Adventures and final settlement of Timothy Beach in Sidney-Reminiscences of John Wickham, an early settler of Harpersfield-Names of early settlers-Privations to which they were subjected-Adventure of James Gordon with a bear, while crossing the Charlotte River-First Church in Harpersfield-Manner of its erection- Church-raising- Whipping-posts and stocks erected in Harpersfield -Other whipping-posts in the county-How Harper caught his wife-Persons punished by this ordeal-First settled minister in Harpersfield-Maple-sugar-making-Scotchman's idea of making maple-sugar- Information derived from Stephen Hait of Stamford -Settlements made in 1789- Information derived from David Squires-Discovery of and first settlement in Roxbury- Interesting information in relation to-Anecdotes-Information derived principally from Cyrus Burr-Early settlements in Middletown and Andes-Hall's adventure with Mr. Earl-His discovery that he had neighbors-Catamount-killing in Andes.
AMONG the early pioneers to this county after the close and successful termination of the Revolutionary struggle, was Timothy Beach and family, of whose toil and suffering, Priest, in his narrative, gives a life-like picture from the hero's own lips. Speaking of their removal, he says, Mr. Beach partook of the general impulse which at that period pervaded the several New England States, sold his farm which he had acquired after abandoning a sea-faring life, and prepared to remove to the wild banks of the Susquehanna-the hunting-grounds of the Delawares. But before he actually removed his family, he took the precaution to go and explore the lands of that river. On this journey, his eldest son, a lad of twelve years, accompanied him.
After crossing the broken and wild legion of country lying between the North River and the sea, they came to a place on the Hudson called Catskill, where a few families had already settled. At this place he entered the woods, with a view of crossing the Susquehanna to a place then known by the appellation of Wattles' Ferry, a distance of nearly one hundred miles. It was, however, considered dangerous to penetrate that distance without a guide, as there was scarce a trace of human industry to mark the way through an almost unbroken wilderness. He was so fortunate as to find a half-breed Indian, who knew the way, and was willing to become his conductor, appearing to be a fleet, shrewd, and intelligent native.
The land which he wished to examine in particular, belonged to Colonel Harper, who had, it is well known, taken an active part in the border warfare of Tryon County, and was situated somewhere near what is still call Oquago, an ancient Indian town. To this place the guide was to accompany him for a stipulated price.
They left Catskill and pursued their way on horseback amid the woods as far as Cairo, where were also a few families scattered along beneath the mountains, who had returned after, or been suffered to remain during the war, as all that region had been traversed by the depredating Indians and tories. From this place they pursued the Patawa trail, which lay through a wilderness of the most hideous description, but which is now thickly settled with enterprising farmers, mechanics, and merchants.
The first day after leaving Catskill they advanced to somewhere near the present flourishing village of Osbornville, and, as near as can be calculated, a distance of twenty-five miles. Here they encamped for the night, having gathered grass for their horses on the margin of the head-waters of the Schoharie creek. Along this stream, from thence even down to a place called Break-a-bin, extended a gloomy gulf, then the haunt of wolves, bears, and panthers, as well as an abundance of deer and some elk. Beneath a huge clump of hemlocks near the creek they scraped away the bush, built a fire, refreshed themselves from the contents of their provision-sacks, and drank from a small, green glass bottle filled with West India Jamaica, a necessary help-meet in those early times. They now addressed themselves to sleep beneath Heaven's canopy, so much of it as could be seen bending over the narrow opening between the hills which embrace the head-waters of that stream. It was near midnight, and the fire had gone out, excepting a few coals amid the ashes; when the shrill, but loud and terrifying scream of some animal, awoke the slumberers from their dreams. They listened, when again the sound struck the ear, though from another quarter, and somewhat nearer. The guide being an Indian, instantly knew what kind of an animal it was, and whispered, "a painter, a painter," meaning a panther. With its ferocious disposition, and the best manner of encountering the animal, he was well acquainted, and therefore, seizing his rifle, examined the loading, and bid his companions be silent, but to cover the fire. During this time, the screams of the creature continued at short intervals, but still nearer. He said it was calling its mate on account of the scented game- themselves and horses-with the view of an attack by a leap from the projecting limb of some tree, or some favorable position from the ground. The agility of this animal is not equalled by any other that is known, being able to spring, when hard pushed, or frightened, nearly forty feet on a level. Its strength is amazing, as well as its ferocity and untameableness of disposition.
The Indian had directed Beach to have his rifle in order, as he might have use for it, although not much acquainted with its powers as a hunter. This being done, they listened in almost breathless silence with the expectation of hearing more yells, but in this they were disappointed, as no sound of the animal could be heard. As to this the Indian said in a whisper, so much the greater was their danger, as the animal was creeping towards them on its belly for a leap; unless it had entirely gone off. They waited, however, but about fifteen minutes, when there came suddenly on the stillness of the night, the continued bleat of a deer, together with the suppressed yells of some animal which had the mastery of it, and was rending it to pieces. Now was the time for the Indian, who instantly bent low down, and glided off in that direction, as silently as a spectre of darkness; while Beach, in the same manner, and as near as he could, followed after, but rather shyly, as he felt very reluctant about approaching too near the scene of action.
But a few moments had elapsed, while the feeble cry of the deer, still struggling with his enemy, was heard, when the flash and quick report of a gun gave notice that the crisis had arrived. There was a rustling amid the leaves and dry brush, and the Indian stirred not till all was still, when he gave a yell such as the Indians give when a battle is won, and at the same time returned to the fire and reloaded.
They now gathered from the shaggy trunk of a yellow birch, which was growing near, an armful of its dry and pendant bark, of which they made several torches, and lighting one, ventured boldly to the spot, being assured by the Indian that all danger was over, and adding that he had put a bullet between the eyes of the creature. But this proved not exactly correct, as, on coming to the place, there lay stretched beside the deer, which was still bleating faintly, a panther of the largest description, having a shot exactly opposite the heart, which was found, on examination, to have pierced the lungs. The deer they now put out of its pain, by dispatching it in as quick a manner as possible; they then dragged the animal to the fire, but delayed skinning him till morning. Being so thoroughly roused by the incident just related, they felt no inclination to sleep, and so kept up a huge fire during the remainder of the night, and kept their courage strong by frequent draughts from the green bottle of Jamaica. In the morning they skinned the panther, which measured eight feet from the tip of his nose to the end of his tail, and carried the skin with them as a trophy of the adventure; but the deer they left as it was, except they cut a steak from its haunches, which they easily cooked over the coals for their breakfast.
But after the panther was killed, the remainder of the night was far from being silent, for the wolves had scented the blood of the conflict, and ran howling about till near daylight, and also the screams of another panther were heard, but at a greater distance. These voices were but sport for the Indian, which he often imitated at the top of his voice, but effectually prevented their too near approach by the brightness of the fire, and the frequent shots of their guns.
Thus passed the first night of their journey in the woods. No other incident worthy of record occurred during the remainder of their wilderness trip, although out several nights, except the sight of plenty of deer, and the howling of the wolves. When they were first awakened by the screams of the animal, they could easily have frightened it away, by firing their guns and rousing the fire, but the Indian wished an encounter, as he had no fears about its issue.
They at length came out at the desired place on the Susquehanna, where the river is now crossed by the Unadilla bridge, which place was for a long time before and after, known by the appellation of Wattles' Ferry, from Sluman Wattles, an early settler, who kept a skiff for the accommodation of those who wished to cross or recross the Susquehanna.
From Wattles' ferry they pursued their way down the Susquehanna, toward the land of Harper; at sunset they encamped for the night on an eminence near the bank of the river, not far from Bainbridge. While preparing a place to sleep among the leaves and brush, they heard below a splash in the water, which very much frightened them, not knowing from what cause it might proceed. But presently a small batteau made its appearance, owned and manned by a man named Herrick, who had been down the river on an exploring tour. Here they all encamped for the night, and in the morning an exchange was made of one of Mr. Beach's horses for Herrick's boat and provisions, Herrick paying the difference. In this boat, himself and son glided swiftly down the stream, while the guide, mounted upon the remaining horse, kept pace along the shore.
The second day after their encampment at Bainbridge, the guide proved treacherous, not meeting him according to agreement. This circumstance, and a singular dream in which his father appeared to him two nights in succession, saying to him in an earnest and impressive manner, "Timothy, go back, go back!" induced him to give over the project of settling at Oquago, and locate farther up the river. He accordingly commenced setting his skiff up the river with a pole, on his return towards the ferry. The second day had nearly worn away in toiling up the rapid stream, when all at once the guide presented himself upon the bank of the stream, and uttered a loud and horrid yell, which reverberated up and down the shores of the river with the most dismal echoes; but no Indians appeared with him. It was desirable, however, to ascertain if he had seen any during his absence, but to all of their inquiries the wily Indian gave surly and evasive answers. The truth now flashed upon the mind of Mr. Beach, that his life was premeditated, which was confirmed by questioning his son, of whom the Indian had learned that his father had a large sum of money in his possession.
The Indian, at the request of Mr. Beach, now hitched his horse to a tree, and came to assist in pulling the batteau up a steep rift, and when in the most rapid part, while struggling hard against the current, the Indian gave a loud whoop, which Beach knew to be a signal of some kind, according to the custom of the Indians. In a minute or two, no less than six Indians rushed from the woods with drawn knives, and leaping into the water, which was not more than waist deep, nor that in many places, came wading toward the boat.
At this occurrence, the guide pretended to be much frightened, and urged Beach to take up his gun and fire among them, well knowing that one shot would not kill them all, and that the survivors would make short work of him, when the money would sooner or later be obtained by himself, as he had not acquainted the Indians with this part of the booty. But there was his horse, his gun, ammunition, his clothes, and a keg of rum they had purchase-d of Herrick with the boat. These were inducements of sufficient magnitude to persuade the Indians to commit the robbery, and, if necessary, a murder, while the guide had his eye upon the money alone. But Beach perceiving all this at a glance, instead of firing at them, met them at the side of the boat with a bottle of rum in his hand, saying in the most conciliating manner he could assume, "The war is now over-we will all be brothers-we will not fight, but be friends." "So we will," shouted one of their number, while the others appeared bent on mischief. He now instantly proposed that they should help push the boat up the swift current, without getting into it, then he would go on shore with them and have a good frolic all night. He, however, was inwardly much terrified, not knowing how to escape. He tied the batteau to a convenient spot, filled a tin tea-kettle with rum and gave it to one of the Indians to carry, who marched off toward the spot selected for an encampment, followed by the rest of the Indians, guide and all, the boy excepted, who curled down in the boat and kept himself still, and as much as possible out of sight.
The guide now, no doubt, considered his prize perfectly safe, as during the night his purpose could easily be effected, either by himself or some of the others. They now sat down in a ring on the ground, while the tin tea-kettle went rapidly round, as they each took deep and long draughts of the rum; the effects of which soon began to show itself by their yelling and leaping. At this moment, when they appeared to be wholly occupied with themselves and their freaks, he stepped to the boat as if to fasten it better, when he gave it a violent push out into the river, and leaping into it as he did so, shot over to the other side.
It was now nearly dark, as the whole transaction had taken place between sunset and twilight, and during the whole time a dense black cloud had been coming up from the south, which, just at the moment of his leaping into the boat, burst forth in a tremendous thunder shower, producing almost instantly, a total darkness. This, it is likely, was the only opportunity in which he could have made his escape, for in the uproar of their drunkenness and the thunder of the coming storm, they did not perceive his intention soon enough to prevent him, as they had no guns, or at least none had been brought to view as yet.
The storm increased, the lightnings flashed around, the thunder rattled terribly among the mountains - the darkness was almost palpable, while the rain poured down in torrents all of which aided him exceedingly in his flight. They, however, soon perceived that he had escaped, and as soon attempted to follow; this they did a mile or two along the shore, which he knew by their yells, heard between the claps of thunder, but which soon died away, overcome by rain and rum. All night he continued to push his boat up the river, and at daylight found himself at the mouth of Carr's creek,1 in the present town of Sidney. From this place he travelled through the wet and dripping woods to the place where Unadilla bridge now is, where at first a Mr. Wattles had made a settlement. Of this man he obtained help to get his boat up to that place, as the river during the heavy rain, had become so deep that the strength of one man could not push it up the stream.
A few days after his arrival at this place, the Indian, who had given so much trouble, was taken up in the woods in possession of the horse, by two men, Richard and Daniel Ogden, who had been out on a tour of hunting and exploration. These men knew the horse, having seen it when Beach was at the ferry a few days before, and compelled the fellow to come in with them and give an account of himself. But, Indian-like, he answered nothing; to the charges brought against him, and here the matter ended, as no further measures were taken against him. At this place Mr. Beach determined to locate himself, and accordingly selected a farm in an entire wild state. which place is now known by the name of Ketchum farm, in Sidney, Delaware county, New York. He then returned through the same woods, carrying his boy behind him on the horse, till he arrived at Western, his place of residence, in old Connecticut, but then known by the appellation of Down Country, by all such as had removed from that place to the westward.
On the 11th of November, 1784, Mr. Beach and his family commenced their journey to their new home. In order to transport their goods, they were obliged to follow a different route from that taken by himself while exploring the wilderness. They passed through Albany, then up the Mohawk valley, and finally arrived at the outlet of Otsego lake; this was the end of the road, and they were compelled to dismiss their teams, and embark with their effects on a batteau. This was the same route travelled by the Northern division of Sullivan's army under Clinton in 1777, by whom, as before stated, it was first opened. Gliding down the lake, a distance of nine miles, to its outlet-the head waters of the mighty Susquehanna for the first time they encamped in the open air, and on the very spot where the village of Cooperstown now stands. At the close of the second day they had descended the Susquehanna as far as the outlet of Cherry Valley creek. Here the female portion of the family first had a sight of the native Indians, who had also encamped at this place, on their journey down the river to their ancient hunting-grounds. They had built a monstrous fire, around which they were merrily preparing their supper from a buck, which had been shot during the afternoon, every now and then uttering a horrid yell of joy, which reverberated fearfully among the hills.
On the evening of the third day from the lake, they arrived at the end of their journey, very much wearied. Here they discovered the remnants of a few log-houses crumbled to ruins, said to have been the habitations of a few Scotch settlers, who had penetrated the wilderness before the Revolution, (see a previous chapter,) at the outbreak of which they were compelled to fly for safety to Cherry Valley, and commit their homes to the mercy of the ruthless savage. One of these Scotch settlers, the Rev. Mr. Johnston, had returned the same year that Mr. Beach settled in Sidney. They had but barely arrived at their new home, when winter, with its deep snows and fierce driving winds, set in. The miserable hovel in which they sheltered themselves, but illy supplied the place of the comfortable home they had left in Connecticut. There were but five families in all that region, none of whom had been there over a few months, and consequently provisions of every kind were very scarce, and could not be procured nearer than Schoharie, a distance of seventy miles.
Mr. John Wickham, an early settler of the town of Harpersfield, informed me that in 1790 his father, in company with a man by the name of Butts, came into Harpersfield, which then constituted a part of Montgomery county, and purchasing a lot of land, erected a log hut upon it. In February, 1791, Mr. Wickham, wife, and three small children, moved from Dutchess county with an ox team, and after a fatiguing journey of one hundred miles, sixty of which lay through a dense forest, with only now and then a small settlement, they arrived at their place of destination. Nothing of interest occurred during the journey, except the falling of a tree, which was blown down by the wind across their sled. No one was hurt, and after some delay in removing the obstruction and repairing the broken sled, they were enabled to proceed. There were but few families in Harpersfield at the time Mr. Wickham settled there-the following are their names: Col. John, Col. William, Col. Alexander, and Joseph Harper, who had returned in 1785; Hon. Roswell Hotchkiss, who had removed from Guilford, New Haven county, Connecticut, about the same time; Josiah Seley, Matthew Lindsley, Samuel and John Knapp, two by the name of Hamilton, Washburn, Isaac Price, Stephen Judd, Samuel, 2 Eliab and John Wilcox, Richard and John Bristol, Abijah Baird, Byron McIlvain, David and John McCullough, Isaac Patchin, William Lamb, Caleb Gibbs and family, and William McFarland.
The Harpers who owned the patent, and were at that time the principal men, were kind and generous to the poor, and ready at all times to succor the distressed, and to do anything in their power to make all around them happy.
In 1790, there was no settlement of any account nearer than Schoharie, a distance of thirty miles, and there being but rude improvements in Harpersfield, the people labored under all the disadvantages which can well be imagined; indeed it was not uncommon for those in the best circumstances to be driven to extreme suffering for want of some kind of provision to sustain life, and at times when a little corn could be procured, which was pounded fine in a mortar and made into "Johnny Cake," it furnished a luxurious repast. Schoharie might at that period with propriety be termed a " Modern Egypt"-the inhabitants raising large quantities of corn, and those who could possibly raise a few shillings, would go there, usually on foot, to procure a little of the precious commodity
Some of the more wealthy among the inhabitants usually fatted a pig for their year's supply of meat, and were frequently called upon to mourn in consequence of a bear having entered the pen in the night and deprived them of meat for the ensuing year. Bears were very plenty, and when a neighbor shot or captured one, a general distribution of the meat was made, and many a rich repast have those hardy pioneers enjoyed at the expense of Old Bruin. Wild animals were numerous, as late as 1810, and were frequently driven by hunger to attack even men, and many incidents might be related of encounters, where it would be far more desirable to be a looker on than a participant. In the year 1810, as James Gordon was crossing the Charlotte river on a log which had fallen across the stream, and as he stepped on the log on one side of the river, a large bear came up on the other side and made towards him. Gordon was an athletic man, and having an axe on his shoulder, proposed to give battle-the two antagonists met about midway over the stream, when, with almost herculean strength, he aimed a blow at the monster, which the bear warded off by knocking the axe from his hand with his paw. A hand-to-hand contest now ensued, and they both went into the river together. Gordon barely escaped with his life, and not without becoming sensible of the amorous embraces of bruin, which cost him an arm and hand horribly mangled, crippling him for a long time.
It was not till 1796 or 1797 that a church was erected in the town. It was built from contributions made by the inhabitants each one furnishing materials of some kind, such as hewn timber, boards, shingles, &c., being; so very poor at the time, but few could furnish any money. The same year a place was built called stocks, and a whipping-post prepared by Isaac Pierce, for the purpose of inflicting punishment on any who had been charged with crime, and found guilty of the same by a jury. A good deal of curiosity was exhibited, especially among the fair sex, to get a glimpse of the ordeal, and after they were completed, Alexander Harper, who was fond of an innocent joke, invited his wife to accompany him and examine the stocks, which were so arranged, that by placing the criminal's foot in and making it fast, he could not escape. He therefore requested his wife to put her foot in, telling her that "That fool of a Pierce had made them, and they would not hold any one." She put in her foot and he let down the block, locked the same fast, and walked off amid the hearty laugh of the spectators and her own earnest entreaties, but soon returned and released her. It was however, regarded as a rich joke for many years afterwards. But one person was ever whipped at the post, and he soon left the county. It may be remarked in this place, that three whipping-posts were erected in Delaware County at about the same period; the one already mentioned in Harpersfield, one on the place now owned by ex-sheriff Thomas, but then in possession of Silas Knapp, who kept a grocery there for several years, and the other near Col. Dimmick's, in Middletown.
There was but one person whipped, as I have been able to learn, at either of the last named whipping-posts. This person was one Turner, a carpenter by trade. The charge which was brought against him, and which he finally confessed, was stealing some fifty pounds of flour belonging to Ezra Hait, from Esq. Rose's mill. After sentence was passed, he was fastened in the stocks, which were constructed of heavy plank, hollowed out above and below sufficiently to contain a man's legs when the planks were shut together. They were secured by a lock. He was left in the stocks for a day, furnishing a good mark for the boys, who showered him with rotten eggs. The next day he was taken out and fastened to the whippingpost, when the remainder of his sentence, fifty lashes, were inflicted, when he was allowed to leave the county, which he was not long, in doing.
At the raising of the church, a great portion of the men and women in the town assisted. Some of the women came a distance of six or eight miles, barefooted and bareheaded, and it was considered extravagant for boys not more than 15 or 16 to have hats on their heads, or shoes on their feet. This church was burned in 1831, up to which time it was not only used as a place of public worship, but for the holding of town-meetings and elections.
The first settled minister in the town of Harpersfield was the Rev. Stephen Fenn, who died in 1833. He graduated at Yale College, in 1790, and came into the county in 1793. He was ordained in 1799, and took pastoral charge of the church. He remained in this situation until 1829, a period of 36 years. He probably attended and officiated at more weddings than any other person in the county, either before or since. In 1823, after he had preached 30 years, he came into possession of a piece of real estate, and received a title in due form from the trustees of the church, in conformity with the desire of Colonel John Harper, then deceased.
The chief employment of the settlers, during a portion of the first year, was making maple-sugar, and indeed, I believe at the present time, that in no town of its size in the county is there so large a quantity, or fine a quality of maple-sugar manufactured. Richard B. Gibbs, Esq., of Harpersfield, the present president of the County Agricultural Society, informed me that he had made 3,000 pounds in one season.
I believe in Europe the sugar-maple does not abound, at least in Scotland; and it seems strange what ideas some of the early emigrants entertained of the manner in which it existed. While some imagined the whole tree to be solid sugar, others had an idea of warm sugar, instead of sap oozing from the tree. An anecdote has been told me of one of Scotia's sons, an early pioneer to the county, and whose descendants are still numbered among her inhabitants, which, although not strictly historical perhaps, nevertheless illustrates the idea suggested above. When questioned as to what would be his employment in his new wild home, he replied: "The making of maple-sugar and if I find it a profitable business I intend to follow it the year round."
The following reliable information in relation to the early settlements of Stamford, was furnished me principally by Captain Stephen Hait, of that town:- A few of the Scotch settlers along the West Branch of the Delaware, having experienced so much vexation from the Indians, after the breaking out of the Revolution, removed to Albany, Catskill, and other places on the Hudson, where they remained undisturbed until the termination of the war. Before leaving, they buried their pots, kettles, and other things they could not carry with them. They took pains to mark the places of their hidden treasures, so that they might find them again should they ever be so fortunate as to return.
Those who were tories, or friendly to the King, (Geo. III.) and opposed to the revolt of the colonies, removed to Canada. One portion of Canada was quite thickly settled by the tories many of whose descendants are still living. A few tories remained to harbor the Indians, and aid them in killing and troubling those in favor of liberty and independence.
About 1783, the portion that had moved eastward began to return, some by way of Schoharie, Patchin Hollow, and the old Indian trail through Break-a-bin, others by way of Cairo, Windham, Schoharie kill, Moresville, &c., to the head waters of the Delaware river, now known as Stamford. This latter route was, for a great part, through a dark wilderness of pines and hemlocks with nothing for their guide but an imperfect foot-path, in many places entirely obstructed by trees that had been blown across it. There were no bridges, and the travellers had to cross the streams on logs' rafts, or canoes, and get their things along as best they could. If they happened to have horses with them, they forded the streams with these. One mode of moving the women and children, was by making large baskets and fastening them together,-placing one on each side, for the children to ride in, while the mother rode and guided the horse. Those who had more baggage than they could carry on horseback, formed an ingenious carry-all, by taking two long poles and fastening the smaller ends to some old collar, one on either side in the form of shills, and letting the larger ends drag on the ground, connecting them with some cross-pieces, and with an upright stake in each to fasten a board to; then boards across these shills formed what they called a dray. On this they fastened their provisions and other articles necessary to make their condition comfortable during their journey, and maintain them in their new homes, until they could raise the necessaries of life.
In 1789, a company, consisting of twenty heads of families and two single men, principally from Fairfield county, Connecticut, came into Delaware to examine the country and fix upon a favorable situation for a permanent settlement.
The names of the company, so far as I have been able to learn, were Josiah Patchin, Captain Abraham Gould, Colonel John Hubble, Aaron Rollins, Isaac Hubble, Talcott Gould, Isaac Gould, George Squires, Walter and Seth Lyon, John Polly, Stephen Adams, Peter and Eben Jennings, Joseph Hill, and one by the name of Gibson. The two single persons were David Gould and David Squires. 3 The journey at that period was one of imminent danger, the roads were awful beyond description, and it was frequently necessary to clear them of obstructions in order to proceed. After leaving Catskill, there was not a single bridge for their whole journey. The party, after passing several small settlements, arrived at the house of Benjamin Barlow, in Stamford, who had commenced his improvements the preceding year. He had erected a small log-hut, about twelve feet square, and also a barn, in which, as the house was too small, the party received the kind attentions of their host, while, in the absence of pasturage, the teams and horses were turned into the surrounding woods to browse. The third day after the party had arrived at Barlow's, it was discovered that the horses had strayed off in the direction of home; Abraham Gould, George Squires, and Josiah Patchin, were dispatched with three days provisions to follow up and retake the missing animals. After following the trail a short distance, the animals had taken an unexpected turn, and instead of going toward the North River, had followed up a gulf now known as Rose's Brook, and thence across the mountain, near where the present road is located. The sun had passed the meridian ere the party arrived at the height of land; a short distance down the mountain they met a hunter by the name of Israel Inman, who had settled the preceding year on the fertile flats now owned by Jacob C. Kealor, Esq., of Roxbury, and who had the day before taken up the animals, and was now following up their track to discover their owners, if possible.
Inman immediately conducted the weary travellers to his own home, where he entertained them with a repast of venison steak, and with all the hospitality common to pioneer settlers. Having ascertained that they were in search of a favorable situation to settle, and being well acquainted with the country, he volunteered his assistance. They examined the lands in the valley of Fall Brook, (now West Settlement,) and having decided upon making a permanent location there, they returned again to the party with the missing horses. They could prevail on but two other persons of the party to join them, Nehemiah Hayes and David Squires, making in all five persons. They were obliged to return toward Catskill, as far as John More's, 4 at Moresville, from which place to Roxbury, Inman had informed them there was an ancient trail, over which he had passed the year before, carrying his movables on his back.
After a laborious journey they succeeded in reaching the clearing of Inman, where they deposited their goods, until they could prepare a rendezvous of their own. The lots were measured off with a rope, when they agreed to decide by cuts who should have the middle lot, which fell upon George Squires. On this lot they erected a shelter of the rudest material; four crotched poles being firmly driven in the ground, one at each corner of the building, across their tops horizontally were laid the plates, while two other crotches of greater length were driven to support the ridge-pole: this rude frame was covered with strips of elm bark. The floor was also of bark, and a huge maple was felled just in front of the tent, against which they built their fires, and did their cooking in a kettle suspended over the coals. In this tent they passed the remainder of the summer, assembling at night and preparing their supper in their own rude style, of which they partook with a hearty relish, and then, without a covering or a pillow, they laid themselves down upon the hard floor to sleep.
The remainder of the party located themselves in the town of Stamford, principally on Rose's Brook, where many of their descendants now live, and are numbered among the most respectable and enterprising inhabitants of the county.
In the winter of that year they returned to Connecticut for their families, and to bid adieu to their native State. They were soon joined by others, and the settlements grew with almost unparalleled rapidity. It was only a few years before the forests began to disappear, and the music of the blacksmith's hammer, mingled with the buzzing of saw-mills, might be heard in every valley, and the rude log-hut began to give place to the handsome farm-house.
Many incidents might be enumerated in regard to the early settlers, to illustrate more fully the prominent traits of their character. Man is emphatically a being of custom; his nature possesses all the elasticity that enables him to conform to any society or rank in life, or to any age in the world.
We have examples in history, of fond children, who have been torn from their mothers' arms and carried into captivity, where they were subject to the hardships and privations of a savage mode of existence. As they grew up the scenes of early childhood were gradually worn away, and by degrees they became accustomed to the associations and wild sports of their savage companions; indeed, they have thrown around them the most powerful fascinations, and when the boon of civilization has been freely proffered them, the ransom paid, and friends and parents ready to embrace them, they have turned gloomily away and buried themselves again in the forest, and sought their accustomed haunts.
Allowing the influence, then, of early customs on the passions, the appetites, and propensities, which make up the character and control the destinies of men, we are prepared more correctly to form a true estimate of the avant couriers of civilization. When we remember that they had just emerged from a long Revolutionary struggle, which had been pregnant with hope and fear, inlaid with peculiar privations- that eventual success had crowned the efforts, not of numbers but of courage and susceptibility of endurance-we will then very naturally attribute to them determination, fortitude, courage and perseverance, and what four attributes are more important to the pioneer than these. It was determination that prompted them to seek a home in a boundless forest-it was fortitude that enabled them to endure privations-it was courage that upheld them in the hour of fear-and it was perseverance that enabled them to toil month after month, and year after year, for the bare maintenance of life. But we have thus casually wandered from the strict matter of fact, to enable the reader more fully, if possible, to form a correct realization of the men and times of which we write, and we will now return to the original design of one or two authentic anecdotes.
Two men, by the name of Hotchkiss, who resided on Rose's Brook, near where Cillick Gould now lives, nearly, if not quite, excelled old Putnam, of Connecticut, by their daring adventures after wolves. These two hunters one morning discovered a fresh wolf-track on the snow, and immediately determined to go in pursuit. They prepared their guns and ammunition, and started on the track. After following it part of a day, they found that the wolf had crawled into a hollow tree that had broken off near the ground, and fallen directly down a steep hill. Into this crooked tree there was no way of leveling their guns, so as to fire at the sheep-stealer with any chance of success. Being very anxious to secure their game, and having no axe to cut the tree, one of the hunters entered head foremost, with his gun to pilot the way; after getting to a crook in the tree, he made room enough to admit a little light, and when he saw the glaring eyes of the wolf before him, in this position he levelled his gun and fired, and then retreated to the open air as fast as possible. After reloading, he again entered the tree and felt his way before him with his gun; finding that all was still, he returned near enough to touch the wolf with his rifle. As he gave no signs of life, the hunter reached forward with his hand, got hold of his ears' and dragged the dead wolf out after him. This beats "Old Put," as he dared not enter a den of wolves without a rope tied to his legs, to pull him out in case of danger; but this man relied on his trusty rifle and his own exertions, to extricate himself from all trouble.
My informant also relates another incident, which I give in his own language:- "In 1790, there were quite a number of settlers that had located on Rose's Brook, from Connecticut. The names of some of them were Gould, Rollins, Hubble, Jennings, Sturges, Webster, Blish, and the Lyons, the latter of whom, together with Webster, were the mighty hunters of the party. Whether they had acquired this art in their native State, or not, we cannot say, but it is certain that it came very easy for them. The old Mr. Webster would just as soon shoot a good buck, as to eat a good dinner or say his prayers, as the story we are about to relate will illustrate.
"At that early period ministers in Delaware county were a rarity, and these Connecticut people were brought up in strict Sabbath-day keeping; and before they had stated preaching, the inhabitants would meet on Sunday at some central house in the neighborhood, and the deacon of the settlement would read some old sermon they had brought with them. On one occasion they had met for this purpose at Deacon Webster's; he had read the text, and was proceeding with the sermon, when his black man, by the name of Amos, suddenly appeared at the door, showing his ivory, and addressing his master, the deacon: 'Massa, massa, dar is a fine fat buck in the barn-yard, with the cattle;' The old deacon took down the rifle, (an old chunk rifle,) stepped to the door and raised it to his eye. Bang! went the rifle, and down went the deer. The deacon told Amos to keep his eye on him a little, and then replaced his rifle and resumed his sermon.
"But this was not all-old Mrs. Rose happened to be out herding the cattle, and hearing the report and seeing the deer fall, she went immediately to her husband, who was justice of the peace, and said, 'Esquire Rose, what do you, think Esquire Webster has been doing?' 'I don't know,' said he, 'my dear, what has he? 'Why, he has been shooting a deer on the Lord's day!' Next morning Esquire Webster received a polite note from Justice Rose, setting forth the charge against him, and inviting him to call up and pay the fine."
The following information in relation to the early settlements, was derived principally from Cyrus Burr, a highly respectable citizen of Andes, and formerly, and for a number of years, supervisor of that town.
The family of Mr. Burr moved into the county in 1794, and settled in what was then called Middletown, Ulster County, but now Andes, Delaware County, at which time the entire town, except a few farms along the river, was one unbroken wilderness. The first farm bordering on the river below the Middletown line, was owned by James Phenix, who was among the first that emigrated after the Revolution. He had occupied the place before the war, but had retired for safety during that period. A man by the name of Olmstead, who came in about the same time, possessed the second farm. The third farm had been originally taken up by a man named Burgher, whose unfortunate end we have related in a previous chapter. The next farm was occupied by Joseph Erksine, an English soldier, who was taken prisoner and afterwards enlisted in the American service. The next in course, following down the river, were Silas Parish, from Dutchess County, who had emigrated at an early day, E. Washburn, from the same place, and a few years later, Eli Sears, father of T. B. Sears, of Tompkins County, delegate to the state convention in 1846.
At Shavertown, were several families, among them were Jacob Shaver, Adam Shaver and John Shaver, from Dutchess County, and Philip Barnhart from Schoharie County, all of whom had located there about the same time. Mrs. Barnhart, was a sister of the father of Ex-Governor Bouck, and quite a number of her descendants remain in that neighbourhood yet. The first settler back from the river was Robert Nicholson, who located about three miles up the Tremperskill, which empties into the Delaware river at Shavertown. He moved with his family, in 1793. Philip Shaver, located himself on the same stream the following spring, and Thomas More, about a mile above, sometime during the same season.
In the spring of 1797, Mark Summers settled about half a mile still farther up, and Jonathan Earl, shortly after, one and half miles above Summers, and within half a mile of what is now Andes village. About the same time Aaron Hull, afterwards, and for several years, Justice of the Peace of Middletown and Andes, settled about one and a half miles north of the village of Andes. He reached his new home by an entirely different route, (the West Branch and Little Delaware,) from those settlers whom we have already enumerated, and consequently it is not strange that he should have been unaware of his proximity to them. It was nearly a year before he became aware of the fact, and then by simple accident.
Hull had a horse which he was obliged to turn into the woods to pick its living, and it was while in search of his horse that he unexpectedly met Earl, who was also looking for a yoke of oxen that had strayed into the woods. The place of meeting was near the village of Andes.
Early in the summer of 1794, John Burr, Henry J. Bevans, and John Thomas, with their families, moved into what is now the easterly part of the town of Andes, about one and a half miles from Phenix's, above mentioned. Burr and Bevans were from Fairfield County, Conn., and Thomas was a Welshman, direct from his native country. John Jones, another Welshman, settled within the limits of Andes, one mile west of Clark's factory, the same year-where his son and a number of his grandchildren now live. In 1795, Samuel Barlow settled in that neighborhood. During 1794, '95, and '96, settlements commenced along the western line of the town bordering on Hamden, by Patterson, Terry, Holmes, Barnes, and others, and from these points the settlements gradually spread into the westerly and southerly portions of the town.
We have been favored by a valuable correspondent, and an esteemed friend, with the following authentic account of a catamount-killing in Andes, a long time ago, that makes "Old Put.'s" adventure seem a small affair, more especially, when we recollect that the Andes catamount, like catamounts in general, was a fearless and ferocious animal-while Putnam's wolf, like all other wolves, was a cowardly and sheepish fellow.
The panther had made great ravages, and a party of young; men resolved to kill him. Daniel H. Burr, brother of Isaac and Cyrus, and the first supervisor of the town of Andes, Moses Earl, since painfully associated with the Andes tragedy, and one Samuel Jackson, now deceased, were of the party.
Early one morning the animal was followed by his well known track, from the scene of one of his usual nightly raids, to his den, which was located in the mountain, about one mile from Clark's factory. The dogs were sent in, but refused to proceed nearer than about twelve feet, at which point the den, or rather narrow cliff in the rock, turned obliquely to the left, and all that lay beyond was shrouded in complete darkness. The savage beast finding himself disturbed in his chosen retreat, sent forth, at intervals, loud and angry growls. All efforts to dislodge him having proved unavailing, Samuel Jackson resolved to enter the den, and shoot him there.
After having loaded his ride, and permitted his anxious friends to tie a rope to one of his legs, that might be used, if necessity required, in hastening his exit, he entered the cavern. alighted candle, thrust into the opening of a split stick, gave just light enough to make the surrounding darkness visible, and with this and his trusty rise, Jackson entered the cave, into which, he was compelled to creep upon his elbows and knees. When at the point where the cavern's course took a new direction, he discovered the furious animal sitting upon its haunches some twelve feet distant from him, gnashing its teeth, and by the usual motions, evincing its excited ferocity. Jackson with difficulty got his rifle in a position for use, and after a deliberate aim at the panther's head, discharged it. His anxious friends hearing the growl of the wounded animal, mingled with the roar of the rifle, pulled lustily and rapidly at the cord made fast to Jackson's leg. They drew him out, but the sharp angles of the rock tore alike his clothing and his skin; he came out of the cavern almost a naked man, and astonished his anxious friends, while
with his incontinent hard swearing! It was difficult to tell which was the most furious, the panther at one extreme of the cavern, or Jackson at the other.
The growling of the panther continued, and after an interval of time had elapsed sufficiently for the smoke to clear away, Moses Earl followed the knee-prints of his predecessor Jackson, and entered the cave. His shot was more effectual, and the panther gave no signs of life; Earl's exit, too, from the cave was less expeditious, and far more pleasant than Jackson's. The dead animal was drawn out from the den with little difficulty, and proved to be a full grown female, which like many another female, made up in spunk what was wanting in size.