Delaware County NY Genealogy and History Site

The History of Delaware County
W.W. MUNSELL 1797-1880


Electronic text by Marilyn L. Nichols Trumbull, Ohio

The history of the town of Harpersfield is for some years so intimately connected with that of its founder, Colonel John Harper, that is seems proper to preface the history of the town with what is known of his life and ancestry up to the time of his settlement in Harpersfield.

James Harper, the grandfather of Colonel Harper, emigrated from the county of Derry, in Ireland, and arrived with his family at Casco bay, in the province of Maine, in October, 1720. There he settled; but a war having broken out with the Indians he removed to Boston, Mass., with all his family except his youngest son, John, who remained for the defence of the province, and continued in the service against the Indians about three years and eight months.

After his discharge he first went to Boston, and afterward to Hopkinton, Conn., where he became acquainted with Abigail Montgomery, to whom he was married November 8th, 1728. From Hopkinton he removed to Nodell's Island, near Boston, where was born William, his eldest son, September 14th, 1729. James, the second son, was born March 26th, 1731. Mary, the eldest daughter, was born January 23d, 1733. John (Colonel Harper), the third son, was born May 31st, 1734. Margaret, the second daughter, was born February 7th, 1740.

In 1741 the family removed to Middletown (supposed) Conn., where Joseph, Alexander and Abigail were born between that time and 1747, when they removed to Windsor, Conn., where another daughter was born, February 14th, 1749.

Of the family of James, the ancestor, nothing further is known; but John and his family removed from Windsor to Cherry Valley, Albany county, in the province of New York in 1754. There they purchased a piece of land, which they immediately commenced to clear and cultivate.

The father and mother and their eight children were all intelligent persons, and the names of most of them are intimately connected with the great struggle for independence.

All then living were patriots, and after our independence was acknowledged were prominent in the history of their several localities.

William, the oldest son, was a member of the Provincial Congress, one of the judges of Montgomery county, and after the county of Otsego was formed was appointed one of the associate judges of that county. He was also member of Assembly from Tyron county for the years 1781, 1782, and 1784, and from Montgomery for 1785-89. His long and useful life ended at the age of eighty-seven years, at his residence in Milford, Otsego county, NY.

James, the second, son, died of small-pox, March 22nd, 1760.

John Harper, jr., the third son and the founder of Harpersfield, was distinguished for his bravery and sagacity during the war of the Revolution, where he gained a commission as colonel. His cool courage and knowledge of the Indian language, and habits were often the means of saving himself and friends from destruction.

He was married to Miriam Thompson, by whom he had four children-Archibald, Margaret, John and Ruth; Archibald and Margaret being born in Cherry Valley, and John and Ruth in Harpersfield. John, born July 10th, 1774, was the first white male child born in Delaware county.

During his youth, Colonel Harper attended a school at Lebanon, Conn., and while there became intimate with a young Indian, who had been placed there by Sir William Johnson. The friendship thus contracted seems to have lasted through life. This Indian afterward became the celebrated chief and warrior known throughout the country as Joseph Brant; and although his name has always been held up as the synonym of savage cruelty and outrage, there is reason to believe that his character was much misrepresented by writers soon after the war, whose partisan spirit was too much excited to do him justice, and who were disposed to hold him responsible for all the cruelties committed by the Indians under his command. On the contrary, if his character had been as represented, it seems certain that so strong a partisan as Colonel Harper would not have continued friendly with him during the war and for many years afterward. It is nearly certain that on the occasion of the destruction of Harpersfield by the Indians and Tories in 1777, Colonel Harper and his family were saved by a secret warning from Brant, the particulars of which will be related hereafter.

Joseph Harper, the fourth son, does not seem to have been so prominent in the events of the time as either of his brothers, but he fought bravely in the frontier warfare, and was a member of the committee of safety of Harpersfield.

Alexander Harper was, after the colonel, the most fearless of sagacious of the family who came to Harpersfield, and he was nearly as prominent in the various services which border warfare entailed upon them as his most celebrated brother. After the war he settled in Harpers-field, and is believed to have kept the first tavern in the town, as, for several years, all the public town meetings were held at his house. He also for several years held the only commission as justice of the peace within the present bounds of the town. The records show that for some years he was elected treasurer of the town-an office long since extinct.

Mary, the oldest daughter, married John Moore, afterward a member of the committee of safety of Tyron county. She and her three daughters were made prisoners at the massacre of Cherry Valley, and taken to Niagara by Brant, where they fortunately found friends to protect, and afterward to restore them to their home.

Abigail, the third daughter, married William McFarland, a member of the Harpersfield vigilance committee, who after the war settled on lot No. 61, about one mile east from Harpers-field Center. He was town clerk during the years 1787-89, and supervisor during the years 1789-93. He was evidently a man of more than common ability. He afterward, with his brothers-in-law, Joseph and Alexander Harper, emigrated to Ohio where they founded Harpersfield in that State.


In 1776 or 1777 the Harpers, finding that the Indians had lands lying between the Delaware and Charlotte rivers, which they were willing to sell, determined to found a settlement of their own; but before they could purchase from the Indians it was necessary to procure a license from the governor of the province, for it seems to have been as unlawful to deal with Indians without a permit then as it is now.

The following is copied from the original, by favor of Mr. D. N. Gaylord, a great-grandson of Colonel Harper:

{ L.S. } By his excellency Sir Henry Moore, Baronet, captain general and { (arms.) } governor in chief in and over the province of New York and the territories depending thereon in America, chancellor and vice admiral of the same, to all to whom these presents shall come or may concern, greeting.

Whereas, John Harper, sen., William Harper, John Harper, jr., Joseph Harper and Alexander Harper, by their humble petition presented unto me and read in council on this day, have set forth that there are yet certain lands unpurchased of the native Indians of Onoughquage, of which they are the proprietors, situate, lying and being in the county of Albany, upon the head of the Delaware river: and the said Indians being disposed to sell the same, the petitioners, with their partners, are desirous to purchase one to enable them to obtain his Majesty's letters patent for the said lands, that they may settle, cultivate and improve the same; or any other unpurchased lands belonging to the said Indians where they may be disposed to give them, not exceeding the said quantity; and therefore humbly prayed my license for the purpose aforesaid-

I have therefore thought fit, by and with the advice of his Majesty's council to grant, and I do by these presents give and grant unto the said John Harper, sen., William Harper, John Harper, jr., Joseph Harper and Alexander Harper full power, leave and license to purchase in his Majesty's name from the native Indian proprietors thereof the lands aforesaid; provided the said purchase to be made within one year from the date hereof, and conformable to the regulations contained in his Majesty's proclamation of the 7th of October, 1763; or that the parties do produce a certificate signed by Sir William Johnson, Baronet, his Majesty's sole Agent or Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Northern Department, that the Indians to be brought before me for the sale of the said lands are chiefs of or belong to the tribe or nation who are the owners and proprietors of the said lands, and that they have authority from such tribe or nation to dispose thereof. And for so doing this hall be to them a sufficient license.

Given under my hand and seal at arms, at Fort George, in the City of New York, the ninth day of April, one thousand seven hundred and sixty-seven.

                                                                H. MOORE
By his Excellency's Command,
                         G. Banyar, D. Sectry.

The time given in the foregoing license was probably extended, as the purchase was completed the 14th day of June, 1768. A patent was soon after granted to John Harper, sen., William Harper, and seventeen others, most of whom afterward assigned their interest to the Harpers. This was done in compliance with the English rules, which in ordinary cases only allowed one thousand acres to each individual.

The patent is granted in the name of the King, by Cadwallader Colden, Esquire, lieutenant governor, giving to each of the patentees and his heirs one thousand acres of land but excepting and reserving all mines of gold and silver, and all pine trees fit for masts, of twenty-four inches diameter and upwards twelve inches from the earth, for masts for the royal navy. The grant is made subject to a yearly quit rent of two shillings and sixpence sterling for each 100 acres, and is erected into a township, with all the powers and privileges of a township forever. This township is to elect annually two assessors, two over-seers of highways, two overseers of the poor, one collector, one treasurer and four constables, to be chosen at the most public places in the township. Vacancies to be filled by election within forty days after they occur. Digging the gold or silver, cutting the pine fit for masts, or default in payment of the quit rent, renders the patent void. These rents were released by the State for services during the Revolutionary war.

Pursuant of the royal patent a deed was given to the patentees. It first recites their petition, in which they say they have "borne a proportionable part of the expenses attending" the purchase from the Indians of two hundred and fifty thousand acres, more or less, bounded on the south by the Delaware, on the north by a line a mile from the Susquehanna, and extending down the Delaware from its head "to the mouth of a certain creek called Canuskully." The deed then mentions the consent of the provincial authorities, and that the petitioners desired that such part of the tract "as had been lately surveyed for them, con-training twenty-two thousand acres, should be created a township by the name of Harpersfield, with the usual privilege." The deed concludes as follows:

"In pursuance whereof, and obedience to his Majesty's said instructions, we, the said commissioners, do hereby certify that we have set out for them, the said John Harper, sen., William Harper, John Harper, jr., Joseph Harper, Alexander Harper, Andreas Rebar, William Golt, Thomas Hendry, John Wells, Robert Campbell, James Scott, John Wells, jr., Joseph Harper, jr., John Thompson, Robert Thompson, John Thompson, jr., James Moore, Robert Wells, James Harper, Timothy McIlvain, John Rebar and Johannes Walrad all that certain tract or parcel of land within the province of New York situate lying and being in the county of Albany, between the Cookquago branch of Delaware river and the branch of the Susquehanna river called Adiquitange, beginning at a rock maple tree marked on four sides with a blaze and three notches and with the letters and figure A.C. 1768, standing on a high point of land at the south side of a small pond of water called by the Indians Utsayanthe, from whence the said branch of the Delaware, called by the Indians Cookquago, issues and runs; thence north thirty degrees west five hundred and forty-nine chains; then south eighty-six degrees west two hundred and fifty chains; then south sixty-three degrees west one hundred and eleven chains; then south thirty degrees east seven hundred chains, to a tract of six thousand acres of land granted in the year one thousand seven hundred and forty to Arent Brant, Volkert Van Vechten and others; then along the northern and eastern bounds of the last mentioned tract northeasterly and westerly as they run to the said branch of Delaware river, called Cookquago; then up the north bank of said branch as it winds and turns to the rock maple tree where the tract first began-containing twenty-two thousand acres of land and the usual allowance for highways.

"And in setting out the said tract or parcel of land, we, the said commissioners, have had regard to the profitable and unprofitable acres, and have taken care that the length thereof doth not extend along the banks of any river otherwise than as conformable to his Majesty's instructions."

"Given under out hands at the City of New York the twenty-ninth day of November, one thousand seven hundred and sixty-nine, in the tenth year of our Sovereign Lord George the Third, by the Grace of God of Great Britain, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, and so forth."

                                  "Cadwallader Colden."
                                  "Andrew Elliott."
                                  "Alexander Colden."

The following is a list of the earliest known settlers or owners of the several lots in Harpersfield:

Lot 2, Aaron Scott; 3. Samuel Southmayd; 4. Daniel Lindsley; 6. John Brown; 8. Raymond Starr; 9. Ezra Nichols; 10. William Baird; 12. Captain James Smith; 13. Samuel Claxton; 14. Hazard Beardsley and Salmon W. Beardsley; 15. and 16. William Hendry; 17. Phinehas Bennett; 18. Joel Gaylord; 19. Jedediah Gaylord; 10. Isaac and Freegift Patchin; 22. Joseph and John Barnum; 23. Edward Evans; 24 and 25. Joseph Benson and Nathan Holmes; 27. Najah Beardsley; 28. Lewis Penfield; 29. John Lindsley; 30. Eden Hamilton; 31 and 32. Abijah Baird; 33 and 34. Caleb Gibbs; 35. Stephen Judd; 36 and 37. Lewis Penfield; 38. Joel Gaylord; 40. Daniel Edwards; 41. Samuel Stevens; 42. Ezra Thorp; 43. Daniel Thorp; 48. Gabriel Gray; 51 and 52. John and Samuel Knapp; 53. Matthew Lindsley; 54. Plyment Dayton; 55. ___ Voluntine; 56. Matthew Bonton; 57. James Stevens; 58. Samuel Wilcox; 59. Richard Bristol; 60. Aaron Wilcox; 61. William McFarland; 62. Freegift Patchin; 63. Sylvenus Graves; 65. John Montgomery; 66. Joshua Drake; 49. Enoch Copley; 70. Joseph Copley; 72. Benjamin Pierce, 73. Isaac Pierce; 75. ___ Owens; 76. James Bryan; 78. ___ Dayton; 79. David Lamb; 80. Zachariah Bryan; 81. Presbyterian Church; 82. Alexander Harper; 84. William Lamb; 85. Theulus Hotchkis; 88. Asa Warner; 89.___ Buck; 90. Gershom Davis; 91. Robert English; 95. John Birdsall; 100. James Campbell; 103. Isaac Dayton; 104. Abel Dayton; 105. Epinetus Buckingham; 106. Abel Seely; 107. Zadoc Osborn; 108. Colonel Harper; 110. Joshua H. Butt; 113. Richard Stanley; 114. ___ Buck; 117. Alden Bennett; 119. Jacob Titus; 120. Lemuel Birdsall; 124. William Harper; 125. Burgdyne McIlvain; 127. Hugh and John McCullough; 128. and 129. Benjamin Morse; 130. ___ Osborn; 131. Daniel Prentice; 132. Roswell Hotchkis; 133. Colonel Harper; 136. Davis Hubbard; 137. Martin Kellogg; 138. Elisha Sheldon; 139. Eliab Wilcox; 142, 143 and 144. William Birdsall, Gideon and John Wickam; 145. Ezekial Woodbeck; 152. Thomas Hendry; 153.Jonathan Hubbard; 154. Peter Dyzart; 155. Samuel Longhead; 156. Thomas Longhead; 159. Ransom Packard; 160. James Douglass; 161. Uriah Odell; 164. Eliab Wilcox; 168. ___ McMullen; 169. Heman Copley; 170. Robert Henderson; 173. James Bell; 174. Abel Seley; 178. John Hendry; 179. James Brown; 181. Joseph Hotchkis; 182. Joel Mack; 184. ___ Hamilton; 185. David Hendry; 188. William Wardwell; 189. John McClelland; 190. Thomas Porter; 195. Robert and John Wool; 196. John Wilson; 197. Daniel Butler; 103. Benjamin Odell; 105. David Wilcox; 207 and 108. Andrew Richey; 210. Stephen Churchill; 219. Peter Monfort.

The writer does not assume to have named all the lots upon which persons have at some time resided; on the contrary, there are a number of lots settled early of which he has been unable to discover the first, or even much later settlers. Some of the names may be misplaced, but the list is believed to be nearly if not quite correct as far as given. It should also be remembered that many of the lots have never had a house built on them, and it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to learn the early occupants of such lots.

In May 1770, Governor Franklin sent out a surveyor named Hooper to survey a patent of thirty thousand acres, which had just been granted to him; but before doing so it was necessary to run the boundaries of Harper's patent, which was done that year, and probably the lines of the Kortright patent were run at the same time. The thirty-thousand acre tract thus surveyed for Governor Franklin is still known as the Franklin patent.


In 1771 Colonel Harper removed his family from Cherry Valley to Harpers-field, for the purpose of making a permanent settlement, and diving the patent into lots. He was accompanied by several men to assist him in making the survey, one of them being David Hendry.

Said Rev. H. Boies: "The colonel first erected a shelter for his family, in the form of an Indian wigwam, and there lived till a house could be built, but not long after their arrival the colonel was called away on business. His wife then super-intended the erection of a dwelling, directing the men whom the colonel had brought with him, and before her husband's return the walls were fully raised. The house was soon roofed, and fitted for the residence of the first white family that ever made a home in Harpersfield."

This house stood on lot No. 108, near a small stream which crosses the turnpike a few rods west of the burying ground at Harpersfield Centre-west of the stream and north of the turnpike.

The survey was finished in 1772, and soon after a number of emigrants arrived, most of them from New England, but some from other sections.

The first lots sold by Colonel Harper appear to have been purchased by the men named in the following list, which is taken from a large parchment chart of the survey, on which the names are written upon the several lots:

Lots no. 2 and 9, Nathan Darley; No. 13, Samuel Claston; No. 19, Jedediah Gaylord; No. 29, John Lindsley; No. 50, W. Reed; No. 61, William McFarland; No. 128, Benjamin Morse; No. 137, Martin Kellogg; No. 145, Ezekiel Woodbeck; No. 154, Peter Dyzart; No. 185, David Hendry; No. 188, William Wardwell; No. 189, John McClelland; No. 190, Thomas Porter.

There were undoubtedly others who held lots whose names do not appear on the chart, as Colonel Harper's father and two brothers are known to have been in the town about that time, also Andreas River (one of the original patentees, John More and several others.

Nearly the whole tract was covered with heavy timber which it was necessary to clear away before the land could be cultivated; then till the crops could be grown, with the aid of the rude implements then in use, all the flour had to be purchased in Schoharie, nearly thirty miles distant, and transported on the backs of men and horses.

The following incident was related to Jay Gould by Rev. H. Boies, who married a granddaughter of Colonel Harper, and whose researches into the early history of the town have rescued many facts from oblivion:

"The first winter succeeding the removal of the Harpers was distinguished for its un- precedented severity. The partial and incomplete arrangements they had been enabled to make proved hardly sufficient for the unforeseen privations they were called upon to endure. During the preceding summer and fall they had removed their goods, provisions, etc., to Schoharie, from which place to Harpersfield there was no road, and they had stored them at the former place -except a few provisions-intending to remove them to the place of destination on the snow. Winter set in much sooner than was anticipated, and the snow fell upon the ground to a great depth, cutting off all communications, and rendering it almost impossible to reach any settle-ment, of which, the reader must be aware, there was none nearer than Schoharie, over twenty miles distant-Cherry Valley, their former place of residence, lying still farther off. In the midst of this dilemma their stock of provisions became exhausted, excepting a little corn, which was powdered in a mortar and converted into a rude bread, familiarly known as johnny cake. Upon this scanty diet they subsisted for a brief period, in the hope of a speedy cessation of the extreme cold weather. At last the remaining meal was all consumed, and but one small loaf of johnny cake was left to preserve the existence of the members of the new settlement. His faithful partner, who had borne up under their former privations with becoming fortitude, now began to yield. Cautiously she had concealed from her husband the real state of their provisions, well knowing, as she did, the imminent peril that would surround any attempt to reach the settlements, as well as that bold resolution that would prompt him immediately to undertake the journey. It was useless to conceal the truth from him longer, and she now told him that one small loaf was the last morsel the house contained, and for this even the children were crying; but she dared not give it to them, hardly knowing what they would do when that was consumed. The father now resolved, as a last resort, to repair to the Schoharie settlement on the morrow, which he doubted not he could do, traveling by the aid of snow shoes; and taking the dainty morsel from the shelf and breaking it, distributed it among the members of the family, giving a portion to his wife and each of his children, but touching it not himself. ***

We will now turn to the Schoharie settlement: the inhabitants, aware of the scanty supply of provisions of their neighbors at the "Bush," as Harpersfield was usually termed, and conscious that unless they could afford them succor they must perish with hunger, had fortunately, the same day that the provisions of the family became exhausted and the affecting scene narrated above had transpired, determined to go to their assistance. Accordingly, early on the day in question, a company set out from Schoharie, traveling by the aid of snow shoes toward Harpersfield, at which place they arrived at midnight, to the joyful surprise of the starving inhabitants."

It is related that on another occasion, but probably not the same winter, the colonel's stock of hay became exhausted, and he was forced to go over to the Delaware river to a natural meadow upon lands wince owned by the late Elijah Churchill, and carry hay on his shoulders to keep his cow from starving; the distance is at least four miles, and the journey was made on snow shoes. In these days, when four miles seems a long distance to travel over a good road after a ton of hay, or ten miles a long distance to a grist mill, we might profit by reflecting upon the con-veniences which we enjoy compared with the hardships borne by the early settlers a hundred years ago.

The settlement thus commenced by Colonel Harper was gradually enlarged by new comers, attracted thither by the liberal terms offered them in the purchase of land. As in all new countries, each family of emigrants arriving was warmly, welcomed by the older settlers, their present wants supplied, and when necessary the ready assistance of the settled erected a house for the new neighbors at the shortest notice.

About 1775, it is said, Colonel Harper erected a grist mill, so that the inhabitants of this and of settlements further west could get their grain ground without recourse to the mortar or a toilsome journey to Schoharie.


The settlement was in a thriving condition when the Revolutionary war broke out. Men were then compelled to side with the King or the colonies, and in Harpersfield nearly all sided with the colonies. They formed a committee of vigilance, and made such arrangements for self defense as they could, but continued to enlarge and cultivate their clearings until 1777, when the Indians and Tories, commanded by Brant and Butler, invaded the settlement, and nearly all the inhabitants fled.

Colonel Harper with his family and many of his neighbors went to Schoharie, and some returned to New England. The circumstances which immediately led to this flight are worthy of mention. They have been thus recounted by Rev. H. Boies:

"It appears that an Indian belonging to Brant's party had received favors and kind treatment from Colonel Harper, and therefore felt an Indian's friendship toward him. As these hostile savages were on their way to Harpersfield, with intent to kill or capture all they could find, this Indian friend left the camp of his brother savages by night, made his way to the house of Colonel Harper, informed him of the intended attack and then hastened back to his company before they awoke.

On receiving this intelligence, Colonel Harper hastily concealed what household stuff he could not carry, and then put his wife and the younger children on his only horse, while he and the other children started on foot for a place of safety. The night was dark and the rain fell in torrents, but they pressed on, and before noon the next day arrived at what is now the town of Sharon, Schoharie county. The next day the house they had left-the first house ever built in Harpersfield-was burnt to ashes. Through the information communicated to Colonel Harper, and by him to the other settler, many lives were saved."

It is not known that from this time until the close of the war any patriot family lived in Harpersfield, although a blockhouse or small fort was built at the Centre about 1778.


On the 2nd of April, 1780, as related by Gould and others, a scouting party commanded by Captain Alexander Harper, consisting in all of fourteen men, was sent from Schoharie into Harpersfield for the purpose of making a quantity of maple sugar and watching the movements of certain disaffected persons residing in that vicinity.

The names of the scouts were Alexander Harper, Freegift and Isaac Patchin, brothers, James Hendry and his two sons, Thomas and John, William Lamb and son, Ezra Thorp, Henry Thorp, Cornelius Teabout, James Stevens and two others.

Shortly after the party had arrived at the block-house at Harpersfield, where they de-posited their provisions, a heavy snow storm came on, during which the snow fell about three feet in addition to what was already on the ground.

After completing the "camp," as it was commonly termed, and seeing the men fairly engaged in sugar making at the different bushes, five in number, Harper went back to Schoharie on some business and did not return till the 8th.

Among the early settlers in Harpersfield was on Samuel Claxton, a tory, who resided on lot No. 13 (situated on the road since called Smith street) and had continued to harbor the Indians and Tories ever since the commencement of the war. The place had become so noted in this respect that it was generally known as the "tory house," which name it retained for many years after the close of the war. The house was situated near the west side of lot no. 13, about forty rods from the line and about fifty rods from the present highway.

This house stood directly upon the road from the camp to Schoharie, and Harper, when he arrived near the house, and at the place where the ancient trail took a sort of a circuit and came back something like an ox bow, in order to avoid observation as well as to shorten the distance, determined to go straight across. While in the act of stooping to adjust his snow shoes, Brant and two other Indians came upon him unawares and took him prisoner.

Harper did not discover their approach until they were too near to allow any chance of escape by flight, and he consequently submitted peacefully. As Brant approached Harper he swung his tomahawk as if in the act of killing his victim at a single blow, and when the weapon was suspended by his stalwart arm high in the air, Brant exclaimed, as he recognized in the person of his prisoner an old acquaintance: "Ah! Captain Harper is it you? I am sorry to find you here." "Why," said Harper, "are you sorry, Captain Brant?" "Because, "he replied, "I must kill you, although we were schoolmates in youth." Harper replied that there was no use in killing those who submitted peacefully. He was accordingly bound and taken to Claxton's house, where he found the rest of Brant's forces, amounting in all to forty-three Indians and seven Tories. This was about 8 o'clock in the morning. In order to make the surprise more complete and allow none to escape, the enemy were distributed so as to fall upon all parties at once; and so well was the plan carried out that not even a signal of alarm was given.

A company approached the hut where Stevens was engaged, which was on lot No. 57. Stevens had been up the greater part of the night boiling sap, but towards morning, his sap stock becoming exhausted, he lay down in the empty store trough and fell asleep. He was aroused by the voices of the approaching enemy, and was in the act of spring for his gun, which stood in one corner, when an Indian came to the entrance, and perceiving the movement, instantly hurled his tomahawk, which his intended victim dodged, and it struck a log in the hut behind him. Stevens was an athletic man, and immediately grappled with the savage. The contest lasted but a moment. With almost herculean strength, in an instant he precipitated the Indian headforemost beneath the boiler upon the still unextinguished coals; but the deed had scarcely been done when a second tomahawk, hurled with unerring aim, sank deep into his brain; he reeled and fell dead, when the Indian finished the sad picture by scalping the unfortunate man.

A second party proceeded to the camp of Thomas Hendry, who offering some resistance, he, together with his brother James, was immediately killed and scalped, while John, who submitted peacefully, was taken prisoner.

A small detachment was sent to capture William Lamb and his son, who were at work alone some half a mile distant. The enemy surprised and captured the father, who was in the hut. The son, who had gone to gather sap, was just returning, with two pails, when he perceived the Indians and was at the same moment perceived by them. He dropped the pails and ran down the hill, closely pursued; being lighter, however the frozen surface of the snow sustained him, while his pursuers broke through. He was apparently gaining on them, when he commenced ascending the opposite hill, which happening to face the east, the snow had become too much softened to sustain him. He soon became exhausted and was obliged to yield.

After some time spent in plundering different camps of all article of value, including the maple sugar, the different parties reassembled with their prisoners, when Brant approached Harper in a menacing attitude, and fixing his eagle eye upon him, demanded: "Are there any troops in the forts at Schoharie?" Harper saw in a moment that his reply would procure them instant death or save their lives; for, if he should say "No," which would have been the truth, the Indians would have immediately killed them all, and then proceeded to the settlements at Schoharie and cut them all off before assistance could be procured from any quarter. Accordingly he answered: "There are three hundred Continental troops now at the forts, who arrived there about three days since." The whole of this statement was untrue, yet who will condemn the captain, or say that circumstances did not justify him?

The Hendrys are said to have been killed and buried on lot No. 37; but cenotaphs were erected to their memory in Harpersfield Rural Cemetery, with the following inscriptions:

"APRIL 8TH, 1780

"When the British and Tories o'er this land bore the sway,
"A less cruel Indian my body did slay."

                                         THOMAS HENDRY

On another stone:


"While British tiranny overspread this land,
"I was slain by cruel hands."

                                        JAMES HENDRY

Harper and the remainder of his party were started as prisoners for Niagara, and when a few miles on their journey met Claxton, the tory, who seeing Brant and who were his prisoners, was surprised, as he knew them all.

Brant related his adventures, and how he had been defeated by the account Captain Harper had given of the troops lately arrived at Schoharie. "Troops!" said Claxton; "There are no troops at that place; you may rely upon it, Captain Brant; I have heard of none." In a moment the snake eyes of Brant flashed murder, and running to Harper he said in a voice of unrestrained fury, his hatchet vibrating about his head like the tongue of a viper; "How came you to lie to me so?" when Harper, turning to the tory, said: "You know, Mr. Claxton, I have been there but four days since; you know our party was stationed a the head of the river, at the sap bush; that I have been once to the forts alone, and there were troops, as I have stated; and if Captain Brant disbelieves me, he does it at his peril." That Harper had been there, as he stated, happened to be true, which the tory also happened to know; and he replied: "Yes, I know it." (Patchin's narrative of his capture).

The prisoners, after a frightful journey, during which they and their captors barely escaped starvation, finally reached Niagara, where Captain Harper fortunately found relatives among the enemy, who saved him from many of the miseries which his fellows were compelled to undergo. After three years of unutterable suffering, from which some died, the survivors were released after peace was declared.

The two Patchins, Ezra Thorp and Captain Harper resided in Harpersfield after the war; but from the time of their capture till their return Harpersfield was a scene of desolation, seldom visited except by the Indians and Tories.

After the war it was not considered a safe place for Tories, and they soon took their departure.

Of the Claxton before mentioned but little is known, except that his house was a well known harbor for the Indians and Tories during the war; and although tradition does not accuse him of any cruelties toward the Whigs, he became so obnoxious that he sold his lot to Captain James Smith (a Revolutionary soldier) and came in the night for his pay, not daring to himself in the day time.

Captain Smith settled himself and his four sons on this lot (13) and No. 12, giving the name of Smith street to the road leading past their houses. The captain died in 1831, in his ninety-third year.


Harpersfield has few localities which can be called "historical," but among these are the following:

Lake Utsyantha, the headwaters of the west branch of the Delaware, lying near the southeast corner of the town, being celebrated as the battle-ground of a fight between the patriots (among whom were the famous Tim Murphy and one of the Harpers, under the command of Colonel Hager, and the Indians and Tories, under Brant, in which the enemy were defeated with a loss of about thirty, while the patriots lost but four. This lake is very small, but is often mentioned in the early documents, and was at one of the angles of Albany county.

Odell's lake, on the mountain in the south part of the town, is near the place where the McKee family were massacred in 1779.

The father was absent, but the mother and children were all butchered and thrown into the flames of the burning house, except one daughter, named Anne, who threw herself at the feet of a savage who had his arm uplifted to strike her; he admired her boldness and spared her life.

She was taken to Niagara, where she was compelled by the squaws to run the gauntlet, being nearly killed during the terrible ordeal; she, however, recovered, and after a long captivity was allowed to return to her home.

Lake Zufy, on a hill in the north part of the town, is credited by tradition as being the place where Colonel Harper killed nineteen of Brant's warriors in 1780.

A mound formerly existed in the southeast corner of lot No. 56, which was said to have been thrown over the remains of several Indians killed by Colonel Harper. It stood about ninety rods from the place where James Stevens was killed, while making sugar, in 1780.

The writer has been at considerable trouble to fix the places where the several persons were killed or captured, while making maple sugar, in 1780, so that in future the spots may be known without trouble.

Alexander Harper is said to have been captured on or close to the present highway, not far from the house of Henry Van Buren, and probably not more than fifty or sixty rods from Claxton's house.

Thomas Hendry was killed on lot No. 37 (now owned by John Hoagland), about twenty-five rods from the road leading from Harpersfield to Jefferson, and nearly midway between the east and west lines of the lot. The place where he was buried is marked by a pile of stones, which Mr. Hoagland has been careful to keep undisturbed.

The place where James Hendry was murdered is more uncertain, but nearly all who have heard it spoken of by the Thorps and Patchins agree in placing it near the northwest corner of lot No. 41, now owned by the heirs of Stoddard Stevens, about forty rods from the road leading to North Harpersfield, and close to the east side of the road leading to John B. Gaylord's; the spot is marked by a cluster of maple trees.

Ezra and Daniel Thorp and Isaac and Freegift Patchin were together when captured, near the northwest corner of lot No. 214, now owned by George More, better known as the Alanson Buck farm.

The place is marked by a long rock, about eight rods from the north and fifteen rods from the west line of the lot (the west line being on the road leading past More's house toward the Delaware).

Upon the top of the rock, eight or ten feet from the face, a stake was formerly kept to mark the exact spot. Mr. Ezra T. Patchin states that when a small boy he often visited the place with Ezra Thorp, and with his grandmother, the widow of Isaac Patchin, and has often seen Mr. Thorp shed tears when recalling his sufferings while in captivity.

Mr. Patchin (a namesake of Ezra Thorp), has in his possession a box made by Ezra Thorp while in Quebec prison, the work having been done with a broken case knife. The workmanship would be no discredit to a good workman with far better tools, the sides being very handsomely carved and much resembling the embossed covers of a book.

William Lamb was captured on lot No. 84, about half way from the Harpersfield toll gate to the northeast corner of the lot.

His son started to run, taking his course towards the path to Schoharie, with the Indians in pursuit, but his father called to him to stop, and he was taken on lot No. 59, now owned by E. A. Dayton.

As there were but five camps mentioned, it is probable that Teabout and the ones whose names are unknown were with Stevens and the Hendrys.

It is also uncertain where John Hendry was captured, but he was probably with one or the other of his brothers. As will be remembered, he died while a prisoner in Quebec.

Several anecdotes concerning these prisoners tend to show that they were not slow to avenge the injuries received during their captivity when the occasion offered. A short time after the close of the war, on the occasion of some public meeting at Harpersfield, an Indian appeared who was known to have been one of the most cruel of their captors, although he denied having seen any of them before, Patchin, who was present, approached the Indian (who stood leaning his chin upon the end of his gun), and with his bare foot cocked the gun, and would have discharged it with his toe had he not been prevented. The Indian seems not to have known him, but inquired the way to his house. A direction was given him which was roundabout upon which he started, while Patchin took the direct route. The Indian never reached Patchin's house, but his remains were afterward found on the route he had been directed to take.

One of the most cruel of the sugar makers' captors was a tory named Beacraft, who took every occasion to insult and abuse them. After the war he ventured back to the scene of his cruelties, and as soon as it was known a number of those who were best able to judge his case hastened to surround the house where he was, William Lamb and, it is believed, one of the Patchins being among them. Two or three of them knocked at the door and were bidden to come in, when Mr. Beacraft arose, anxiously inquiring for their health and extending his hand. His politeness was responded to by a determined clench of the shoulders, and he was marched to a tree not far away, which stood in a beautiful hickory grove. Here he was stripped to the skin and tied to the tree, and fifty lashes administered with all the force that the remembrance of his visitors' wrongs could add to their strong arms, each ten lashed being accompanied by the special reasons for their infliction. They then untied him and warned him to leave the country, which he did at once, after thanking them for dealing so gently with him, and acknowledging that his crimes were worthy of capital punishment.


Immediately after the close of the war Colonel Harper returned to Harpersfield with the remainder of his family, his noble wife having died at Johnstown in 1778.

In 1787 the following are known to have lived in Harpersfield: The Harper brothers-John, William, Joseph and Alexander; Roswell and Thelus Hotchkis, Samuel Wilcox, Isaac Patchin, Ezra Thorp, William Lamb, William and David Hendry, William McFarland, Levi Gaylord, Stephen Judd, Richard Bristol, Benjamin Morse, Daniel Mack, Abner Mack, Levi Gaylord, jr., Freegift Patchin, Daniel and John McCullough and Caleb and Cyrenus Gibbs.

John Wickham came to Harpersfield in 1791, from Dutchess county, with his wife and three small children; his father, Gideon Wickham, having come the year before, and purchased lots No. 143 and 144 from the Harpers, upon which he built a log house. He pays the following tribute to the Harpers:

"The Harpers, who owned the patent and at that time were the principal men, were kind and generous to the poor, and ready at all times to do anything in their power to make all around them happy," and Mr. Wickham knew, for at that time he was very poor himself.

He adds to the names given above those of Josiah Seley, Matthew Lindsley, Samuel and John Knapp, two named Hamilton, Washburn, Isaac Pierce, Elial and John Wilcox, John Bristol, Abijah Baird and Byron McIlvain.

At this time and for several years thereafter beasts of prey, particularly bears and wolves, were very numerous and troublesome, and although the picture of a bear with a roasting pig under one arm, a bunch of green corn under the other, and a pumpkin on his head did not originate in Harpersfield, yet bruin's depredations were such as to make bear hunts fashionable, and his flesh was often made a substitute for the pigs which he had stolen.

Levi Seley, Esq., now eight-four years old, recollects that when he was about five years old a bear came one night and took their only hog from the hog pen in which is was confined. The bear was driven off before it had killed the hog and the next day Mr. Seley's father went to the Centre to get some tar to dress the wounds on the hog which the bear had made.

Wolves were if possible still more troublesome than bears, their attentions being paid to sheep and calves, and many people were compelled to yard their stock every night, the yard having a high fence to keep out the wolves. Mr. R. D. Baird remembers hearing his father speak of a little girl named Valentine whose parents lived upon the farm now owned by N.P. Dayton, who was supposed to have been killed and devoured by wolves. She had been on a visit to one of the neighbors, about a mile distant, and started about four o'clock in the afternoon to return home. After her departure a heavy thunder storm came up, rendering it very dark. The path was mostly through woods, and she was never seen again, although search was made for a number of days by her friends and neighbors. Some years afterward Mr. Baird, sen., while clearing a piece of land less than a mile from the girl's home, found the skull and some of the bones of a child, which he buried, and always supposed were those of the lost girl, and that she must have strayed from the path and before morning was killed by the wolves.

In 1803 in town meeting it was "resolved that the town will pay ten dollars for every grown wolf that is killed by any person that is an inhabitant of the town." The bounty was occasionally renewed up to 1815.

Hogs had their persecutors among the inhabitants, too. In 1803 the voters "resolved that no swine shall run at large without being yoaked with a yoak that shall be as long above the neck as the neck is thick, and half as long below the neck," also, "Resolved, that if any hog is found running at large, without a yoake on of the above description, the owner shall pay to the person that shall put a lawful yoak on one shilling and sixpence."

At another time they must have been cruelly tortured; it was voted "that hogs on the common shall be wringed (how often is not stated) in the nose on penalty of twenty-five cents."

The grist-mill built by Colonel Harper before the war was burnt by the enemy. After his return he rebuilt it, probably about 1785 or 1786, but the exact date is not known.

This mill stood till 1841, when it was also burned, taking fire from an oat kiln adjoining. It was again rebuilt, and operated as a grist-mill about thirty years, after which it was changed into a firkin factory, which after being run about six years was also burned, this time, as is supposed by an incendiary. The original mill and its two successors, all being built upon the same site, and all burned, the last burning so near the centennial of the first erection, is one of the most singular circumstances connected with the history of the town.

Mr. John Nichols, of Jefferson, Schoharie county, now in his ninety-third year, states that when he was four years old, his father, Ezra Nichols, came to Harpersfield from Connecticut and settled upon lot No. 9, now owned by Isaac P. Nichols. The first labor upon their arrival was to erect a dwelling, which was built of peeled fir poles, notched together at the corners, and filled between with mud, the roof being made of elm bark, pinned on to hold it in position, nails at that time being very scarce and expensive; over an opening at the side of the building a blanket was hung, which served as a door; the floor was made of puncheons, as they were called, being logs split and hewed so as to lie as close and smooth as possible.

Mr. Nichols believes that he killed the first specimen of mephitis americana ever seen in Harpersfield. When about twelve or fourteen years old he set a trap near the carcass of a dead horse, hoping to catch a fox. One morning on going to visit his trap he found it fastened to a strange animal, such as he had never before seen, which paid no attention to him but kept gnaw-ing the carcass. The boy's curiosity was aroused, and he proceeded to make a closer examination of his prize, when he was astonished to find himself in the midst of a terribly disagree- able odor, so powerful as to almost take away his breath; he however, killed and skilled the animal and upon exhibiting the skin was told by his friends he had killed a skunk, an animal common in Connecticut but never before seen in Harpersfield. He sold the skin to a Mr. Montgomery (who kept a store at the Centre), and it was kept for some time as a curiosity.

Mr. Nichols says that crows did not appear in the town till still later, and others of the old inhabitants agree in saying that neither of these pests were seen in the county till some time after it was settled.


as shown by its record, dates back to April 1st, 1787, when it was a district. The first record is as follows:

"April 1st.-Chosen unanimously, William Cure, moderator; John Harper, treasurer; Samuel Wilcox and John Deniston, assessors; Isaac Patchin, sen., collector; Ezra Thorp and Thelus Hotchkis, constables."

"June 12th, 1787,-This day appointed William McFarland, clerk in place of Walter Sabins, the former clerk, absent."

"By a free vote of the freeholders Isaac Patchin, sen., is elected assessor in the place of Benjamin Bartholomew, absent."

Harpersfield was first organized as a town March 7th, 1788. As first organized it embraced within its limits parts of the towns of Delhi, Davenport, Franklin, Hamden, Kortright, Meredith, Masonville, Sidney, Tompkins and Walton, in Delaware county, and parts of Afton and Bainbridge, in Chenango county.

In 1792 Franklin, and in 1793 Kortright were taken from Harpersfield, reducing it to nearly its present dimensions. In 1834, a small portion was annexed to the town of Stamford to accommodate the village of Hobart.

During the first twenty-six years of its existence, Harpersfield belonged to five different counties, viz: 1771, Albany; 1772 to 1784, Tryon; 1784-1791, Montgomery; 1791 to 1797, Otsego, and in 1797 to Delaware.

At the first town meeting after the town was organized held at the house of Alexander Harper, Esq., on Thursday, the 1st of April 1788, William McFarland was chosen town clerk; Edward Paine, Esq., supervisor; Ezra Thorp, constable, Levi Gaylord, Samuel Wilcox, Gabriel North, Sluman Wattles and David Parsons, assessors; Steven Judd, Moses Clark, Simeon Hyde, collectors; Alexander Harper, Esq., treasurer; William Hendry, John Brown, Nathaniel Skinner, Richard Bristol, Ezra Paine and John Gardner, pathmasters; Eli Reynolds, jr., Gideon Frisbee, Benajah McCall, Samuel Johnson and Hugh Thompson, path-masters for Painesdale; Captain David Parsons, Benjamin Morse, poormasters; Levi Gaylord, Samuel Wilcox, Ezra Paine and Samuel Johnson, fence viewers; Daniel Mack, James Douglas, Francis Clark and Benajah McCall, appraisers of damage. Sworn in office, David Parson, Levi Gaylord, jr., Samuel Wilcox, Levi Gaylord, Ezra Paine, Benajah McCall, Francis Clark.

Some of the resolutions passed at the town meetings are interesting as showing the manner of doing business in those days. Thus, April 7th, 1789, it was voted that "all district officers shall serve free gratis;" April 6th, 1790, "that all town officers shall be paid according to law." Also "that the proceedings of Kortright, Hamden, Walton and Clinton are approved of and ratified by this meeting." April 5th, 1791, it was voted "that no man shall have liberty to bring in any stock, either cattle or horses, to this town, to run on the commons, which belong to strangers or people in another settlement, for the sake of emolument to himself; on pain of forfeiting and paying the sum of 10 shillings per head for each creature he shall bring in, said forfeiture to be paid to the treasurer of said town, to be appropriated to such uses as the town shall direct."

April 3d., 1792, it was voted "that the proceedings of the town of Kortright shall not be ratified by this meeting."

April 2nd, 1793, it was voted "that it is a duty incumbent on every person possessing any beasts capable of wearing ear markers that they should have a particular mark entered on record, and that it shall be the duty of the town clerk to enter all such marks, if desired, upon receiving a fee of sixpence for each mark."

On the second Tuesday of April, 1795, it was voted "that no person shall be considered as chosen into office unless he shall have more than one-half of the votes of this meeting." Voted "that this meeting vote by giving the name of the person that they wish to be chosen to the clerk." Voted "that the person having more votes than any other person shall be considered chosen."

April 26th, 1796, it was resolved "that all the money that has arose from the excise in this town shall be collected and loaned to the proprietors of the Presbyterian meeting house, at the usual interest, on demand, for the purpose of carrying on the building, except so much as shall be necessary to purchase a funeral pall, which sum shall be repaid to the trustees of said meeting house as soon as the money is levied and collected.

Resolved, That Mr. Roswell Hotchkis, the present supervisor, shall purchase a funeral pall for the town, and the cost thereof to be levied and paid in the same manner as other contingent charges of the town are."

April 3d., 1798, it was resolved "that the excise money now in the hands of the overseers of the poor shall be appropriated tot he special use of the several religious societies and dissenters, to be for their use forever, within the town of Harpersfield, for the purpose of erecting or repairing house of public worship, or other purposes; and that the assessors of said town for the last year shall be empowered to ascertain what proportion of said money belongs to each religious society and dissenters in proportion to last year's tax list, each society producing a list of the members of their own society under the hands of their particular members within six months after the 2nd day of April 1799; and the monies to be paid over to the societies or persons entitled thereto within one year from this date; and when such adjustment shall be made, then the overseers of the poor shall deliver said money or securities to the said societies who are by the foregoing resolution entitled thereto, or to their agents or representatives."

March 6th, 1804, it was resolved "that $100 of the excise money to be appropriated and paid by the overseers of the poor, out of collectable notes now in their hands, to be Baptist society of the town of Harpersfield, for the purpose of building a house of public worship; and that the inhabitants of said town shall have the privilege of holding public meetings when necessary, if said baptist society have no occasion to occupy the same at the same time; and further, that the above sum be appropriated for the above mentioned purpose and that only. Resolved, That the Baptists society have liberty to build their house of worship on the land left for a road between Samuel Steven's and Sylvanus Grave's, near the turnpike."

The following resolutions show the way one of the town clerks had of putting things: "That any hog found on the commons without being well ringed and yoked shall pay a fine of fifty cents." "That any person's creature of any kind getting into any person's field from the commons, and doing him or her damage, the owner thereof shall be liable to pay all damage."

The following is a list of officers from the first recorded till the present time, 1879:

Supervisors - Edward Paine, 1788; William McFarland, 1789-93; Samuel Wilcox, 1794; Roswell Hotchkis, 1795-97, 1812, 1813; Aaron Wheeler, 1798; Samuel W. Beardsley, 1799;

Levi Gaylord, 1800-04; Cyrenus Gibbs, 1805, 1806, 1814-16, 1818-20, 1824, 1825; Giles Humiston, 1807; Eliisha Sheldon, 1808-10; James Ells, 1817, 1821-23, 1826, 1829; Samuel Steven, jr., 1827; Baruch Taylor, 1828, 1830; Frederick A. Fenn, 1831; Stoddard Stevens, 1832, 1836, 1837; Nathan Bristol, 1833, 1834; William Buckingham, 1835, 1843, 1844; Lyman Hukes, 1838-40; Phineas L. Bennett, 1841, 1842; John Harper, 1845, 1846; Asahel Cowley, 1847; Johnson B. Bragg, 1848, 1849; Ira S. Birdsall, 1850, 1851; Elias B. Penfield, 1852, 1853; Michael Dayton, 1854, 1860, Jeffrey H. Champlin, 1855; Sheldon A. Givens, 1856; James S. Peters, 1857; Norman P. Dayton, 1858, 1859, 1866-69; Richard E. Davis, 1861-63; Henry Ten Eyck, jr., 1864; Truman B. Seley, 1865; John L. Beardsley, 1870; Allen S. Gibbs, 1871, 1872, 1878, 1879; Richtmeyer Hubbell, 1873-1875; Hamilton S. Preston, 1876, 1877.

Town Clerks - Walter Sabin, 1787; William McFarland, 1787; vacancy, 1788, 1789; Roswell Hotchkis, 1790-94, 1800, 1801; Aaron Wheeler, 1795; Levi Gaylord, 1796-99; Salmon W. Beardsley, 1802, 1803; Enos Bell, 1804; James Smith, jr., 1805; Eliab Wilcox, 1806; Peter Penfield, 1807-10; Joshua H. Brett, 1812-14; James Ells, 1815; Ebenezer Penfield, 1816, 1817; Cornell Smith jr., 1818; John Lake, 1819-21; Joseph Hotchkis, 1822, 1823; Aaron Wilcox, 1824, 1826; Anson Penfield, 1825; Frederick A. Fenn, 1827-30; Nathan Bristol, 1831, 1832; Joseph W. Babcock, 1833, 1834; Johnson B.Bragg, 1835-37, 1843; Smith Penfield, 1838; Myron Tremain, 1839, 1840; James McMin, 1841, 1842; Henry R. Hamilton, 1844, 1845; Alexander Dales, 1846, 1858; James France, 1847, 1848; Horace Lockwood, 1849, 1850; Elias B. Penfield, 1851, 1860-63; William C. Lamont, 1852; E.L.H. Moeller, 1853; Benjamin F. Gibbs, jr., 1854; Allen S. Gibbs, 1855; Russel D. Baird, 1856; William Elsbree, 1857, 1859; Calvin H. Peters, 1864; Lewis C. Silvernail, 1865; John Bell, 1866; Richtmeyer Hubbell, 1867, 1868; Seth W. Hubbard, 1869; Samuel D. Hubbard, 1870-73; Peter I. Merriam, 1874, 1875; Charles L. Foote, 1876, 1879; Thomas M. Douglass, 1877; Henry Van Dusen, 1877 appointed; Alvin F. Lain, 1878.

Justices of the Peace-Alexander Harper, 1788, probably earlier, Joshua H. Brett, 1791; Elisha Sheldon, 1803; Samuel Wilcox, 1803; Roswell Hotchkis, 1804; Samuel W. Beardsley, 1806; Cyrenus Gibbs, 1809; Eden Hamilton, 1812; Peter Penfield, 1814; Cornell Smith, 1814; Calvin Howard, 1821; Stephen Lockwood, 1823; Samuel Stevens, 1823; Raymond Starr, 1823; Joseph Copley, 1827; Frederick A. Fenn, 1828; James Spencer, 1830, elected; John Wool, 1831, 1835; James Bristol, 1832, 1834; Ira S. Birdsall, 1832; William Buckingham, 1836; Nathan Bristol, 1836; Alonzo B. Wilcox, 1837, 1840; Michael Dayton, 1837; Levi Seley, 1844, 1851; Nelson I. Thorp, 1841, 1845; Joseph H. Ells, 1841; Benjamin F. Gibbs, 1843, 1846, 1850; Hiram Graves, 1843; James Strain, jr, 1844, 1848; Apollos B.Wilcox, 1844, 1847; Jeffrey H. Champlin, 1849, 1853; John Flansburgh, 1850, 1852; Johnson B. Bragg, 1854, 1859; Wiley Baird, 1855, 1869; Ezra J. Nichols, 1857, 1860; Almus M. Babcock, 1858; Fredus Baldwin, 1859; Allen S. Gibbs, 1862, 1866; Michael Odell, 1862, 1869, 1874, 1877; Thomas H.Smith, 1864, 1867, 1871; James Loughran, 1865; John S. Baldwin, 1867; Stephen Van Dusen, 1871, 1874; Colonel D. Wiltsie, 1872; James D. Seley, 1875; Morell Wager, 1875; John J. McArthur, 1876; James Beilby, 1878; Richard Magee, 1879.


The first religious society formed in Harpersfield was organized at a meeting held for that purpose, at the house of Colonel John Harper, June 7th, 1787, at which time and place Colonel John Harper, David Hendry, Benjamin Bartholomew, Joseph Hotchkis and Daniel Mack were chosen trustees, and it was unanimously agreed that the trustees and congregation should be called.


The election was held in accordance with an act passed by the Legislature April 6th, 1784, "to enable all religious denominations within this State to appoint trustees, who shall be a body corporate for the purpose of taking care of the temporalities of the respective congregations, & c."

The proceedings were certified to by John Deniston and Levi Gaylord, the returning officers of the election; witnessed by Alexander Harper, judge of Montgomery county.

Five days after their election, the trustees held a meeting, at which they agreed to make proposals to Rev. John Lindsley, which included the offer of £90 as an annual salary, and £100 as a settlement. Mr. Lindsley accepted the offer, with the understanding that he was to receive his pay in labor, cattle or notes. He commenced his labors as the first minister in Harpersfield in the fall of 1787, and continued them till 1791; he is also supposed to have taught the first school in town.

Between 1791 and 1798 Rev. David Huntington, a missionary, preached for the society occasionally.

In 1793 Rev. Stephen Fenn became the minister, under a contract with the society by which he was to receive seventy acres from lot No. 108, the whole of lot No. 65 (one hundred acres) and £10 in building material; the whole, valued at £200, to be considered as his settlement. He was also to receive £70 annually for four years, after which his salary was to be increased £5, 15s, per year till it amounted to £93, which was to be his yearly salary thereafter; but in case he left them before the end of twenty years he was to forfeit £10 per year for each year he fell short of twenty years, unless he left through the fault of the society.

Mr. Fenn continued his labors with the church over thirty-five years, and was finally dismissed in consequence of the anti-masonic excitement, caused by the abduction of Morgan, he being a mason, and refusing to sever his connection with that order.

It is believed that a church was built (probably of logs) soon after the formation of the society in 1787. It is first referred to in the records of the society November 3d, 1789, as follows: "Resolved, That it shall be the duty of the clerk for the time begin to notify each annual meeting sixteen days previous to the first Tuesday of November, annually, at the place of public worship, and likewise at Colonel Harper's grist mill." Also, November 15th, 1791, a resolution was adopted specifying the circumstances under which the "trustees shall open the church."

The only church, however, of which anything is otherwise known was erected about 1794, it being first noticed I the records of the town on the first Tuesday in April 1795, as follows: "Voted, That this meeting adjourn to the meeting house of this town" (from the house of Alexander Harper). This building was erected by subscriptions, payable in labor, material, etc.

On the 5th of April, 1796, the annual town meeting was held , at the meeting house, and on the 26th of the same month at an adjourned town meeting, the resolution before mentioned was passed to loan the excise money to the society for the purpose of carrying on the building.

This church was used until 1837, when it was torn down and another erected, under a contract made with Givens & Ells, who were to receive $2, 525 and the old meeting house.

At one time the society numbered over two hundred members; but the establishment of other churches, and internal dissensions, have now reduced it to a very small membership.

The following is a list of ministers employed by the society since its first formation: Rev. Messrs, John Lindsley, 1787-91; David Huntington, 1792, 1793; Stephen Fenn, 1793-1828; ____ Shaffer, 1829, 1830; Harper Boies, 1830-35; William Clark, 1835-38; Seth Williston, 1838-40; Phillip Payson, 1841-44; Seth Williston, 1845,1846; John w. Pierce, 1847-49; David B. Hall, 1849,1850; Harper Boies, 1850-55; A.F. Gilbert, 1856, 1857; Charles S. Marvin, 1857-60; George T. Everest, 1860-63; Charles S. Marvin, 1865, 1866; John T. Marsh, 1867-71; Mr. John Ball, 1872-74; ___ Bassett, 1874-76; Gardner Dean, 1876 to the present (the present was 1880).

The present deacons of the church are Joseph Hubbard and Ezra G. Beard.

Among the early members of the church were the following: Caleb Gibbs, Joshua H. Brett, Nathan Bristol, Joseph Hotchkis, Stephen Churchill, Salmon W. Beardsley, David Hendry, James Smith, Joel Gaylord, Roswell Hotchkis, William Harper, Joseph Harper, Jedediah Gaylord, Ebenezer Penfield, David Penfield, Candace Bristol, Rebecca Brett, Hannah Hotchkis, Lois Gaylord, Lydia Gaylord, Hannah Harper, Rebecca Harper.


The second religious society formed in Harpersfield was the Baptist, which was organ-ized at about 1792. The society has no records previous to 1840, and all information herein contained was derived from the sources outside the society, Levi Seley, Esq., Mrs. Clarissa Thorp and M.S. Wilcox having furnished nearly the whole.

Elder Warner Lake, who lived on what is still known as "Lake Hill," in Kortright, was the first minister, a position which he held for many years; Samuel Wilcox and Elisha Sheldon were the first deacons. The society for some time held meetings in a building which stood on or near the site of the present school house in District No. 3.

In 1805 they built a church near the Stevens tavern, about two miles east of the Centre, the town giving them $100 and the site, as before mentioned. Elder Mack was the second minister, and was succeeded by Elder Dingee Adams, who served as pastor many years, until charges very injurious to his character were preferred against him, which created opposing parties in the church, and finally divided and greatly weakened the society.

Previous to the difficulty the society had been a very large one. Among the early members were the Wilcoxes, Sheldons, Hamiltons, Knapps, Lindsleys, Hendrys, Peteres and Stanleys.

After the death of Elder Adams the society was supplied by several different ministers, none of them for long periods, Elder Covey being one of them, and Elder Van Hoesen, now living in Harpersfield, begin the pastor when the church was torn down and removed to Stamford in 1865.

The society is now said to be in a fairly flourishing condition, and numbers many members in Harpersfield.


The third religious society in the town was that of the Quakers or Friends, located in the north part of the town, at and near what is still known as Quaker Hill.

This society was formed probably as early as 1810. The first and only preacher was John Wickham, one of the early settlers, and for some time meetings were held at his house. About 1820 the Friends built a log meeting house, which was used by them until it became too much decayed, after which meetings were held in the school-house near the old meeting house.

The society is extinct, the older members having died or moved away, and their descendants having chosen other associations.

The Wickhams, Birdsalls, Bennetts and others now forgotten, belonged to the society.


The fourth society in Harpersfield was organized by the Methodists on the 2nd day of January, 1823. The minutes of the meeting inform us that "at a meeting of the Methodist Episcopal society, held agreeable to notice given conformable to the statute in an act for religious societies to be incorporated, held at the house of Uriah Adams, in Harpersfield, on the second day of January, one thousand eight hundred and twenty-three, Benjamin Bruce was elected president; Noah Judson, vice-president, and Cyrneus Gibbs, clerk. Voted, to elect three trustees for the present. Voted, that Coley Maynard, Benjamin Bruce and Cyrenus Gibbs be the said trustees. Voted, that we will hereafter be known by the name of the Methodist Union Society of the Town of Harpersfield.

The above is certified as a correct statement of the proceedings by Cyrenus Gibbs, Benjamin Bruce and Noah Judson.

This society soon after purchased an old store, which was converted into a church and used as such until about 1850, when the society, which had never been a strong one, held its meetings at the dwellings of the members and at school-houses till 1858, when it purchased a building at the Centre, formerly used as an academy, and changed it into a church. This was used until 1871, when the society built a new church at a cost of $3,500.

The church is now in a flourishing condition, with an excellent Sabbath-school. the present officers are Stephen Van Dusen, leader; G.D. Hubbard, P.I. Merriam and Calvin Peck, trustees.

A Methodist class the first in Harpersfield, but not organized into a society was formed as early as 1816, with Silas Washburn, leader, and about thirty members, among whom were Levi Seley, Anson and Smith Dart, Abel Seley and wife, Chloe, and Eliza Seley, and William Butts and wife. Meetings were held at an old school-house on lot No. 95.

Part of the members of this class afterward assisted in the formation of a society at North Harpersfield, which is in a flourishing condition and has a large Sunday-school. They built a church at that place in 1857. The present officers are Isaac P. Nichols, leader; N. M. Dart, Joseph B. More and John Pierce, trustees.


In 1857 a free church was built at North Harpersfield to be used by denominations of all kinds, it is used mostly by the "Christians." The trustees are Rollin A. Hamilton, George Fuller, Norman P. Dayton and Zachariah W. Dayton.


The first burying ground in Harpersfield was located on the west end of lot No. 81, and known as the church lot, it having been given to the Presbyterian church by Colonel Harper. Many for the first burials were made there.

Colonel Harper died November 10th, 1811, and was buried there, as was his second wife. About 1853, however, the descendants of Colonel Harper caused the remains of him and his wife to be removed to the cemetery below the Centre, where a monument was placed over him.

The first ground being wet and unsuitable, the ground below the Centre was enclosed about 1812 to take its place, and no burials have been made in the former for many years, while, it being only partially enclosed, the plow has unfortunately obliterated most of the graves. The ground below the Centre was for some years sadly neglected, but it was afterwards handsomely walled and graded, since which improvement it has been kept in excellent order, and is now the finest ground in the town, and contains many handsome monuments.

A second ground was enclosed on the east end of lot No. 63, in which burials were made as early as 1795, probably earlier. About twenty-five years ago it was enlarge and neatly fenced, since which it has been known as Rural Cemetery. It is kept in fair condition, and has some good monuments.

Five other grounds have been used in the town, three in the north and two in the south part, of which the writer can say little except that the one on the Middle brook seems to well fenced and well kept. A stone in the Middle brook ground set to the grave of a child of Eden Hamilton mentions that child was the first buried in that ground; date, 1795.


A lodge of Masons known as Charity Lodge, No.224, F. and A.M., was organized September 27th, 1813, but there seems to be no list of its members.

A certificate of membership issued to Michael Dayton in 1815 shows the following officers at that time:

Elijah Andrews, W.M.; Thomas Maxon, S.W.; Thomas Hendry, J.W., and Samuel Stevens, secretary.

Ezra Thorp, David S. Patchin, Orlando Mack, William Buckingham, Stoddard Stevens, Rev. Stephen Fenn and Michael Dayton were among the members.

The lodge continued its communications until the Morgan excitement was at its height, about 1828 or 1829, when the members met in an upper room in the house of David S. Patchin and formally surrendered their charter to the Grand Lodge of the State of New York. Such property as belonged to the lodge was divided among the members.

Michael Dayton was the last master, and although he never joined a lodge after masonry was renewed in this section, he was always said to be in fellowship with masons of the later lodges.


The date of the erection of the first grist-mill, its fate and that of its successors, have already been given. In 1792 a grist-mill was built near the head of the Delaware by Leger Cowley, the successor of which is still running.

About 1798 one Campbell built a mill at the lower part of Middle brook, which, although many times repaired, is still the same mill and still running.

In 1804 Hon. Roswell Hotchkis built a grist-mill and an oil mill for making linseed oil; the oil mill was long since discontinued, but the grist-mill is still in good condition, and is owned and run by his grandson, Dr. D.N. Gaylord.

The oil mill stood a few rods below Colonel Harper's mill, and after the oil business was discontinued the cloth machinery of Daniel Clark was run in the building.

It is not known who built the first saw-mill, but the writer has always understood that it was built by Colonel Harper, and was located not far from the grist-mill.

There were formerly four clothieries in Harpersfield, all doing a good business, but the advent of the spinning jenny and the power loom destroyed their business, and they have long since been torn down or adapted to other uses. One of them stood on lot No. 30, one on lot No. 39, one on lot No. 156 and one at the head of the Delaware. The first clothiery was started, probably before 1800, a few rods below Colonel Harper's mill, by Daniel Clark; it was after-ward moved to lot No. 39, and run by Nathaniel Sykes.

It is not known who was the first blacksmith in the town, though it is supposed that Abijah Baird was one of the earliest, he being in the town before 1790. Peter Penfield is said by 'Squire' Seley to have been the first jobbing blacksmith, Mr. Baird keeping a shop more for his own convenience. Eben Dodge worked on the old road at the west end of the town.

About 1800 David and Ebenezer Penfield were carrying on a scythe and axe factory near the Centre, using a trip hammer to assist in forging. They finally dropped the scythe busi-ness, dissolved partnership, and started two separate shops at the Centre under the names of E. Penfield & Son, and D. Penfield & Son, both firms making axes and doing a general jobbing business, the sons succeeding them. The last Penfield left the business in 1856.

The reputation of the Penfield axes extended over Delaware and the adjoin-ing counties, and the makers often shipped axes by the dozen, as the large manufacturers do at present.

At their first locality they were succeeded by Beardsley Sanford, a manufacturer of spinning wheels and reels, who for many years did a large business, which finally died out from the same cause as the cloth works.

John Bristol and James Cooley were early carpenters. The first carpenter known to have been in the town was Major Isaac Pierce, he having been employed to build the stocks and whipping post, which were located near the church.

But one person was ever whipped at the post, and he soon after left the county. Another person, named Parmater, is said to have richly deserved it for being a notorious thief, but was always too cunning to be caught. It is related that he had on one occasion stolen a sheep and dressed it in the house, his wife begin absent, when he saw a constable coming, and immediately placed his mutton in the cradle, covered it nicely, and began to rock it. The constable told him he had a warrant and must search the house. Parmater said "All right," but asked him to be as still as possible, as his wife had gone away, leaving the baby with him, and it was sick and very troublesome, and he had just got it asleep. The constable, willing to oblige and perhaps having worrying children of his own, conducted his business very quietly, searching every part of the house except the cradle, which the afflicted parent was rocking, and went away satisfied that Parmater was innocent of sheep stealing.

The only occupant of the stocks was the wife of Alexander Harper; her husband induced her to put her foot in them, telling her that "that fool of a "Pierce had made them," and he did not believe they would hold anybody. When her foot was in he let down the block, locked it, and walked away, amid the laughter of the bystanders and her entreaties to be let loose. He however, soon returned and released her from "durance vile," receiving a severe lecture for his practical joke.

About 1802 Giles Humiston was keeping a store and carrying on an ashery near the head of the Delaware (on the lot now occupied by the residence of George C. Gibbs), which business he continued for several years.

In 1810 Noah and John Davenport were carrying on a store at the Centre. Afterward they dissolved partnership and Noah carried on a store, ashery and distillery, about one mile east of the Centre, and John removed to Davenport, giving his name to that town.

Levi Seley, Esq., remembers a store being kept as early as 1800 in part of the house owned later by Ebenezer Penfield. He also remembers hearing that a man named Montgomery kept one there still earlier.

The first distillery was carried on by a man named Chapman, near Colonel Harper's mill. Guernsey Hickok afterwards moved it to the lot where Thomas Burlison lives, and worked it there.

Judge Hotchkis was carrying on a distillery about 1800, and a man named Starr had one at North Harpersfield, on the southwest corner of lot No. 8, making, with that of the Davenports, four distilleries all running at or nearly at the same time, within the present limits of the town.

At that time distilling spirituous liquors was quite a respectable business, as every person was expected to keep liquor in his house, and was considered inhospitable if he did not offer it to his guest. The minister drank with his parishoners at their weddings and funerals, and brought on his bottle when they visited him. In this respect public opinion has greatly changed within the past forty years, and the man who should now offer the bottle to his friends in his own house (except on the sly) would be considered little better than a heathen. Then the minister who preached temperance was considered meddlesome, and advised to limit his discourses to the subject of religion; now if he should offer spirits to his visitors he would be dismissed from his charge as being "a wolf in sheep's clothing."

Many different houses have been used as taverns in Harpersfield. As has been before mentioned, Alexander Harper is believed to have kept the first, as early as 1786 or 1787, at the Centre. After his removal to Ohio, a tavern was kept for some years by John Bristol. His successor was Asahel Merriam, who kept it as early as 1808, and till about 1820. The house had a high reputation under the management of Johnson B. Bragg up to 1847, when Mr. Bragg sold it. From that time, as railroads were built, the custom of the house decreased till is was closed.

Another tavern was kept by Colonel Stephen Judd, prior to 1796, on the northwest corner of lot No. 35. The house was demolished in 1835.

About the year 1800, and for some years, thereafter, Major Isaac Pierce kept a tavern in the north part of the town, on lot No. 73.

About the same time Samuel Stevens opened a tavern about half way from the Centre to Stamford, which he kept until his death, after which it was kept by his son, Colonel Stoddard Stevens, who continued it until his death, in 1872, since which year it has been closed. Probably no tavern in the State ever continued as long under the management of the same family.

The reputation of this and the Bragg tavern at the Centre extended from Catskill to Buffalo in the times before railroads.

Several other houses were kept as taverns in various parts of the town, but they were scarcely of sufficient general interest to justify a detailed history of each, though it may be well to give the location of such as are known to the writer, for future reference, giving the number of lot and name of landlord: Lot 50, Brant's patent, Samuel Wilcox; lot 41, Harper's patent, W.P. Pudney; lots 132 and 133, Ransom Packard; lot 156, James Ells; lot 181, Joel Mack; lot 4, H.W. Hamilton.


Harpersfield is the northeast corner town of Delaware county, joining Otsego county on the north and Schoharie county on the east.

The principal streams are the Charlotte (called by the Indians, Adiquitange), on the north; the Middle brook, running through North Harpers-field, a branch of it running through the Centre, and the west branch of the Delaware on the south.

The soil, which is generally a shale and clay loam of good quality, is mostly well watered by springs and branches of the streams before mentioned, and affords very fair pasture and meadow.

The principal business of the town is dairying, though of late more attention is being paid to raising grain than formerly. The style of farming has been vastly improved within the past forty years.

Formerly it was the practice to sow the same king of grain year after year as long as the land would produce anything, and then let it alone for a while to recover, when the skinning process was repeated, with the same result.

Within the memory of the writer oats was the crop so raised, and parts of some farms still show the effect of repeated cropping without returning anything to the soil.

Sixty or seventy years ago, the skinning crop was rye, the surplus grain after supplying the family bread being sold to the distiller, who paid good prices in cash, trade or whisky, in many cases it being mostly trade and whisky.

In these days no farmer plows without attempting to improve his land, and when manure is scarce recourse is had to special fertilizers, for which thousands of dollars have been paid within the past ten years by the farmers of Harpersfield.

The manufacture of maple sugar is extensively carried on, nearly every farmer having a maple orchard of from two hundred to two thousand trees, the crop of the town averaging from 100,000 to 150,000 pounds annually.

The raising of fruit has received less attention. The early inhabitants planted an abundance of trees, which, being neglected, have mostly produced inferior fruit; orchards set later have been better cared for, and some of the farmers are raising fruit to sell.

The principal crops run in the following order as to quantity, varying sometimes with different farmers: hay, oats, potatoes, buckwheat, apples, corn; wheat, rye and barley being incidentals. Some of the larger roots are also raised, but not to a great extent.

Little attention was paid to the improvement of cattle previous to 1847, when some of the farmers introduced the Devons, which proved to be a very hardy and excellent breed, good for the dairy or for beef, and producing the handsomest oxen of any. Still later, Durhams were introduced, though not to so great an extent, and some excellent cows have been found among them.

About 1870 Jerseys or Alderneys were first brought into the town. They proved to be an excellent breed for the dairy, rather inferior for beef, and not nearly as hardy as the Devons.

Some three years ago an association was formed, by certain farmers of Harpersfield and Stamford, who introduced the Holstein cattle, said to be hardy and excellent for both beef and butter. It is to be hoped that among these various breeds something may be found which will fulfill the requirements of the farmers of Harpersfield.

The first horse hay-rake ever seen by the writer was a clumsy affair, made of wood, to be lifted at each winrow. The next was the wooden revolving rake, a great improvement, but suited only to smooth meadows. Next came the wire rake, to be lifted at each winrow, being very hard to handle, and hence known as the scratch-rake or "man-killer." The first wheel-rake seen in Harpersfield was built of wood, each tooth acting independent of the others, and called the "piano" rake, doing excellent work in either green or dry hay, but very heavy and hard to manage. Other horse rakes have since been introduced, which seem to fulfill all that is require for an easily-managed implement.

Mowing machines were first used in the town in 1857, but R. B. Gibbs and A. B. Wilcox, N. M. Dart using a mower and reaper the same year.

It was then considered very doubtful whether they could be successfully used in the meadows of Harpersfield, but now very few farmers in the town are without mowing machines.

There are now no manufactories in Harpersfield except for home consumption. There are five grist-mills, five saw-mills, two foundries, eight blacksmith shops, three wagon shops, four cooperages, two shoe shops and one harness shop.

There are also one hardware store, four general stores, and three grocery stores.

Harpersfield Centre contains twenty-four dwellings, a store, a grocery, a blacksmith shop, a cooper shop and a wagon shop.

North Harpersfield has two stores, one grocery, one blacksmith, one wagon maker, one cooper, two shoemakers, and one iron foundry.

The other manufacturers are part of them in that portion of Stamford village lying west of the river, and part of them are in various parts of the town convenient for their customers.

The population of the town at several census dates has been as follows: 1810, 1,691; 1835, 1,741; 1840, 1,708; 1845, 1,569; 1850, 1,613; 1855, 1,480; 1860, 1,468; 1865, 1,446; 1870, 1,485; 1875, 1,454.


HON. JOSHUA H. BRETT, the first practicing physician in Harpersfield and one of the early settlers, was born about 1750, and came to Harpersfield about 1788. The record shows him to have been elected assessor in 1789, 1790 and 1791, and in 1791 he is first noticed as one of the justices of the peace. In 1795 he first presided at the annual town meeting, previous to which a moderator had always been chosen. In 1796-7 he was one of the members of Assembly from Otsego county, and it is largely owing to his exertions that the county of Delaware was formed at that time, notwithstanding a strong opposition. In 1797 he was appointed first judge of the new county, which office he held until 1810, when being sixty years of age, he was disqualified by the constitution from holding the office longer. he was State senator for the middle district from 1804 to 1811. He continued to hold office of some kind nearly to the time of his death, which took place December 24th, 1822.

HON. ROSWELL HOTCHKIS was born at Cheshire, Conn., July 24th, 1762, and in company with his father, Joseph Hotchkis, removed to Harpersfield in 1784. In 1785 he was married to Margaret, eldest daughter of Colonel John Harper, and settled upon lot No. 132, now owned by Stephen Van Dusen, from which he afterward removed to lot No. 181, where he continued to reside during the remainder of his life. Judge Hotchkis was a man of excellent ability, and though bred a farmer exhibited an unusual business capacity, his penmanship being especially bold and plain; no one who has ever seen it once could fail to recognize it afterward. He held successively the offices of justice of the peace, sheriff and judge of the county court, and in the town he held the office of supervisor or town clerk for a long time, being the supervisor of Harpersfield when Delaware county was formed. Judge Hotchkis and his wife became members of the Presbyterian church in Harpersfield in 1792, and at his death, December 28th, 1843, he was the oldest member of that church.

Soon after the formation of the federal government he was appointed postmaster at West Harpersfield, which office he held continuously until his death. Only one of his children is now living, Margaret, widow of Rev. Harper Boies. The farm upon which he died is now owned and occupied by his grandson, Mr. D.N. Gaylord.

SAMUEL WILCOX was born in Dover, Dutchess county, N.Y., and married Sally Hunt, of the same place, just before moving to Harpersfield, early in the spring of 1784. In the winter of 1783 and 1784 he started out viewing to buy a place and build up a home. He first went to Saratoga, but took no fancy to the pitch pine land there. An accidental meeting with Colonel John Harper induced him to turn his attention to Harpersfield. Arriving there with Colonel Harper he chose the farm, about one mile east from the center of the town, upon which was a log house, and quite a clearing, made before the war, and purchased two hundred acres, being lots No. 57 and 58. He afterward sold one hundred acres to Abner Davis for $800, reserving one acre where the Wilcox house now stands. Some years after his son, Alonzo B., repurchased the lot, paying $1,600. When Samuel and his young bridge moved into the town they came to Albany, then to Schoharie, and thence followed an Indian trail and blazed trees to their new home. They had an ox team and one horse, the young wife riding on horseback, and from Schoharie carrying with her their beds and bedding, the remaining effects being put upon the oxen. the log house stood about eighty-four rods from where the road now runs, and near a spring about four-teen rods from the north line of lot No. 57. The floor, which was of split logs, was yet covered with stains of blood, where the Indians had killed the settler Stevens while boiling sap four years before; the house was covered with bark. the next summer the road was cut through on the line where it now is, and the next season they built a new log house with what was known as a mud wall, made of hewn logs filled with mud, with a large stone chimney at the end of the house. The ox team and horse proved of great advantage to young Wilcox. As settlers came in he would change works with them, getting two days' chopping for one day's use of team, and his farm in a few years was well cleared up. This family was the third to settle in the town after the war. A few years later Samuel Wilcox's brothers John, David, Eliab and Josiah came and settled, John and David on the Delaware, David upon lot No. 205, known as the McPherson place, and John upon lot No. 206, known as the Silliman place. Eliab settled upon lots No. 139 and 164, near Odell's lake; Josiah lived with his brothers and never married. The only sister married Elisha Sheldon, who settled upon lot No. 138, now owned by Peter McAlpine. For several years after Mr. Wilcox moved into the town the settlers went to mill (first to Schoharie, and then to North Blenheim) carrying their grain on horseback. Mrs. Wilcox related being once frightened by the howling of wolves while returning from the mill with a bag of flour across the back of her horse, and Mr. Wilcox (then a deacon), one Sunday morning, shot a wolf that was prowling about the log pen in which the sheep were kept, the noise of the gun making quite a stir in town. It was thought at first that Indians must be around, but on finding that there was only a wolf there it was seriously questioned whether the holy Sabbath had not been desecrated by the good deacon, who was a strict Baptist; but finally the excitement died away, and it was considered proper to shoot wolves on Sunday, provided the wolves were hunting your property and you were not really hunting the wolf. The Wilcox house (still standing and in good condition) was built in 1790.

After the death of Mr Wilcox his youngest son, Alonzo B. remained on the old farm until 1865, when he removed to Schenectady, where he now resides, the farm being now owned by M.S. Wilcox, a grandson of the original ----er.

HON. CYRENUS GIBBS was born in Litchfield, Conn., April 17th, 1768, being nineteen years old when he removed to Harpersfield with his father, Deacon Caleb Gibbs, in 1787 and settled upon lots No.23 and 34. They were preceded by several of the deacon's sons-in-law, Isaac Patchin (chairman of the Harpersfield Vigilance Committee in 1775 and one of the captive sugar makers in 1780),Stephen Judd, Richard Bristol and Joel Gaylord, and it is probably that their favorable reports of the new country, and the society of his children, were the deacon's inducements for changing his residence, he being nearly sixty years of age. The deacon and his son cleared and improved their land, and upon the death of the former, in 1801, the farm came into the possession of his son, and continued to be his through life. Judge Gibbs was well educated for those times, an excellent business man, and enjoyed the confidence of his fellow citizens. In the county he held office of justice of the peace, clerk of the board of supervisors (1809-12), and judge of the county court; between 1805 and 1825 he held the office of super-visor ten years, and at different times was elected to nearly every office in the town.

He heartily despised duplicity, and his bluntness, as it was called, or habit of saying what he thought, often gave offense to those who should have known him better; he was genial and friendly, fond of jokes, a great story teller, and considered excellent company by the young folks. He became a member of the Methodist church early in life, and aided in forming the first methodist society in Harpersfield, serving as one of the officers and first class leader. He died August 10th, 1845, and the old homestead came into the possession of one of his sons, Richard B. Gibbs (who had previously owned a portion), of whom the following obituary is given in the Bloomville Mirror of 1867: "Died in Harpers-field, September 9th, Mr. Richard B. Gibbs, aged sixty-one years. Mr. Gibbs was born in Harpersfield, and resided in that town most of his life. He was two years president of the Delaware County Agricultural Society, and always largely interested himself in the advancement of the agricultural interest of the county and State. In social life he had no superior, and his death will be lamented by all who knew him."

JOHN WICKHAM was born in Dutchess county, July 22nd, 1765, where he resided till he was twenty-six years old, when he removed to Harpersfield. In 1787, he was married to Anna Shepherd, and, considering the circumstances, with some degree of romance. Although of Quaker parentage, John in his young-er days is said to have been very wild, and also very poor. His wife's family were wealthy and Quakers of the "straitest sect," and John's attentions to their daughter did not meet with their approval; a runaway match was the consequence, and against powerful opposition John carried off one of the prettiest girls in Dutchess county, and the doors of the parental home were closed against her. John immediately settled down into a steady man, and four years afterward (1791) removed to Harpersfield to build a home for himself. Hard times attended them at first, with three small children to support and the land to clear from which they were to raise their bread. At length prospects brightened, and they could begin to increase their store; in the meantime her friends relented sufficiently to visit her, and finding that her husband was steady and industrious, aided them enough to place them beyond the reach of want.

Mr. Wickham used to related that upon the first visit of their friends to them, their hogs from lack of feed so poor that his wife was ashamed of them, and drove them to the woods; then they soon came around again, and one of the visitors asked, "What is the matter of those hogs?" Mrs. Wickham answered that it was "hog all." "Hog all!" he exclaimed, "I should think it was corn all!" Mrs. Wickham died in 1837, and the writer remembers her in her plain drab dress and smooth cap as the most beautiful old lady he ever saw, and one from who no person ever heard an unkind word. As mentioned elsewhere, Mr. Wickham was a Quaker preacher, but seldom preaching to any except his own congregation. No sourness mingled with his religion; he was of a pleasant and lively disposition, enjoying fun with the youngest, full of anecdote, and the friend and counsellor of all his neighbors. He died July 24th, 1856,

REV. STEPHEN FENN was born at Watertown,Conn., in 1769. He graduated at Yale College in 1792 and the next year came to Harpersfield, a young man of unusual mental and physical vigor, and was ordained as pastor of the Presbyterian church in January, 1794, which position he continued to hold over thirty-five years. He is said to have been the first college graduate who ever preached in the county.

He is described by those who knew him as being "mild in his deportment, affable in his manners, witty as well as grave in his conversation, with a mind stored with a fund of amusing anecdotes connected with the experience of himself and others." He was a universal favorite with old and young, and is said to have officiated at more weddings than any person in the county since; his services being often required on such occasions not only in adjacent towns but in other counties. About four years after his dismissal from his Harpersfield pastorate, he was seized with a fit of apoplexy while in his wagon on his way to fill an appointment to preach, and lived but about thirty minutes after the attack. He died September 26th, 1833, and his funeral was attended in the church where he had so long proclaimed the gospel, the sermon being preached by his successor.

REV. HARPER BOIES was born in 1797 in Massachusetts: came to Harpers-field in April 1830, and became the successor of Mr. Fenn July 28th following, which position he held for five years, when he went back to Massachusetts. During the first year of his ministry in Harpersfield an extraordinary revival took place, and more than one hundred members were added to the church. In 1850 he returned by invitation of the church, and supplied them for the succeeding five years. In the meantime (he being a widower) he was married to Margaret, youngest daughter of Hon. Roswell Hotchkis. After 1855 he continued to reside in Harpersfield, preaching for that and neighboring congregations as his failing health permitted. He died March 7th, 1867. Mr. Boies took great interest in the early history of the church and town, giving material aid to Jay Could for his history, and the memoranda left by him have materially assisted the writer of this work.

REV. STODDARD STEVENS was born September 21st, 1797. His father, Samuel Stevens, was one of the early tavern keepers of Harpersfield, and built the house known as the David S. Patchin house, now owned by Samuel S. Stevens, which he kept for many years as a tavern. It is related that when he first commenced building on that ground, they had a house nearly completed, but while the carpenters were gone to their dinner one day the building took fire and was almost burned to the ground before they re-turned. They immediately set about the erection of another, the present house being the result of their labors. After the death of his father, Stoddard commenced the business at the place where he so long lived, and where he kept a tavern just fifty years so reputably that it is said no man was ever made drunk at his house. Colonel Stevens, though distant in his manner toward strangers, was very kind and obliging to his friends and neighbors, never refusing a favor which could be reasonably granted. He served as member of Assembly from Delaware county in 1833, and was several times supervisor of Harpersfield, besides holding several minor offices in town. He died March 5th, 1872.


R. D. Baird is a grandson of Abijah Baird, one of the early settlers. He was born in Harpersfield in 1820, and has filled many important place of trust in the town. He married Miss E. J. Hamilton. Mr. B. is a prominent farmer of Harpersfield.

J. F. Bedford was born in Norwich, N.Y., February 10th, 1828. He married Sarah Eggleston, of Bainbridge, N.Y. He was formerly a mechanic, but is now engaged in mercantile business at North Harpersfield.

Phineas L. Bennett, farmer (post-office South Worcester), is a native of the town, and was born February 6th, 1806. Mrs. Bennet was formerly Miss Minerva Hakes, also of Harpersfield. Mr. Bennett has been school commissioner and trustee, inspector of elections, etc.; and was supervisor for Harpersfield in 1841 and 1842.

J. H. Beilby is a justice of the peace. He is a cooper by occupation. He was born August 24th, 1847, in Kortright, and married Maria Peck, of Harpers-field.

J.M. Dyer, the present postmaster at Harpersfield Centre, was born in Roxbury, January 14th, 1857. He was formerly a teacher. He married Cornelia E. Bogardus, of Harpersfield. He is now carrying on a grocery business.

Daniel N. Gaylord was born in Harpersfield March 12th, 1823, and was united in marriage with Mary Stevens, of Stamford. He was a merchant twenty-three years of his life, and is now a farmer.

Allen s. Gibbs, farmer, was born July 15th, 1830, and was married to Miss Van Dusen, of Harpersfield. He has filled the highest offices of his town for many years of his life.

C.A. Hanford is one of the present assessors of Harpersfield. He was born April 14th, 1838, in this town. His wife was Miss Eliza Gillespie, of Stamford. Mr. Hanford is a farmer by occupation.

James Harper was born September 8th, 1830 at Harpersfield. He is a blacksmith of many years experience.

R.B. Hastings was born March 7th,1849, at Gilboa, N.Y., and married Mary Lawrence, of that place. He was a soldier in the late Rebellion; is now a farmer.

W.G. Henderson came from Meredith to Harpersfield February 15th, 1866, and is engaged in farming. He was born in Meredith February 22nd, 1830, and married Sarah Tate, of Harpersfield. He was elected assessor of this town in 1875

S.D. Hubbard, son of Davis Hubbard, of Harpersfield, was born October 5th, 1847; and married Mary A. Denniston, October 31st, 1872. He is a farmer.

H.P. Hubbell is a practicing physician. He was born November 29th, 1847, at Gilboa, N.Y. He married Fannie M. Gaylord, of Harpersfield, in 1878, and is located at the Centre.

H.S. Preston was in the 144th N.Y. volunteers three years. He was elected sheriff in 1867, and has been supervisor of Harpersfield. He was born in Roxbury May 6th, 1839, and married Mary Barnett, of Davenport, November 14th, 1866.

Levi Seley was born in Harpersfield May 12th, 1795. He was a blacksmith by trade, and followed that occupation from May 12th, 1816, until a few years since, and still owns the old shop. He is the last survivor of the soldiers of 1812 in Harpersfield, and since 1871 has been a U.S. pensioner. He has been a member of the Methodist Episcopal church since August, 1816, (63 years), has been a class leader more than twenty years, and a trustee more than ten years, and has been for a number of years past a circuit steward. He was appointed postmaster by President Pierce, and held the office six years. He has been three times elect-ed to the office of justice of the peace, serving as such twelve years. He was twice appointed notary public by Governor Hoffman, once by Governor Dix, once by Governor Tilden and twice by Governor Robinson, which office he now holds. He has been six times appointed to and now holds the office of pension notary under the pension bureau at Washington, and has been overseer of the poor of Harpersfield for three years.

E.R. Spickerman was born October 14th,1851, at Harpersfield, and married Mary E. Dayton, of Summit, N. Y. He is a carpenter by trade, and resides at North Harpersfield, N.Y.

M.W. Stanley has retired from his business-milling-at Harpersfield, and is enjoying the fruits of his industry. he was born in this town in 1817, and married Mary D. Cowley in 1856.

Stephen Van Dusen was born at Prattsville, Greene county, N.Y., June 7th, 1832, and married Sarah E. Gibbs, of Harpersfield. He is a farmer; has been justice, supervisor and assessor of his town.

M.S. Wilcox, attorney and dealer in real estate and Jersey cattle at Jefferson, Schoharie county, was born in Harpersfield March 11th, 1836. He read law with A. Beecher, of South Worcester, Otsego county, and was admitted in May, 1860. In September of that year he removed to Delhi, and went into partner ship with Robert Parker. In March 1865, he removed to Jefferson, which has been the home of his wife, formerly Lydia G. Beard. The grandparents of Mr. Wilcox came into this region in 1784, and from them he learned many incidents in the early history of Harpersfield, which he has furnished for publication in this work.

Besides the foregoing there are a number of well known citizens, some of whose names and addresses follow: E.G. Beard, Harpersfield Centre; N. M. Dart; R.T. Hume, Hobart; D.M. and J.S. Peters, Stamford; Rev. N. Sumner North Harpersfield, a notice of whom, accidentally misplaced, appears on page 148, in connection with the town of Davenport; and J.W. Tanner, Stamford.

Back to Table of Contents for The History of Delaware County by W.W. Munsell- 1797-1880

Delaware County NY Genealogy and History Site
a service of the Delaware County Historical Association located at 46549 State Highway 10, Delhi, NY 13753

Online since 1996 - created and managed by Joyce Riedinger