly: Benjamin Benedict, in 1822- Jabez Bostwick, in 1825, and Milton Bostwick in 1843. Jabez Bostwick was elected county judge in 1830, and Samuel A. Law served as judge of the Court of Common Pleas.
THE MILITIA OF MEREDITH.
About the close of the last war with Great Britain an artillery company was formed, which existed and flourished for many years. The first captain, according to the imperfect records now extant, was William Saunders. Many of the most prominent of the town's citizens served their time in the old Meredith Artillery, and in morale and discipline it is reported to have stood well in the estimation of military critics. After its disbandment, in 1845, its park of artillery was transferred to Delhi, where in the ardor of their zeal to celebrate the " glorious Fourth " it is said to have been flawed, and was condemned.
In 1849 an effort was made to reorganize, and a company was formed, taking the old name, but training as infantry, and which was disbanded about 1855. The first officers were: Captain, Charles Hill; first lieutenant, William F. Tyrell; second lieutenant, Andrew E. Blake. Captain Hill was succeeded by Elihu G. Osterhout, who afterward became lieutenant-colonel of the regiment to which the company was attached- the Twenty-seventh New York Infantry.
In 1842, acting under general orders from Adjutant-General Rufus King, a company of light infantry was recruited and attached to the Seventieth regiment. Its first commanding officer was Stephen D. Law. In 1848 it was known as the Osceola Rangers, Company 6, Twenty-seventh regiment, at which time Thomas Covert was captain, Jonathan A. Strong first lieutenant, and George Mitchell second lieutenant; succeeded in I 850 by --captain, J. A. Strong; first lieutenant, George Mitchell; second lieutenant, John Smith. in 1852 George Mitchell became captain; George Wright first lieutenant, and R. M. Knowles second lieutenant. Later in the year Knowles was promoted to first lieutenant in place of Wright, resigned. and Walter H. Wright commissioned second lieutenant. In 1853 Steven A. Seacord commanded the company, with lieutenants John Seacord and Orlando L. Dutton. The company was mustered out soon after the last mentioned date.
The principal service rendered by the troops was in guarding anti-rent prisoners at Delhi in the spring of 1845: at which time they were chosen as from one of the three towns least affected by the anti-rent spirit.
During the Rebellion, Meredith filled her quota promptly, paying liberal bounties for volunteers, and her soldiers did valiant service, some of her best citizens falling in defence of their country.
MEREDITH FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY.
This organization was the result of a growing dissatisfaction with the rates and insolvency of the class of companies offering indemnity to farmers for losses by fire.
The first policy issued was dated May 24th, 1862, and up to March 1st, 1869, three hundred and thirty- seven policies had been written, on which no loss was sustained.
The charter officers were: John G. Graham, president; Albion Law, secretary; William Strong, -Morgan C. Merritt, Lemuel Strong, D. C. Dibble, E. M. Smith and George Wright.
The total number of policies issued since the organization of the company is 773; whole number of claims arising for loss or damage, 6; total amount paid for fire losses, $3,342.77; total amount at risk under policies since the date of organization, about $1,500,000; number of risks marked off as expired, 567, insuring $1,124,254; number of policies in force October 1st, 1879, 2o6, insuring $375,746, ratio of fire losses to the amount at risk, 51 cents to $1,000; ratio of fire losses to the number of policies issued, 1 in 129; total amount paid as commission, brokerage or policy fees to officers or brokers, and for expenses of management, from February 18th, 1862, to October 1st, 1879 (estimated), $300.
As will be seen, this institution deserves the confidence of the farmers of Meredith, and under its present able management bids fair to retain the characteristics of prudence and economy that have won for it golden opinions in the past,
The directors for the year 1879 were Lewis B. Strong (president), Isaac Burr (secretary), Miles Hine, E. M. Thompson, E. G. Osterhout, Nathaniel Dean, Victor Smith, D, 11. Mackey and R. W. Knowles.
The company's policies are limited to $4,000 on a single risk, and its hazards confined to farm buildings and dwellings,
HISTORY OF THE ANNEXATION.
That part of the town of Davenport extending into the Ouleout valley being nearer to the center of the town of Meredith than to its own, the people bad long desired to be annexed to Meredith; and in 1875 their claims were laid before a Legislative committee by William 11. Garrison, Esq., and a bill introduced to effect that purpose, which, however, was stifled by the influence of the member from the district, who opposed it. In 1878 Mr. Garrison and Ira Georgia, of Meredith, presented a strong petition and succeeded in obtaining a favorable report or) a bill, which passed the Senate unanimously and the Assembly by a large majority, secured the signature of the governor and transferred to the town of Meredith some five thousand acres of land, one hundred and fifty souls, and a voting population of forty- eight.
The "new part," as it is called, has been organized into two school districts, numbered 17 and 18.
Chapter 392 of the Laws of New York describes the boundary line of Meredith and Davenport as follows: "Beginning at the south corner of the town of Davenport, and runs thence north twenty-eight degrees west along the line between the towns of Meredith and Davenport and Davenport and Franklin, in the southwesterly corner of lot number 6 of the Franklin township; thence northerly along the southerly line of rear lot number 6, eighty-seven chains forty-three links, to the southeasterly corner of lot number 17 in the subdivision of said lot 6, to a stake and stones; thence north fifty-one degrees thirty minutes east, thirty- nine chains, to a pile of stones around a hard maple tree, marked N. H., standing on the west side of a road; thence north sixty-nine degrees east, fifty-seven chains, to a pile of stones by a stone wall, on the southerly line of said rear lot 6 of the Franklin township, near the house of Herbert Barnes; thence on the same course twenty-four chains twenty-five links, to a stake and stones fifty links northerly from a wall at the head of a spring of water; thence south seventy-nine degrees cast one hundred chains, to a stake and stones on lands of George Allen; thence south seventy-two degrees and thirty minutes east, seventy-eight chains twenty-five links, to a stake and stones on lands of Edwin Allen; thence south forty degrees east, thirty-four chains fifty links, to a stake and stones on the line between the towns of Davenport and Meredith; thence southwesterly along the present town line to the place of beginning."
laid out by Judge Samuel A. Law in 1797, was one of the earliest post-offices of the town, and here for seventy-five years the annual meetings of the town were held. The hamlet is finely located on the brow of a hill south of the Ouleout valley, and within its limits lies the family mansion of J. Albion Law, to whose assistance the historian is indebted for many important details. The first store kept in the place was opened in 1797 by Rufus Brownell, who was succeeded by Burr & Law, who traded there for many years.
The Law mansion was erected in 1797, and is the oldest building in the town, and in -many respects one of the finest in the county,
THE CONGREGATIONAL SOCIETY OF MEREDITH
was formed in 1815, and was supplied several years by itinerant preachers, among whom Father Williston, afterward well known as a religious writer, was one of the first. Another, whose ministrations were accepted occasionally, was an Englishman named Bull, of whom it is related that he would commence a sermon at the usual hour in the afternoon and preach until sunset, undaunted by the fact that the last hour of his discourse would be addressed to nearly empty benches. The earliest meetings of the church were held in a large school-house, which stood on the ground now occupied by the Baptist church,
In 18199 the society called Rev. William Fisher, who came to stay and served for the next twenty years as pastor of the church, The original members were Joseph Bassett, Elias Griswold, William Cramer, Abner Pratt, Joseph Porter, Simeon P, Griswold, Ansel Shaw, William Bouton, Samuel Shaw, Pyam Mitchell, Garret Monfore, Alva Jerome, Anthony Judd, Ambrose Cramer, Miles Hitchcock, Jesse Judd, William Cramer and Isaac Burr.
After the close of Mr. Fisher's ministry he was followed by Revs. Crispus Wright, Stephen Ellis, Charles Chapman, ______ Howe, Lyman Wilcox, George Entler and William McNab, who served as stated supplies for various terms.
Joseph Bassett was the first deacon. In 1817 a movement was made to build an edifice, but it was not until 1827 that a sufficient fund was procured, when, by an instrument dated April 20th of that year. James C. Fisher and William W. Fisher, of Philadelphia, through Judge Law, their agent, conveyed to "Isaac Burr, Truman Rowe and others, and their successors, who shall unite to build, support, repair, etc., a Congregational or Presbyterian church or meeting house, one-fourth of the ground previously used as public square," for the consideration of "one cent good and lawful coin."
Stimulated by this gift, the present building was completed in 1829, but remained uncarpeted until 1860, and without a musical instrument until 1862.
The church remained Congregational in form of government until 1870, when under the ministry of Mr. McNab, it, by a regular Course of procedure, was transferred to the United Presbyterian denomination. Jacob Shaver, John Shaver, Robert Brown, John D. Thompson and William Burns were the first elders.
G. H. Munson, John B. McNaughton and Isaac Brownell were first trustees. Thirty-nine members have been added since the change in ecclesiastical relation, of which number twenty-seven united under the present pastorate.
After the close of Mr. McNab's labors, in 1871, Rev. R J. Cresswell supplied the pulpit for a year, the church being without a settled pastor from the date of his removal until the arrival of the present incumbent, Rev. J. C. Hammond, who came in October, 1875, and was installed in June, 1876. The Sunday-school is well sustained, with severity-five scholars and eight teachers,
The church at Meredith Square was organized February 25th, 1818, by a council composed of the following persons: Elder Daniel Mabie, Joshua Hobbie and Ebenezer Hobbie, of Delhi; Elder Silas Spaulding and M. Gates, Ira McCall and Isaac Howell, of Franklin; Nathan Stilson, Cyrenus Stilson, Ammon Bostwick and Elisha Brownson, of West Meredith; and Elder Daniel Robinson, of Unadilla. At about the same time the first meeting-house was built by the new Church. It stood on the other side of the street, opposite the present site of the Presbyterian church, and was at the time the only church edifice in the town.
The first pastor was Elder Benjamin Sears, who was followed by Oliver Tuttle, Elijah Baldwin, Stephen Jones, William L. Judd, John E. La Grange, J. Cook, John Smith, E. T. Jacobs, A. E. Clark, A. A. Constantine, and the present pastor, Rev, George F. Post.
Simeon P. Griswold, Horace Jones, Elijah Baldwin, Lemuel Mallory and Rodney Andrews received their license to preach from this church. Rufus Sears, another young licentiate, died while yet a student at Hamilton.
The first deacons were Isaac Lake and Oliver Dutton.
Elder Judd, the fifth pastor, was commissioned a missionary to Hayti in 1846, where lie continued until his death, and where both himself and his devoted wife are buried.
The church roll at the date of the organization numbered sixty-seven names; but while revivals have been frequent, and large numbers added to the membership, yet colonization, removals and deaths have kept down the aggregate members in good standing to the present number, eighty-one -- the Delhi Baptist church being largely composed of former members of this body.
In 1847 Deacon Lake died, leaving his estate, amounting to some $3,000, to the church; and in the same year the present edifice was erected.
The average attendance on divine service is not far from one hundred and fifty.
The annual average of contributions by this church for all purposes during its entire history is $600, exclusive of church erection or repair funds.
The Sunday-school is fairly attended, and a good degree of interest manifested.
The total number of accessions to the church since its organization has been: by baptism, two hundred and eighty-one; by letter, sixty-one.
THE MEREDITH FARMERS AND WORKINGMEN'S ALLIANCE
was organized June 27th, 1879, with C. Wesley Georgia as president, Isaac Burr secretary, J. I. Strong, E. T. Wilson arid V. M. Smith executive committee. Its object is to advocate equal taxation. opposition to freight discrimination and the reduction of governmental expenses. It meets at. Munson's Hall, Meredith Square, on call of the secretary.
in the valley of the Ouleout, is a pretty little hamlet, comprising a frame church, erected for the M. E. society; two stores, several blacksmith and wagon shops, a cooperage , a grist-mill, saw-mill and a small collection of neat dwelling houses. Of comparatively recent date, it bids fair, from its location, being the geographical center of the town, to be in time its business emporium. The post-office here was located May 19th, 1877. The church edifice was erected in 1876. The merchants deserve especial credit for their well kept stores.
MEREDITH HOLLOW M. E. CHURCH.
a small organization, occupies a handsome edifice recently erected, and is the result of a nucleus formed many years ago, but only dating its organization into an independent church back to about 1849. The pastor of the church has failed to respond to requests for further information, and as the original records of the church are not accessible, its history must be left incomplete.
MEREDITH HOLLOW LODGE, No. 864, 1. O. OF G. T.
was instituted in April, i878. Its charter members were: Mrs. C. W. Aldrich, Minnie Rowe, Fanny Paine, Delos H. Mackey, Walter Scott, John W. Southard, C. W. Aldrich, C. F. Southard, M. S. Sheldon, C. Foote, George Green, E. L. Strickland , Jefferson Knowles, G. D. Rathbun, H. W. Sharpe, W. Lawson. The first officers were Delos H. Mackey, W. C. T.; Mrs. C. W. Aldrich, W. V. T.; J. Quackenbush, W. C.; C. W. Aldrich, W. S.; J. W. Southard, W. F. S.; Walter Scott, W. C.; James Sinclair, W. M.; Minnie Rowe, W. G.; Thomas Ford, W. Sent; Nelson Salisbury, P. W. C. T.
This enterprising village, although one of the younger settlements, contains several manufactories, a grist- mill and store, and a Free Will Baptist church, presided over by Rev. S. R. Evans, who was requested to furnish a historical sketch, but up to the time of going to press has failed to respond. The church edifice was erected in 1849. The post-office was established in 1868, The place was formerly known as Brier Street, the name originating at the building of the first frame house, when Philip Garrison went to the top of the building and proposed the toast:
"And since it goes up so nice and complete We'll name it the flower of Brier Street."
Long after the sponsor had gone to his rest the place retained the somewhat thorny cognomen.
The Garrisons, Andrew Brown, John Douglass, Richard McLaury, J. B. Parris and Truman Parris were the first settlers. Thompson & Scudder are the merchants, and succeed L. 0. Hanford, who opened the first store. The cemetery is the gift of Andrew Brown, The first preacher was Elder David Green.
The school-house was erected in 1828. The district, comprising a portion of the town of Kortright, was organized in 1827. Its first trustees were Cyrus Coe, Smith Calkins and John Douglas.
East Meredith Lodge, NO. 41, I. 0. of G. T. was instituted March 18th, 1879. The charter members were: J. L. Flower, Mrs. L. 0. Hanford, W. S. Flower, L. 0, Hanford.. Mrs. W. S. Flower, Samuel Harper, Eliza Hazlett, W. A. Hazlett, Esther Hazlett, Mrs. J. L. Flower, C. 0. Hanford, Norman Parris and Edward Boyd. The first officers were. J. L. Flower, W. C. T.; Mrs. L, 0. Hanford, W. V. T., A. W. Avery, W. C.; L. 0. Hanford, W. S.; W. S. Flower, W. F. S.; Mrs. W. S. Flower, W, T.; Samuel Harper, W, M.; Eliza Hazlett, W G.; Harmon Holmes, W. Sent.; Mrs. L. Flower, R. R. S.; Esther J. Hazlett, L. H. S.; W. A. Hazlett, L. D, The lodge meets Saturday night at Good Templar Hall at East Meredith.
FACTS FROM THE CENSUS.
A glance at the annexed census returns for the last forty-five years will show that the greatest population at any census date within that period was reached in 1845, and that since that year there has been an almost uninterrupted decline: 1835, 1,603; 1840, 1,640; 1845, 1,678; 1850, 1,634; 1855, 1,503; 1860, 1,630; 1865, 1,507; 1870, 1,462; 1875, 1,390.
For this decrease no other reason can be alleged than is found in every purely agricultural district. Those possessing tastes for manufactures or for professional vocations, for which they found too narrow scope, have emigrated to newer and broader fields of labor in the western States; and to-day the children of many a farm-house in Meredith are active and prominent in making history in many a town and city that was yet unborn when this town showed its largest number of inhabitants.
The population of the town partakes very generally of the characteristics of a farming people in being largely native born or drawn from agricultural districts of other countries; the north of Ireland and the "banks and braes" of bonnie Scotland furnishing the majority of its immigrants, and, as in other towns in the county, forming an element that has conduced largely to the best interests of the community. Of the present residents who were born in other States Connecticut has furnished the major part, and the general reader need not be told that in that State not only bone and sinew but brains are a staple product, hence her children have borne a prominent part in the civil and religious history of Meredith.
The Low Countries have here among the farmers a number of representatives, who, like the Pennsylvania Dutch, combine plodding industry with frugal habits and form a useful part of the population.
England has also added her quota to swell the general aggregate, and her children have fully sustained the reputation of their native land for progressive ideas and general thrift.
The latest agricultural statistics of the town show the number of acres under cultivation (plowed) to be 2,705; number of acres devoted to dairying, meadow and pasturage, 25,430 annual sale of products per capita of population, $111.54; value of farm buildings, $432,000; value of cattle and horses, $201,828.
A study of the census of 1875 shows that the town of Meredith stands high in all of the indications of material prosperity. In value of live stock per capita the town exceeds fifteen of the towns in the county, and is equaled only by two. In the oat crop and in the number of pounds of butter made, it is the first; in the number of cows kept the second; while in value of farm implements and annual sales of produce it heads the list.
Since 1875 the quality of farm buildings has been much improved, a considerable number of large and costly barns having been erected.
The gradual introduction of grade Alderney cattle, and the increasing interest shown in new dairying implements, have given the butter of the town a firmer hold in the estimation of metropolitan consumers.
PHILO F. BENFDICT, born in 1834 in this town, is a descendant of Martin G., and son of Jonathan Benedict, who was one of Meredith's first settlers, and who served in the war of 1812. Mr. Benedict; was a member of the State Militia, and has been an assessor of the town. His first wife was Isabel Gibson who became the mother of three children, and died in 1863. His present wife was Susan Reed, by whom he has two children.
GEORGE W. BILL is a son of Charles and Lois Bill, who came from Connecticut in 1826, settling on the place now owned by the subject of this sketch. Mr. Bill is one of a family of four children, of whom Anna Eliza married E. J. Graham, of Delhi; Marion married William Butts, of Oneonta, and William R. resides in Delhi village. Mr. Bill still treasures the old musket carried by his grandsire in the Revolutionary war.
HON. MILTON BOSTWICK, one of Meredith's most prominent citizens, was born on the farm where he now resides, In ION. He was town superintendent of schools for two terms, supervisor of Meredith in 1856, and represented Delaware county in the Assembly in 1843. His wife was Jane E., daughter of Ansel 0. Smith, a member of the Legislature of 1843.
LOZELLE H. BOYD. a sketch of whose father, Henry Boyd, appears in the history of Franklin, was born in that town, and while on a visit to Kansas married a sister of Colonel Lewis, the popular colonel of the 144th regiment, now a prominent divine in that State. Mr. and Mrs. Boyd have four children.
JAMES BURNS, one of Meredith's thrifty dairy farmers, is a native of Bovina, and came to this town in 1876. where lie has since been engaged in the introduction of Alderney cattle for dairying purposes. He was for several years connected with the Rutherford stock form at Bovina. He married Eleanor J., daughter of James McFarland, a native of Wisconsin.
ISAAC BURR, a native of Meredith, is a son of Isaac Burr, one of the most prominent of the early residents at the Square, and at one time sheriff of Delaware county. The subject of this sketch was elected town clerk in 1869, and held the office for nine consecutive terms. He married Mrs. Elizabeth Johnson, who was born in Liverpool, England and who has three children by her former husband - Walter H., Lottie L., and Etta.
JAMES COE, son of Cyrus and Harriet Coe, was born in Kortright May fifth, 1833. He is a dairy farmer, beginning for himself in 1847. In, 1851, he married Jane Ann, daughter of Joseph Barnes, of Davenport. Their children are: Harriet, William, Willard, Wilson, Emily and Anna.
WILLIAM COE, a brother of James Coe, was born in Meredith August 5th, 1829, and has been engaged in dairy farming since 1849. His marriage with Juliette, daughter of Reuben Fuller, occurred March 18th, 1855. They have three children--Lavancha, Nancy C., Ephraim and Charles V., and have lost one son, named Reuben C.
GEORGE CRAWFORD, a son of Robert Crawford, who came to Kortright, Delaware county in 1798, and served under Colonel Farrington in the war of 1812, married in 1867 Lois A. Hendrickson. Mr. Crawford is a dairy farmer. They have four children-Delos, Lettie, James and George.
NATHANIEL DEAN was born in Meredith in 1806. He served as captain of State Militia for ten years, and has held many positions of trust and honor,
He married Eliza Mitchell, who was born in 1810. Of a family of nine children seven are living. Mr. Dean is a dairy farmer.
CAPTAIN HENRY R. EPPS, born in Meredith August 18th, 1838, served as volunteer in the Oregon Indian war in 1856 and 1857, spending some seven years on the frontier. Returning to Meredith he enlisted fit the 80th N.Y. volunteers in September, 1861, ranking as sergeant; commissioned 2nd lieutenant in 1862, as 1st lieutenant in 1863 and being promoted to captaincy of Company K June 13th, 1865. Was wounded at Suffolk May 3d, 1863, and taken prisoner at battle of Chapin's Farm September 9th, 1864; sent to Libby prison, thence to Salisbury. and from thence transferred to Danville, Va., where he was paroled February 22nd, 1865. Since the close of the war Captain Epps has devoted his attention to dairy farming, he married on his return from the army Blanche Saunders, of Franklin, N. Y. they have one child.
WILLIAM M. FORMAN, a native of Kortright, who married Sarah M. Webb, of that place, came to Meredith in 1866 They have four children. William M., married to Elizabeth Scott, and residing in Bloomville, N. Y.; Frances A., wife of D. Lafayette Johnson. at Essex Centre, Vt; James L., married to Lucy Ward, and resident of Bakersfield, Vt.; Virgil D., whose wife is Alberta, daughter of Aaron Houghtaling, of Oneonta, N.Y., living with his parents,
AMASA FOX was born in Columbia county in 1796; has resided in Meredith since 1823; served his town as justice, of the peace . for four years. His father was Allen Fox, a Revolutionary soldier, whose, discharge, signed by George Washington, is now to the possession of his son. Mr. Fox married Betsy Jones, now deceased, afterward married. Mehitabel Barnes; has one child living.
WILLIAM H. GARRISON is the son of Anthony Garrison, whose grandfather, William, kept the first log tavern at what was then called Upper Rhinebeck, during the Revolutionary war. His brother, Freeborn Garrison, was a noted preacher and largo land owner. The subject of this sketch is a justice of the peace, and has been prominently identified with recent political events in the town. He married Minerva Brown, of Davenport. Mr. Garrison was a member of the 144th regiment.
A WESLEY GEORGIA, a son of Charles H. Georgia, was born in Meredith, and since 1868 has been a resident of the town. He married, in 1868, Elosia Munson, of Franklin, N.Y. They have one child, Nellie Olive, born December 12th, 1874. The subject of this sketch has served his town as collector, and is the president of the Farmers' Alliance. His business is dairy farming. He is actively identified with temperance work in the town.
DAVID N. GEORGIA, born in Newfield, Tompkins county, N, Y., in 1823, came to Meredith in 1851, He is proprietor of the grist-mill at West Meredith, a member of the M. E. church, with which himself and wife, who was Lovina J. Fortner, of Dryden, N. Y., have been connected for twenty-eight years. They have four children, named, respectlvely, Addie M., Andrew F., Burton B. and Mary E.
J. MILO GRAHAM, the senior partner in the firm of Graham & Munson, at Meredith Square, is the youngest son of John G. Graham, who came to Meredith Hollow, when a boy, from Franklin, N. Y., and who was for many years a prominent citizen, serving as Justice of the peace for twenty-one years, also as supervisor of the town, and was the owner of the woolen-mills at the time of their destruction by fire. He was an enrolling officer in the late war, and census marshal in 1875. He died at Meredith in 1875.
JAMES HAMILTON who came from Ireland and settled in Kortright in 1840, removed to this town in 1861. His wife was a Miss Harper, of Kortright. They had four sons, John, now living in Kansas, James, in Davenport, Delaware county, N. Y.; Melville and Roland, who live on the old homestead, where Mrs. Hamilton, who survived her husband, is living with them. James and John served in the 18th N. Y. cavalry; were in the Red River campaign.
REV. J. C. HAMMOND was born in Philadelphia in 1845; graduated from New Wilmington College in 1809, and after following teaching some years was licensed to preach by Allegany Presbytery in 1875 in and was ordained at Meredith in 1876, where he now officiates as pastor of the United Presbyterian church. He served in the war for the Union from 1863 to 1865. Mrs. Hamilton was a Miss Morgan, of Spartansburgh, S.C. They have five children.
MILES HINE, the supervisor of Meredith for the year 1879, has served two terms in that capacity, and during the Rebellion was a member of 1st Battalion Company A, 1st N. Y. Engineer Corps, with rank of hospital steward. Mrs. Hine was formerly Mary S. Stinson. They have lost one child, Julia A., who died February 10th, 1863. Mr. Hine's grandfather was one of the early settlers of West Meredith, settling there in 1810, and rearing a family of twelve children.
J. TRACY JACKSON, a native of Meredith, is a son of William Jackson, whose father, Isaiah Jackson, settled on the "old turnpike" in 1804. His wife was Henrietta Jennings. Mr. Jackson has served his town as assessor and has been identified with the schools. Early in life he served seven years in the Meredith artillery. He has seven children.
SIMON KNOWLES, born in 1786, in Hamden, Conn., is one of the oldest residents in the town, and remarkable for vigor of mind and body. He is one of the veterans of 1812, and his father, Walker, served in the Revolution. Mrs. Knowles was Susan Brainard, also a native of Hamden, Conn., born in 1784, and died September 30th, 1863. She was the mother of nine children, four of whom are living.
JOHN B. MCNAUGHTON, the present owner of the old Dutton place, was born in Pike, Wyoming county, N. Y., but has been a resident of Meredith since about 1831. He has been prominent in town affairs, and was elected an Overseer of poor for Delaware county in 1869, serving six years. His father, John McNaughton, was a soldier in the war of 1812. Mrs. McNaughton was a daughter of John Shaver. They have had six children, one of whom, John, died May 17th, 1877, aged seven years. Those now living are Jane, who married Amaze Benedict, of Meredith, Sarah, Charles William and Leslie, who are living with their parents.
JOHN S. MUNSON, a native of Schoharie, county, N. Y., born April 27th, 1800, came with his parents, Peter and Miranda Munson to the neighborhood where he now resides in 1820; worked by the month for several years, and since 1833 has been engaged in dairy farming, has also pursued hop growing as a specialty. In November 1833, he married Eliza, daughter of Luke and Candice Brown, of Meredith, who died July 2nd, 1859, aged fifty-two years, leaving five children, Emily J., George F., Steven P., Milton D. and Eliza M. He was again married December 23d, 1862, to Jane C., daughter of William and Isabella McFarlin, born in Scotland, by whom he has two children, Com B. and Frederick J.
GEORGE F. MUNSON, a son of John S. Munson, was born In Davenport; has lived on the farm now owned by him since 1801. Mrs. Munson is a daughter of Henry OSTERHOUT. They have one daughter, Augusta, born in 1871.
GURNEY F. MUNSON, a retired merchant, was born In Jefferson, N. T., in 1812, and came to Meredith in 1821. He was an active member of the militia organization for sixteen years, and served the town as Justice of Peace four years. Mrs. Munson's maiden name was Jennie M. Harlow. Their only daughter, Mary B., died of scarlet fever March 25th, 1879, aged eight years, seven months and nineteen days.
The medical profession at Meredith Hollow is represented by GILBERT S. OLIN, Et native of Oneonta, N, Y., who graduated at Albany Medical College; practiced in company with Drs. Still and Morris for a year, and has since pursued his profession in this place. Mrs. Olin was a Miss Naragon, of Franklin, Delaware county, N. Y.
ELIHU G OSTERHOUT, a son of Henry OSTERHOUT, was a resident of Davenport until the part of the town in which he lived was annexed to Meredith. He was lieutenant-colonel of the old 27th N. Y. infantry, and served the town of Davenport for twelve years as commissioner of highways. Mrs. OSTERHOUT, whose maiden name was Rebecca Hodge, Is a native of Otsego county. Her father, John A. Hodge, served at Sackett's Harbor in the war of 1812. They have one child.
EZRA OSTERHOUT was born in Albany county, N. Y., February 11th, 1817, and is a son of Henry and Esther OSTERHOUT, who settled in Meredith in the spring of 1817. He resided with his parents until the age of thirty-two, when he engaged in dairy farming. Besides operating the fine farm owned by him, he is engaged In milling. He served as gunner in the Meredith artillery, and was for twenty-two years an assessor of the town of Davenport, in which his farm was formerly included. In 1839 Mr. OSTERHOUT married Juliette, daughter of the late William Jackson, of Meredith. They have one daughter, Janette.
REV. GEORGE F. POST, born in Bozra, Conn., in 1813, came with his parents to Meredith in 1815 when a child; is a graduate of Hamilton Literary and Theological Institute, was ordained at Westford, Otsego county, N. Y., July 18th, 1838, since which time he has been engaged in the work of the ministry, and is now pastor of the Baptist church at Meredith Square. He married Mercy Gallup, of Paris, Oneida county, who was born in 1811 and died in September, 1878.
ALEXANDER SINCLAIR was born in Scotland in 1794. He came to America in 1832 settling at Saratoga, N. Y., whence he removed to Meredith in 1835; is a member of the first Presbyterian Church of Delhi, N.Y. Mr. Sinclair's first wife, who died in 1840, was Catherine Cant. The present Mrs. Sinclair's maiden name was Ellison Young. They have six children.
HARMON SMITH, a son of Daniel S. Smith, who, with his father, Ezekiel Smith, was among the early settlers of Meredith, is a dairy farmer; he married Hannah Pratt, a native of Cornwall, Conn, They have two sons, both residing at home. His grandfather, Ezekiel, served in the Revolutionary war, enlisting; from Columbia county.
F. MARTIN SMITH, a native of Kortright, Delaware county, came to Meredith in 1810. He served in the militia for seven years; has been a Member of the Baptist church for thirty-seven, on years. His wife was Mary J. Stewart, a native of Franklin, N. Y. They have a family of five children.
ALEXANDER SPIERS, born in Scotland, has resided in Meredith thirty-seven years. After his arrival In America he returned to Glasgow, married Elizabeth Peters, of that city, and brought her to the home of his adoption. Mrs. Spiers is a distant relative of the famous Marshal Soult, of Bonaparte's army. Mr. Spiers has been for the last thirty-five years a local preacher in the Methodist church. They have had eight children--Jennie C., now a teacher in Humboldt county, Cal.; Alexander and James P., residing in Kansas; Joanna, a teacher; Elizabeth, living at home; Mary Ann, in Oneonta, N. Y., and William M., and an infant daughter, deceased.
PHILO STILSON, one of the thrifty dairy farmers of the town, was born in Meredith in 18M. He is a son of Madison Stilson, whose life was spent in this place, and who died September 15th, 1877, aged sixty-six years. His mother, who survives her husband, was Anna Church, born in 1829.
EMORY STRICKLAND, M.D., is a native of Meredith; has been a practicing physician for fifty years. He is a son of Joseph Strickland, who, as a Revolutionary soldier, aided in driving the British troops out of New London. Dr. Strickland's wife was Mary C. Whitney, born in 1818 in Franklin, Delaware county. They have had ten children, eight of whom are now living.
LEMUEL STRONG, a native of Meredith Square, removed in infancy to the farm where his life was passed, and where his death occurred October 1st, 1879. He held several public offices, but of late years declined every offer of political preferment, choosing rather the round of domestic pleasures and duties, which the care of his large farm brought to him. He married January 6th, 1841, Harriet, daughter of Pearse Mitchell. They have had six children: - Homer, who died in 1850, aged eight years; Hattie B., Sarah A. and Lemuel, Jr., who died of diphtheria in 1863, within a few days of each other, aged six, fourteen and eleven years; Chauncey, born April 4th, 1844, and Adelia, born July 24th, 1846, married to Burton Hine, of Walton. Mrs. Strong survives her husband, and resides with her son on the old homestead.
CHAUNCEY STRONG only surviving son of Lemuel Strong, was for years a prominent teacher In the public schools, and in 1872 was the candidate of his party for school commissioner. Since 1873 he has devoted his attention to dairy farming.
LEWIS B. STRONG, deputy collector of internal revenue, and dairy farmer, was born in Meredith in 1828. He served in the State militia for about twenty years. He has been a justice for four successive terms. He is now president of the Meredith Fire Insurance Company. Mr. Strong married Jeannette Hymens, who was born in 1831 and died May 23d, 1879, leaving three children, whose names are Henry M., Alfred and Frank N.
SAMUEL H. TAYLOR, born in Oneonta, N. Y. is a son of Hiram Taylor. His mother's name was Amy Green. Much of his early life was spent with his maternal grandfather, Samuel Green, of Meredith. Mr. Taylor acquired a practical knowledge of mercantile business in the employ of D. Rothensies, of Downsville, later becoming a partner in the firm of Shaver & Taylor, of Meredith. He married in 1876 Miss Fannie A. Williams, of Downsville, and is now a member of the firm of Mackey & Taylor, general merchants at Meredith Hollow.
JOHN H. THOMPSON, born July 11th, 1848, in Delhi, N.Y., and until recently a member of the mercantile house of Thompson & Munson, at Meredith Square, is now a senior partner in the new firm of Thompson & Scudder, at East Branch, who are, the successors of L. 0. Hanford, at that place.
EZEKIEL N. THOMPSON is the eldest son of Nathaniel R. Thompson, an old resident of Dry Brook valley. Mr. Thompson married Amelia White, of Kortright. They have had seven children, of whom Anna and George died in March, 1879, aged eleven and eight years respectively. The living children - Nathaniel R., James, Florence, Charles and Maynard are residing with their parents. Mr. Thompson Is a director of the Meredith Fire Insurance Company, and a Member of the town excise board.
ABEL W. THOMPSON was born February 22nd, 1839, and lives on the home farm where his mother, Mrs. Caroline Thompson was born before him. He was married in 1873, to Emma C. Munn, of Michigan. His mother is the daughter of Ezekiel Whitlock, who so early, had a trip hammer shop on the farm where they reside. He was for years a grain buyer and speculator in the West; is now a farmer on the line of Delhi and Meredith,
ALTON L. VAN TASSLE, son of William Van Tassle, was born in Franklin, N.Y.; was married at Croton, N. Y., in 1875, to Fannie M. Brownson of that place. They have one daughter. Mr. Van Tassle, is a justice of the peace and is a prominent member of the Good Templar order, and active in sustaining the interests of the Baptist church at Croton, to which he belongs.
CHARLES W. WILCOX, born in Lexington, Greene county, N. Y, came to this county when he was a child. He served in the war for the Union as a member of the 1st N. Y. engineer corps, in the army of the South, being promoted to rank of artificer. In 1868 he married Hannah E., daughter of Hiram P. Hunt, of Meredith; purchased one hundred and twenty-five acres of the Dutton estate, and has since been engaged in dairy farming. He has three children-Frank W., born October 10th, 1860; Charles Marvine, born January 31st, 1874, and Mabel R., born June 23d, 1878,