WHICH INCLUDES THE PRESENT TOWNS OF
FROM THEIR ORGANIZATION
A GENERAL HISTORY OF THE FIRST SETTLEMENT
OF THE COUNTY
CHARLES E. STICKNEY.
“This is my own, my native land!”
MIDDLETOWN, N. Y.:
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1867.
By CHARLES E. STICKNEY,
In the Clerk's Office
of the District Court of the
READER: Before you commence the perusal of the following History, allow me to say that, if you wish to avoid disappointment, you will please bear in mind that it has not been written with the object of presenting to your view a brilliant piece of composition, or of absorbing your attention with the interest of a fascinating romance. No deep-laid plot of mystery or ideal love pervades its pages to lure you on from line to line—from beginning to end. It has been intended rather as a true record of past events—of statistics connected therewith—of old traditions that have survived the touch of time,—and in short, of the records and incidents that go towards forming a HISTORY OF THE MINISINK REGION, the first-settled portion of Orange County. To many these will prove of barren interest; and I deem it proper to say to you that this work has been written more for the purpose of supplying a void in our local history—more to preserve the details (now fast sinking into oblivion) of our ancestors' struggles with labor and inconvenience, coupled with the wiles of a savage foe, while rearing their humble cabins, when—
"His echoing axe the settler swung,"
in the wilderness two centuries ago;—more to review their actions and remember their deeds and sufferings in the glorious war of the Revolution, and their prosperity since—than to please the idle fancy for a moment, and then be thrown aside forgotten.
It is intended as a book useful for reference to the scholar—to those who like to sit by the fireside of an evening and review the doings of the olden time; and as a foundation perhaps for some future historian to build an abler work upon. If it shall accomplish but a part of this, my labor will have been rewarded.
And, reader, if it should gain your approval by furnishing needed information, or by causing some weary hour to glide smoothly away; if, when the dark hours that visit all of us are upon you—when disappointments, and troubles, and treacherous friends, enshroud jour path, and you wish to banish gloomy thoughts—if, then, the comparison of your petty grievances with the gigantic ones overcome by the energy and perseverance of our forefathers, when miles separated neighbors and friends, when the war-whoop of the merciless Indian blended of an evening with the dreary howl of the wolf, and when, if a father .left his home in the morning he knew not but his return at night might find it a smoldering ruin, and his wife and children mangled corpses or in a cruel captivity; if this comparison shall inspire you with new courage to contend in the "world's great din of battle,"—pleased shall I be to record you upon my list of friends, and feel thankful for the time spent in placing the narration before you.
I make no apology for the simplicity of language that clothes the incidents narrated. I am aware that many will think themselves better informed in matters of early history, and perhaps far better able to dispose of the task of preparing them for publication, than myself. But until they avail themselves of their knowledge and talents, and do better, I shall present my humble work for your consideration, hoping it may find what appreciation its merit deserves.
SLATE HILL, N. Y., 1867.
CHAPTER II. — First settlement of
CHAPTER III. — Church affairs.
CHAPTER IV. — The war with the Jerseymen.
CHAPTER V. — Incidents of the French and Indian wars.
CHAPTER VI. — The Pledge of 1775 and its signers.
CHAPTER VIII. — First and second invasions of the Minisink Region by Brandt's Indians and Tories.
CHAPTER IX. — The battle of Minisink.
CHAPTER X. — Town of
CHAPTER XI. — Town of
CHAPTER XII. — Town of
CHAPTER XIII. — Towns of Wawayanda
CHAPTER XIV. —
Greycourt Inn; or, the Scourge of the
CHAPTER XV. — The Legend of Murderer's Creek.
CHAPTER XVI. — A Reminiscence of the Wallkill.
A HISTORY OF THE MINISINK REGION,
ORIGIN OF THE NAME,
To arrive at a proper commencing point in the history of the localities included in the limits of the region formerly known as the Minisink, it will be necessary to look back to the time when the hard-headed Peter Stuyvesant bore rule over his mimic kingdom of the New Netherlands, and sat in rigid state among the few rude habitations lying in peaceful serenity at the mouth of the Hudson since grown in countless numbers and regal splendor, as the proud city of New York; to the time when John Rising. Governor of the Colony of Swedes at the mouth of the Delaware, was taking upon himself a degree of importance that interfered sadly with the plans of the worthy Peter, and threatened to shipwreck his fondest hopes of conquest in that quarter. His windy manifesto, full of big Dutch words long drawn out by his valiant secretary, declaring the aforesaid Colony of New Sweden to be within the limits of his majesty's dominions, and threatening the direst vengeance upon all who refused to acknowledge the same, was received in scornful silence by the imperturbable John. The insult, of itself, was bad enough, but that so much good Dutch grammar should be absolutely thrown away, was not to be tolerated. Days were spent by Peter in determining a plan of revenge that would at once avenge the slight, and maintain his dignity; and at last the tobacco used in these deliberations resolved itself into something more than ephemeral smoke, for it brought an idea into the head of its august user. Other men had covered themselves with unfading laurels on the battle-field, why should not he?
The consent of the mother country was first to be obtained,
for the commencement of a quarrel between even so insignificant belligerents as
these, might result in serious complications in the home countries of
This is the name they were first known by in Eager's History of Orange County, and he says it signified: people living on a low tract of land, from which the water had been drained alluding to the legendary belief that the valley along the Delaware, occupied by them, had once formed the bottom of a vast lake, from which the water finally escaped by breaking through the mountains, at a place now known as the Water-Gap, in the Delaware. This, most probably, was the original meaning and derivation of the word Minisink; for it is easy to trace the connection from the old Dutch name of the Minquas, to its English translation the Minsies, and finally to its later and last corruption of the Indian tongue, Minisink. It was known by this latter name as early as 1694, as we find from a journal kept by Captain Arent Schuyler, of a visit made by him to that region: and as this is the first visit of a white man to that section, recorded in authentic history, I have thought proper to give it entire, word for word, as it was most probably written and spelled by the valiant Captain himself, and as it may be found on p. 98, Vol. IV. of Documents relating to the History of New York. Gov. Fletcher, at the time, lorded it over the province by authority of the Crown of England, and this journey appears to have been taken at his command, for the purpose of ascertaining whether or no the French, who then occupied Canada, and were continually warring with the English, had not sent emissaries among the Minisink Indians to bribe them to unite with the Canadian Indians to wage a war of extermination against the New Yorkers, which they would be most capable of doing 1 from among their impenetrable fastnesses in the Shawangunk Mountains.
JOURNAL OF CAPTAIN ARENT SCHUYLER'S VISIT TO THE MINISINK COUNTRY.
May it please your Excell:
In persuance to yr Excell: commands I have been in the Minissinck Country of which I have kept the following journal: vizt
1694 ye 3d of Feb: I departed from New Yorke for
Ye 4th Sunday Morning. I went from
Ye 5th Monday. From Peckwes North and be West I went about thirty two miles, snowing and rainy weather.
Ye 6th Tuesday. I continued my
journey to Maggaghkamieck [the Indian name of the river Neversink, which falls
Ye 7th Wendsday. About eleaven a clock I arrived att the Minissinck, and there I mett with two of their Sachems and severall other Indians of whome I enquired after some news, if the French or their Indians had sent for them or been in ye Menissinck Country. Upon wch they answered that noe French nor any of the French Indians were nor had been in the Menissinck Country nor there abouts and did promise yt if ye French should happen to come or yt they heard of it that they will forthwith send a mesinger and give yr Excellency notice thereof.
Inquireing further after news they told me that six days agoe three Christians and two Shanwans Indians who went about fifteen months agoe with Arnout Vielle into the Shanwans Country were passed by the Menissiuck going for Albany to fetch powder for Arnout and his company; and further told them that sd Arnout intended to be there wth seaven hundred of ye said Shanwans Indians loaden wth beavor and peltries att ye time ye Indian corn is about one foot high (which may be in the month of June.)
The Menissinck Sachems further sd that one of their Sachems & other of their Indians were gone to fetch beavor & peltries which they had hunted; and having heard no news of them are afraid yt ye Sinneques have killed them for ye lucar of the beavor or because ye Menissinck Indians have not been with ye Sinneques as usual to pay their Dutty, and therefore desier yt your Excellency will be pleased to order yt the Sinneques may be told, not to molest or hurt ye Menissincks they be willing to continue in amity with them.
In the afternoon I departed from ye Menissincks; the 8th,
9th & 10th of Feb. I travilled and came att
This is may it please your Excell. the humble reporte of your Excellency's most humble servt
Scarce one hundred and seventy-two years have passed since the above journey was taken, and the comparison between then and now may be taken as a fair index to the rapid improvement that has everywhere been striding over the American Continent. Then the journey occupied eight days—four in going and four in returning—and was accomplished by untiring perseverance, amid the gloomy depths of an interminable forest, peopled only by the wild men of nature, and the panthers, bears, wolves, and other beasts that then prowled in its recesses; the trackless path pointed out by an Indian guide, and its winding way followed over mountains and across valleys, one continual swamp and woodland, through the bitter cold and wet of a storm of rain and snow. Now, the same journey from New York to Port Jervis may be accomplished in the short space of about three hours and a half, by simply stepping in one of the elegant cars of the New York and Erie Railway, and sitting down in one of the velvet-cushioned seats—taking no note of the blinding snow or driving rain that may be falling out of doors, and with nothing to do but lean back on the cushions and enjoy the rocking motion as you glide along—glance out of the cozy little windows at the snug farm-houses and cultivated fields, as they flit before your vision—no guide—no nothing to think of, but to be ready with your paste-board when the conductor thrusts his hand before your eyes and drives away your dreamy reveries with the oft repeated cry of—"Tickets!"
If it be indeed true that the shades of those gone before sometimes revisit earth, what emotions of surprise and pleasure must we conjecture to fill the bosom of that sturdy old backwoodsman, Arent Schuyler, if his spirit should come back from the confines of the invisible world and repeat his journey to Port Jervis—then a desolate swamp, now a flourishing village—by riding on the cars, in these days of luxury and speed. O, that he could speak to us, we would find our wildest imaginings to fall short of the tide of wonder and delight that would overflow his soul!
The early settlement of this region is shrouded in mystery.
The surrounding mountains appear to have served as barriers to the encroachment
of the whites, and after they had effected a lodging
to have prevented a knowledge of their early transactions from coming to the
ears of the historians of those times, until almost a generation of the first
Minisink pioneers had passed a way. Lord Bellomont, Governor of New York in
1701, says, in a letter to the lords of trade, that the country west of the
What was known of
“High and Mighty Lord:
“Yesterday arrived here the Ship of Arms, of
"To the High and Mighty Lords, my Lords the States
"Signed Your High Mightiness' obedient,
Imagine, if possible, the present value of that same
In 1698, by order of Governor Bellomont, a census of the
several counties of
The Ordinance for holding Courts of Sessions and Pleas in
But while the population of
In 1756, we are informed, that in the winter and spring
large and small parties of western Indians made frequent incursions into its
territory, destroying a vast amount of property, and taking many lives. At the
commencement of this war (the old French and Indian war in 1755) it was
reported to possess a population of about thirty families, and included a tract
of about forty miles up and down the
"A certain tract of land in the Minisink country, in the province of New York, called by the native Indians Warensaghskennick, otherwise called Maghawaemus; also a certain parcel of meadow, or vly, called by the Indians Warensaghskennick, situate, lying and being upon a certain run, called by the Indians, and known by the name of Minisink, before a certain Island called Menayack, which is adjacent to or near to a certain tract of land called by the Indians Maghakeneck, containing the quantity of one thousand acres and no more."
This, as will be seen, gave the holder authority to locate
on any unappropriated land in the valley, for it describes in such general
terms as to puzzle almost any one to fix its limits. Another of these floating
patents was granted the same year to Jacob Codebeck. Thomas
Swartout, Anthony Swartout, Bernardus Swartout, Jan Tys, Peter Germar and David
Jamison. This was located in what was called Peenpack. Many of the
descendants of these patents are still living in that locality, Codebeck now
being known as Cuddeback, and Germar as Gumaer, Some of the settlers on these
patents were [p. 25] Huguenots, or Frenchmen, who had voluntarily exiled
(Copy of letters from Samuel Preston, Esq., dated
and 14th, 1828.)
MINISINK, MINEHOLES, &C.
"In 1787 the writer went on his first surveying tour
into Northampton County; he was deputed under John Lukens, Surveyor General,
and received from him, by way of instructions, the following narrative
respecting the settlement of Minisink on the Delaware, above the Kittany and
Blue Mountain: That the settlement was formed for a long time before it was
known to the Government at Philadelphia. That when the Government was informed
of the settlement, they passed a law in 1729, that any such purchases of the
Indians should be null and void; and the purchasers indicted for forcible entry
and detainer, according to the law of
"They were of opinion that the first settlements of
Hollanders in Minisink were many years older than William Penn's charter, and
"I had it in charge from John Lukens to learn more
particulars respecting the Mine road to Esopus, &c. I found Nicholas
Depuis, Esq., son of Samuel, living in a spacious stone, house in great plenty
and affluence. The old Mineholes were a few miles above, on the
"This interview with the amiable Nicholas Depuis, was in June, 1787. He then appeared about sixty years of age. I interrogated as to the particulars of what he knew, as to when and by whom the Mine road was made, what was the ore they dug and hauled on it, what was the date, and from whence or how, came the first settlers of Minisink in such great numbers as to take up all the flats on both sides of the river for forty miles. He could only give traditionary accounts of what he had heard from older people, without date, in substance as follows:
"That in some former age there came a company of miners
from Holland; supposed, from the great labor expended in making that road,
about one hundred miles, that they were very rich or great people, in working
the two mines—one on the Delaware, where the mountain nearly approaches the
lower point of Paaquarry Flat—the other at the north foot of the same mountain,
near half way from the Delaware and Esopus. He ever understood that abundance
of ore had been hauled on that road, but never could learn whether lead or
silver. That the first settlers came from
The settlement principally spoken of by the above writer,
was on the
"Lived where their fathers lived,
And died where they died:
Lived happy—died happy,"
and perhaps have gone to a happy home above.
Plenty of mineral resources were within their reach, but they seem to have wisely left such pursuits to later and more speculative times. Whether those early mines produced lend or silver, is not known; but we are [p. 30] of opinion that it may have been silver, for the following reasons: First, the great length of road (one hundred miles) would have rendered next to impossible the carting of such a bulky substance as lead, in any great quantity, or at least in sufficient quantities to have paid expenses—let alone liquidating the cost of constructing such a road as this was represented to be, and in places still is, through a wilderness. Second, all the old traditions of those times confirm the belief that silver ore exists in Shawangunk Mountain, and that at early periods, mines of it were known and worked by the Indians and first settlers, that have since been concealed and forgotten. We once heard an old gentleman describe one of these mines that must have been located near one of those spoken of by the writer of the preceding letter. It was made known to his father, and a neighbor, by one of the friendly Indians previous to their removal west in the old Indian war. The two observed great secrecy in working it, and frequently made long and mysterious journeys to dispose of their ore at distant places. At last the Revolutionary war broke out, and they both determined to serve their country. Before departing, they solemnly pledged themselves not to reveal the secret until the war was ended; and the better to carry out their plans, they went, one cold, dark night, and drew a large flat stone over the mouth of the mine, carefully obliterated all traces of their work, and ended by strewing leaves over the whole, until they themselves could hardly detect its whereabouts. About thirty paces directly east, they marked three trees that stood close together, in order to guide them, should either live to again desire to find it. One of them never returned; the other again sought his home after an absence of near nine years. Meanwhile the tide of war had visited his old neighborhood in the shape of predatory bands of Indians, and he found his family in a distant village where they had fled for protection his house, and that of his neighbors, having been destroyed by their foes. A year or so was occupied in again getting around them the comforts of a home, and when he again sought the mine, the timber had been so destroyed by the lire and ruthless vandalism, that no trace of the marked trees could be found. Days and weeks were spent in the search, but in vain. He then gave the information to others, but no one has ever yet removed the flat stone from the mouth of the silver mine.
Another old gentleman, while we were staying in Wurtsboro' one evening, gave us a somewhat flowery account of a silver mine, which we will notice. The settlers in that vicinity had long noticed that the Indians had plenty of silver in a crude state, but could get no Trace of the mine. Just before they left the country, our narrator's father, then a youth of twelve or thirteen years of age, persuaded an old Indian chief, with whom he was a great favorite, to take him to it. He was blindfolded, and led a long way through the woods r with many twists and turns, till at last they commenced going down into the heart of the mountain, and he could distinctly hear water trickling overhead. When his eyes were uncovered he stood before a solid vein of silver. Picking up a number of large pieces, his conductor forced him to return in the same manner as he entered; and though afterwards he searched for it, over every foot of ground near its supposed vicinity, he could never find it. "Every seven years," quoth our friend, "a bright light, like a candle, rises at at night, above the mine, and disappears in the clouds. But no one that has seen it, has ever been able, in daylight, to find from whence it rose."
Like all the rest of the human family, the inhabitants of
Minisink naturally felt a little anxious as to where their final lot would be
cast in the world of spirits; for tradition had handed down to them the lessons
of their forefathers in their own fatherland, and many an old bible and hymn
book that had, perhaps, spoken sharply to the consciences of their ancestors on
the banks of the Zuyder Zee, in Holland, or by the side of the Seine, in sunny
France—done duty through long nights of fearful peril on the bosom of the
stormy Atlantic, and consoled the minds of sinners miserably sea-sick during
the first weeks of the months that then were required to place them from the
old continent on the new—even yet spoke in trumpet-tones to the evil-doers by
the banks of the Delaware and Neversink. Though the leaves were perhaps worn
and soiled, and it may be somewhat torn, the old bible still spoke to them in a
voice that was as stern and as strong as when of yore it reproved the sins of
their grandfathers and grandmothers. It pointed just as unerringly to the lake
prepared of fire and brimstone for those that turned aside from the path of
rectitude. Its warnings were not to be disregarded—for though apparently a
community outside the pale of the civilized world, they knew that the eye of
Divine Providence was just as watchful of the affairs of the few settlers on
the Minisink flats, as of those of
"To the Rev. Consistory
"We, your servants, having learned that yon have had correspondence with our pastor, and have seduced him, so far as to send him a call, thinking that the large amount of salary promised him will induce him to leave us—the Lord who thus far has caused your acts of supplanting to fail will further direct them to a good end. We find ourselves bound to obey the command of the Saviour 'Do good to them that hate you;' we therefore will deal with you hereafter, as we have before, 'doing you good.' It is true you give us no thanks for his services among you. You are bold enough to say that he has eight free Sundays during the year, which is as true as the assertion of the Devil to Eve, 'You will not surely die.'
"If you desire, then, to have our minister four or six times during the year, we will grant your wish cheerfully, and leave it with our pastor to settle with you as to the amount of his compensation. If this cannot prevent the execution of your unjust intention, and the Lord wishes to use you as a rod to chasten us, we shall console ourselves with his gracious words, Heb. 12, 'Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and he rebukes every son whom he adopts.' If it please the Lord to permit you to deprive us of our pastor, then we hope that your consciences will not be seared so much as to take away our livelihood amounting to £125 12s. 6d. (over paid salary).
"Should this however be the case, then we will not hesitate to give the matter into the hands of a worldly judge. We expect your answer, and conclude our discourse with the wish that the grace of our Lord and the love of God the Father, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, may remain with you until a blessed eternity. Amen. We remain your servants,
"JOHN VAN VLIET,
Whether this unique letter settled the matter or not, is not known: but Mr. Fryenmuth remained with the Minisinkers. After leaving Minisink, his whereabouts is involved in mystery; though he probably visited that section afterward, as his handwriting appears in the records at later dates. Lastly, August 26th. 1759, when he probably made his last visit.
After the Indian troubles had partially subsided and a state
of comparative quiet had been restored, Rev. Thomas Romeyn was selected to
minister to the spiritual wants of the people of Minisink. He accepted the call
During Mr. Romeyn's charge, these affairs, that till then had glided along so smoothly and uninterruptedly, partook of the spirit from abroad, and followed the course generally ascribed to the carnal world, and in weak imitation of poor sinful human nature, became embroiled in a quarel of surprising bitterness.
The Dutch Reformed Church in this country had hitherto been
subordinate to the classes of
Another was held the following year which decided in favor
of the Coetus party, and sent their decision to the classes of
The first Coetus, or classes, for the ordination of ministers and other business, was held in September, 1747. Under this new order all ministers were to be re-ordained, and a general overhauling of church affairs took place. The Conferentie party in Minisink were determined to hold the ascendency, and the Coetus party as fully determined they should not. The Coetus party insisted that in obedience to the new order all children should be rebaptized, and this developed a new feature in the ferment and added to its bitterness. The ladies of the Conferentie party declared they would not submit to this—it was bad enough to insult their ministers by forcing them to be re-ordained—but to cause the very babes to be re-baptized was an unheard of barbarity. Nobly did they maintain their ground.
A young man, of the Coetus party, was waiting upon a young lady of good family, who, with her parents, was strongly attached to the opposite party. The match progressed favorably. The young lady returned his affection, and gave her consent to an early marriage. [p. 40] Her parents did not object, and everything bid fair for a prosperous voyage upon the sea of life. But, alas! how easy it is for disappointment to intervene. One Sunday evening, as usual, the young man was wending his way to the residence of his betrothed. But about two weeks more were between him and the consummation of his cherished hopes. He determined on this evening to settle all little preliminaries, so that no misunderstanding might occur on some more important occasion. His intended met him at the door with her brightest smile of welcome, and ere long both found themselves alone in the best room before the sparkling fire.
''And so, dearest Jane," said he, putting an arm around her neck, and snatching a kiss from her tempting lips, "so two weeks must pass by before I can call you my bonny wife. How long the time will seem."
"No, John," said she, "it will pass quick enough, for it may be, after we arc married, you will not always think the same of me that you do now."
"Ah, you little rogue, how can I ever think less of you? But, by the way, my darling, I thought I would speak to you about the dominie we are to have to marry us. I think we had better get Mr. ——" (naming a minister of the Coetus party.)
"And I have been thinking that Mr. Romeyn was the one
we ought to get. He's a neighbor of ours, and preaches here in
"But I don't like him," said John.
"We think he is a good man," said Jane.
"But he is a Conference," persisted John.
"And so am I a Conference," returned Jane indignantly, as she drew herself from his embrace.
"But I won't have him," remarked John, rashly, as he began to feel his ireful nature rise.
"Then you won't have me," was Jane's rejoinder.
"I can get along without you, I'll let you understand," said John, independently, as he began to look for his hat, and to move toward the door.
"You're a good for nothing scamp, so you are," sobbed Jane, snappishly.
"I am glad I have found you out before it was too late," quoth John, as he made his exit from the door. "I am glad of it——."
"And so am I glad of it," said Jane, determinedly; and she shut the door behind him and cut in twain his half finished sentence.
This true incident of the ill feeling engendered by the controversy, did not terminate as all lover's quarrels
generally do—in reconciliation—for tradition has it that they held good the
grudge to the day of their death. Nor was the ill feeling among the members,
productive of such notable results in this vicinity alone. It is recorded that
an equally amusing incident took place at
Mr. Goetschius, the minister at that place, took sides with the Conferenties, and announced himself an advocate of their measures. Hereat a great commotion arose, and the "pillars" of the church in the interest of the Coetus party, headed by the clerk, immediately assumed a pugilistic position. The preaching they had listened to, for hours at a time, with respectful attention and composure, they now declared to have been a decided bore. The opinions they had endorsed, and the sayings they had so often quoted as the productions of a genius possessed alone by their beloved dominie, they now discovered to have been sheer nonsense, and the author a numbscull. The common reply to a question often asked at gatherings, as to how the dominie was liked, had been: "O, he is a very smart man: I don't see how any one can help liking him;" now assumed the form of an every-day remark, "How dull the minister is, lately; I can't bear to listen to his preaching.''
In short, the minister who had before been classed among the race of humans known as "smart men," was now stoutly asserted to "know no more than he ought to," by the very ones who, a short time before, had been his warmest supporters. So much does a difference of opinion change the hearts of men. To counterbalance this tide of criticism, the dominie launched from the pulpit his sharpest thrusts at the doctrines of his antagonists. His opponents retaliated by staying at 'home and ridiculing the smallness of his congregation. The dominie waxed warm in the cause as his hearers grew small in numbers, and hurled logic in chunks of the largest dimensions in the teeth of his foes. They found themselves necessitated to do something to prevent being outwinded by his reverence, and had recourse to a strategy often effectual when milder means fail—namely, they resolved to choke him off. The clerk held the keys of the church—nothing was easier—so the next time the minister came to fulfill an appointment, he found the doors locked. On one or two occasions after this he succeeded in gaining admittance, and held forth triumphantly to the few persons comprising his audience. To remedy this his opponents provided themselves with a novel expedient. The next time he succeeded in gaining admittance they were on hand in full force, and the imperturbable clerk rose, as usual, to give out the opening hymn. This he did by giving to the singers the 119th psalm, which, in the mode of singing then in vogue, would have consumed the entire day. This was something the dominie had not counted upon; and, as a natural consequence, for some time it operated much as a knock-down blow is supposed to do in pugilistic parlance; but at length thinking enough singing had been done for one day, he rose—persisted in his efforts to be heard—overpowered the voices of the singers—succeeded in restoring silence, and again came off victorious. But, after all, his triumphs were productive of such barren results that he was at last forced to succumb, and in the end the clerk and his friends carried the day.
Other instances were known where opposing partisans met with their teams in the road and refused to turn out, till one or the other became tired of waiting and had to yield the right of way, vowing all sorts of future revenge.
Nor did the disturbance fail to reach the position of Mr.
Romeyn. Being a member of the Conference party, his opponents assailed him much
in the manner of the
By this time the excitement had run its length, and in the following year almost wholly subsided, after having been a potent spirit of dissension for more than thirty years.
Mr. Thomas Romeyn was born at Pumpton, N. J.,
Mr. Romeyn came to Minisink
Three of his sons entered the ministry. Theodore settled at
Rev. Elias Van Benschoten was installed as pastor of
"An inventory of all the estate, both real and
personal, with the annual revenue arising thereon, belonging [p. 45] to the
Dutch Reformed Church of Mackhackemeck, in the
"One acre of ground, with the church on it, without any annual revenue from the seats.
"Third part of 23 acres and some parts of an acre of ground, with a house and barn on it, which the minister possesses for the time being as part of his salary.
"Between £44 and £45 subscribed yearly to pay to the elders and deacons of said church, and by them to be paid unto our present minister while he resides among us.
"One Bible, one Psalm book, one book of records.
"Sabbath day collection in bank £2 15s. 9d.
"One little trunk.
(Here follows a certificate stating the inventory to have
been exhibited to William Wickham, one of the judges of the Court of Common
"Sworn to March "HARMANUS VAN INWEGEN,
29th, 1793. "JOHANNES DECKER,
"WILLIAM WICKHAM." "WILHELMUS COLE,
The little trunk mentioned is in good preservation, and its countenance as unruffled as though but two years, instead of seventy-three, had passed over it.
Mr. Van Benschoten's pastoral relations were dissolved, we believe, in 1795; though he probably remained in the vicinity till after 1800. He died near Deckertown, N. J., where he owned a farm.
Rev. John Demarest was his successor in 1803-4, and remained till about 1808.
Rev. Cornelius C. Elting, the fifth in order, came to
During his stay, in 1834, the present edifice was built—the
land being donated by the
Rev. George P. Van Wyck became his successor
The inhabitants of the Minisink region have become sadly diverse in religious matters since the building of the old church one hundred and twenty-nine years ago; and instead of four churches, numbers of them now abound of different denominations. But though they now have more modern appliances for worship,—costlier buildings of more fashionable exterior—huge bells of sounding brass—seats cushioned and pulpits trimmed with softest velvet, and organs tuned to greatest harmony,—how much more sincere seems the rude piety of our Minisink ancestry, whose four churches were built for convenience without regard to fashion the seats in them being undoubtedly of rough boards; whose only music was the voices of fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers, sending anthems of praise in Nature's melody up to Nature's God; and the hour of worship announced on a Sabbath morning by the far echoing notes of simple tin horn!
"No sculptured marble marked the place
Where God's high altar stood;
It rose with unassuming grace
Of plain unpainted wood."
THE WAR WITH THE JERSEYMEN.
The heroic people of this region did not suffer their minor
difficulties to hinder them from defending their rights against all foes,
whether native or foreign; and for a period of sixty-seven years, fought a war
second to none in the brilliancy of the strategical operations, and daring
achievements—though the number of the slain may not have equaled the number of
the one battle of the Wilderness, or their generals the fame of a Sherman or a
Grant. The war partook of the general character of a border fray, and arose
from a dispute in regard to the boundary line between
Charles II., King of England, gave his brother, the Duke of
York, afterward King James II., a patent of all the lands "from the West
side of the Connecticut River to the East side of Delaware Bay" dated
March 12th, 1663. On June 24th of the following year, the Duke granted by lease
and release all the tract of country now known as New Jersey—then called Nova Caesarea (so described in the
patent)—to John, Lord Berkley, and Sir George Cartaret, bounded as follows:
"Southward to the main ocean as far as Cape May at the mouth of the
Delaware, then along said River or Bay to the Northward as far as the Northwardmost
branch of the said Buy or River, which is in latitude 41 deg. 40 min., and
crosseth over thence in a straight line to the latitude 41 deg., on
Cartaret took the east half of the province and
A discussion soon arose as to which should be considered the
"Northwardmost branch" of the
The first regular series of engagements of much notoriety
that is recorded, resulted from the efforts made to obtain possession of the
lands of one Major Swartout, between the years 1730 and 1740. The Major was a
true gentleman of the old school, a hale, bluff old pioneer. He was major of
the militia of
The intelligence of his disaster sped with lightning rapidity, and in a short time a formidable company had volunteered to reinstate him in his own house. Arriving in the vicinity it was judged best to employ a little strategy, and the whole company crept as close as possible to the house without being discovered. They then sent Peter Gumaer to the house as a sort of reconnoitering party, to see if everything was favorable. If so, he was to come out of the house, and while going through the orchard throw up an apple, as a signal for the attack. Mr. Gumaer was gone some time, every moment of which was passed in anxious expectation by the heroes of the ambush. At last they saw him come out of the house, and as he passed through the orchard, give the required signal. Simultaneously they made a rush, with a yell of defiance that would have done credit to a band of Minisink Indians. The occupants of the house were totally unprepared; even had it been otherwise it would have availed them nothing. Right on came the Major, puffing and blowing with the extraordinary exercise of a double-quick, and the effort needed to keep an upright position, owing to the scabbard of his big sword so frequently getting entangled with his legs—while behind him came his company, in an irregular line, but with a determination visible to do or to die. Right on they came with an impetuosity that stopped at no impediment! On they came over the beet and onion beds in the garden; over the door-yard fence, and the flower beds in the door yard!—on!—on they charged right up to the very door. The fastenings gave way before the pressure, and in less time than it takes to tell it, the inmates were taken by the napes of their necks and walked out-doors—the Major claiming the privilege of bestowing three or four hearty kicks upon the ringleader's rear, as a parting admonition when he stepped from the door. Their goods were quickly thrown out after them, and thus was this decisive victory gained without the loss of a single man.
Knowing that this would be followed by a more extensive
raid, the people of Minisink procured the services of a spy, who lived among
About 1740, word was conveyed to the Minisink people that
the "Jersey Blues" contemplated a grand raid on the disputed
territory during the fall of that year, and preparations were made to give them
a warm reception. On the day of the expected attack, the owners of the
territory, with their sons and relatives, collected at the house of Harmanus
Van Inwegen. They were well armed and equipped, and met seriously with the
determination of maintaining their rights. Major Swartout was unanimously
chosen commander, and proceeded to organize the forces. They were deployed in double
column fronting the direction of the expected attack, the right and left wings
under command of Jacob Cuddeback and old Mr. Van Inwegen, respectively. They
were both as resolute as the Major, and when their positions were assigned
them, took their places in front of the line; remarking, that as they were old
men their lives were not so valuable as those of the
young, and they desired to occupy the most exposed situations. The Major then
took his station in front, to lead and give the word of command. Never had he
felt so proudly as when on that eventful day he cast
his eye along the well-formed lines of his little army. Even the feather in his
cocked hat seemed to be aware of the important position it occupied, and danced
lightly in the breeze as if eager for the conflict. Especially did his eye rest
with delight on his wing commanders—they were his dependence; for full well he
understood, that the quickest way to make an army fly is to break its wings;
and these he had reason to know would be the weakest parts of the enemy's
lines. Not long had they to wait. The enemy soon made his appearance in strong
force on the road. His lines were well filled and the men looked stout and well
armed. Their commander too was a constable from the
The next raid of the Jerseymen took place in 1753, and was
made to obtain possession of the lands and per- [p. 55] son of Thomas De Key
(or Dekay), who was at that time Colonel of the
The matter was frequently brought before the Colonial
Assemblies of both
"Gentlemen—The division line between this government and the province of New Jersey not being settled, has given rise to great tumults and disorders among the people of Orange County and the adjacent inhabitants of New Jersey, and may produce worse evils unless prevented by a timely care. Nothing can answer the purpose so effectually, I think, as the fixing of a temporary line of peace between us, until his Majesty's pleasure shall be known in the matter. Governor Belcher assures me of his sincere desire that amicable and conciliatory measures may be fallen upon by the governments to make the borders easy: and I have proposed to him the running such line conformable to the opinion of his Majesty's council, signified in their report to me, which I shall order to be laid before you, and if it receives your approbation I shall forthwith appoint commissioners for running such line of peace, and apply to that government to do the like on their part."
But notwithstanding the above message promised to so speedily
provide for the welfare of the people of Minisink by a settlement of this
vexatious question, it was not heard of again for years, and the quarrel
continued. About 1765 the last raid of the Jerseymen took place, for the
capture of Major and Johannes Westbrook—two persons who lived within the limits
of the disputed territory, and were leading men in the ranks of the Minisink
claimants. The invaders chose Sunday for the accomplishment of their design,
and resolved to falsify the old proverb that "Evil men love darkness
rather than light," by making the venture in broad daylight. The appointed
day came. The Major and Captain Westbrook as usual attended the
"Long time in even scale the battle hung."
Down and up, and over and under they went as the tide of
battle turned. The faces so contented and serene while the minister was
fighting evil doers with the Scriptures, now began to
present a motley array of bloody noses, blackened eyes, and lips cut and
swollen, since they had grappled with the powers of
Thus this hard-fought battle of the fist was at last productive of barren results. This was the last signal engagement of the war. The governments of the two Colonies in 1767 appointed Commissioners to run a boundary line, but such was the bitterness of feeling among the inhabitants that they dared not do it, and as a reason for not performing their duty, stated in their report that the Indians were so hostile they deemed it unsafe. The line was shortly after surveyed however, the disputed territory about equally divided between the claimants—and so the war was peaceably settled at last, just as it might have been at first, if the ruling powers had been composed of men desirous of doing so.
INCIDENTS OF THE
The two governments, France and England, could not fail of
being jealous of each other, rivals as they were for the mastery of the western
continent; and this feeling found vent in a continued series of predatory
excursions into each other's colonial possessions, and divers strategical
efforts to gain the ascendancy in a favorable alliance with the warlike tribes
of Indians. Especially was this the case along the borders of the
The struggle was entered upon with the determination to
throw all possible force into the scale. In February of that year, the
The first intimation the Minisink settlers had of
approaching danger, was the disappearance of the Indians from their
neighborhood. Squads of them that had been on the most
friendly terms with the whites were suddenly missed, and the few Indians
that remained told them that they had gone to join the hostile tribes near
Cochecton and farther west. The settlers knew enough of Indian character to
foresee the ordeal to which they were to be subjected, and began to prepare for
the worst. The women and children were first sent to a place of safety—to Old
Capt. Johannis Bratt and David Ketlin were two pioneers in
the wilderness, at a place called by the Indians Schaghticoke, near
"You shall die," he hissed between his set teeth. "There are twenty French Indians on both sides the river."
"That may be," said Ketlin, "but you will die
first.'' To carry out the threat, he undertook to change the axe from his left
hand to his right. At that instant the Indian, concentrating all his energies, gave
him a tremendous heave. It displaced him somewhat, and ere he could recover his
advantage the Indian gained his feet, broke from his grasp, and with a yell of
triumph disappeared in the forest. He started to pursue him, but a vine caught
his foot and threw him violently to the ground. Ketlin brought the Indian's gun
and axe home and then went to the settlement and notified the inhabitants of
the struggle. Capt. Bratt's body was brought to
The evening wore away in silence. Hours passed slowly to the fearful minds of the watchful ones in that lonely house, and still no signs of the enemy. About a timid knock was heard upon the door. Ketlin asked in the Indian tongue who was there. An Indian voice answered, "It is I."
"Where do you come from?" asked Ketlin.
"From the other side of the river. I am a friend and wish to help you against the French Indians. Open the door."
"I am afraid you will cheat me," said Ketlin.
"No," replied the Indian, "I'm a friend; open the door."
A hurried consultation was held by the inmates, and almost all opposed it. But Ketlin declared that if a friend they needed his help, and if an enemy they could very easily keep him out. Suiting his action to his opinion, he fearlessly stepped to the door and swung it partly open, Dearly did he pay for his temerity. Instantly there was a blinding flash of light, a deafening report, and he fell dead, pierced by six musket balls. A moment's silence, and then the whole forest seemed alive with the whooping demons. The soldiers fired a volley at the dusky forms of the advancing savages; it checked them, and Ketlin's son, a boy of sixteen, sprang up and closed the door. The women loaded the rifles, and handed the ammunition to the heroic defenders of that ill-starred house. Long they kept the enemy at bay by firing from the port-holes and windows, but it was doomed to be all in vain. A low spluttering sound kept rising higher and higher, till at last it made itself heard above the crack of the rifles and the yells of the savage foe. A kind of yellow twilight began to light up the forest. The beseiged gathered around the dead body of their friend, husband and father, and debated as to the last chance they had of saving themselves. The savages were silent now—their success was certain. The house was on fire. Nothing now disturbed the stillness of the night, save the increasing roar of the crackling flames. The coals began to fall through the floor overhead, and the inmates knew they could stay in the house no longer. A brief prayer was breathed; they grasped each other's hand in a mute farewell, for well they knew they would never all meet together again until they gained the shores of the unknown world of eternity. Then one of the soldiers opened the door and cried "Now!" and they all sprang for their lives. The soldiers were ahead. The first one was shot dead; the next was pursued and taken prisoner, and the third one shot. The next was the Indian boy, who was shot through the arm and breast, but succeeded in getting to the woods and escaped. Ketlin's son kept firing till he was at last shot through the shoulder and taken prisoner. The women and children were made prisoners. Fire was applied to the barns, and the whole party then started away. About a quarter of a mile from the house, Ketlin's wife being in a very delicate situation, was so overcome by fright that she sank down by the path. Seeing she could proceed no farther, one of the savages bared her throat across a small log. She made no complaint, but folding her hands over her breast, closed her eyes, and met her doom without a sigh. A [p. 65] moment the tomahawk was poised in the air, and as the light from her burning home lighted up her bare throat, it descended swiftly and her head was almost severed from her body. Then grasping the hair of her head in one hand, he dexterously drew the scalping-knife in the other, and running a gash around the scalp tore it off with a sudden wrench, swung aloft his bloody trophy with a whoop, and rejoined his comrades.
The other woman had a young child she carried in her arms. Shortly after the murder of Ketlin's wife it began to cry, and all its mother's efforts to keep it quiet were unavailing. Angry at its noise, one of the savages seized it by the heels, tore it from its mother's arms, swung it out at arms' length and dashed its brains out against an oak tree. At the fate of her infant, the mother uttered a heart-piercing cry. It was her last. In an instant the murderous tomahawk had sank into her brain, and the next moment her form lay upon the ground, a scalped, quivering corpse.
All that returned to tell the tale was the Indian boy who escaped from the burning house. The other particulars were learned from an old lame Indian who happened in the vicinity and followed the retreating party. (Vol. v. p. 281 Doc. relating to N. Y.)
This incident is given, not because it was remembered more by the people of Minisink than others of the kind, but because it more fully illustrates the leading traits of Indian character—duplicity, cunning and revenge. No wonder was it that the inhabitants of the Minisink Region betook themselves to measures of defense at the first alarm. Some of their bravest men had volunteered to fight against the French, and the people of the Peenpack neighborhood had furnished the great northern expedition with a team, wagon, and teamster.
Three forts were built in what was known as the upper
neighborhood (or Peenpack), and three in the lower neighborhood next the
The first incident that showed the people of this region how well-timed were their precautions, occurred about the time of harvest in the year 1756. Three men in the lower neighborhood went out one morning to commence cutting a field of grain. As usual they took their guns along, not thinking however of seeing any Indians, as nothing had been heard of any in the vicinity. Arriving at the field they set down their guns and commenced work. While working along busily they got some distance from their arms, and were suddenly startled by the dread warwhoop. A glance showed them their peril. A party of Indians had been lying in ambush and had seized their guns. They ran for their lives, but the Indians' aim was unerring. They were all three killed, and their scalpless bodies found soon after. Pursuit was given, but in vain; the spoilers were too wary to be overtaken.
At another time a band of Indians made an effort to capture
the fort at Westfall's, and came near being successful. They sent out a couple
of scouts, who discovered the fort to be occupied by two women only. As soon as
this intelligence reached the main body they made instant preparations for its
capture. But luckily, in the interval a party of soldiers going from
But the settlers were not always successful in these contests. A large party of Indians during one of their forays into the settlement, attacked the upper fort on the Neversink. It was well garrisoned, and its defenders made a brave resistance. One savage after another fell before the aim of the beseiged, and they would soon have had to give up the attack had not the fort taken fire from the burning of the barn near by. The heat soon became so intense that the inmates were forced to the alternative of risking their chances by flight or perishing in the flames. There was not much difference in the modes of death, and both were certain. As the flames enveloped the building, one after another stole from the death by fire, only to meet a more speedy one by the bullet or tomahawk. Not a single man of the garrison escaped. The only women in the fort, the Captain's wife and a colored woman, secreted themselves in the cellar. Here they remained till the coals began to fall through the floor, when the white woman ran out and endeavored to elude pursuit by running round the house. The Indians followed her in a body, and soon overtook and killed her. When the shout of victory that announced the death of the Captain's wife, reached the ears of the black woman, she rightly judged it a proper time to make a trial for life; and accordingly ran under the shadow of the smoke for the nearest woods. The savages being on the other side of the fort did not perceive her, and she gained the covert of the timber in safety. She then concealed herself on the banks of the Neversink till morning, when she took a circuitous route through the woods to Gumaer's fort, the sole survivor of the massacre. The Captain came home a day or two afterwards, and then learned for the first time the tidings of the sad catastrophe. The friends, the comfortable home, the loving wife—all he had but a short time before left so happy and cheerful—were gone! Nothing remained to tell of their existence but the smoldering ashes of the fort and the disfigured corpses of its occupants. By the grave of his wife he took an oath of vengeance; and during the remaining years of his life, many a red-skin was sent to the world of spirits by his hand, in redemption of the pledge.
There was an incident connected with the capture of this fort, that for a long time was held by the superstitious people of the neighborhood as a singular fatality. Two women from Gumaer's fort had been there visiting on the day of the attack. During their visit the soldiers had been telling stories and jokes, and getting the "rig" on different ones as usual. Among other things they told the colored woman they were going to be attacked by the Indians soon, and that she need not expect to escape for she was too fat to run fast. The result was altogether different from their prophecy. The attack came sooner than they dreamt of, and she was the only one that did escape.
Whenever one of the settlers wished to visit his relatives
A man named Owens, was soon after
killed while at work in the meadow of Asa Dolsen, by a strolling band of
Indians. Dolsen immediately removed his family to
Near the same place, three Indians, on another occasion, chased a man for a long distance. At last he crept under some weeds and brush at the foot of a tree which had blown down. The Indians came and stood upon the body of the tree, and after looking around for some time gave two or three yells and departed, without discovering the object of their search who was so near them.
Two brothers, Daniel and David Cooley, had located on farms near Mr. Dolsen's. In those days it was customary to build ovens separate from the houses. David Cooley's wife one day was going from the oven to the house, just as a party of Indians were passing. With- [p. 70] out a word one of them leveled his rifle and shot her dead. This cold-blooded deed was perpetrated on the farm now owned by the heirs of Capt. John Cummings.
East of this the Indians seldom ventured; though one Sunday
morning a man by the name of Webb was killed by them, just over the outlet in
the town of
During this war an incident occurred in the Minisink settlement that forms a striking illustration of the force of attachment to the savage mode of life. A straggling band of Indians captured a little son of Mr. Westfall's, near the fort at the north-west end of the Peenpack settlement, in the commencement of the war. Nothingmore was heard of him for years. The French and Indian war with its train of horrors and barbarities became a thing of the past. Still no tidings came to the parents of the absent one, whom they had long mourned as dead. The Revolutionary war with its red waves of savage desolation swept over the land, and still nought came to tell the parents of a different fate for the loved and lost. Finally the father died. By some means the son, who was still living in a far off Indian home, obtained intelligence of his death, and came back to the settlement with an interpreter to get possession of his inheritance. He was taken to the farm where his father had lived and where he had been taken prisoner, but had no recollection of the premises, except a small pond of water near the house where he was playing when captured. His mother recognized him in spite of his Indian garb and broad Indian tongue. She endeavored by maternal feelings, pecuniary considerations, and personal appeals, to induce him to remain and live with her during the few remaining years of her life. But so attached was he to his life in the wilderness that he refused to listen to any project of the kind. He obtained his share of his father's estate, bade his mother good bye, turned his back on everything that could conduce to the enjoyment of civilized life, and was soon trudging away in the forest to his Indian home and bride.
The contest between England and France that gave rise to such horrible atrocities as those recorded in this chapter, and which may be considered a fair sample of similar occurrences everywhere along the border of the American provinces, was finally ended by the triumph of the British Colonial armies; and the fall of Montreal and Quebec reduced the French Canadian possessions to complete submission to the authority of the British crown.
PLEDGE OF 1775
The conclusion of the old "French and Indian war"
as it was termed, gave to the settlers a number of years of peace, excepting an
occasional petty theft or outrage by a wandering party of Indians. The work of
reclaiming the fertile land to a state of cultivation again went forward. The
wives and children of the inhabitants ventured to return again to their old
homes, from the distant villages whither they had fled to escape the Indian's
hate.. New comers began to flock to the fertile hills
and vales of the Minisink Region and of western
But just at this time, when everything bid fair for a long
season of quietness, the arbitrary acts of England, under whose banner they had
faced death a thousand times in sanguinary struggles with the savage foe, or in
fighting the French beneath the walls of Montreal and Quebec, began to arouse
within their breasts a desire to be free. Instead of trying to allay this
feeling of discontent by measures calculated to satisfy the public mind,
In order to form a distinction between the friends of
liberty and its foes, and to prevent anarchy as far as possible, it was
resolved to form an association in each county throughout the thirteen
Colonies. This was done by transmitting to each county a pledge which every
friend of the new movement was expected to sign. This at once drew the dividing
line between the Whigs and Tories. It embittered the feeling greatly between
them, for those that refused to affix their names to it were marked men. All
honor to the signers of that document! Each name, if possible, should be
rendered imperishable. Every one realizing the benefits of the glorious
The following is a copy of the pledge, taken from Eager's History:
PLEDGE OF 1775.
"Persuaded that the salvation of the rights and
liberties of America depend, under God, on the firm union of its inhabitants in
a rigorous prosecution of the measures necessary for its safety; and convinced
of the necessity of preventing anarchy and confusion, which attend the
dissolution of the powers of government, we, the freemen, freeholders, and
inhabitants of Orange County.
NAMES OF THE SIGNERS OF THE ABOVE, FROM THE PRESENT
PARK (THEN A PART OF THE TOWN OF
John Young, John Stufflebane,
Philip Swartout, Esq., John Stufflebane, Jr.,
Benjamin Depue, James Blizard,
Capt. John Crage, Thomas Combs,
William Haxton, James Me Givers,
John McKinstry, Joseph Hubbard,
Benj. Cuddeback, Jr., John Thompson,
Robert Cook, Ebenezer Halcomb,
Harmanus Van Inwegen, G. Van Inwegen,
T. K. Westbrook, Wm. Cuddeback,
William Rose, Abr. Cuddeback,
Samuel Depue, Eliphalet Stevens,
William Johnston, Elisha Travis,
James Williams, Albert Rosa,
Charles Gillets, Adam Rivenburg,
Eli Strickland, Mathew Neely,
David Gillaspy, Samuel Dealy,
Stephen Larney, William Smith,
Capt, J. R. Dewitt, John Harding,
Abr. Cuddeback, Jr., Nathan Cook,
Samuel King, Jep. Fuller,
Abna Skinner, Eph. Thomas,
Fred. Benaer, Henry Elsworth,
Valentine Wheeler, Joseph Thomas,
Thomas Kytte, Abr. M'Quin,
Jonathan Brooks, John Seybolt,
John Wallis, Joseph Skinner,
Joseph Drake, Joseph Arthur,
Jacobus Swartout, John Travis,
Gerardus Swartout, John Travis, Jr.,
Phil. Swartout, Jr., Daniel Decker,
Isaac Van Twill, Petrus Cuddeback,
Joseph Westfork, Elias Gumore,
Petrus Gumaer, John Brooks,
J. DeWitt Gumaer, Elisha Barber,
Daniel Van Fleet, Jr., Jonathan Davis,
Ezekiel Gumore, Robert Comfort,
Jacob Van Inaway, David Daly,
Moses Depue, Jr., Gershom Simpson,
Jacobus Cuddeback, Eph. Forgisson,
Rufus Stanton, Jacob Comfort,
Reuben Babbett. Jacob Stanton.
Jonathan Wheeler, Moses Miller,
Robert Milliken, John Gillaspy,
Zeh. Holcomb, Samuel Patterson,
John Williams, Abraham Smedes,
John Stry, Nathaniel Travis,
Joel Adams, Ezekiel Travis,
Joseph Shaw, Joseph Travis,
George Gillaspy, Thos. Gillaspy,
James Cumen, Jeremiah Shaver,
Abraham Rosa, Joseph Ogden,
Jacob Rosa, Daniel Walling,
Henry Newkirk, Daniel Walling, Jr.,
Peter Simpson, Elias Miller,
Stephen Holcomb, Isaac Roosa,
Johannes Miller, Abr. Smith,
Daniel Wood worth, George G. Denniston,
Moses Roberts, Mathew Terwilleger,
Daniel Roberts, Leonard Hefinessy,
John Douglass, Jonathan Strickland,
Joseph Randall, Johannes Wash.
NAMES OF THE SIGNERS FROM THE
INTO MINISINK, MOUNT HOPE, WAWAYANDA
J. Westbrook, Jr., Nicholas Slyter,
Wilhelmus Westfall, James Carpenter,
Johannes Decker, Jr., Reuben Jones,
Benjamin Cox, Daniel St. John,
Moses Cortright, Esee Bronson,
Jacob Quick, Petrus Cole,
John Prys, Aldert Osterhoudt,
Jacobus Harraken, Isaac Uptegrove,
Timothy Wood, A. Van Etten,
Benjamin Wood, Johannes Westbrook,
Levi Decker, Solomon Cuykendal,
G. Braddock, John Bennet,
Samuel Davis, Simon Westfall,
Martinas Decker, Arthur Van Tile,
Petrus Cuykendal, Jacobus Vanfliet, Jr.,
Isaac Davis, Jacobus Yanfliet,
Benjamin Boorman, Wilhelmus Cole,
Sylvester Cortright, Thomas Hart,
George Quick, Levi Van Etten,
Nehemiah Patterson, Petrus Decker,
Jacobus Schoonhoven, John Van Tuyle,
Jacobus Davis, DanielCole,
Asa Astley, S. Cuykendal, Jr.,
Benjamin Corsan, Daniel Kortright,
Martinas Decker, Jr., Joel Westbrook,
Ephraim Middaugh, A. C. Van Akin.
The names of those who did not sign the pledge are not
recorded, and it is as well that they should be suffered to rest in oblivion; for
mankind at the present day can form but very imperfect decisions on the motives
which may have influenced the actions of men a hundred years ago. The number of
non-signers, or Tories, as they were called, was far greater in the eastern
than in the western part of
The commencement of the Revolutionary struggle at once
opened to the view of the colonists the magnitude of the great undertaking upon
which they had entered. They saw that in addition to the armies and munitions
of war it would be necessary to oppose to the power and discipline of
The grandfather of Mr. Nathaniel R. Quick, at present a resident
of the town of
In 1777 they attacked the family of a Mr. Sprague, a resident of the northern part of the settlement, and took some of them prisoners.
The family of a Mr. Brooks was next attacked, and several killed. The rest were taken prisoners.
These deeds awoke the Minisink people to a sense of their
situation. Many of their bravest men were absent doing duty in distant parts of
the State as soldiers. Capt. Cuddeback, Gerardus Swartout, Cornelius Swartout
and Gerardus Van Inwegen, on whose exertions they had formerly chiefly relied
for protection, had been on service at
About the commencement of the month of July, the Indians
suddenly appeared in strong force upon the banks of the Susquehanna. They
numbered about 1,600 men, from four to six hundred of them pure Indians, and
the rest Tories disguised and painted to resemble them. They were commanded by
Col. Brandt, a half-breed, and John Butler; both renowned for their ferocity in
previous expeditions. One of the forts, nearest the border, surrendered at the
first approach of the enemy, owing to treachery in the garrison. The next fort
was defended successfully for a time, but the enemy assaulted it so vigorously
that the garrison was finally forced to surrender at discretion. The victors
spared the women and children, but the rest were butchered without mercy.
Zebulon then withdrew with his forces into the principal fort, called
The victors immediately invested
One more fort, that of Wilkesbarre, still remained in the
hands of the colonists of
Capt. Bedlock, of
One Tory, whose mother had married a second husband, butchered
her with his own hand, and afterwards massacred his father-in-law, his sisters,
and their infants in the cradle. Another killed his father and exterminated all
his family. A third imbrued his hands in the blood of his brothers, his
sisters, his brother-in-law and his father-in-law. "These," says
Eastman, "were a part only of the horrors perpetrated by the loyalists and
Indians at the excision of
The forts being in their hands, they next proceeded to the devastation of the country. In doing this they called into requisition at once fire, sword, and all instruments of destruction. The crops of every description were consigned to the flames. Habitations, granaries, and buildings, the fruits of years of toil and industry, sank into barren ruins in the track of these fell demons. "But," says Eastman, "who will believe that their fury, not yet satiated upon human creatures, was also wreaked upon the very beasts? That they cut out the tongues of horses and cattle, and left them to wander in the midst of those fields, lately so luxuriant, and now in desolation, seeming to enjoy the torments of their lingering death?"
Many women and children had escaped while the foe was busy dispatching their husbands and fathers. These were no less worthy of commiseration than those who had died. Dispersed and wandering in the forests as chance or fear directed their footsteps, without food, without clothes, without guide, these defenseless fugitives suffered every degree of distress. The most robust and resolute alone escaped; the others perished, and their bodies, with those of their hapless infants, became the prey of wild beasts.
The father of the late Dr. Merit H. Cash, of Wawayanda, was among those who escaped this massacre. He was at that time a very small boy, and his mother led him by the hand through the wilderness for days, subsisting entirely upon the berries, &c., which they found on their way, till they were at last fortunate enough to reach the Minisink settlement.
Benjamin Whittaker, with his daughter, also escaped. They
had removed to
At the capture of the same fort, when the
Indians came flocking in, the settlers threw down their arms, and with the
women and children huddled in one corner expecting instant death. A
little lad named John Finch, amused at the odd appearance of the Indians,
laughed at them. One of them raised his tomahawk to strike him down, but Brandt
interfered and ordered him to let the boy go. He afterwards found his way to
Minisink. Many of his relatives for a long time resided in the town of
A lady named Christina Wood was in one of the forts of
Mrs. John Weeden, supposed to be the last survivor of the
massacre, died in
On the 13th of October (1778) succeeding the Wyoming Massacre,
a band of about one hundred Indians and Tories, under command of Brandt,
invaded the upper, or Peenpack, neighborhood. It is needless to say that their
appearance was the signal for a general panic, so fearful had been their
The continued firing warned the inhabitants of the country of the approaching danger, and they at once repaired to the forts at Gumaer's and De Witt's, abandoning that at Du Puy's, as they had no troops to garrison it. The fort at Gumaer's had only nine regulars to defend it. and was but a small picket fort at best. Capt. Cuddeback, who commanded it, was aware of the influence display oftentimes made on the Indian mind, and he resolved to profit by it. He ordered all the men and women, both young and old, to the rear of the fort. Next he had all the spare guns and sticks that could be found, together with all the old hats, coats and breeches, brought forward. The guns and sticks were placed in the hands of those who were unarmed, and the old clothes were used to change the appearance of the women. Many a blushing damsel, who two days before would have scorned the idea of her ever wearing male attire, made her appearance that day in a cocked hat and ragged coat and vest, with her dainty limbs clad in a faded pair of homespun breeches; and many a staid matron was that day apparently transformed into a dignified Continental soldier, with a blue coat and brass buttons. When the enemy came in sight the Captain ordered the drums to beat, and placing himself at the head of his forces, marched them in Indian file around to the front of the fort and entered it, giving the Indians a distant, distinct, and consequently enlarged view of the garrison. This done, the women and children were ordered into the cellar as they could be of no further use; but an elderly lady, Anna Swartout, the widow of James Swartout, Sr., refused to go, telling the Captain that she would take a pitchfork with which she had just marched in the fort, and remain with the men. Her request was granted, and she walked about with the fork in true military bearing, anxiously watching the movements of the enemy, and ready to give them a taste of woman's courage should any of them attempt to enter. The Indians halted before coming within gunshot. The fort was situated on an open plain, and they knew the settlers to be good marksmen. Besides, they evidently supposed the garrison to have been reinforced, from the number of soldiers they had seen. After a few shots were exchanged without effect upon either side, they passed by, and the fort was saved by Capt. Cuddeback's strategem.
Brandt's forces then proceeded to
This invasion thoroughly aroused the inhabitants to a sense of their exposed situation, and the members of the committee of safety immediately took steps to increase the defensive powers of the settlement. The forts were repaired as well as the limited number of the garrison would permit, and an application was at once made to the general government for help. Their petition was acted upon without delay, and the brave Count Pulaski, with a battalion of cavalry, sent to their assistance. The presence of these veterans inspired the settlers with new courage. Many of them brought their families back and proceeded to refit their homes and recommence clearing their lands. The winter glided away without any signs of the savage foe, and they began to hope that their share of the turmoils of war was at an end.
In February, (1779,) deeming their presence no longer
necessary, Count Pulaski and his men were ordered to
James Swartout, who escaped so narrowly from the Indians in the first invasion, had just entered a blacksmith shop kept by a negro at Mr. Van Etten's, when [p. 95] he saw the Indians coming. No other place for secretion presenting itself, he crept up the chimney. The negro remained in the shop, knowing the Indians seldom injured a person of color. The Indians entered, and seeing no one but the negro, began throwing the tools around as if for sport. One of them took hold of the handle of the bellows and began to blow the fire furiously. The negro, knowing the effect that the heat and smoke would have on his friend in the chimney, told the Indian he would spoil that thing if he did not stop. He good naturedly ceased, and soon after with his companions left the shop. Swartout came down almost choked with smoke and dust, and nearly exhausted with the effort needed to keep his position for so long a time. (Eager's History, p. 338.) While the enemy was busy burning Van Etten's buildings, he escaped.
One detachment of Indians went to the house of Jas. Van Vliet. The inmates discovered them approaching and fled. A man named Roolif Cuddeback was there at the time, and ran toward the woods in a different direction from the others. The foremost Indian, some distance in advance of his companions, at once started in pursuit. Cuddeback, finding that he would be overtaken, and that but one Indian was following him, suddenly turned and faced him. The Indian threw his tomahawk at him, but it struck a bush and he dodged it. They then grasped in a hand-to-hand struggle—both unarmed except a knife which the Indian had in his belt. For this fatal instrument they both struggled. At last it fell to the ground, and neither could stoop to pick it up with safety. The contest lasted till both were nearly exhausted. Cuddeback afterwards said that he was more than a match for the Indian, but the latter became naked, and his skin was so slippery with grease and sweat that he could get no hold of him. Finally the Indian broke away from him, and ran off in the woods. It was reported afterwards that the Indian died in a few years of injuries received in this encounter. The father of this Indian was shot while crossing the river on horseback, by Capt. Cuddeback, a brother of James. (Eager's History, p. 389.)
Another party of the Indians set fire to a number of buildings near Carpenter's Point; among others, to the old Machackemeck church. Many of the inhabitants on this morning had gone to attend a funeral. The first intimation of danger they had was an alarm of "Indians;" and on rushing to the open air the smoke and flames of burning houses were seen rising among the trees in every direction. The very name of Brandt caused many a cheek to blanch with fear. Some of the assemblage at once started for the settlements on the east side of the Shawangunk mountain. The others fled to the different forts. The Indians met Major Decker, who was on horseback. They shot at, and wounded him, but he put spurs to his horse and escaped.
At the Van Auken fort, the Indians fired a volley, killing one of the garrison. An Indian then undertook to creep up to one of the buildings to set it on fire, but was detected in the act and shot.
At the same time a party of Indians, says Eager, visited the school house, and threatened to exterminate one generation of the settlement at a blow. Here an incident took place, proving that the great Indian leader was possessed of human feelings, despite his ferocity. The teacher, Jeremiah Van Auken, was led about a half a mile from the school house and killed. Some of the boys were slain by the tomahawk, and the rest fled to the woods; while the little girls, bewildered with horror, gathered around the dead body of their teacher and gazed in speechless fright at the terrible scene. A moment more and the attention of the savages would be directed from the boys to them. In this dread emergency, a tall, powerful Indian came along, and with a brush hurriedly dashed some black paint on their aprons, telling them to "Hold up the mark when they saw an Indian coming, and it would save them;" then with a yell or warwhoop he disappeared in the woods. The tall Indian was none other than Brandt, and the children were safe. When the girls saw the Indians coming they held up their aprons with the black mark, and were not disturbed. An idea suggested itself to them, and with woman's wit they quickly adopted it. The boys were called from their hiding places, and the girls pressed the black mark upon their outer garments. It left a distinct impression, and this the boys held to view when the Indians passed, with a like happy effect.
Mrs. Sarah Van Auken did not succeed in getting within the protection of the fort, and saved her life by creeping into an old ditch. (Eager's History, p. 390.)
During this incursion the Indians and Tories burned
everything that came in their way—houses, barns, granaries and goods—in short,
all that the flames could destroy. Those of the inhabitants who could not get
to the forts in time to escape the fury of the savages, fled through the forest
Benjamin Whittaker and family, who after their escape from
the Wyoming Massacre, had settled on the
Major Decker's wife escaped through the woods to Mr. James Finch's, the present site of Finchville, where she came leading her small children by the hand, with hardly clothes enough to cover their backs, and weeping piteously. The only article she saved of her household goods was a small bible which she carried under her arm.
The enemy after completing the work of destruction and plunder fell back slowly on their line of retreat. They were confident that in point of numbers the settlers could not bring a force to compete with them under a week or ten days; their own force numbering, according to Dr. Wilson, three hundred Indian warriors and two hundred Tories painted to resemble Indians. Other accounts place their numbers at one hundred and eighty, and one or two as low as one hundred and sixty. Be this as it may, they were sufficiently confident to proceed leisurley on their return, and on the evening of the 21st encamped at Half-way Brook.
Intelligence of the ravages of Brandt's band of savages was
"Ah! then and there was hurrying to and fro,
And gathering tears, and tremblings of distress,
And cheeks all pale, which but an hour ago
Blush'd at the praise of their own loveliness;
And there were sudden partings, such as press
The life from out young hearts, and choking sighs
Which ne'er might be repeated—who could guess
If ever more should meet, those mutual eyes,
Since upon night so sweet, such awful morn could rise."
At a seasonable hour that morning, one hundred and
forty-nine men assembled at Minisink and placed themselves under command of
Col. Tusten. A council was immediately held to decide upon a plan of action.
The majority were in favor of instant pursuit. But here the good sense of Col.
Tusten interposed for the success of his little army. He reminded them that the
enemy far outnumbered them, was accompanied by Tories who were better
acquainted with the ground than they, and commanded by Col. Brandt, whose
previous expeditions had proved his cunning and generalship—while they lacked
ammunition, and were few in number compared with the foe. He proposed that they
should wait where they were for reinforcements and ammunition which would be
with them in a short time. The majority were deaf to these proposals. They
affected to consider the Indians cowardly, and were for pursuing them at once
and retaking their plunder. In the midst of the debate, one Major Meeker
mounted his horse, and flourishing his sword with a braggadocio air, cried out,
"Let the brave men follow me; the cowards may stay behind.'' The effect
may well be imagined, for this is not the only instance where bravado has
drowned the voice of judgment and sense. The question was decided, and the
entire party took its line of march over the old
Kathleghton path, the trail of the retreating savages. Seventeen miles was
accomplished the same afternoon, and the pursuers then encamped for the night
at a place known as Skinner's Saw Mills. The next morning (the 22d) they were
joined by Col. Hathorn of the
After the alarm had subsided, the advice of their abler officers was again disregarded, and the settlers madly rushed forward.
About nine o'clock in the morning as they were marching over
the high hills east of the Delaware, they spied the Indians about
three-quarters of a mile ahead, leisurely proceeding along the bank of the
river toward the fording place at the mouth of the Lackawaxen. Col. Hathorn,
supposing his troops had been unnoticed by the enemy, and wishing to intercept
them before they reached the ford, moved off the trail toward the right and
soon lost sight of them, owing to the intervening hills. Brandt had observed
the Americans and anticipated their movement. As soon as they disappeared he at
once wheeled his columns to the right, and passed up a deep ravine directly in
the rear of the pursuers, thus choosing his own ground for the coming battle.
By this maneuver about fifty of Hathorn's men became separated from the main
body, and were not in the engagement. The Americans reached the fording place
about , and discovered some
of Brandt's men crossing the
The day had passed, how they hardly
knew. Repeated attempts of the enemy to break their lines had failed, for they
were good marksmen, and Col. Hat-horn had ordered them not to fire a single
shot till the enemy were near enough to make their aim
sure. Just as the sun sank behind the western hills, a man who had guarded the
north-east angle of the square, and whose trusty rifle had carried death to the
foe more than once during the day, incautiously exposed himself to view while
shifting his position behind a rock which sheltered him. A half-dozen or more
Indian rifles cracked in unison, and the brave man fell back dead. Brandt's
quick eye saw the opening, and followed by his troops he dashed like a
resistless deluge into the very midst of the Americans. They ceased to resist
and fled in all directions. Some swam the
NAMES OF THE KILLED AS FAR AS KNOWN.
Col. Benjamin Tusten, Robert Townsend,
Capt. Bezaliel Tyler, Samuel Knapp,
Capt. Benjamin Vail, James Knapp,
Capt. John Duncan, Benjamin Bennett,
Capt. Samuel Jones, William Barker,
Capt. John Little, Jacob Dunning,
Lieut. John Wood, Jonathan Pierce,
Adj. Nathaniel Fitch, James Little,
Ens. Ephraim Masten, Joseph Norris,
Ens. Ephraim Middaugh, Gilbert S. Vail,
Gabriel Wisner, Joel Decker,
Stephen Mead, Abram Shepherd,
Nathaniel Terwilliger. —— Shepherd,
Joshua Lockwood, Nathan Wade,
Ephraim Ferguson, Simon Wait,
—— Talmadge, James Mosher,
John Carpenter, Isaac Ward,
David Barney, Baltus Niepos,
Gamaliel Bailey, Eleazer Owens,
Moses Thomas, Adam Embler,
Jonathan Haskell, Samuel Little,
Abram Williams, Benjamin Dunning.
The Moses Thomas who was killed,
was a son of Moses Thomas, Sr., one of the first settlers at Cochecton, and who
was killed in an Indian attack on that place in 1763. He enlisted early in the
war, and was with the army at
John Howel, the ancestor of an old family of Wawayanda, Orange county, was in this battle, and when the Americans broke and fled, stepped behind a tree and pulled off his shoes. Just then a tall Indian came along and stopped close by him, resting the butt of his gun on the ground and gazing after the fugitives, glimpses of whom could frequently be seen among the brush on the hill sides. Mr. Howel saw that the Indian would soon become aware of his presence, and determined to be beforehand with him; so he took good aim at his head and fired. He said he never knew whether he killed the Indian or not, for he ran as fast as possible and did not look back to see. He was not pursued however, and escaped.
Major Wood had heard that Brandt was a Freemason, and having by some process become acquainted with the Master Mason's signal of distress, when overtaken by the Indians and about to be dispatched, he gave the signal. Faithful to his pledge, Brandt interposed and saved his life. When he found out his mistake afterwards, he was very angry, but nevertheless spared his life. Eager says that the evening after the battle, when the Indians were about to tie him, Wood remonstrated, said he was a gentleman, and promised not to escape. Brandt acceeded to his request, but directed him to lie on a blanket between two Indians, who were directed to tomahawk him if he tried to escape during the night. The blanket caught fire in the night, but he dared not stir or make a noise for fear he should experience the reality of the threat, and be tomahawked. The fire at last reached his feet and he kicked it out. The blanket belonged to Brandt, and he treated Wood harshly ever after. When asked the reason he replied, "D——n you, you burnt my blanket!" Wood ultimately returned to his friends after a long captivity.
James Reeve, grandfather of John H. Reeve and James M.
Reeve, Esqs., of Wawayanda, was in the battle. When
the settlers gave way he fled with the rest, but after crossing the
A man named Cuddeback was among the fugitives, and fled with his companions till he became completely exhausted. He then stepped from the path and hid among some small bushes. After a short time the Indians came along in pursuit and happily passed without seeing him. He was just about rising to his feet in order to get farther in the woods, when he saw an Indian coming. The Indian discovered him when about opposite; but Cuddeback had his rifle ready, and the moment he saw the Indian's eye rest on him, he fired. He then fled with all possible speed, not knowing whether he had hit the Indian. No one pursued him however, and he escaped.
Col. Benjamin Tusten, who was killed, was a practising
physician of the town of
Daniel Myers, an early settler of the present town of
Benjamin Dunning, at the close of the battle, tried to
escape by crossing the
Of Major Meeker, who acted so prominent a part in the
movements of the troops preceding the battle of Minisink, a humorous incident
has been preserved to us by tradition, illustrative of the influence of the
price of an article regardless of its quality. Shortly after he became chosen
to the rank of Major of the militia, he found it necessary to procure
corresponding equipments, and for this purpose visited
There is an old tradition current among the legends of
Brandt by the above means became well informed of the nature
and resources of the neighborhood, and thus was enabled to invade the Minisink
Region so successfully. The same knowledge enabled him so skilfully to defeat
the irregular levies that pursued him, whose hasty action and ill-advised
movements he naturally understood from their ignorance of war, and was well
prepared to take advantage of. A few days after this battle
he fell with the same suddenness upon a settlement in the valley of the Mohawk,
and left it a smoking ruin. His success rendered his name a potent spell
of fear, far and near. He was generally believed to have been a half-breed—his
mother a Mohawk squaw and his father a German—but it has since been thought he
was a pure Mohawk Indian. He acquired a good education at
For forty-three years the bones of the victims of the
Minisink battle were bleached and whitened by the sun, wind and rain, among the
dark ravines and on the bleak hillside where they fell. They were not
forgotten, for the fearful scenes attending the death struggle, and the cause
in which they bravely fought and died, had stamped its impress indelibly upon
the memory of their fellow citizens. The first attempt to recover their remains
was made by the widows of the killed, of whom there were thirty-three in the
Presbyterian congregation of
The monument stands in the yard of the Presbyterian church at
In 1788, after the close of the Revolutionary war, the
Legislature of the State of
By the provisions of this act the county was divided into the following towns, which may be said to date their first regular establishment with this year:
New Windsor, Wallkill,
Minisink was then of considerable extent,
comprising the area now covered by the towns of Wawayanda,
The principal villages are Westtown and Unionville. Westtown in the south-eastern, and Unionville in the southern part,
Unionville is said to derive its name from the dispute
Westtown is supposed to be the oldest in date of settlement, and at the time it was founded was the only village in the western part of the town. From this circumstance it probably derived its name. It contains a hotel, two stores, two churches, and an academy.
Rutger's creek is the most considerable stream in the town.
It flows through it in a north-easterly direction, furnishing the water power
for a grist mill, &c., at the
The first road or turnpike of any considerable magnitude in
In 1809 a turnpike was chartered from
In 1812 a charter was obtained for the "
Section second appoints George D. Wickham, Stephen Jackson, Freegift Tuthill and Cotton Mathers commissioners to receive subscriptions to the stock of said company, which was to consist of seven hundred shares at $25 per share.
Section third fixes the rates of toll on said road, for every 10 miles 12-1/2 cents for every vehicle drawn by two animals; 6 cents for every horse and rider; 12-1/2 cents for a one-horse pleasure wagon; 25 cents for a four-wheeled carriage; and 6 cents for a sled or sleigh.
Section fourth places the quorum of directors at four; the "chord of the arch of the road" not less than twenty-four feet; and declared the act to be null and void unless the road was completed in less than four years.
In this connection I will here subjoin a law of the olden
time, for the gratification of those curious in matters of ancient legislation.
It was passed at an annual town meeting of the citizens of Minisink,
"WHEREAS, the raising of sheep is of great advantage to individuals and of public utility, and for the greater encouragement thereof,
"Be it ordained
and established, by the freeholders and inhabitants of the town of
Minisink, in annual town meeting assembled on the first day of April, 1790, and
it is hereby ordered and established by the authority of the same, that between
the twentieth day of August and the first day of November in each year
thereafter, no ram or rams shall run at large in the public highways or commons
in the town of
"Section 2. And be it ordained
and established by the authority aforesaid, that all fences in the town of
"Section 5. And be it ordered by the authority aforesaid, that a premium or reward of £3 (about $14-1/2) shall be given to every person who shall kill a full grown wolf in the town of Minisink, and thirty shillings (about $7-1/4) for every lesser or young wolf that can see."
The tradition is, that in those glorious old times it was
the custom to intrust the votes given at town meetings to the Town Clerk, whose
duty it was to count them the following day. "This," adds our
informant, "often led to difficulty; for during the jollification given by
the supposed successful candidates, that functionary frequently became somewhat
elevated and lost the precious tickets." This however may be regarded as a
"willful misrepresentation of the fact," as
OLD FAMILIES OF MINISINK.
SAYRE.—It is not known to us what
date the first resident of this name came to the town. Joshua Sayre, doubtless
one of the original settlers, was elected Supervisor of the town in 1820, and
was a member of the
[p. 120] DUNNING.—The ancestor of
this family was Michael Dunning, who for some time resided in
BRADNER.—It is believed that at present not many descendants of the original family of this name reside in the present limits of the town. John Bradner, the first citizen of whom we find mention made, was the first Supervisor of the town after its organization in 1788. He was elected four consecutive years, commencing with 1789.
COOLEY.—The descendants of this old family, we believe, are now almost all included in the population of adjoining towns. Jonathan Cooley was first Town Clerk of the town in 1789, cotemporary with John Bradner. He held the office two years, and was elected Supervisor in 1793, which office he held four consecutive years. A descendant of his, Freegift Cooley, formerly owned the farm now owned by Mr. William H. Carpenter in Wawayanda. He is said to have been a very eccentric man, as the following incident shows: In those times, which was before the invention of stoves, it was the custom to use fire-places in which cord-wood could be used as it was first cut in the woods. One cold morning in winter, when the snow was very deep, Mr. Cooley was early engaged in dragging indoors a prodigious back-log. It happened just then that a neighboring tailor was passing by, it being a tailor's duty in those days to go from house to house and do odd jobs of mending and making apparel. Seeing Mr. Cooley struggling with the log. he concluded to assist him, and accordingly stuck his press-board in the snow and advanced to lend a helping hand. Without saying a word he took hold of one end of the log. Mr. Cooley at the same instant let go his hold, and quietly stepping behind the tailor, gave him a tremendous kick accompanied with the quaint advice, "Help when you are asked to, after this." The tailor's action in the matter is not known, but it is presumed he again took his onward way, both a sadder and wiser man.
TUTHILL.—The date of this family's
emigration to this town is not known. The first citizen of the name we find
mentioned in the old annals, is Freegift Tuthill, who
was a member of the
CLARK.—This family is ancient, and
its descendants numerous in the towns of Wawayanda,
Samuel J. Clark, aged 7 years, died
James M. Clark, " 3 " " " 18, "
Alfred Clark, " 10 " " " 22, "
Henry Clark, " 5 " " " 24, "
Mary Clark, " 33 " " Sept. 2, "
Harvey H. Clark, of
DECKER.—This family has also
MEMBER OF PROVINCIAL CONGRESS FROM MINISINK.
1775 John D. Coe.
SENATORS FROM MINISINK.
1795 John D. Coe.
ASSEMBLYMEN FROM MINISINK.
1779-80 John D. Coe.
1789-90 John D. Coe.
1791 John D. Coe.
1792 John D. Coe.
1794 John D. Coe.
1812 Peter Holbert.
1814 Joshua Sayre.
1816 John Hallock, Jr.
1820 John Hallock, Jr.
1824 Benjamin Dunning.
1834 Merit H. Cash.
1835 Merit H. Cash.
1837 Merit H. Cash.
1841 Gideon W. Cock, Sr.
1845 Richard M.Tuthill, Jr.
1847 Joseph Davis.
1850 Daniel Durland.
REPRESENTATIVES IN CONGRESS OF
1825-27 (19th Congress) John Hallock, Jr.
1827-29 (20th Congress) John Hallock, Jr.
ORGANIZATION IN 1788 TO 1866.
The first Town Meeting was held at the house of John Van Tyle, April, 1789.
SUPERVISORS. TOWN CLERKS.
1789 John Bradner. Jonathan Cooley.
1790 John Bradner. Jonathan Cooley.
1791 John Bradner. Henry Tucker.
1792 John Bradner. Henry Tucker.
1793 Jonathan Cooley. James Steward.
1794 Jonathan Cooley. James Steward.
1795 Jonathan Cooley. James Steward.
1796 Jonathan Cooley. James Steward.
1797 Levi Van Etten. Martiness Cuykendall.
1798 Nathan Arnout. James Steward.
1799 Henry Tucker. James Steward.
1800 Henry Tucker. James Steward.
1801 Henry Tucker. James Steward, Jr.
1802 Henry Tucker. James Steward, Jr.
1803 Henry Tucker. James Steward, Jr.
1804 Henry Tucker. James Steward, Jr.
1805 Henry Tucker, James Steward, Jr.
1806 Henry Tucker. James Steward, Jr.
1807 Henry Tucker. James Steward, Jr.
1808 David Christie. James Steward, Jr.
1809 David Christie. Increase B. Stoddard.
1810 David Christie. Peter Holbert.
1811 Joseph Smith. Hezekiah Taylor.
1812 Joseph Smith. Hezekiah Taylor.
1813 Peter Holbert. John Hallock, Jr.
1814 Benjamin Dunning. John Hallock, Jr.
1815 Benjamin Dunning. John Hallock, Jr.
1816 Benjamin Dunning. John Hallock, Jr.
1817 Benjamin Dunning. Jonathan Carpenter.
1818 Benjamin Dunning. Jonathan Carpenter.
1819 Benjamin Dunning. Hulet Clark.
1820 Joshua Sayre. Hulet Clark.
1821 David Christie. James Hulse.
1822 Benjamin Dunning. William Evans.
1823 Benjamin Dunning. Martin L. Mapes.
1824 Increase B.Stoddard. Jonathan Bailey.
1825 David Christie. Peter Holbert.
1826 David Christie. Peter Holbert.
1827 David Christie. James Hulse.
1828 David Christie. James Hulse.
1829 James Hulse. Joseph Davis.
1830 James Hulse. Merit H. Cash.
1831 Hulet Clark. Merit H. Cash.
1832 Merit H. Cash. David H. Slawson.
1833 Merit H. Cash. David H. Slawson.
1834 Joseph Davis. John C. Owen.
1837 Isaac Cook. Richard M. Tuthill.
1838 Gideon W. Cock, Sr. Richard M. Tuthill, Jr.
1839 Gideon W. Cock, Sr. Dewitt C. Hallock.
1842 John C. Wisner. Henry H. Stewart.
1843 John C. Wisner. Henry H. Stewart.
1844 Joseph Davis. David Clark.
1845 Gabriel Horton. Joseph M. Case.
1846 Gabriel Horton. Stewart T. Durland.
1847 Stewart T. Durland. Stephen Harding.
1848 Stewart T. Durland. Lewis Armstrong.
1849 Daniel Fullerton. William Hatch, Jr.
1850 Timothy Wood. William Hatch, Jr.
1851 Hulet Clark. Henry C. Halsey.
1852 Hulet Clark. Samuel B. Elston.
1853 Hulet Clark. Isaac Winters.
1854 Albert A. Seymour. Simeon M. Coykendall.
1855 Albert A. Seymour. Simeon M. Coykendall.
1856 Joseph M. Case. Robert C. Tuthill.
1857 Joseph M. Case. Robert C. Tuthill.
1858 John C. Wisner. Jacob P. Snook.
1859 John C. Wisner. Jacob P. Snook.
1860 Dewitt Decker. John R. Halstead.
1861 Dewitt Decker. John R. Halstead.
1862 Joseph M. Case. Charles H Tuthill.
1863 Joseph M. Case. Charles H. Tuthill.
1864 Joseph M. Case. Henry D. Decker.
1865 Joseph M. Case. Henry D. Decker.
1866 Joseph M. Case. Henry D. Decker.
The number of acres of land assessed in the town in 1865, was 14,045; assessed value thereof, $512,209, or about $36.47 per acre; personal property, $140,989.
In 1798 the
The principal streams are, the Neversink, flowing through
the town in a southerly direction; the Bashus' kill, also flowing south; and
Ouwe (Old) Dam kill, Sparrowbush creek,
The principal villages of the town are Port Jervis and
Cuddebackville. Westbrookville, Huguenot,
Port Jervis may be said to have been founded in the year
1826, the date of the construction of the
The village being the western end of the eastern division of
the Erie Railway, which was built through the town a few years after the
Cuddebackville is in the north-eastern part of the town on the line of the canal. It is named in honor of an old settler, Jacob Cuddeback, one of the original owners of a patent given in the year 1697, for the land in what was called the Peenpack valley. One of his descendants, Col. William Cuddeback, owned the site of the village at the date of the building of the canal, which was the origin of the village. It now has two or three stores, two churches and a hotel.
Westbrookville is a small village, north-east from Cuddebackville, also on the canal, which gave rise to it. A store and hotel comprise its business portion, and it is named after John Westbrook, who kept a sort of store or tavern at this same place before the Revolution, and whose descendants for a long time resided near it.
Huguenot is a small village between Port Jervis and
Gumaer's, on the canal. It is chiefly noted for the mineral springs lately
discovered near it, and the splendid hotel erected there. It is named after the
Protestant refugees from
Gumaers is a small collection of houses on the canal, north of Huguenot, has a store and hotel, and is the residence of Gumaer Brothers, descendants of one of the original patentees of Peenpack, in 1697.
Deerpark boasts of two suspension bridges, which are in
truth beautiful evidences of the triumph of science, and perfect imitations of
their great prototype, the [p. 130]
The wooden bridge across the
OLD FAMILIES OF DEERPARK.
GUMAER.—Previous to emigration from
Mrs. Gumaer, also living, has been her husband's companion in the bonds of conjugal felicity fifty-three years, and like him, remembers back to a time when the principal implements used in agricultural operations were rudely fashioned and mostly of wood; when the clothes were altogether of home manufacture; when the men wore their hair long, and had it powdered and tied up in queues like the Chinese; and when the grain intended for bread had to be pounded in a stone mortar with a round stone about eighteen inches in length and three or four in diameter, by hand—a work mostly performed by the women; having, as she said, "many a time pounded corn till her hands were blistered." Her memory is full of old-time incidents, one of which, relating to the naming of Bashus' kill, is as follows: An old squaw by the name of Bashee, and her husband, lived for many years by this stream. They were very friendly to the whites and lived in content long after their tribe had gone west. The old chief was a good hunter, and was frequently accompanied by his wife, who carried the game on such occasions. During one of these excursions he shot a large deer, and tying the two legs fast to a stick, old Bashee took it on her shoulder and started homeward, he following slowly along the path. Her way was over the stream, which was crossed by a log reaching from bank to bank. In crossing, she slipped from the log, and the stick caught her fast by the neck so that it was impossible to free herself. Her husband shortly found her dead, with the deer hanging across the log—and that is the way it came to be called Bashus' kill, or more properly Bashee's kill.
CUDDEBACK.—This name was at first
spelled Codeback, but English usage soon changed it to Cuddeback. Jacob
Cuddeback, the ancestor of the family, was a countryman of Gumaer's, and came
with him to
Cuddeback built the first grist mill erected in the present
limits of the town. He was much noted for the part taken in the
SWARTOUT.—The ancestors of this
family were of Dutch origin, and came to this town with Gumaer and Ouddeback in
1690. They were all three interested in the Peenpack Patent, but Eager says
that but one of them kept his share. Whether it was Thomas, Anthony, or
Bernardus, that refused to sell, we are not informed. They were said to be all
large, powerful men, and well fitted for the hardships of a pioneer's life in
the wilderness. One of them in 1730 was major of the militia of
VAN INWEGEN.—Nothing of the nationality of this ancient
family is known, but as most of the early settlers in the Minisink Region were German,
and the name sounds like those of that derivation, we may safely set it down as
coming from that nation. Harmanus Yan Inwegen we first find mentioned as
becoming part owner of the twelve hundred acre patent, doubtless the buyer of
the shares sold by the Swartouts. Eager says he married a daughter of one of
the Swartouts. He is represented as being a powerful man, so much so that the
strongest Indians were unable to cope with him, He
took a very prominent part in the border war with Ne\v Jersey, and became a
member of the committee of safety organized in the Minisink Region in 1777. A
young man named Gerardus Van Inwegen was killed at the capture of
WESTBROOK.—We know but little of the origin of this family. The original ancestor of the family in this town was John Westbrook, whom we first find mentioned in the old annals as keeping a store where Westbrookville now stands, which was a celebrated resort for the Indian trade previous to and during the old French war of 1755. Major and Johannes Westbrook, relatives of his, are said by Eager to have been captured by the Jerseymen, at the old Mahackemeck church, during the border troubles, about 1764 or 1767, and confined for some time in the old Jersey Colony prison, but was soon released. They appear to have been men of some importance in those times.
DECKER.—The progenitor of this family settled in what was known as the "lower neighborhood," about the same time, or shortly after the settlement of the Peenpack Patent by Gumaer and Cuddeback. His name was John Decker, and he kept a store or tavern for some years before and after the French and Indian war. It was near his house that Tom Quick is said to have killed Mushwink, the Indian. This was after the close of the war. Mushwink was among the Indians who returned to the settlement, (Quinlan's Life of Tom Quick, p. 46), and one day happened to be at Decker's tavern pretty drunk, and boasting of his exploits. Quick was present, and in order to irritate him the savage gave an account of his helping to kill Thomas Quick, Sr., and exhibited the silver sleeve buttons worn by the victim when killed. This aroused Quick's feelings, and catching a loaded musket from its place over the mantle, he ordered the Indian to leave the room. The Indian saw he was in earnest, and obeyed with a crestfallen air. Quick followed him toward Carpenter's Point about a mile, when he exclaimed, "Indian dog, you'll kill no more white men," and instantly shot him in the back between the shoulders. The savage leaped two or three feet in the air and fell dead. A fort was located at Decker's by the committee of safety in 1778. It was captured by the Indians under Brandt in 1779. Major John Decker, according to Eager, had a narrow escape from the same body of Indians; and his wife and children fled to Mr. James Finch's, east of the Shawangunk, for safety.
DEWITT.—There were four brothers of
the name, who first emigrated from
"In February, 1769, James Clinton, with his lady, came to the fort at De Witt's, on a visit to see her brother, Capt. Jacob Rutson DeWitt. A violent snow storm came on which lasted some days, and when it abated Mrs. Clinton was found to be in such an interesting situation as to make it imprudent to return home. They remained at the fort six weeks, and during the interval DeWitt Clinton was born."
Moses DeWitt. Jacob R. DeWitt's eldest son, was a person of
very agreeable manners, and well liked by the Indians, who deeply lamented his
death. He surveyed the boundary line between
VAN AUKEN.—The first resident of this town by the name, is believed to have been Abraham Van Auken, but from whence he came and the date of settlement is unknown. A fort was erected at the house of Daniel Van Auken, one of his descendants, in the "lower neighborhood," by order of the committee of safety in 1778. Jeremiah Van Auken, doubtless a member of the same family, was killed during Brandt's invasion of Minisink in 1779.
MILLS.—This family is very ancient,
and it is probable that the persons of that name throughout
Another, Samuel Mills, married Miss Elizabeth Stitt, by whom he had fourteen children. Of these, Rev. Samuel W. Mills, of Port Jervis, is the ninth. One of the daughters (lately deceased) married Theodore J. Denton, Esq., of Wawayanda.
CLAUSON.—This family originally
settled at an early date in the town of
VAN ETTEN.—Anthony Yan Etten is the first resident of the
town of whom we have any account. He resided in the "lower
neighborhood," near Decker's, in 1779. He was a man of much note among the
early settlers. Thomas Van Etten, Jr., represented western
VAN VLIET (or VAN FLEET.)—James Van Vliet is the first resident of the town, of the name, and narrowly escaped from the Indians with his family during Brandt's invasion, 1779. John Van Vliet for a long time owned the land afterward owned by Michael Van Vliet and Solomon Van Vliet.
WESTFALL.—The first record of this family shows it to have been located in the "lower neighborhood" in 1755, when a fort was erected at their residence to protect the settlers from the Indians. It was an important position, and the Indians tried many times to surprise the place. This family was the first attacked by Brandt in 1779, where one man was killed. (Eager, p. 386.)
Henry Cortright, Solomon Davis, Benjamin DuPuy. Solomon Cole, William Cole, Peter Cuykendall, Abraham Low and Evert Hornbeck were old settlers, many of whose descendants are still comprised in the enterprising population of the town; The citizens of Port Jervis may well remember with gratitude the liberality of Col. Samuel Fowler, of later days, who may well be considered a patron of the place and a great promoter of its prosperity. Some of the finest buildings in the village were built by him.
I will notice here, as it may not be out of place to record the
notice of a personage so well known to the early inhabitants of this section,
Ben Shanks, a native Indian chief; in person tall, slender and athletic, in
fact said to be the tallest Indian ever seen on the Delaware; from which
circumstance he probably derived his English name, his true name being Huycon.
His hair was jet black and clubbed behind, his forehead high and wrinkled, his
eyes of a fiery brown color, and sunk deep in their sockets, his nose pointed
and aquiline, his front teeth remarkably broad, prominent and white, his cheeks
hollow and furrowed; in a word, Ben Shanks, when arrayed in all the warlike
habiliments of his tribe, presented one of the most frightful specimens of
human nature that the eye could rest upon. (Quinlan's Life of
Tom Quick.) He was well known throughout
One Monday morning in September, Colonel Jansen, while going to a barrack near his barn, was surprised by two Indians who attempted to take him prisoner. He managed to escape from them, and ran for the house shouting murder, pursued by one Indian who got so near him that he tried to catch hold of him. The Colonel got inside the door first and shut it, but did not have time to bolt it. The Indian endeavored to push the door open, but in the struggle the Colonel proved the stronger, and the attempt failed. The savage then attempted to break open the door with a broad-axe which was lying on the porch. The Colonel frightened him away by calling loudly for his musket and pistols. These his wife brought, and the Colonel determined to defend the house at all hazards. His wife raised a window sash for the purpose of closing the blinds so as to darken the room, but was frightened away by a man disguised as an Indian, but whose blue eyes at once revealed the Tory. The Colonel then retired to the upper part of the house with his family, and the assailants soon broke into the lower rooms. The Colonel's three female slaves were captured and placed near the door under charge of Ben Shanks, while the Tory and three other savages searched for valuables. Just at this time one of the slaves saw Hannah coming through the gateway near the barn, to resume her spinning at the Colonel's. The slave motioned to her in the most forcible manner to go back, that she was in danger and must not come to the house; but the poor girl not understanding her meaning, walked leisurely into the kitchen. When she comprehended her danger, her terror was extreme. She wrung her hands in agony, and with one of the slaves uttered the most moving entreaties for life, But the unfeeling monsters compelled her with the uplifted tomahawk to take a place with the slaves. Then gathering up the spoils, they ordered their prisoners to advance, one of them leading the way across the fields toward the mountain, and leaving Col. Jansen in possession of his house.
While these events were taking place, Mr. Mack, with his
daughter Elsie, a young lady of eighteen, had been to visit his son-in-law,
John Mentze, and to take back their winter clothing which they had been in the
habit of leaving at Mr. Mentze's when not needed, as Mack's dwelling was more
exposed to Indian and Tory depredations. They were now on their way home across
the mountain, accompanied by John Mentze, following an Indian path through the
woods, the nearest habitation over the mountain being nine miles. After going
about four miles they reached the foot of a precipitous ledge near the summit
of the mountain, and stopped to rest, Mack remarking to his son-in-law, as he
sat down to light his pipe, that he had gone far enough and might return. While
they were talking, Elsie climbed to the summit of the precipice to enjoy the
view, which comprised a large portion of
Shanks after this affair never ventured again in that
neighborhood. He however made his appearance after the war at Cochecton, in
company with Canope, an Indian of that place. They were warned by the whites
not to remain long in the vicinity, but disregarding the caution, they
proceeded up the
MEMBER OF PROVINCIAL CONGRESS FROM DEERPARK.
1775 David Pye.
MEMBERS OF CONVENTIONS TO FORM STATE CONSTITUTION
1777 David Pye.
1846 Lewis Cuddeback.
MEMBERS OF COLONIAL ASSEMBLY FROM DEERPARK.
1752 Moses DePue, Jr.
1759 Moses DePue, Jr.
MEMBERS OF STATE SENATE FROM DEERPARK.
1791 David Pye.
1792 David Pye.
1793 David Pye.
1794 David Pye.
MEMBERS OF COUNCIL OF APPOINTMENT FOR STATE SENATORS
1784 Jacobus Swartout.
1786 Jacobus Swartout.
1792 David Pye.
MEMBERS OF ASSEMBLY FROM DEERPARK.
1795 David Pye.
1796 David Pye.
1803 James Finch, Jr.
1810 James Finch, Jr.
1814 James Finch, Jr.
1815 James Finch, Jr.
1816 James Finch.
1817 James Finch.
1820 James Finch, Jr.
1824 James Finch, Jr.
1830 Abraham Cuddeback.
1833 James Finch.
1836 Thomas Van Etten, Jr.
1841 Lewis Cuddeback.
1852 Abraham J. Cuddeback.
1855 James Bennet.
The town book previous to 1854 appears to have been lost, as the writer with the assistance of Mr. W. E. Haggerty, the present Town Clerk, searched the office for it thoroughly without avail. The following list of the names of the Supervisors and Town Clerks we derived from loose papers in the office, and is imperfect; but until the lost records can be found or replaced, there will necessarily be a blank in regard to some of the early town proceedings.
The first town meeting after the organization of the town
appears to have been held
NAMES OF THE SUPERVISORS
SUPERVISORS. TOWN CLERKS.
1799 James Finch, Jr. —- —-
1800 James Finch, Jr. —- —-
1801 James Finch. Enoch Tuthill.
1802 —- —- —- —-
1803 —- —- —- —-
1804 —- —- —- —-
1805 —- —- —- —-
1806 Peter E. Gumaer. James Finch, Jr.
SUPERVISORS. TOWN CLERKS.
1807 James Finch. Peter E. Gumaer.
1808 James Finch. Peter E. Gumaer.
1809 James Finch, Jr. Stephen Farnum.
1810 Peter E. Gumaer. Stephen Farnum.
1811 Peter E. Gumaer. Stephen Farnum.
1812 Peter E. Gumaer. Stephen Farnum.
1813 Peter E. Gumaer. Stephen Farnum.
1814 Peter E. Gumaer. Stephen Farnum.
1815 James Finch, Jr. Charles Murray.
1816 James Finch, Jr. Charles Murray.
1817 Abraham Cuddeback. Charles Murray.
1818 James Finch, Jr. Stephen Farnum.
1819 James Finch, Jr. Stephen Farnum.
1820 Abraham Cuddeback. Stephen Farnum.
1821 —- —- —- —-
1822 —- —- —- —-
1823 —- —- —- —-
1824 David G. Finch. Joseph Conklin.
1825 Peter E. Gumaer. —- —-
1826 Peter E. Gumaer. —- —-
1827 Philip Swartout. Benj. Van Inwegen.
1828 Philip Swartout. —- —-
1829 Benjamin Cuddeback. Benj. Van Inwegen.
1830 Levi Van Inwegen. —- —-
1831 —- —- —- —-
1832 —- —- —- —-
1833 —- —- —- —-
1834 —- —- —- —-
1835 Lewis Cuddeback. —- —-
1836 Lewis Cuddeback. John S. Van Inwegen.
1837 Lewis Cuddeback. John S. Van Inwegen.
1838 George Burns. Peter Cuddeback.
1839 Levi Van Etten. Peter Cuddeback.
SUPERVISORS. TOWN CLERKS.
1840 Levi Van Etten. Peter Cuddeback.
1841 —- —- —- —-
1842 Lewis Van Imvegen. John S. Van Inwegen.
1843 —- —- —- —-
1844 —- —- —- —-
1845 —- —- —- —-
1846 —- —- —- —-
1847 —- —- —- —-
1848 Peter Van Inwegen. Peter G. Van Inwegen.
1849 David Swartout. J. B. Crawford.
1850 James Van Fleet, —- —-
1851 Samuel Fowler. Peter G. Van Inwegen.
1852 —- —- F. W. Lockwood.
1853 —- —- F. W. Lockwood.
1854 James Bennet. Waltemire Westbrook.
1855 Eli Van Inwegen. Andrew Conger.
1856 Eli Van Inwegen. Joseph H. Knowlton.
1858 John Van Etten. George Brodhead
1859 John Van Etten. George Brodhead.
1860 Solomon Van Etten. George Brodhead.
1861 Solomon Van Etten. Charles W. Douglass.
1862 Orville J. Brown. Edgar A. Wells.
1864 Franklin R.Brodhead. Francis R. Fossard.
1865 Franklin R.Brodhead. George Clauson.
1866 Franklin R.Brodhead. William E. Haggerty.
The number of acres of land assessed in the town in 1865, was 34,225; assessed value, $1,192,520; personal property, $241,600.
This town was erected by an act of the State Legislature in
1825. It was formed from parts of the towns of Minisink, Wallkill and Deerpark,
and was first called Calhoun, in honor of John C. Calhoun, the celebrated
"CHAPTER 63.—AN ACT to alter the name of the town of
"The people of the State of
"§ 1. From the passage of this act, the town of Calhoun in the county of Orange, shall be known and distinguished by the name of the town of Mount Hope."
The records of the town are very deficient in matter
relating to the history of its formation, &c., the proceedings of the
various town meetings previous to 1840 having been destroyed, mostly by a fire
which occurred about the year 1848. The town in shape is in almost exact diamond,
and embraces in its limits a large portion of the eastern slope of Shawangunk
Mountain, which affords the finest scenery, it may be said, in the world, apart
from our vast rivers, and which one of its citizens with just reason not long
since prophesied would yet be lined with the country residences of city
gentlemen. By the discovery of the valuable lead mines on
Otisville has derived its principal source of prosperity
from the construction of the Erie Railway, which crosses
Guymard is a flourishing village of recent origin, owing its
existence to the discovery of lead a few years since on the lands of Gumaer
Brothers, on the west side of Shawangunk Mountain, near the line separating the
town from Deerpark. The lead was first discovered while building the road
leading from the old turnpike to Gurnaer's, on the canal. The largest mine,
known as the
FINCH.—This family, very
illustrious in the history of the Minisink Region, is now scattered abroad, and
we believe has but few if any representatives at present in the town. John
Finch, the first emigrant, came from Horse Neck,
His son, James Finch, Jr., was born
His family fell victims to a disease in the latter part of
the year 1843 and beginning of 1844, that proved
singularly fatal in its effects. P. G. Finch, son of James Finch, was the first
attacked by it in September, 1843, and did not recover till January, 1844. This
formed the basis from which the disease spread over almost the whole county,
and extended somewhat into
WOODWARD.—This family is among the
most ancient in the town, having been closely interwoven with its history for a
period of over ninety-two years. Hezekiah Woodward, Jr., and his father,
Hezekiah Woodward, Sr., emigrated to this town from
MILLS.—This family is undoubtedly a
branch of the family of this name mentioned in Chapter XI. of
this work. Isaac Mills, probably a brother of Jonathan Mills, who resided at
Mills' Pond. L. I., married Sarah Phillips, a relative
of the family after whom the place known as Pillipsburgh (a short distance
below New Hampton, in Wawayanda.) is named. He died
GREEN.—This is a very numerous
family, and we believe that at present no less than four by the name are hotel
keepers in the town. They are believed to be mostly descendants of Daniel
Green, who at an early period in the history of Wallkill was an extensive land
owner, and the principal part of
His son, Charles S. Green, Esq., married Mary Woodward,
sister of Ambrose Woodward, a descendant probably of Hezekiah Woodward, of
MEMBER OF CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION FROM
1821 Benjamin Woodward.
STATE SENATOR FROM
1827-30 Benjamin Woodward.
MEMBERS OF ASSEMBLY FROM
(James Finch, Jr.'s terms of office will be found in Chapter XI.)
1814-15 Benjamin Woodward.
1820-21 Benjamin Woodward.
1820 Benjamin Woodward.
1840 William S. Little.
1848 Augustus P. Thompson.
1854 Andrew J. Mills.
1856 Andrew J. Mills.
1862 Harvey R. Cadwell.
1863 Charles S. Woodward.
1864 Charles S. Woodward.
1866 B. F. Hill.
NAMES OF THE SUPERVISORS
HOPE FROM 1849 TO THE PRESENT TIME.
SUPERVISORS. TOWN CLERKS.
1849 Aug. P. Thompson. John K. Seybolt,
1850 John K. Seybolt. Ferdinand Seybolt.
1851 Wm. L. Reeve. Lebbeus L. Harding.
1852 Wm. L. Reeve. Lebbeus L. Harding.
1853 Wm. S. Little. Benjamin W. Dunning.
1854 Horton Corwin. Benjamin W. Dunning.
1855 Horton Corwin. Lewis W. Coleman.
1856 Algernon S. Dodge. Adam Sinsabaugh.
1857 Harvey R. Cadwell. Ferdinand Seybolt.
1858 Harvey R. Cadwell. Lewis A. Seybolt.
SUPERVISORS. TOWN CLERKS.
1859 Chas. S. Woodward. George Smith.
1860 John Mullock. George Smith.
1802 Chas. S. Woodward. George Smith.
1863 Chas. S. Woodward. George Smith.
1864 Chas. S. Woodward. Reuben Frazer.
1865 Chas. S. Woodward. Reuben Frazer.
1866 John Mullock. James M. Clinton.
Town Meeting in 1849 was held at the house of L. N. Styles, previous town records being lost.
Population in 1855, 1,735, and in 1865, 1,977—an increase of 242. Number of acres of land assessed in the town in 1865, 16,576; assessed value thereof, $510,450; personal property, $123,424.
WAWAYANDA.—The causes which led to the formation of this town from a part of the old town of Minisink are quite difficult to discern at the present time; in fact like many another change in times past, it would perhaps puzzle the originators of the scheme themselves to account for it. It was doubtless the result of some political party movement, since its completion has not added materially to the welfare of the citizens of the two towns, in a pecuniary point of view. The legislature of the State in 1848 and 1849, conferred the power of erecting and dividing towns (previously held by the State) on the Board of Supervisors, and the division of Minisink was among the first that took place under the new act. At the Town Meeting in the spring of 1849, the following notice was given of an intention to apply for a division of the town:
"Notice is hereby given that the undersigned freeholders of the town of Minisink, Orange county, will make application to the Board of Supervisors at their next annual meeting for the division of said town, to form a new town out of that part of the town comprising the first election district,"
Jacob Harding, Usher H. Case,
David Carr, Martin L. Mapes,
P. W. Sloat, Isaac Denton,
J. S. Slawson, George
Theophilus Dolsen, S. Sergeant,
S.Stewart, T. B. Denton,
Jonathan Bailey, Alfred Wood,
Gabriel Little, D. T. Hulse,
S. F. Gardiner, B. F. Bailey,
R. A. Elmer, Hiram Phillips.
The Board of Supervisors was composed as follows:
D. H. Moffat, Chairman, Blooming Grove, Whig.
Daniel Fullerton, Minisink, Whig.
Augustus P. Thompson,
David Swartout, Deerpark, Whig.
William V. N. Armstrong, Warwick, Whig.
Morgan Shuit, Monroe, Whig.
Odell S. Hathaway,
William Jackson, Hamptonburgh, Whig.
Lindley M. Ferris, Montgomery, Whig.
Augustus Thompson, Crawford, Democrat.
Richard M. Vail,
Abraham Tail, Jr., Wallkill, Democrat.
James R. Dickson, New Windsor, Democrat.
On the 27th day of November (1849) the matter was brought before the Board on motion of Mr. Fullerton of Minisink, the petitioner for the division, the maps and survey of the proposed new town, made by Dr. D. C. Hallock, having been previously presented by him. He then proposed to name the town "Wawayanda,'' after the old Indian patent upon which it is located; the name being an Indian word, used by an Indian while standing on a hill, defining the boundaries of the tract to the early settlers, and supposed to mean "way over yonder."
Mr. Fullerton then moved the passage of the bill, which was seconded by Mr. Ferris, when the house was called by towns and voted as follows:
Ayes—D. H. Moffat, Hezekiah Moffat, Lindley M. Ferris, Daniel Fullerton, Wm. V. N. Armstrong, A. P. Thompson, David Swartout, William Jackson, Odell S. Hathaway, Morgan Shuit.
Nays—R. M. Vail, Abraham Vail, Jr., James Denniston, James R. Dickson, Augustus Thompson.
It was therefore declared carried.
The town is bounded on the east by the town of
The principal villages are,
Ridgebury is said to have taken its name from the Presbyterian church first erected at that place, which was so called from the number of berries that grew on [p. 165] a neighboring ridge, still known as "whortleberry hill." It is an old established place, and the site of the village was owned in 1800 by Benjamin Dunning, Jonathan Bailey, Benjamin Howell, Isaac Decker and others. John Dunken, killed at the battle of Minisink, was from this locality. John Hallock, Sr., James Hulse, Benj. Smith, Moses Overton, Noyes Wickham, Richard Ellison and Charles Durland, were early settlers in the neighborhood. The business part of the village at present is a hotel and store.
Gardnersville is named after Ira Gardner, who formerly owned the mills and kept store at the place. It is situated on Rutger's kill, and has a grist mill, saw mill and one or two stores.
Milleburgh and Centreville are but a short distance apart,
both situated on the outlet of the Binnewater pond. Millsburgh was formerly
OLD FAMILIES OF WAWAYANDA.
HALLOCK.—The ancestor of this family, John Hallock, Sr.,
DOLSEN.—This family is said to be
of Dutch origin. Eager says (p. 412) that there is a family tradition to the
effect that the first male child born in
DAVIS.—The original settler in this
vicinity by that name was Joshua Davis, Sr., who settled on the farm now owned
by Col. William C. Carpenter, about a mile and a-half south of
Lawrence Ferguson, Esq., married a daughter of Charles
Durland, and at present resides in the town of
Joseph Davis, Esq., late President of the Middletown Bank, formerly Assemblyman from this district, and Supervisor of this town for several years, if we are informed correctly, is of another family. He married a daughter of —— Decker, Esq., of Minisink. The male line of his family became extinct a few months since by the death of his only son, Henry E. Davis, Esq.
DENTON.—Rev. Richard Denton was the first ancestor, and came
HOWELL.—In 1800 an early settler by the name of Benjamin Howell resided near Ridgebury, but we believe that at present none of his descendants are living in the town. John Howell, a brother of his, must have moved to this town at about the year 1778. He was an old sailor had been on one or two whaling voyages to the Arctic Regions, besides numerous trips to other shores "before the mast" of a merchantman. He also served as a soldier in the Continental army during the war of the Revolution. He was in the battle of Minisink, 1779, and among the few that escaped.
[p. 170] Before coming to this town
he had resided at what is known as Sugar Loaf, in the town of
One of his daughters married Reuben Cash, another John Roberts, another Eliphalet Stickney, and one, Hepsibah, remained unmarried. The homestead was kept by his two sons, John and Jeffrey. Jeffrey married a daughter of Peter Corwin, Esq., and had seven children; but by a strange fatality, all died with the Consumption before attaining the age of thirty-two years. Jeffrey died in 1837.
John Howell, Jr., married the widow of Moses Knapp, and sister of Alanson Kimball, Esq., but she was accidentally drowned, while crossing the outlet of Binnewater pond, near Pine Ridge, in search of herbs for some medicinal purpose, June 24th, 1834; having been married scarce a year. The male line of this family has become extinct with the death of this last survivor of the family.
Merit H. adopted the profession of a physician, and became
quite a successful one. He held various civil offices in the old town of
STICKNEY.—William Stickney, the first of
the name of whom we have any knowledge, settled at
DURLAND.—Charles Durland, the first resident of the town of
this name, emigrated to the town some time previous to
the year 1800. He first settled near Bushville, in the present town of
HOLBERT.—Peter Holbert, Sr., is the first mentioned in old
records. He was elected a member of the
TOOKER.—We are not informed of the
exact date the pioneers of this family first came to the town. Samuel Tooker,
surveyor, married Catherine, daughter of James Finch, Sr., of
REED.—This is an old established family, of the exact date of whose settlement in the town we are not informed. Samuel Reed, Sr., (his father being the original settler,) died but a few years ago, at a very advanced age. His widow died a few months since, and though a very aged lady, was possessed of a remarkable memory. She distinctly recollected seeing the people go to the Minisink battle in 1779. Three of her neighbors met under an apple tree for that purpose, near her father's house, and though very small at the time, she remembered the parting scene plainly. Two of them perished in the battle, we believe. Daniel Reed was killed in the battle; whether a relative or not is not known.
WICKHAM.—This family is quite numerous in the town, and are believed to be mostly descendants of Noyes Wickham, who lived near Ridgebury in 1800.
REEVE.—The first of the name mentioned in old records is James Reeve, who escaped from the battle of Minisink with a broken arm. Two of his sons, James M. and John H., still reside in the town. John H. Reeve was elected Supervisor of Wawayanda from 1861 to 1866.
MEMBER OF ASSEMBLY FROM WAWAYANDA.
1857 Erastus Stickney.
NAMES OP SUPERVISORS
FROM ITS ORGANIZATION IN 1849 TO 1866.
SUPERVISORS. TOWN CLERKS.
1850 Daniel Fullerton. Holloway W. Stephens.
1851 Daniel Fullerton. Oliver Lewis.
1852 Dewitt C. Hallock. Oliver Lewis.
1853 Dewitt C. Hallock. Oliver Lewis.
1854 Joseph Davis. Oliver Lewis.
1855 Joseph Davis. James F. Robertson.
1856 Gideon W. Cock. Wilmot C. Terry.
1857 Joseph Davis. Wilmot C. Terry.
1858 Joseph Davis. Mathew H. Bailey.
1859 Joseph Davis. John M. Howell.
1860 Joseph Davis. John M. Howell.
1861 John H. Reeve. James L. Mills.
1862 John H. Reeve. John M. Howell.
1863 John H. Reeve. John M. Howell.
1864 John H. Reeve. Oliver Lewis.
1865 John H. Reeve. William H. Wood.
1866 John H. Reeve. Charles E. Stickney.
The first town meeting was held at D. C. Hallock's,
Population in 1855, 2,069; and in 1865, 1,906—a decrease of 163.
Number of acres of land assessed in 1865, 19,677; assessed value, $706,250; personal property, $100,770.
The records of this town are somewhat deficient in regard to its early formation. The census of 1855 dates its organization in 1850; but we are inclined to consider it an error, because the first town meeting in the new town is shown by the records to have been held in 1854. [p. 175] The town being erected by the Board of Supervisors, it was most probably done at their annual meeting in the fall of the previous year (Dec. 3, 1853.) At that time the Board of Supervisors was composed of the following gentlemen, viz.:
Albert A. Seymour, Minisink.
Dewitt C. Hallock, Wawayanda.
Samuel J. Farnum,
Morgan Shuit, Monroe.
Henry C. Seeley, Warwick.
J. H. McLaughlin, Blooming Grove.
Stephen Rapelje, Montgomery.
Vincent Booth, Hamptonburgh.
Edward L. Norris, Warwick.
William S. Little,
—- —- Deerpark.
Halstead Sweet, Wallkill.
The motives that prompted its formation, and the prime
movers of it, are alike unknown to us. It was formed from Minisink,
The principal village of the town is
We are not possessed of much information in regard to the
old families of the town. The section of country it includes was undoubtedly
not settled as early as some of the more favored localities. For this reason
probably its population is mostly made up of the descendants of old established
families in adjoining towns. Timothy Wood, probably one of the earliest
settlers, was a signer of the Revolutionary pledge in 1775, and his name is
mentioned as holding various offices in the early history of the town of
SCHOOL COMMISSIONER FROM
1859 Harvey H. Clark.
JUSTICES OF SESSIONS FROM
1862 Stewart T. Durland.
1863 Stewart T. Durland.
1864 Stewart T. Durland.
1865 Stewart T. Durland.
NAMES OF SUPERVISORS
FROM ITS ORGANIZATION IN 1853 TO 1866.
SUPERVISORS. TOWN CLERKS.
1854 Timothy Wood. Isaac Winters.
1855 Timothy Wood. Harvey H. Clark.
1856 Isaac M. Seybolt. W. L. Clark.
1857 Isaac M. Seybolt. Alfred L. Clark.
1858 Isaac M. Seybolt. Leonard Bell, Jr.
1859 Jesse V. Myers. Harvey H. Clark.
1860 Isaac M. Seybolt. Harvey H. Clark.
1861 Jesse Y. Myers. Stoddard W. Slawson.
1862 Stewart T. Durland. Albert Shute.
1863 Stewart T. Durland. Albert Shute.
1864 Isaac M. Seybolt. Ezra T. Durland.
1865 Harvey H. Clark. William B. Jenks.
1866 Harvey H. Clark. Samuel W. Reed.
First town meeting was held at the house of Jonathan Wood, Bushville, 1854.
Number of acres of land assessed in 1865—18,287; assessed value, $385,600; personal property, $49,850.
INN; OR, THE SCOURGE OF THE
A venerable old building was the "Old Greycourt," as the old inn was known in those days of troublous times that marked the period of the Revolutionary struggle.
Situated on the main road leading from New Jersey to the
eastern part of Orange county, on the edge of the low, rich, flat meadow lands that
extend into the township of Chester; and owning for its proprietor an old
pioneer of the country, Daniel Cromline, who had founded it in 1716, it could
not fail of being popular. Many a jovial revel had the old house seen in those
wild stormy days of Indian warfare; and many a trying time too, since the stout
hearts that beat obedience to Washington had ranged themselves against the
troopers of old King George. Many a dark redskin had the old goose, that was
painted as large as life on the swinging sign, seen pass beneath her shadow for
a drink of the fire-water, and many a true patriot had she seen pledge a
comrade with undying friendship in a last glass at the familiar bar, before
departing for the army; where, perhaps, some Hessian bullet had quickly closed
his career. The old goose, too, had a history, for it was said to have supplied
a name for the inn. When the house was first built, it became necessary,
according to custom, to place above the door the arms of royalty; and the
proprietor. in doing so, had the picture of the white
goose placed beside it, because of its proximity to
[p. 180] A goodly company is
assembled in the bar-room as we glance into it this pleasant evening, away back
through the years that have flown since November of the year 1778. They are not
talking of the war, though the liberty of
"So they have got him safe at last," said a plethoric, middle-aged man, in a drab coat and lapstone hat.
"Yes," replied an old man, in a kind of voice like a person just rescued from some great danger, "and I'm glad of it; folks can sleep now of nights, and not be afraid of getting their throats cut before morning by Claudius Smith."
"He ain't going to stretch hemp a bit too soon for the good of society," observed a third.
"Yet he had some good qualities about him, in spite of
what people say," commenced a cleanly looking old man, as he took a pinch
of snuff from a ponderous box of the kind, the lid of which was shut with an
experienced tap. "You remember Col. McClaughry, that
was taken prisoner by the British at the capture of
"And served him right," said the man with the
lapstone hat. "But I always heard that his father was always called a bad
kind of man around Brookhaven, on "
" 'Claudius, you will die like a trooper's horse, with your shoes on.' "
"He was a cursed Tory besides, and no longer than last
year, he was in
"Oh, he'll swing for it now, no doubt," said the snuff-taker, again resorting to his box for a fresh pinch. "But then he has some good traits, as I said before. For instance, there is Major Bodle's adventure. About the time of the capture of Fort Montgomery, ho was making his way from that place towards home, when, in the morning, he met Claudius Smith, hailed him with a friendly good-morning, calling him by name, and shaking hands with him. After inquiring as to the news from the fort, &c., he continued—
" 'Mr. Bodle, you are weary with walking, go to my house yonder (pointing to a place off the road) and tell my wife to get you some breakfast. Tell her I sent you.' "
"The Major made believe to accept the offer, and thanked him with much kindness; but as soon as he was out of sight, he struck a bee-line for home, and hardly paused to look around till he had almost reached there."
"Perhaps," said the man with the timid voice, who
had indulged in a bit of a snooze, and just aroused himself in time to hear the
Major's adventure, "perhaps he was only trying to get him off the main
road, while he robbed him. I wouldn't have trusted him either; only think how
he served Col. Jesse Woodhull. The
During the latter part of the narration of these incidents, which, being familiar to all, they knew to be true, [p. 185] the snuff-taker had waxed uneasy, and began to snuff with increased vehemence; and on its conclusion, he broke out with—
"I didn't praise Claudius Smith; I said he had some good points about his disposition, and I've always heard it said that much of that he stole from the rich he gave to the poor. I say he has a humane heart, and I can back up my opinion too, call me a tory or what you will."
"It must have been a mighty small one, since so few people ever found it out," said he of the timid voice.
"Never mind, gentlemen," said the landlord, laughing, "you needn't either one get your back up about your opinions. They are good enough without any backing. If you'll just keep still a little while, I'll tell you a story about Edward Roblin, one of the most noted of Claudius' gang; in fact his right hand man. They say he knows where all the caves and secret retreats are in Smith's Clove and along the Ramapo, and where he has buried the gold and silver he has stolen. We'll, I've been told that when a boy, none was thought more honest or better behaved than he. And the way he got to be a freebooter and tory was a little romantic, to say the least. He worked down toward the river from here, for an old man by the name of Price. A mere boy when he first came there, he proved such a hardworking, steady, trustworthy little fellow, that the old farmer was glad to keep him on, and so he staid, and worked, and delved, till he grew at last to be a tall handsome lad, and all the girls cast sidelong glances at him in church, and felt pleased when he spoke or nodded to them, and thought how proud they would be if some good looking manly form, like this, should stand beside them some pleasant evening, and put a tiny ring upon their finger before the priest, thereby sealing both in bonds for life. Now this employer had an only daughter who had grown up to womanhood at the same time as himself, being about the same age. Beautiful when a child, she lost none of her sweetness with her years, but seemed rather to increase in angelic purity and loveliness. Her form and features were among the most perfect works of nature, and when she added to it those many little artificial attractions that females know so well how to use, and the blandishment of a clear silvery voice, all attuned to melody and love—woe, woe to the susceptible heart, of lord or peasant, that rendered itself liable to this grand combination of charms. This young couple did not fall in love with each other, for that was impossible; since they had loved when children, and it had been strengthening with their growth, year by year. But young Roblin was poor; and when he at last spoke to old Price about marriage, it resulted just as he expected. The old man locked his weeping daughter in her bedroom up stairs, and forbade her ever speaking to the young man again. But he didn't discharge Roblin, and the result was just what he might have expected, but didn't. One morning he rose early, and as was usual called to Roblin, but no Roblin answered; so after a little while he opened the bedroom door, but no Roblin was there, and the bed bore the appearance of having been slept in but about half the night. He at once mistrusted the cause, and at the instant started for his daughter's room. Her bed bore the same appearance; and the open window, and, when the old farmer looked out of it the sight of his long ladder reaching from the ground to the casement, its rounds wet with dew and sparkling in the early morning light, at once explained the mystery. He hurried downstairs and out to his stables, but Roblin had been too honest for his own safety the horses were there. 'Forgad,' quoth old Price, 'I'll have them yet; for,' thought he, 'they've gone to the minister's on foot, and that's some miles,—they won't get there much before noon, and,' cried the old fellow chuckling, 'by that time I'll be there, too.'
"He lost no time in mounting on horseback, and was off for the Squire's in a twinkling. Here he procured a warrant for Roblin's arrest for debt, on account of some money he had advanced him, in reality for work done. He next found the constable, and placing the document in his hands the two worthies sped off for the dominie's. He didn't arrive there a whit too soon, for Roblin and his bride had just taken their places before the good man as they burst into the room.
" 'Ha! ha! my pretty birds, I've caught you, have I,' yelled the old man as he grasped his daughter's arm. 'You thought to catch a weasel asleep, did you?'
"At first Roblin thought of resistance, but he dare not
resist the authority of the law; so he gave his betrothed a farewell kiss, and
quietly submitting was soon on his way to a cell in
"The jailor took it quite hard for a time, but people
said he grieved more for the loss of his steed than his daughter; since, as
soon as she disappeared, all the village dames suddenly discovered her to have
been a conceited, shiftless minx, and fit for nobody but a scapegrace like
Roblin. Nothing was heard of him for a longtime after, till at last he suddenly
appeared among the band of outlaws headed by "The Scourge of the
For a moment after the conclusion of the story, the utmost silence was observed. Its simple details awoke a more than ordinary feeling in the rough breasts of the auditors. The snuff taker, who had become so interested [p. 190] in the narrative as to forget the pinch he held idly between his thumb and finger, was the first to break the pause:
"A curious story, truly. Edward Roblin—let me see—why that's the one that headed the band when they stole the muskets and pewter plates from the American army wagons. My brother was with the scouts that pursued them. They took with them a rich booty that time. Among other things, my brother said they had a solid silver stand, which it was thought they had stolen from an English officer. The scouts got pretty close to them, and many shots were exchanged as they caught glimpses of each other among the rocks and bushes. One of the robbers was shot in the glens of the Clove, and they say was never buried. The last time I heard from there, his white bones still lay glistening among the rocks. The muskets and plates it is thought were hid in one of their secret caves in the Clove, but the stand was no doubt sunk in a spring in the vicinity."
"This murder of Major Strong," said the man with the lapstone hat, breaking in as soon as the latter speaker paused to take a pinch of snuff, "This murder of Major Strong was what put a stop to them."
"Have you heard the particulars of the capture of Claudius?", interrupted the man with the frightened voice.
"Yes; you know Major Strong was a pretty popular man, and his murder began to make the authorities wake up a little. The Assembly of the State took action on the subject, and on the 31st of last month, according to their resolution, Gov. Clinton came out with a proclamation, declaring Smith and his sons outlaws, and offering a reward of $1200 for the capture of Claudius, and $600 each for his sons Richard and James.
This was just the thing. The chance for getting money
inspired many with a sudden zeal for the apprehension of the robbers, who had
hitherto been indifferent about it. Claudius was a cunning dog, and knew the
effect money would have on the cupidity of many, and perhaps on some of his own
gang; so he fled to
" 'He is in bed. I will go and call him.'
" 'No; tell me where he lodges,' said Brush.
" 'Up stairs in the bedroom.'
"Warning her to keep quiet, he took a candle, and
leaving one to guard her, the other three crept silently upstairs. Without
noise they slipped into the bedroom, the door of which was standing ajar, and
before he awoke seized him. He made a powerful resistance, taken unawares as he
was, and tried hard to get hold of the pistols under his pillow, but it was
useless. They quickly tied him with a cord, and the next morning had him safely
"Well," said the landlord, glancing at the clock in the corner, and yawning as he spoke, " I guess we have about concluded Claudius'' history for to-night, as I see it's time to close. It has been pretty nearly all gone over and summed up; all it needs now is an account of his execution to complete it, and that I don't think we shall have to wait for longer than the first sitting of the court."
Here the man with the timid voice rose and said that as he wanted a little something to strengthen his lungs, he would propose that the man who wore the lapstone hat should treat the company, as he was the only man whose hat would stand a wetting. To this the owner of the hat demurred, but finally agreed to pass it around, which was done, and each one putting in a piece of change the landlord treated the company for its contents, and in a short time thereafter the last customer had departed, and "Old Greycourt" was alone with its occupants.
Well indeed had Claudius Smith been termed "The Scourge
"That bright dream was his last."
The cap was drawn over his eyes, the rope adjusted around
his neck, the cart driven from under him, and "The Scourge of the
After the death of Claudius, his son Richard took command of the gang, the oldest son, William, having been killed in some marauding expedition the fall previous. They threatened the most dire vengeance for the hanging of their leader and the shooting of William, against every one favoring the rebel cause. On the 26th of March (1779) following they took John Clark from his residence, near the Sterling Iron Works, a piece into the woods, and after stripping off his outer garments told him to go home. While returning, with his back to them, they shot him dead and left him stretched upon a rock within sight of his dwelling. The note was left pinned to his coat, of which the following is a copy:
"A WARNING TO THE REBELS.—You are hereby warned at your peril to desist from hanging any more friends to government as you did Claudius Smith. You are warned likewise to use James Smith, James Fluelling and William Cole well, and ease them of their irons, for we are determined to have six for one, for the blood of the innocent cries aloud for vengeance. Your noted friend, Capt. Williams, and his crew of robbers and murderers we have got in our power, and the blood of Claudius Smith shall be repaid. There are particular companies of us who belong to Col. Butler's army, Indians as well as white men, and particularly numbers from New York that are resolved to be avenged on you for your cruelty and murder. We are to remind you that you are the beginners and aggressors, for by your cruel oppressions and bloody actions you drive us to it. This is the first, and we are determined to pursue it on your heads and leaders until the last—until the whole of you are murdered."
This created quite an alarm for a time, but the issuing of
such rude, blustering threats soon grew to be regarded as a symptom of
weakness. Their atrocities produced hero and there a man, who devoted his whole
time in following their trails and picking them off as occasion offered.
Benjamin Kelley, one of their best men, was shortly after shot by a rebel scout
named June, who surprised them at card playing. They all made off at the time;
but Kelly's body was afterward found near a sulphur spring where he had
crawled, by one John Henley and his dog. Claudius' sons did not possess the
talent and sagacity of their father; the band got dissatisfied and broken up
speedily under their leadership, and at last the remaining members were forced
to flee to
Well may those days be called "the times that tried
men's souls," judging from the glimpse we have taken at a small period in
the history of Orange, and a few instances only of Tory robbery, cruelty and
murder, such as marked the history of Claudius Smith and his men. Thanks to
THE LEGEND OF MURDERER'S CREEK.
The stream that forms the subject of this sketch, is
composed of two principal branches, both of which rise in the town of
A century and a half ago, as the tradition goes, long years
before the wilderness that lined its banks and furnished a home for the wild
beast and Indian, had given way to the busy industry of the white man; long
before the mills, and factories, and beautiful villages that now throng its
shores had an existence in the dreams of either the red or white man, its
surrounding wilds were inhabited by a tribe of Indians whose name, like
themselves, has long since been buried in oblivion. Here the smoke of their
wigwams rose in graceful wreaths upon the still summer air, amid the shouts of
the young braves, who sported, as perhaps their race had done for centuries
beneath the shade of their native oaks, unaware that destiny had doomed them to
ultimate extinction, and their hunting grounds to the possession of a superior
race. Yes, unaware that even then the forerunner of the coming tide that was to
overwhelm them, was marching toward them with gigantic
strides. It soon became known to them that a different race of beings were
arriving along the shores of the great river that flowed past them to the
ocean, but though at first much alarmed at the sight of them, they soon found
them to be mortal like themselves, and at length grew to utterly disregard
them. At last a white man named Martelair came and asked permission to build a
house and to live near the mouth of their beautiful creek. This they readily
granted, and in a very short time he constructed a log house about three or
four hundred yards up the creek. Into this he soon moved his family, consisting
of his wife and two children, one a boy of five, and the other a girl of three
years old. He understood the importance of being on friendly terms with his
rude neighbors, and made himself useful to them by a variety of acts highly
estimated among savage tribes. He [p. 200] never lost an opportunity of proving
his good will toward them by making them accept his hospitality, and his house
became a place of general resort. An old Indian called Naoman, was in particular
very friendly, and would often come and sit in the house for hours, and smoke
and play with the children. But Martelair heard of the difficulties in other
sections between the settlers and Indians, and knew that his neighbors might
prove treacherous at any moment. He discovered an island, some distance down
One day, when Martelair was absent, old Naoman came to his house, and as usual lighted his pipe and sat down. But it was easy to see that he was troubled about something, for his face wore a serious look, and every little while he would shake his head and sigh deeply, though he said not a word. Martelair's wife asked him what was the matter, but he made no reply and soon went away. He came the next day, and again went away in the same manner as before. Martelair's wife related his strange behavior to her husband, and he told her to urge the old Indian to tell her the cause if he came again. He came the next day, and Martelair's wife at once insisted on knowing the cause of his trouble. She was so importunate that at last Naoman said:
"I am a red man, and the pale faces are our enemies; why should I speak?"
"But," said Martelair's wife, "my husband and I are your friends; you have eaten salt with us a hundred times, and my children have often sat on your knees. If you have anything on your mind, tell it to me; perhaps we can help you."
"If it is found out, it will cost me my life, and the pale faced women are not good at keeping secrets," replied the old man.
"Try me and see."
"Will you swear by the great spirit to tell none but your husband?"
"I have no one else to tell."
"But will you swear?"
"I do swear by the great spirit," said Martelair's wife, "that I will tell none but my husband."
"Not if my tribe should kill you for not telling?"
"Not if your tribe should kill me for not telling."
This satisfied the old Indian, and he then told her that his
tribe had become so angry at the doings of the settlers below the mountains,
that they were resolved that very night to massacre all the pale faces within
their reach. That if she would escape she must inform her husband speedily,
take to their boat and seek a place of safety before nightfall. And above all
to excite no suspicion if possible. Naoman then departed, and the wife at once
sought her husband. He was out on the river fishing. She called him to the
shore and told him the dread intelligence. No time was to be lost, and he at
once sprang from the canoe and sought his boat. It was partly filled with water
and some time was consumed in bailing it out. When it was finished and his wife
and children seated in it, Martelair bethought him of his gun which was in the
house. This he went back after, of course occupying a little time—oh! how precious, as it afterward proved. As he pulled off from
the shore, he did not notice the solitary Indian who was observing every motion
from the hillside. The frequent visits of Naoman to Martelair's family had
aroused the suspicions of the tribe, and a watch had been kept upon their
movements. This was the business of the Indian on the hillside, and when he saw
them going down the river in the boat, he at once ran to the village and gave
the alarm. Five stalwart chiefs at once ran down to the edge of the river,
jumped into their canoes and paddled swiftly after Martelair, who had already
gained a considerable distance. He saw them coming and strained every nerve to
escape. The boat quivered as it cleft the dancing waves in headlong speed,
obedient to the sturdy strokes of the oars, and left a trail of crested foam
behind. But Martelair saw that his pursuers were gaining on him rapidly in
spite of his efforts. Twice he dropped his oars and drew his rifle to fire upon
them, but his wife each time grasped his arm, telling him if he fired and
should after all be overtaken, they would be sure to obtain no mercy. He
refrained each time, and again bent to the oars with the energy of despair. His
island refuge was in sight; if he could succeed in gaining it he would bid
defiance to the whole tribe until some passing sloop or ship would relieve him.
The strength of his strokes almost caused the boat to bound
from the water. Great drops of sweat rolled from his forehead as he plied the
oars on that race for the lives of himself, his weeping wife and children. But
it was all in vain. He was overtaken within a hundred yards of the island
shore, and taken back with yells of triumph. (This island is opposite
"The Great Spirit never deigns to talk in dreams to a pale face," said the chief. "Woman, thou hast two tongues and two faces; speak the truth, or thy children shall surely die." The little boy and girl were then placed beside her, and the two savages stood by with drawn weapons to execute his orders.
"Will you name,'' said the chief, "the traitor who betrayed his tribe? I will ask three times."
The mother was pale and trembling, but did not answer.
"Will you name him?" said the chief. "This is the second time."
The tears gathered in the mother's eyes as she glanced at her husband and children. She stole a glance at Naoman, but the old chief was smoking as unconcernedly as though ignorant of their presence. She wrung her hands in silent agony but answered not a word.
"Again," said the chief, "will you name the traitor? This is the third time.''
The agony of the mother's mind was fearful. Bitter tears ran down her cheeks. The tomahawks were raised over the heads of the children for the death blow, and their voices were united in frightful cries for their mother to save them. She again glanced through her tears at Naoman, but his eye was as cold and indifferent as before. Still she kept her word. Another moment would be her children's last.
Suddenly Naoman rose to his feet. All paused and turned their eyes toward him. "Stop!" he cried with a tone of authority as he drew his majestic form to its fullest height: "The pale faced woman has kept her pledge. Braves, I am the traitor. I ate of the salt, warmed myself at the fire, played with the children, enjoyed the kindness of the pale faced Christians, and it was I who warned them of their danger. Braves, for many moons I have been your companion on the war path. I am old and useless in the war dance. I am a withered, leafless, branchless trunk; cut me down if you will, I am ready; but never let it be said that old Naoman forgot his friends." The old Indian's remarks were followed for a moment with perfect silence, but the Indian character could not appreciate the motives of his course; the next instant a yell of indignation arose from all sides. The old chief stepped down from the bank whereon ho had been sitting, and covered his. face with his mantle of skins; the next moment a tomahawk cleft his skull and ho fell dead at the feet of those he had so nobly died to save.
"Bit the sacrifice of Naoman," says Paulding, "and the firmness of the Christian white woman, did not suffice to save the lives of the other victims. They perished how, it is needless to say."
Many years have passed since then. The murdered and the murderers have long ago gone to meet their reward in the spirit land. Splendid farms and happy homes now occupy the scene of the tragic incidents attending the death of Martelair's family. But the memory of their fate has survived the lapse of time, and is still preserved by the name of the pleasant stream on whose banks they lived and died, which, to this day, is called Murderer's creek.
A REMINISCENCE OF THE WALLKILL.
Sluggishly the current of the Wallkill was rolling along one afternoon not many weeks ago. The morning had possessed all the requisites deemed so necessary to success in fishing as well as hunting,
"A southerly wind and a cloudy sky;"
but though I occupied about the best fishing ground along the stream, (a few miles above Pellet's Island bridge), had changed my base of operations many times, and had "cast my lines" in many pleasant places during the day, still the array of fish in my basket continued alarmingly small. At last scarce a nibble disturbed the serene repose of my line in the deep water, and allowing the end of my pole to drop in after the line, I leaned back on the rank wild grass that covered the bank, drew my hat over my eyes to keep off the glare of the sun that had just broke through the scattering clouds, and naturally enough, my thoughts recurred to the reminiscences that cluster around the vicinity of the gliding stream before me. How many a swift canoe had darted over its surface and followed its crooked course, rounding the bends with a graceful curve, obedient to the command of some stalwart Indian chief. How many a dark female of the woods, in all the regal beauty of her native wildness, had roamed along its banks, and had perhaps been wooed and won beside the sparkling water and beneath the overhanging boughs of the leafy maple and water birch, that then no doubt, presented an interminable forest on either side. Yes! and how many scenes of strife, and daring strategy, and wild ventures for life, and narrow escapes it had witnessed in the days when the bear, panther, wolf and red man mutually came from the dark recesses of their native fastnesses to bathe in and drink its limpid flood, long years before the white man and his attendant, civilization, had made themselves known in these mighty solitudes, where the Indian had indeed sought and found a home.
"Some safer world in depth of wood embrac'd,
Some happier island in the wat'ry waste,
Where slaves once more their native land behold,
No fiends torment, no Christians thirst for gold."
And, since the advent of civilization, how many companies of gay ladies and gentlemen had sailed over its surface, had discoursed with grammatical precision, had fished with all the ease and grace polite society confers, had flirted in the most approved style, and in all the pride of good looks that the most profuse use of paint could produce and the dignity of garments of the most fashionable make inspire; on the very spot perhaps where hundreds of years before the Indian wooed his dusky maid in all the simplicity of savage wildness, with no paint but the war paint that decked his every limb, in garments that had never felt the snip of shears or hiss of tailor's goose, and in language that can scarce be said to have a grammar. Yet death has sent them to mingle in one circle in the happy spirit land—either the "civilized" stripped of their pride, hypocrisy, art and science, or the savage at once put in possession of all these faculties by the hand of omnipotent power.
Many a social revel, in a friendly way, of hardy hands and honest hearts, and many a day of pure enjoyment, too, has this old stream seen. Happy days of fishing in the pleasant fall and summer months, and lucky days of hunting in the early spring, when the " drowned lands" are overflowed with melting snow and the spring rains for the distance of a mile or more on either side, and the wild duck and goose make it their home. Days of enjoyment too, that will cause it to be long remembered, as well alike by the pretty country maiden who has roamed along its side, as by the hard fisted farmer who frequented it to find respite from his daily toil. And there are other mementos of it that recall to mind sad and painful thoughts. It was near this spot not many years ago, that a young man in springing from a boat, in which were a number of ladies who had been upon a pleasure excursion, fell short of the shore and sank to rise no more in sight of his horrified companions. Only a few miles below here, and but a year or so ago, the lamented young Dr. Putney was drowned by the accidental upsetting of his canoe while out hunting. And well do I remember hearing old residents of the vicinity tell the particulars of another sad incident, which now occurs to my mind.
In the spring of the year 1827, the freshet upon the "drowned lands" was unusually high. The geese and ducks were holding high carnival on its wide extended surface and amid its submerged swamps. Duck shooting occupied the minds of all who were in the habit of taking an occasional holiday in that kind of amusement, or who had any relish for a bit of roast game now and then. The morning of the 15th of March of that year dawned exceedingly blustery and cold, but it did not deter two young men from leaving home to engage in a day's hunting along the Wallkill. They had their minds made tip a day or so before, and were determined to let no trivial circumstance disappoint them of a day's sport. One of them left a young and beautiful wife—a lady who attracted attention wherever she appeared by her handsome looks and imperial manner; in fact was the admired and envied of a large circle of acquaintances surrounding the then thriving little village of Brookfield. The other was unmarried. Both were men of good families and extensively known. The day passed away and they did not return. Another dragged its slow length along to the now alarmed and anxious families awaiting them, and still they did not come. Ah I look, young wife, through the long, long day, and sleepless, lonesome night, and mourn; and you, too, ye friends, for they never shall return in the pride of their strength and manhood. Their well known manly forms shall never again occupy their former places in the family circle. Never more shall their vivacious conversation, their ever ready jest, or their merry ringing laugh be heard this side the grave. For the unpitying waters of the Wallkill have taken them to its deadly embrace, and buried in eternal stillness the flow of their genial souls on earth.
How they struggled for life no mortal man may know. What agonized and frenzied feelings wrought their breasts in those long hours of suffering, no pen can ever tell, when after the upsetting of their canoe they found themselves so benumbed by cold and wet as to be unable to get it righted, and were forced at last to abandon it and make a last venture for life and the [p. 210] mainland. The water not being very deep here, in some places in reality of easy wading depth, (it was some distance from the main channel,) they struggled on through sunken morasses and dangerous quagmires with the desperation of despair. Alternately buoyed up with a faint hope, and anon hopeless, as obstacles were overcome and stronger ones came to view, till at last fatigue and cold crowded out the little spark of life, and they perished in sight of the dry land for which they were striving. The searching parties shortly after found them and dragged ashore the remains of these two unfortunate men, and many is the time the hard fate of Duncan Hulse and Milton Howell has been told around the evening fireside by those to whose memory it is as a tale of yesterday.
Years have passed since then, and time, as ever, has wrought its changes. Not long since I was standing in the streets of a neighboring village, when I chanced to notice a wasted female form passing by. Her faded calico dress was fluttering in the breeze like the last sere leaves of autumn that still cling trembling to the trees. A bonnet of straw that had apparently been bleached by the sun of many summers, with a single flower and bow-knot of the same faded hue adorning the top, completed her attire. Onward she passed with trembling hand and wild maniacal stare, with head ever shaking, shaking, and incoherent sentences constantly issuing from her lips. The boys stopped their play for a moment as she went by, and said, "Poor crazy Betsy." Yes, this was the once accomplished and beautiful bride, the admired and envied wife.
The waters of the Wallkill are still noiselessly gliding on,
"Onward, ever onward, and still on to the sea,"
unmindful of the incidents time brings beside its shores. Even so—
"Life is a stream—how fair its face,
How smooth its dimpling waters pace,
Its canopy how pure.
But rocks below, and tempests sleep,
Insidious o'er the glassy deep,
Nor leave an hour secure."
Yes, reader, such is life, and before many years you and I will disappear beneath its surface and be known on earth no more. But never mind,
"My friend, adown life's valley, hand in hand,
With grateful change of grave and merry speech,
Or song, our hearts unlocking each to each,
We'll journey onward to the silent land."