|WISNER ancestors, the MATTHEWS, Dr. BANCROFT, the SATTERLEE family,
whose head was the grandfather of the present SATTERLEE family, the HAMMONDS
and JENKINS. ‘Squire KONKLE was one of the earliest Justices of the Peace.
MILES and ROBERT COVELL established business here in 1807, and the last
survivor of these brothers, LYMAN, who came to reside permanently at a
later date, is still hale and well preserved, and respected, as one of
the honored representatives of the past. A settlement had been commenced
at Big Flats, and the afterwards well known families of GARDINER, WINTER,
REYNOLDS, and others, had established themselves there. The character of
the soil was especially adapted to wheat raising. The clearing away of
the oak scrub and lightly timbered pines offered a soil whose consituents
were excellently adapted to wheat. Along all the streams, which was generally
skirted with a predominance of pine or hemlock, this feature was noticed.
But the broad and capacious "pine plains," as they were then called, that
embraced the present town of Elmira, Big Flats and Horseheads, produced
the finest wheat. It was nothing strange for new ground to yield 50 bushels
per acre, and the average was from 20 to 25. This production, which made
a large proportion of the industries of the new country, called for the
establishment of a market, and some means to reach it cheaply. Attention
was therefore turned naturally to the commercial points within reach by
the navigable waters of the Conhocton, Chemung and Susquehanna Rivers.
Arks for the purpose were built at Bath or Painted Post, and at seasons
of high water, gathered in the wheat stored at various points along the
river to Elmira, and below, and then were navigated to the Canewaga Mills,
this side of Columbia, Pa., on the Susquehanna River, a great wheat mart,
even at that early day. A large proportion, also, was marketed at Baltimore.
Wheat was purchased for 44 cents to $2 per bushel, and sold for 65 cents
to $2.50. Lumber was sent down in rafts, in a similar way, and was worth
from $8 to $12 per thousand, according to quality.
Bath and Painted Post were settled soon after the settlement of Elmira, and a brisk communication was kept up between these points in barter and trade. The wheat and lumber traffic were the remunerative trade, which brought the most profit to our local merchants, many of whom based upon these the incomes which made them comparatively wealthy in after years. The first settlers found no grist mill nearer than Tioga Point. Thither in flat boats or canoes, they were compelled to convey all the grain, to be ground into flour or meal, excepting the hominy, which was made by pounding corn in the end of a stump, hollowed out for the purpose, after the Indian custom. The immense wooden pestle was attached to a sweep similar to those seen attached to wells for drawing water, even in those modern times. A quantity of corn was put in the hallowed stump, and then pounded thoroughly, and afterwards sifted for use by the neat housewife. But the return from the Point was the most tedious, as the boats or canoes had to be pulled up the stream by main force.
Besides the mill built at Newtown Point, soon after the settlement had got well under way, another was erected on the Creek, just above Hon. A. S. DIVEN’s place, by TUTHILL, MAXWELL & PERRY, some years after. About the same time, a third was erected on Seely Creek, by a man from Maryland. There were no manufactories of an extensive character, established at an early day. The first and most extensive distillery built, was that of JAMES and EBENEZER SAYRE, at Horseheads. This long did an immense business. The road leading to Horseheads was through woods, for the most part of the way between the present residence of SIMEON BENJAMIN, Esq., to the present village of that name.
Some attention was paid to the cultivation of fruit. The SAYRES set out an orchard, which became noted for its size and productions. Col. HENDY, the MILLERS and SLYS, had also planted fruit trees in the vicinity of Elmira.
There were a few of the first settlers who were deeply desirous of forming a Church, and encouraged stated preaching in the Court House. This was the burden and the ardent wish of old ‘Squire KONKLE, and when the Church was formally organized, so little had been his faith in its accomplishment, that he was led to exclaim that he desired to see nothing more than the erection of a suitable edifice for its accommodation. His wish was abundantly gratified, and amid such longing and prayerful, ardent desire, were the foundations of the present First Presbyterian Church of Elmira deeply laid, which still maintains so firm an establishment, and is the parent of other Church offsprings. The first preaching was by Rev. Mr. THACHER, a Presbyterian clergyman or missionary, from Wilkesbarre, who preached at stated seasons at the house of Col. HENDY. At a later date, after the building of the Court House, he was succeeded by Rev. SIMEON B. JONES, who established the first Church organization, in 1793. MARY HENDY, wife of Col. HENDY, and her daughter SARAH, were the first admitted Church members. The first Meeting House was afterwards erected on the present site of the First Presbyterian Church, which has been succeeded several times by improved and better edifices, until the erection of the present structure, which forms one of the most important and latest architectural features of our city.
The growth and occupation of the Valley continued to make quite rapid strides. The avenues of intercourse grew to be more extensive. Early methods of communication, done entirely by pack horses, or on horseback, were succeeded by serviceable and stout wagons, as soon as the first bridle paths could be cleared out and widened to a comfortable roadway for wheeled vehicles, between Elmira and Wilkesbarre. But it was some time before any vehicles for pleasure riding were introduced, and we believe that the late ROBERT COVELL was the first to import a one-horse wagon into the Valley. This excited much wonder and comment, as being such an innovation. But the example seems to have been contagious, for with the increase of settlements and improvement of roads, these were rapidly multiplied. The mail had been brought up once a week on horseback, by post boy, from Wilkesbarre, and it was not until 1812, that a man by the name of TETER began to run a post wagon over the same route.
Pioneers and new settlers began to multiply fast in every direction from Newtown as a centre, up Seeley Creek, about Big Flats and Horseheads, and down the River. The goodly report of the land, its kind and generous soil, the ready marketing of its products, and remunerative cultivation, incited the immigration of settlers, that now form busy hives of agricultural industries along all our streams and on our productive hills. This early prosperity received its first check in the war of 1812. An utter stagnation in business and industry followed. There was such a scarcity of money, and so little demand, that wheat, the great article of productive exchange, could not be got to market. It lay in the hands of farmers and buyers, a dead weight. The paralyzing effect was everywhere felt, and many prosperous business men almost gave up in despair. But the termination of the war allowed a slow revival again, and from that hour onward the settlement or surrounding country suffered little in the financial reverses which more frequently overtook the greater centres of exchange and trade.
In 1797, the thriving settlement of Newtown was visited by no less a distinguished personage than LOUIS PHILLIPPE, of France. He put up at the Kline House, and remained about 10 days. His career had been a chequered one, even at that early period of his life. He had passed some time in Switzerland, as a teacher, and afterwards served in the French army, as an aid-de-camp to a French General, under the assumed name of CORBY, until 1794. Suspicion was aroused as to his true character, and he left the army and country, and for some time kept up a retirement in Denmark. His father had perished on the scaffold, and his mother had been immured in a Paris dungeon, and his two brothers, the Duc de MONTPENSIER, and the Count de BEAUGARDOIS, had been confined in the Castle of St. Jean, at Marseilles. In 1796, communication was opened between their mother and the French Directory, and it was agreed that if she would persuade her son to visit the United States, the order of sequestration issued against their property should be removed, and her younger sons released and permitted to join theirs with their brother’s fortunes in America. In carrying out the terms of settlement, LOUIS PHILLIPPE embarked for America from Hamburgh, by the ship America, Capt. EWING, of Philadelphia, on the 24th of September, 1796, and in 27 days was landed in Philadelphia. The other brothers only reached the same destination after a tedious and dangerous voyage of 93 days. After the re-union of the brothers, they spent the winter in Philadelphia, invited and toasted by the best society. They paid their respects to WASHINGTON at Mount Vernon, and made quite a traveling tour through Virginia, Kentucky, and parts of Ohio, and at an early date, in June, reached Buffalo. On their way from Buffalo to Canandaigua, then quite in the virgin wilderness, they met ALEXANDER BARING, (afterwards LORD ASHBURTON), whom the future King had met in Philadelphia, and who had married a daughter of WILLIAM BINGHAM, a distinguished gentleman of that city. They engaged in a few minutes of conversation, after which each proceeded on his respective journey, Mr. BARING remarking to the King, according to Gen. CASS, that he had left an almost impassable road behind him, and the King answering by the comfortable assurance that Mr. BARING would find "no better one before him." The brothers reached Canandaigua, where they passed several weeks beneath the hospitable roof of THOMAS MORRIS, who then resided there. They continued their journey to Geneva, and here procuring a boat, embarked and made the voyage of Seneca Lake to its head. They rested here a few days with Mr. GEORGE WELLS, and then shouldering their packs, trudged on foot to Elmira, bringing letters to HENRY TOWAR, and other residents, from THOMAS MORRIS.
The contrast is a subject for the romancist, as well as the depiction of the artist, that one who entered the village on foot and bearing his pack, should so soon afterwards have reached the French throne. They boarded at the house previously mentioned, which was then kept by Mrs. SEELY, the widow of NATHANIEL SEELY. It took the name of the Kline House, subsequently, but in referring to the event, it was generously designated by that name then. They passed their days of sojourn here in hunting and fishing. When they were ready for their departure, Mr. TOWAR furnished them with a Durham boat, well fitted up, and in this they descended the Chemung and Susquehanna to Wilkesbarre, from whence they journeyed across the country, overland, to Philadelphia. Here, in a letter directed to his sister, the Princess ADELAIDE, of Orleans, the Duc de MONTPENSIER described their journey, saying: "It took us four months; we traveled, during that time, a thousand leagues, and always upon the same horses, except the last 100 leagues, which was performed partly by water, partly on foot, partly on hired horses, and partly in the stage or public conveyance. We have seen many Indians, and remained several days in their country. To give you an idea of the agreeable manner in which they travel in this country, I will tell you that we passed 14 nights in the woods, devoured by all manner of insects, after being wet to the bare skin, without being able to dry ourselves, and eating pork, and sometimes a little salt beef and corn bread."
Gen. CASS’ "History of France and its Kings and People," gives many interesting reminiscences of the views of the King. His history, after that, was known as a Monarch of France, the "Citizen King," as he was called for his mild, temperate reign; but he was finally compelled to flee for refuge in England, to give place to the present Emperor, NAPOLEON III.
At a later date, LOUIS NAPOLEON, the present Emperor of France, while spending his years of exile in this country, passed through this Valley. He put up at the same rude, primitive tavern, frequented by his predecessor on the throne, the Kline House. Many of the old residents recollect to have seen him, and remember him then to have been an energetic, athletic man. He appeared in very humble guise, and his accommodations at the log tavern, on the river bank, presented a strange contrast with the splendor and magnificence that attend NAPOLEON III., in the Palace of the Tuilleries. NAPOLEON had been traveling extensively through our country at the South-West, and pursued the usual route taken by travelers in passing from our interior Lakes to Philadelphia or New York.
AN OLD CHRONICLE.
A Rev. CLARK BROWN, who seems to have been an early resident of Newtown, wrote out a topographical description of the place, which found its way into the 9th volume of the Collection of the Massachusetts Historical Society, in the State Library at Albany. It was prepared in 1803, and affords much interesting matter relating to the settlement at that early date. We are permitted to publish it:
A Topographical Description of Newtown, in the State of New York, August, 1803.
"Newtown lies at the South-West corner of the County of Tioga. It is a half-shire (The Courts of the County sit half of the time in Chenango, 60 miles from Newtown.) The township is 13 miles square; but not more than ¼ of the land is under improvement. It was incorporated in the year 1793.
"BOUNDARIES.--South by the north line of Pennsylvania, in north latitude 42 degrees; east by Chemung; north by Catharines; and west by the pre-emption line, bounding the east part of a gore of land ceded to Massachusetts by the Legislature of New York.
"NEWTOWN VILLAGE.--The village lies on the north bank of Tioga River. The principal street is Water street, the houses and stores on which are compact; they stand fronting the River, at the distance of about four rods. There are two other streets laid out parallel to Water street, running east and west. From Water street there are eight cross streets leading north into two other long streets, but the greater part of the buildings are as yet on Water street, extending east and west nearly one mile. Most of the buildings have been erected within six years. It is a very flourishing place. There is a large country already settled, lying north and west of it, the surplus produce of which is brought to it for market. The produce of the country around the Seneca and Cayuga Lakes is brought here to be sent down the Susquehanna river, either to Baltimore or some of the towns north. To favor the intercourse between the inhabitants in the vicinity of the Lakes and those of Newtown, and to render transportation less expensive, the Legislature have granted an act of incorporation for making a turnpike road, extending from the village to the Lakes, which is a distance of 18 miles. It is expected that this road will be completed by the Autumn of 1804. The land on each side of the road is good, except a few miles which is low and swampy. On the front of the village, in the River, there is a small island, containing about eight acres. It is long and narrow. On it are growing several kinds of trees, which make a delightful shade in the hot season of the year. It is a retreat for parties of pleasure.
"The land in the village on Water street, is selling from $300-600, by the acre. The village is 367 miles from the Federal city, north 15 degrees east.
"SOIL AND PRODUCE.--The soil is generally good. Near the River it is that of a clayey nature. The land is suitable for grass, English grain, and corn. Most of the hay is made from good herds-grass. Large quantities of wheat are raised, and send down the Susquehanna in arks, constructed for the purpose. The arks carry from 10-1400 bushels each. Part of the wheat is sent to Baltimore. Between 40-50,000 bushels are sent down the Susquehanna, from Newtown, annually. The land is very favorable for raising stock. Fat cattle are carried to market down the River in arks. This is a much easier and cheaper way than driving them by land.
"The principal wood is the oak, walnut and maple; but birch, elm, butternut and pine, are not scarce. Adjacent to the village, for a little more than a mile each way, the timber is mostly pine and hemlock. The soil on which this grows, is not so clear and good as that which produces hard wood.
"Most of the pine timber is suitable for lumber, a considerable quantity of which is made and sent down the Susquehanna in rafts.
"The country at present does not produce much fruit. Peaches are more common than apples. In a few years, however, apples will be plenty, as farmers in general are paying great attention to nurseries and orchards. There are already several large orchards set out, which are highly flourishing, several of which begin to bear fruit. It is therefore probable that cider will be plenty here in a few years.
"Wild plums and apples are found in abundance in the woods in autumn. These make excellent preserves, and are gathered for this purpose by the inhabitants. The apple is about as large as a shagbark walnut, including the bark. It is, when ripe, hard and very tart. The plum is palateable and sweet. Some of them are red and others are yellow. Mandrakes are also found in the woods. They are gathered and preserved for sweetmeats.
"Several thousand pounds of good maple sugar are made in the town every year. It is likewise made in the adjacent settlements, and brought into Newtown for sale.
"ROADS.--The roads in and about Newtown are very good; much better than they are generally in old settled towns at the eastward.
"MOUNTAINS.--The greater part of the land is level. There are two mountains in the town, the larger of which is nearly four miles west of the village, extending north and south, and inclining two points and a half east from the north part of the town to the south. The other is 1 ½ miles east of the village. Its course is also north and south, inclining from the north part of the town, as it extends to the south part, one point west. The mountains are covered with bushwood and trees. They are very steep, and incapable of much improvement, particularly that on the west side of the village. They, however, occupy but a small portion of the town.
"STREAMS.--The Tioga river runs through the town from the west to the east, inclining, after it passes the village, almost a south-east course. It empties in the Susquehanna at Tioga Point, in the State of Pennsylvania, latitude 41 degrees 57’, 20 miles from Newtown village. By it the inhabitants have a connection, and maintain commercial intercourse with the towns on the Susquehanna, as far south as Baltimore, in the State of Maryland. It is navigable for boats, which carry from 20 to 5 and 20 tons, as far as the town called Painted Post, (Called by this name in consequence of its being the place where the different tribes of Indians, living in this part of the country, were accustomed to assemble to hold their councils and make their treaties. Here they erected a large post and painted it red, that it might be more easily known at what place to assemble. It is in the County of Steuben.) , 18 miles west of the village. At this place, there is a junction of two streams, forming the Tioga river; one of which comes from the north-east, and the other about one point south of west.
"There are two other streams, one of which is called Newtown Creek, and the other Seeley’s Creek. They both empty into the Tioga River. Newtown Creek rises south of the Seneca Lake. Its course is almost due south. It falls into the Tioga River at the east part of the village, forming by its junction with the River, what is called Newtown Point. It is a permanent stream, having its rise from durable springs. On it stand several grist and saw mills.
"Seeley’s Creek, so called, is a much smaller stream. Its course is by the east side of the mountain, already described, which lies on the west of the village. It empties into the Tioga River, at the south part of the town. It is called Seeley’s Creek, in consequence of a number of families, by name Seeley, originally settling near it. The land east of it, on which the settlements and improvements are, is excellent.
"In Tioga River, and Newtown Creek, there are caught several kinds of fresh water fish, viz: chub, pickerel, perch and trout. In the River shad are caught, in the spring; also a fresh water fish called Oswego Bass, (Called by this name because they were first caught in the Oswego River, which empties into Lake Ontario.) which weighs from 4-12 pounds.
"SALT.--The salt used in this and adjacent settlements is brought in wagons from the southern part of the Seneca Lake, which is 18 miles from Newtown village. It is made at the Onondaga Lake, which lies 27 miles north-east from the north end of Seneca Lake. Within eight miles hence, the salt is brought in boats on the Seneca River, in the place where it is joined by the Scayace River, it being no further boatable toward the Lake. From this place it is carried to the north end of the Seneca Lake in wagons, and then to the south end, a distance of 40 miles, in a sloop of 40 tons. The salt is much lighter than that brought from the West Indies; but it is in general much clearer and whiter. The salt spring is within half a mile of the Onondaga Lake; the water of which is salter than that of the ocean. It constantly emits water, in sufficient quantity for works of any extent. It is supposed that there are salt springs in Newtown, about eight miles north of the village. Should this prove to be a certainty, salt works will be immediately erected there.
"PRICE OF LAND.--The cleared and improved lands are as clear as they are in old settled country towns in Connecticut and Massachusetts. The new land, about six miles from the village, is from 20-24 shillings, York currency, by the acre. Lots are sold on six years credit; and three years without interest. The quality of the land is good, and easily cleared. It affords great encouragement to those who wish to purchase new farms. There is scarcely any cleared and improved land, except small lots in the village, for sale in the town. The country is considered very healthful.
"NUMBER OF INHABITANTS.--There are 2400 inhabitants in Newtown. These constitute about 300 families. There are 280 electors. There is not a person so poor as to be supported by the town. Most of the inhabitants, except those in the village, where the greater part are mechanics, merchants, and professional characters, are supported by agriculture. The inhabitants are rapidly multiplying every year, by new settlers. Mechanics are wanted, especially blacksmiths and carpenters.
"MILLS AND DISTILLERIES.--There are as yet hardly a sufficient number of saw mills to cut the lumber which is wanted, nor of grist mills to grind the grain which is used in the town. In the course of the present year, there is to be erected a flour mill, at the north end of Water street, on a large and improved plan, in which flour of the best quality will be made for the southern markets.
"There are seven distilleries; one of which, two miles east of the village, is on a new plan, as secured to the inventor by patent from Congress. The greater part of the spirits, which is whisky, is sold to the inhabitants living on the Susquehanna River. Some of it is sent down to Baltimore.
"SCHOOLS.--Parents are careful not to employ any but suitable persons for instructors to their children; such as are of good morals and have an acquaintance with the rules of reading, pronunciation and grammar. Considering there is no law in the State pointing out the qualifications of school-masters, or in any way regulating common schools, the conduct of parents in Newtown, in this respect, must be considered laudable, and highly worthy of imitation. It is probable that there will be an Academy established in Newtown village, in a few years. There are several gentlemen who are now anxious to have some of their children taught the languages.
"RELIGION.--Rev. DANIEL THACHER, a Presbyterian minister from the State of New Jersey, formed a Church in Newtown, about six years past. The Church is very small, consisting only of about 14 members. It is formed upon the Presbyterian plan, and upon the Westminster Confession of Faith. But the majority of the people are men of liberal sentiments, and desirous of procuring a Congregational minister. They have associated accordingly, for the purpose of supporting the public priviliges of the Gospel. They have formed and signed a constitution, by which they have severally bound themselves to pay what they have subscribed to the minister, whom the majority of a committee, consisting of 15 chosen for the purpose, shall procure and establish in the place. The committee are to obligate themselves to see the contract with the minister fulfilled. They do not propose to have the minister, whom they shall procure, consecrated in particular over the present Church; but to administer the ordinances to them, if they should wish it. If the male members of the present Church should insist upon an acknowledgement of a belief in the Westminster Confession of Faith, as an indispensable condition for admission into the Church, there will undoubtedly be a new Church established upon a more liberal plan, so that others cannot give their full assent to its articles of faith, may not, on that account, be debarred the enjoyment of ecclesiastical ordinances.
"PLACE OF PUBLIC WORSHIP.--The usual place for public worship at present, is the Court House. But they propose, as soon as they can procure a clergyman whom they wish to settle, to build a meeting house; to do which the present association for the support of public worship are abundantly able.
"The Western Wilderness, in a civil and moral sense, is beginning to blossom like the rose."
THE EARLY PIONEERS---WHERE THEY LIVED.
It may be interesting to put on record the places of residence of the early pioneers. GUY MAXWELL, who had laid out the village plot of Dewittsburg, composed of 100 acres, at a cost of $500, resided on Water Street, in a frame dwelling house, 32 by 23 feet. The dwelling house of Dr. HINCHMAN, Dr. SCOTT, PETER LOUP and CHRISTIAN LOUP, had been erected on Sullivan Street, where the first nucleus of a settlement began in 1740. MATHIAS HOLLENBACK’s house, partly frame and partly wood, was situated on Water Street; its dimensions were 29 by 20 feet. JOHN KONKLE, a Revolutionary veteran, lived in a frame house, 20 by 16, and died at the age of 70 years. Dr. JOSEPH HINCHMAN’s house was a framed dwelling, 38 by 30. He had been a Revolutionary soldier, and was Sheriff of Tioga County from 1795 to 1799. His death occurred in 1802, at the age of 40 years. SELAH MATTHEWS resided on the east side of Sullivan Street, where he died in 1833, at the age of 71 years; he had served in the war of the Revolution. PETER LOUP’s log house was 22 by 18, on Sullivan Street. On the east side was built the house of JOHN STONER, of hewn logs, 34 by 20. CORNELIUS LOWE resided on Water Street, near the site so long occupied by the house of LYMAN COVELL, in a log house 30 by 30, with a kitchen attached, 18 by 20 feet, and was afterwards known as the KLINE HOUSE, one of the earliest and most noted public inns.
The above settlers were the specimen pioneers, who were living independently in their frame and log dwellings about the village in 1798. We step back into the past, remove the hazy veil which has been drawn before the homes of the early pioneers, and in vision we catch glimpses of Newtown, in its primitive settlement--an accurate, if rude picture, of the rural hamlet 70 years ago. Around Hendytown, the early settlers after Col. HENDY, were Judge MILLER, who built a frame house on the present site of Col. FOSTER’s residence. The old frame is still in use for a tenement house. ADAM SLY came next, and purchased the next farm west of Col. HENDY’s, 600 acres. Justice BAILEY came early into the neighborhood, and worked for Judge MILLER and other settlers; he was a remarkably droll body, and full of practical jokes and sport. He took home a tow grain bag, on one occasion, with Judge MILLER’s initials upon it; he concluded to make it up into a pair of pants, which appeared with the letters on the seat, and in that ludicrous predicament he appeared before the neighborhood. The father and mother of Col. HENDY came and occupied land above Col. HENDY’s house. The old house which they occupied, is still in existence, on ROBERT WARNER’s farm, down near the river. The MINEGERS settled still further up, just above the Narrows; also, JOHN START, who was a singular character, morose, and always quarrelsome with his family. He used to say that he wished that the house would fall down on his wife. She afterwards burned to death, and he refused to attend her funeral. He wore a remarkable blue coat, which was trimmed with gold double eagle buttons. Next were the WINANS, who settled on the Big Flats. The BAKERS were early settlers in Hendytown. The SMITHS, two families, the parents of Dr. URIAH SMITH and of the Mrs. HOFFMAN, (cousins), who were afterwards the wives of WILLIAM HOFFMAN, settled on South Creek. The first death in Hendytown was a little girl of Judge MILLER, who, going to the spring to dip up water, fell in and was drowned. The burial places were then on the farms of the settlers.
There were, besides, Hon. VINCENT MATTHEWS, who was elected a Member of Assembly in the State Legislature in 1794 and 1795, and the first State Senator chosen from the Western District of New York, which position he held from 1796 to 1802, and after this served as a Representative in Congress from 1809 to 1811. BRINTON PAINE resided here for a number of years, a victim of the old British Prison Ship, and an officer of the American Revolution, taken prisoner while on active duty, and then maltreated, with many other suffering patriots. He died advanced in years, at the age of 81. Rev. ROSWELL GOUGH organized the first Baptist Church in the Chemung Valley, formed in 1790, at Wellsburg. There were also JOSEPH HELLER, JAMES BOWER, HENRY BALDWIN, CALEB BAKER, E. BENNETT and ELIJAH BUCK, who began the settlement at Buckville, in 1798, and was soon followed by Capt. McDOWELL and WILLIAM WYNCOOP. ISAAC BALDWIN, JOHN McHENRY, JOHN FITZSIMONS and SAMUEL VANCAMPEN, located not far from the old Chemung battle-ground.
The old record of one of the officers of SULLIVAN’s Expedition, states that Col. PROCTOR, who commanded the artillery, was sent by WASHINGTON, in March, 1791, with Capt. G. M. HOUDON, a French officer of distinction, who served in the Revolution, and Capt. WATERMAN BALDWIN, to CORN PLANTER’s village, on a certain mission. His journal narrates:
"Sunday, March 17th.--Dined at Mr. ISAAC BALDWIN’s, and halted for the night and reviewed the ground on which the British and Indians were entrenched for better than a mile, against the forces under Major-General SULLIVAN, August, 1779. I also saw many traces made by our round and grape shot against them, and a large collection of pieces of 5 ½" shells, which I formerly had the pleasure of causing to be exploded among them."
The pile of shells, for a long time was kept as a curiosity or a memento of the battle-field, and lay at the north-west corner of the old dwelling house of Col. ISAAC BALDWIN. The house of WILLIAM DUNN, who lived to the great age of 90 years, and who had been active in the Revolution, was situated on the bank of the River, considerably east of Sullivan Street. NATHANIEL W. HOWELL was a near neighbor. Of these old buildings, to some of which we have made allusion, only one remains--in the east part of the Valley, we believe--that of an old log house built by one of the LOUPS, on Sullivan Street. But in those primitive days, all these humble dwellings were esteemed as much as villas, city residences or palaces are at the present day. As we look upon the last vestiges, where moss now crops out around the crumbling door sill and festoons the shattered window pane, we cherish them as the funeral weeds of the past, marked with so much peace and joy to the early settlers, who lived in comfort and plenty, and with the ordinary lot of sorrows. Here, too, they loved and wooed, and acted their parts well on this circumscribed stage, and indulged in romances as impassioned and strange as any recorded in literature. But their footsteps are now silent, their voices are hushed in the grave, and the record they left is written on the future growth and prosperity of the present City, whose foundations they firmly planted. These early pioneers were men of great energy, perseverance, far-seeing sagacity, original thinkers, and could well adapt themselves to the circumstances of pioneer life. There were no pigmies among them--they were stalwart men--and with truth it might be said of them, as of the men of old: "There were giants in those days." The settlements commenced in 1788, and the larger proportion were in this Valley early as 1790. Few, with the modern comforts and luxuries distributed in and about their homes, can realize the toils, privations, discomforts and sufferings of these hardy settlers; or can well estimate what they gave up, when they emigrated from the old settlements, surrounded by the comforts and advantages of schools and the "church-going bell," to battle the privations to which they were subjected in forming a new settlement in wilderness forests, the haunts of the wild beast and the roaming places of the uncivilized Indian.
These, who first located at Tioga Point, found no mill nearer than Wilkesbarre; and those who afterwards came up to Newtown Point or Town, were compelled to carry the grain to Tioga. It was taken in canoes down the Chemung and Susquehanna, and with difficulty and ardor pulled back up the streams again. The distance, in the former instance, was 90 miles, and in the latter, 20. But with all privations and difficulties, the indomitable American spirit would not allow the wilderness to remain unpeopled. There was a pride of New England independence to become land-owners--tillers of the soil. The early marriages and multiplication of families, led to seek new homes in the virgin wilderness, and with the axe and rifle to hew and make safe the road to fortune and modest fame. The Indian clearings along the river were taken advantage of, and then with little labor brought forward crops of potatoes and corn, the first staples of the frontier. Afterwards followed waving fields of wheat, rye and barley.
Meat was supplied in the fish, fowl and game, which were the legitimate sports of the gun, net, or rod and line. These were plentiful, and necessity developed expertness in their capture. The rifle was their constant companion, and most relied upon to furnish meat for the household, as well as to defend against enemies or savage neighbors. The utmost good fellowship and generosity everywhere prevailed. One kind deed led to another. Men never hesitated on account of distance, in doing a deed of kindness. Not infrequently a gathering from 20 miles around assembled at some frontier log house or barn raising, and in some instances men went 30 miles to do some friendly office for their distant neighbor. Hospitality unfeigned, and interested kindness, always welcomed beneath the humble roof. No comer was debarred the plain, kindly fare, which was always set out in abundance, if not in the latest style of the French cuisine. More than all, meanness and selfishness were never characteristics of the hardy pioneers; these were frowned upon, and became the legacies of a more advanced civilization, which they never lived to look upon. Each shared cheerfully with the other of his abundance, and never rejected a request to assist in work or pleasure--good offices and friendly favors passed one to the other. The man readiest to assist his neighbor, in turn was earliest aided, when through necessity or misfortune he stood in want of sympathy or help.
But when population increased, as it did rapidly from the year of the first settlement, these generous and heartfelt impulses of a virgin age gradually disappeared, although for many years the characteristics of these fortunate and happy people. The country became more densely populated, the land grew more costly, and then rival and envious strifes were engendered peculiar to thickly populated portions of the country. Selfishness and narrow views prevailed, and controversies crept in about division lines and property limits. The primitive way had been to "leave out" to a few unprejudiced neighbors all such disputes, but such confiding trust in one another for the ends of justice, was undermined. The first lawyers who came were not pettifogers and mischief brewers, but inclined to peace; and instead of fostering and embittering differences, strove to settle all disputes, with the aid of good citizens, by arbitration. This good old rule was long allowed to maintain its ascendancy.
Early attention was paid to the construction of school houses, and these nurseries of learning were well attended. Houses of worship followed, of a simple style of architecture, but ample in room and comfortable for the wishes of the humble and unpretending inhabitants. They dotted the country here and there, and were patronized by devoted worshippers. Looking back and comparing the people who settled in this Valley with the pioneers of other regions, it may be doubted whether there could be found a race of men superior in every vocation and profession. They were truly, and in every sense, nature’s noblemen. Perhaps the lives and character of the primitive professional men of any region, afford as good an impression of the standard character of the people as any other source. Physicians are usually the first in demand in all pioneer regions, as we therefore append a sketch of some of the earliest comers. The sketches were communicated to the Elmira Academy of Medicine, in 1863:
DR. JOSEPH HINCHMAN.--Dr. JOSEPH HINCHMAN, late of Newtown, (now Elmira), Chemung County, was born at Jamaica, on Long Island, on the 28th of August, 1762. He was the son of Joseph and Anna Hinchman. His mother’s name, before marriage, was Anna Griffin. His grandfather’s name was also Joseph.
His father and grandfather were both physicians and surgeons. Surgical instruments of singular shape, which had been used by all three of them, were in possession of Mrs. Stella Avery, of Owego, a daughter of the last Dr. HINCHMAN, until June, 1852, at which time, by an unfortunate burning of her dwelling house, they were destroyed or lost. Guy John Hinchman, Esq., of Doon, New Jersey, a brother of Mrs. H., has in his possession some instruments of surgery, used by the last Dr. Hinchman, but not of as ancient date as those that were lost.
Joseph Hinchman the elder, had sons, Joseph, James and William. The children of Joseph (the second) and Anna, were John, James, Nathaniel, William and Mary; and Joseph, late of Newtown. The father of the latter was surgeon of an English vessel of war, in August, 1757, and his uncle was surgeon’s mate. Their vessel was wrecked while cruising among the West India Islands, a little to the north of Hayti, in north latitude 20 degrees, 10’, west longitude 68 degrees 15’. Twenty-four only of the whole number on board escaped in a yawl, including the two brothers. For four days they were without food or water, in an open yawl. At the close of the 4th day they fell into the hands of the French, and were taken to Cape Franceways Jail, where they were placed in confinement. While they were confined there, the engagement on that coast took place, Oct. 21st, 1758, between a formidable French naval force, consisting of four ships of the line and three frigates, under the command of M. Kersin, and three English frigates, (the Augusta, Edenboro and Dreadnaught,) under Commodore Forest, where the English gained a decided advantage, notwithstanding their inferiority of force. On the 24th November following, an exchange of prisoners took place, and the two brothers were liberated. They proceeded at once to New York, and thence to Long Island, where they found their families. A minute account of the wreck, and their subsequent confinement in jail, and of the naval engagement, in the handwriting of Surgeon Joseph Hinchman, and kept in the form of a diary, is now in possession of Mr. C. P. Avery, of Saganaw.
Not long after his return, he established at Jamaica, Long Island, a hospital for poor persons afflicted with the small pox, and attended upon them himself, in person. He died when his son Joseph was quite young; and at the age of about 16 years the latter, who is the subject of this sketch, entered as a soldier in our national struggle for independence. He was in several severe engagements, and was in camp at Morristown during a winter of great privation and sorrow. When the term of his enlistment expired he studied medicine with his uncle, in Florida, Orange County, NY, and commenced his medical practice at Minnisink. On the 20th December, 1787, he married Zuriah Seeley, a daughter of B. Seeley, of Milford, on the Delaware. He removed to the town of Chemung, in the County of Montgomery, (afterwards Tioga, and now Chemung,) in June, 1788, settling upon what has since been known as the Lowman farm. In the year 1793 or 1794, he removed to Newtown, (now Elmira), where he had an extensive practice as a physician and surgeon.
By a commission which is dated February 18th, 1795, he was appointed, by Governor George Clinton, Sheriff of the County of Tioga, which then comprised within its limits, Chemung, the present County of Tioga, Broome, and a portion of Chenango. On the 13th November, 1800, he was appointed, under the seal of the State, by Governor John Jay, Commissioner to inspect and improve the road leading from Catskill Landing, in the County of Greene, to Catherinestown, in the County of Tioga.
In personal appearance he was of medium size, and florid complexion. His manner were affable and pleasing, and at the same time his energy of character was remarkable. He died July 23, 1802, having secured to himself many warmly attached friends; and among those who most lamented his early decease, (for he was only about 40 years of age), were Dr. Christian Scott, a German by birth and a scientific man much respected by many, but not popular with all. Among his intimate friends not belonging to the medical profession, was Guy Maxwell, one of the leading men of the vicinity in which he lived and died--in honor of whom the Doctor named one of his sons Guy M.;--Vincent Matthews, a veteran of the legal profession, and one of the best counsellors of his day, formerly of Newtown, late of Rochester, now deceased; William Dunn; and the pioneer John Hendy, late of Elmira; Eleazor Dana, late of Owego; Joshua Whiting, late of Broome; Sherman Page, late of Otsego; Matthew Carpenter, formerly County Clerk of Tioga; and Judge Edmund Coryelle, late of Tioga, were all very warmly attached friends of Dr. HINCHMAN. Letters from most of the gentlemen above named, are now in possession of the Doctor’s descendants, containing very cordial expressions of confidence and attachment.
Dr. HINCHMAN was one of the favored few to whom the Masonic Order had unfolded its beauties to an extent not always enjoyed by the brothers of the Mystic Tie. In an upper room of his dwelling house, which was close by the old Court House, the fraternity held their regular meetings. It was there where many of the pioneers of old Tioga took upon themselves the first obligations of the Order. Some of the them are now living, but have passed the meridian of life, and they recur with pleasing recollection to those "days of auld lang syne."
Dr. HINCHMAN was the first person buried in the new burying ground at Newtown, which is now called the "old one of Elmira."
Dr. NATHAN BOYNTON.--Dr. BOYNTON was born on the 30th day of June, 1788, in the town of Wendell, Hampshire County, Mass. His father was a farmer. His mother’s name, before marriage, was Flagg. Dr. HOYNTON had six brothers, all of whom are now dead, excepting one. He had two sisters, and one of them only is now alive. When NATHAN was seven years old, his parents moved to the town of Worcester, Otsego County, NY; there he lived till his 19th year, when he moved with his elder brothers, to the town of Madrid, in the County of St. Lawrence, where he remained five years. In the month of March, 1814, he commenced the study of medicine with Dr. Colby KNAPP, in the town of Guilford, Chenango County, with whom he remained three years. He attended a course of lectures at Fairfield in the years 1816-17. In February of the latter year he received a license from the Censers of Chenango County, and immediately began the practice of his profession at Bainbridge, in the same County. There he married Miss Sepha Stowell, and continued practice for 18 years. He then removed to Southport, Chemung County, and spent five years, principally in the lumber business. In May, 1839, he left Southport and came to Elmira, and for several years was actively engaged in medical business. His death occurred in June, 1859.
Dr. BOYNTON was an active, ambitious and prominent man in the profession. His career was somewhat diversified, and a full and correct portraiture of his life and character would be one of great interest. We will not attempt the delicate task, but content ourselves with the hope that hereafter some one may do justice to his more than ordinary qualities of mind and the place which he has filled in the medical profession.
Dr. ELIAS SATTERLEE.--Dr. SATTERLEE was the youngest son of Mr. Benedict Satterlee of Wyoming, who was the father of 12 children; the old gentleman died when ELIAS was three years old, and a short time afterwards, his mother, then in the last stages of consumption, was obliged to flee with her family on account of the bloody massacre of Wyoming by the Indians. The company with which she was making her escape fled to Athens, then called Tioga Point, but Mrs. Satterlee did not survive the journey. From this time till the age of 20, ELIAS was brought up by some of his relatives in the Eastern States. But he returned to Athens soon after he became of age, and commenced the study of medicine in that place with Dr. Hopkins. He practiced there a few years, and then came to Elmira in April, 1853 at the age of 30.
He boarded with lawyer Matthewson, whose residence was where the Brainard House now stands, and he had an office nearly opposite the street, on the river bank. In December 1805, he married Miss Elizabeth Smith, whose death occurred Jan. 9th, 1867, at the residence of her grandson, on Gray Street. From this time till her death, Dr. SATTERLEE did a large practice, and was regarded as almost the only physician of the place during that period. He was the first physician that practiced midwifery here, in which department he was quite celebrated. He was accidentally killed by the discharge of a gun which was undergoing repair at the gunsmith’s. It was not supposed to be loaded, and while the barrel was fastened in a vice, the smith was snapping it to see if the lock was right. The Doctor happening to be in with his little boy, stepped immediately in front of the piece, that his child might have a better view of the operation, and witness the smith’s manoeuvres. After snapping several times, the gun finally discharged, and the ball entered the Doctor’s abdomen near the naval, and remained in the body. The Doctor was aware that the accident would prove fatal in a short time. He was taken to his own house, where he made his will and gave directions about his wordly affairs in a calm and collected manner. He died four hours after the injury.
His family consisted of two sons and three daughters. One of his sons studied medicine, and graduated at Fairfield. He then went as a missionary to the Pawnee Indians, and never returned; it is not known where he died. The other son, Timothy SATTERLEE, died Dec. 3d, 1857. The daughters are all living. One of them was the wife of the late Dr. Purdy. One is the wife of Thomas Dunn, of Wisconsin, and the other is the wife of the Rev. Mr. Lewis, of one of the Western States. The Doctor was below the medium size, straight and active, with an expressive countenance. He died Nov. 11th, 1815.
Dr. C. W. BLISS.--In the year 1828, Dr. BLISS came to Elmira from Susquehanna County, Pa., where his parents resided. He was then 23 years of age, and had lately graduated at the Fairfield Medical College. He was a kind and social man, and gave more than ordinary promise of success and usefulness in his profession; but he had been here only two years when he was taken sick of bilious fever, and died. His body was interred in the burying ground by the Baptist Church, where his tomb-stone may now be seen, bearing the following inscription: "Dr. C. W., son of Zenas and Polly Bliss; died July 18th, 1830; aged 25 years, 6 months and 20 days."
Dr. H. MOSHER.--In the years 1831, Dr. H. MOSHER emigrated hither from Orange County, in the 29th year of his age. He had a classic education, and was a self-made man. He was for several years the Principal of an Academy in Orange County. His medical attainments were good, having graduated at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York. He was married when he came here. He commenced practice here with very flattering prospects. He was possessed of both intelligence and energy, and was devoted to his calling. But he was the victim of consumption, which terminated his existence three years after his settlement here. His affectionate and attentive wife administered to his wants during his long illness, and after his death she married another physician, and now lives in Quincy, Ill. He left no children. He was buried in the Baptist church yard, by the side of Dr. Bliss, and his epitaph reads as follows: "Dr. H. MOSHER, died Feb. 24, 1834, aged 32 years."
Dr. CHRISJOHN SCOTT.--Dr. SCOTT was a German. He came to Elmira from New York City, previous to the year 1800. He brought with him from the City an old lady and her two daughters, to keep house for him and be his servants. He was about 30 years of age at this time. He soon married a Miss Hannah Paine, daughter of Judge Paine, of Horseheads, but he never had any children by her. She, after his death, re-married, and had a family. He was a large and jovial man, weighing over 200 pounds. He used to ride in a gig, and drove two horses tandem. He was noted as a great story teller, and pretended to have the power of divination. He mingled magic with his medicine, and consulted his diamond stone as often as his Dispensatory. He used to say that he once encountered the Devil himself in the Chemung Narrows; the Devil was defeated, and left, saying that he would come again. He used to be a fine player on the violin, and was fond of all kinds of amusements. Those who knew him say that he was well educated; it was certain that he possessed surgical instruments and pretended to be a surgeon. He was absent in the City much of the time, where he was supposed to practice medicine some. He died of dropsy, at the age of 40, or thereabouts. He was quite poor. It is supposed that he was buried in the lower burying ground; no stone can be found to mark his resting place.
Dr. AMOS PARK.--In 1793, Dr. AMOS PARK came from Orange County to Newtown settlement with his family, then consisting of his second wife and an indefinite number of children. Little is known with accuracy of his previous life, except that at one time he had acted as Sheriff either in Orange County, or a neighboring part of the State of New Jersey; that he was something of a soldier in the Revolution, and particularly hostile to the Tories; there is no good evidence, however, that he ever took part in the war.
At the time he came to Newtown to live, there were not more than six families existing within the bounds of the present corporation, and the whole surrounding country was an unbroken forest. He built him a frame house, the first one ever erected in Elmira, on the bank of the River, where the Gas Works now stand, in which he continued to live as long as he remained in the place, and which he afterwards sold, in 1812, with the land on which it stood, for the trifling sum of $37, as a record in the County Clerk’s office will show. It cannot be supposed that his medical practice was otherwise than very limited for several years, till, as immigration prospered, the population began to increase. Indeed, he was quite as much engaged in preaching the Gospel in those early days, as in the practice of medicine. He was the first minister as well as the first physician in Elmira. For a time he preached regularly to the primitive Presbyterians and others who were disposed to hear him, in the old log Court House, then located in the eastern part of the village.
Being the only doctor in this region, he was always called upon in sickness, and was considered quite skillful; he often went as far as Big Flats, and in other directions equally distant, to visit the sick, although he seldom had a horse of his own; his employers had to furnish him with one to ride, otherwise he always went on foot. His principal business must have consisted in the management of intermittent fever, then universally prevalent in the country, and in the practice of innoculation for small pox, prior to Jenner’s discovery of the efficacy of vaccination. He seems to have been a man possessed of great solicitude for his own comfort, as exemplified by the following incident: One cold December night he was roused from his slumbers by one Mrs. Wynings, who had come several miles through the deep snow on horseback, and leading another horse for the Doctor to ride. By much persuasion, he at length dressed himself as warmly as possible, and mounting the second horse, followed the woman towards her home. He had hardly left his own door, however, when he began to complain of the cold, and ere long his murmurs lest his feet should freeze, became so constant and incessant that the warm-hearted Mrs. Wynings took the over-socks from her own feet and drew them on over the Doctor’s boots; and thus the man’s legs were kept warm by the woman’s stockings.
About the year 1812, beginning to experience the infirmities of age he went to reside with a son then living in Canada West. He visited Elmira once subsequently, and on his return went to see his daughter, the wife of Abram Sly, of Hoyt’s Corners, Seneca County, where he died, and where the daughter is still living. The Doctor had about 20 children by his two wives, many of whom died in early life, and how many of the remainder still survive is not known. We should not neglect to state that Dr. PARK was a Free Mason, and long held the highest office in the first Masonic Lodge of this place, which was in fact organized by him.
In person the Doctor was about medium size, but corpulent, weighing 200 or over; he wore his hair in a cue, and when respectably dressed was a fine looking man; he was fluent in speech, and must have been endowed with more than ordinary talent, but what the extent of his education was, or whether he possessed any license to practice medicine, is not easy to ascertain. He was worth little property, and his family were sometimes nearly destitute of the necessaries of life, yet they were regarded as the most respectable citizens of the day.
Dr. URIAH SMITH was born in Southport, Chemung County, in the year 1799; was the son of Timothy Smith, and brother-in-law of Dr. Satterlee. He commenced the study of medicine with Dr. Lemuel Hudson, in the year 1818; after remaining with him three years, he received a license from the Censors of Tioga County, and immediately began the practice of his profession at Elmira, where he continued to practice up to the time of his death, Sept. 14th, 1864. During his prime he had an extensive practice, in Southport and Elmira. For his gentle manner and kindly interest he was always much esteemed by his patients, and enjoyed the confidence of the old residents long after Elmira had put on City ways. He lived, at the time of his death, where he pleasantly passed the waning years of his life, corner of College Avenue and First Street.
Dr. JOTHAM PURDY was born in Westchester County, NY, May 4th, 1799. At the age of five years his father’s family removed to Spencer, Tioga County; at 18 he commenced the study of medicine with Dr. Beers, of that place; attended lectures at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York City, and was admitted to practice in the year 1821; remained at Spencer two years, when he came to Elmira, where he continued the practice of his profession, until the time of his sudden death, Aug. 11th, 1858, aged 59 years. He married Dr. Satterlee’s eldest daughter. He was one of the Charter members of Union Lodge, of which he was repeatedly its Master, and at the time of his death was High Priest of Elmira Chapter; was also a Knight Templar. Early in his practice, Dr. PURDY earned the reputation of a surgeon, and he retained this up to the time of his death. For many years he did almost exclusive surgical practice, and was looked up to as the best surgeon in this region; his reputation brought him calls far and near. While he was not confined strictly to surgery, still this portion of his practice had much predominance. He was bold and independent as an operator.
Dr. THESEUS BROOKS was born in Berkshire County, Mass., in 1778; he removed to Chenango County, with his father’s family, about the year 1800; he studied medicine with the late Henry Mitchell, M. D., of Norwich, NY, and practiced his profession a few years in Chenango County; he removed to Big Flats, Chemung County, in the year 1821, where he continued to reside, having an extensive practice, until the year 1835, when he removed to Elmira, where he died in March, 1856, aged 68 years. He was father of Hon. E. P. Brooks, of this City, and of the late Henry C. Brooks. He was a physician who singularly obtained the affection and good will of his patients; among the lower classes his mild manner and ready acquaintance always made him welcome. He was successful, as a physician, in accumulating quite a property. To the last he still maintained his practice among those who had been long his cherished friends or acquaintances.
Dr. N. ASPINWALL, who long practiced in Cayuga County, and afterwards removed here to spend a ripe old age, practiced to some extent during the first years of his residence. Having ample means of his own, and possessing all needful worldly comforts, he never depended upon his practice here as a means of support. He was much esteemed for his true worth and estimable character. He was born in Connecticut, in 1778, and died here July 3d, 1861, at the advanced age of 83 years.
VINCENT MATTHEWS, who came from Orange County, was one of the first lawyers who located at Newtown; a man of eminent talents, one of the most distinguished in the State. He represented the County in Assembly, State Senate and Congress. He afterwards removed to Rochester, having been in the mercantile trade previously, and failed. He established himself in Rochester about 1816, when that city was in its infancy, grew up with the city, and became the most distinguished at the legal bar. He died only a few years ago, at an advanced age. His relatives still reside in this Valley.
GEORGE C. EDWARDS was from New England, a scion of the PIERPONT EDWARDS family, a man of fine education, and a sound lawyer. He taught Judge DUNN, later, while a law student. At his first coming he engaged in school teaching; he governed with an iron rule, and was prosecuted once for flogging one of his pupils. He became a partner of MATTHEWS. After the latter removed from the place, he practiced awhile alone, and then went to Bath in 1820. He became the first Judge of the Common Pleas of the County of Steuben, and died there in 1838 or thereabouts; his death was quite sudden, from bilious cholic. He was esteemed a sound and able jurist, but no advocate. He never attempted to plead a case in Court. He married an aunt of George Carpenter, of this City.
JAMES ROBINSON came from Massachusetts, he was a man of thorough and polite education, but his habits were dissipated. He was one of the first lawyers. With his education he lacked that practical business talent and common sense that might have given him worldly success; he was a fine writer, of peculiar literary attainments, but never succeeded as a lawyer. He was elected to the office of Justice of the Peace, which he held for many years; he was well qualified, and gave excellent satisfaction in the position; his peculiar fondness for dogs and other dumb animals, was remarkable. He died in 1842, of ossification of the heart, at the age of 62; before his death the disturbance of the circulation of the blood caused gangrenous disease of the feet. He was a man of fine sensibilities, was fond of music, especially of Church music, took an important part in the village choir, and was a marked character in community. The anecdotes told of his eccentricities are innumerable.
GRANT B. BALDWIN and WILLIAM MAXWELL were a firm which began practice about 1815. Judge JAMES DUNN entered their office as a student at the age of 14. BALDWIN became the first Common Pleas Judge of Tioga County; was Postmaster and Member of Assembly. He was in appearance a fine looking, portly man; he was the father of MORRIS BALDWIN, now a resident of Horseheads; he died in 1840, or paralysis; his father kept the tavern five miles below Elmira, and was an officer in SULLIVAN’s Expedition.
WILLIAM MAXWELL was a son of GUY MAXWELL; after several years devoted to practice, he left the profession and became a Cashier of the Chemung Canal Bank, where he continued for 10 years. At that time the Bank became somewhat embarrassed, during the money pressure of 1837, which lasted to 1842, a misfortune which extended to all the Banks of the State, when it became necessary to suspend specie payments. A change of Directors and officers took place. He was then in easy circumstances, and the amount of private business demanded much of his time. He also added to the care of his real estate that of the agency of the Lawrence tract of wild land, situated in Southport. About this time he became greatly interested in the project of the first Erie Railway, which was designed to be built on piles; he was one of the original Directors; this fell through, and he sustained some loss; but he afterwards lived to see the project fully completed. He was the very pattern of kind-heartedness and generosity; he never refused a kindness to a friend, and by endorsements sustained quite serious pecuniary losses. He was a Member of Assembly twice, and also served in the Constitutional Convention of 1846, and was the first member elected to the Assembly after its adoption. He was elected as a member of the old Hunker party, by Whig votes, against the Barnburner split. There was a time when he was the most popular man in the county. He died of paralysis, in 1858.
WILLIAM H. WISNER came with his father, HENRY WISNER, from Orange County; he studied with MATTHEWS. He was the most promising young lawyer ever raised in Chemung County; he was an unsurpassed advocate. He practiced in company with MATTHEWS and EDWARDS a short time, and gave indication of becoming one of the most distinguished lawyers of the State, marked as a speaker, powerful as an advocate. At this stage he was converted, and after studying Divinity about a year, began to preach. He remained here for a while, and then accepted a call to Ithaca, where he remained for many years, then went West, but afterwards returned to that village, and for years sustained a wonderfully successful pastorate. He still resides in that village, but resigned his pastorate in 1855. No one is more honored and respected, and his old Church have surrounded him with every joy and comfort of a revered old age.
SAMUEL S. HAIGHT was from Orange County, and married a sister of VINCENT MATTHEWS; was here among the earliest lawyers; he was in business with MATTHEWS for a while; he was an active, nervous, energetic man, a rapid talker, not deeply versed in legal lore. He left here and went to Bath; his son, FLETCHER M. HAIGHT, was educated at Bath, and was regarded quite eminent as a lawyer, before he removed to San Francisco, where he grew up with that city as one of the most distinguished members of the Bar. He was the father of the present Governor of California. The father and grandfather, SAMUEL S. HAIGHT, died at the advanced age of 80 years and upwards, at Angelica, a few years since.
STEPHEN SEDGWICK, the father of the Syracuse SEDGWICKS and uncle to Gen. SEDGWICK, practiced his profession here for a short time; he was regarded as one of the keenest intellects, and in trial of a cause was quite the match of MATTHEWS, who was regarded, as an advocate, his superior. He possessed brilliant and fascinating intellectual power, was a large, brawny-looking man, gigantic in form as well as intellect. He became a victim of intemperance, and died, leaving a wife and two children, who became the founders of the present distinguished families of SEDGWICK.
STARKWEATHER was another young legal light; came 10 or 15 years after SEDGWICK had left. He was really a prodigy--a man of the greatest genius; was a tailor by profession; picked up his legal knowledge, yet baffled old BEN JOHNSON and lawyers of that ilk. Audiences at the Court House would gaze and be thrilled with astonishment at his original forensic displays. He was here only a short time, having come from Owego.
THEODORE NORTH came in 1823, from Connecticut, his father having been a soldier in the Revolution. He was a sound lawyer, highly educated; suffered much from asthma all his life; he died here in 1842, at the age of 62. He was one of the finest writers in the country; a most industrious man, a well read and as profound a lawyer as ever lived here. He and Judge JAMES DUNN married sisters, the latter being in partnership with him for several years, and commenced practice with him. His previous partner was Judge HIRAM GRAY.
AARON KONKLE came from New Jersey; was among the first settlers. He lived down at the lower end of town, on the bank of the River; he was a man of excellent good habits and morals, attentive and punctual in business matters, and thoroughly devoted to his profession; exemplary, peculiar for his seclusion in business, extremely attached to his family, was always home; economical, prudent, and accumulated a fine property. He rather lacked discrimination as an advocate, but was especially fitted for office business; he failed to discern the bearing of law, but his industry was indefatigable. He never sought office or meddled with polics, although his political faith, of the old Federal stamp, never allowed him to see anything good in Democracy, and his opposition was unchanging and unvarying. He died only a few years ago, at the age of 76 years. He was always a man of strictly temperate habits.
The earliest clergyman, as we have before mentioned, was Rev. DANIEL THATCHER, who came here as a missionary of the General Assembly Board of Missions, in 1795; he was successful in planting the seeds of the present Presbyterian Churches of this City; he left for other missionary duty, and afterwards died at Wysox, Pa.
Dr. AMOS PARKE preached occasionally or statedly, after the departure of Mr. THATCHER, under a license from a New Jersey Ecclesiastical body. He apostatized from the faith, and was, after confessing his wrong of infidelity, received back into the Church.
Mr. BRINTON PAINE officiated a while after the defection of Dr. PARKE.
Rev. CLARK BROWN, of New England, whose old chronicle appears elsewhere, was a regular settled minister for a few weeks; he afterwards became a Unitarian.
Rev. JOHN SMITH, of Dighton, Mass., followed, although he had no formal connection with the Church; he supplied the pulpit, while he was engaged attending to certain secular business which had called him thither; he died here, and with his wife was buried in the old Cemetery, near the Baptist Church.
Rev. SIMEON R. JONES was born in Pennsylvania or New Jersey. He entered upon the pastoral charge in January, 1805. He was the earliest pastor, taught school, and preached in the old Court House; he was a loud, earnest talker, and not much versed in theology, strictly, but his preaching was pretty well adapted to those times. The preachers, in those days, dwelt especially upon the terrors of religion to change the heart, rather than the gentleness of the reign of Christ. He came here when ungodliness greatly prevailed, and there was the most need of thorough reformation.
Some additional facts in relation to his pastorate are taken from "Hotchkin’s History of Western New York:"-- "About the commencement of the year 1805, Rev. SIMEON R. JONES, a member of the Morris County Associated Presbytery, on an invitation from some individuals of the village, came here and was employed by the inhabitants to preach. Mr. JONES was a man of an ardent temperament, and strongly attached to independency in Church government. Under Mr. JONES’ preaching a number of individuals were awakened and hopefully converted to God. From a part of the members of the existing Church and the new converts, Mr. JONES organized a Church on the principles of Congregational independency. Most of the members of the old Church acquiesced, and that Church ceased to exist. This new organization took place in 1805. Mr. JONES continued to preach and preside over the Church the greater part of the time for several years, though he was never installed pastor. Members were added to the Church from time to time in considerable numbers. But dissensions prevailed, and the state of the Church was unhappy. The Church felt their need of counsel, and on the 10th of January, 1810, became connected with the Ontario Association, and, after the dissolution of that body, was, on the 21st day of September, 1814, received under the care of the Presbytery of Geneva, from which it was transferred to the Presbytery of Bath, and eventually to the Presbytery of Chemung, on the organization of those bodies. But the troubles of the Church were not ended by their connection with the Ontario Association. The majority of the Church became alienated from Mr. JONES, who continued to preach in the village or its vicinity, while a minority of the Church continued strongly attached to him. Rev. AMBROSE PORTER, a member of the Morris County Associated Presbytery, was employed for one year to preach in the village. The majority of the Church adhered to him, while the minority adhered to Mr. JONES. Happily, however, after one year’s continuance, Mr. PORTER left the place, and removed from this part of the country. Peace was, in a measure, restored to the Church."
Rev. HEZEKIAH WOODRUFF succeeded Mr. JONES, and preached at first in the Old Court House. He was pastor for many years; he was highly educated, possessed fine talents, had a polished style and easy delivery. It was said that, in consequence of a heart disappointment, with a daughter of Hon. VINCENT MATTHEWS, he became eccentric, perhaps eccentric, perhaps insane; his actions were at least very singular--those of a misanthrope. He built a shanty on Church Street, at the lower part, where he arranged three apartments, one for himself, another for his horse, and a third for hens. He was in the habit of killing chickens and then dissecting them to the bones, which he preserved for specimens. He was noted for his dancing habits, and got such a reputation in this respect, that he was deposed from the ministry; he then studied medicine and law, but was unsuccessful in both. He afterwards went over in Erin, where he purchased land, and lived a hermit’s life for 20 years, with occasional visits to Elmira. He, during this time, translated the Greek Testament into modern English, the style of the present day. This he sold among his old friends by subscription. He was always harmless and inoffensive. His misanthropy or insanity was never or the demonstrative kind. He died only a few years ago.
Rev. HENRY FORD next preached here; he was from New Jersey. He was a man of remarkable piety and devotion, and a convincing preacher to this hearers; he was quite a fanatic in his religious belief; he was a sound and well educated man, but his delivery was slow and uninteresting. The Church increased slowly under his ministry. He came back occasionally after he left.
Rev. ELEAZER LATHROP was Mr. FORD’s successor; he was a talented young man, and had a fine delivery. His eulogy on DeWITT CLINTON, who died in 1827, was pronounced one of the most beautiful productions of the kind ever heard. He remained here a few years, and went away, but soon after died of consumption. His place was supplied for a while by Rev. JOHN BARTON.
Rev. MARSHALL L. FARNSWORTH succeeded Rev. ELEAZOR LATHROP, who was installed Feb. 1st, 1832; he continued in the pastorate until Oct. 31st, 1834, when he was dismissed.
Rev. ETHAN PRATT, who had been pastor of the Church at Horseheads, supplied the pulpit for a while, but never was a pastor. He was the father of TIMOTHY PRATT, of this City.
Rev. JOHN FROST, of Whitestown, was here for several years, was an excellent, good-hearted man, and had a good degree of ability, but made himself obnoxious by his ultra views of Abolition, which was then beginning to become rife, and led to the severing of the pastorship. During his residences here, the first Abolition meeting was held publicly, without being broken up by disturbers. In this instance, the handful embracing this doctrine were denied holding a meeting in the Court House. The mechanics, with some advisers, concluded to give the use of their own hall. Here about 20 assembled one evening; a number of boys gathered to make disturbances with peanuts, but were checked by those who had a matter in hand, and the meeting was manifested to its close without serious disturbance--the first time such an occurrence had been peaceably attended. Rev. Mr. FROST made an address on the occasion. The principles of the Abolitionists gathered strength, and continued to prevail, and by the formation of the present party had the great predominance in this County and the adjoining Counties of the Southern Tier, from this point Westward.
He was succeeded by Rev. Dr. P. H. FOWLER, who was followed by Rev. Dr. MURDOCH--occurrences within the memory of most of those living at the present time.
The Methodist Church was not formally organized until 1814, but Missionaries visited the region at stated times, and supplied preaching in a schoolhouse. Among those earliest remembered, were Rev. G. LANNING and Rev. LORING GRANT. It was about 1824, before there was any regular pastor. The names of Revs. E. O. FLING and ROBERT BURCH are mentioned in this connection. But it was in the time of Rev. JONAS DODGE that the Church took on sudden life and new vigor, in 1831 and 1832, and made an effort to build an edifice of their own. During its erection occurred the celebrated "work bench" revival, elsewhere more fully detailed. He was one of the most able and popular men in the Conference. He was succeeded by SAMUEL PARKER and COLVIS S. COATS.
Rev. ALLEN STEELE, father of the present accomplished Principal of the Free Academy, devoted his early labors to the building up of the Church. He became one of the most talented preachers of Western New York. His successors were Revs. PHILO WOODWORTH, P. E. BROWN, BENJAMIN SHIPMAN, and EBENEZER LATIMER. The next pastor was Rev. J. T. ARNOLD, under whose energetic lead the brick Church was reared, on a lot adjoining the one occupied by the old edifice. Rev. ABNER CHASE came after, who was really an old patriarch in the Church, and beloved by everybody. Rev. ELIJAH HIBBARD was next, a great Bible scholar, and known in all the Conference as a library of Bible knowledge. Probably no one was ever settled here, among Methodist pastors, more deeply learned in the theology of the schools, and still he was a powerful and popular preacher. Rev. H. M. SEEVER came after him, a man of influence, and beloved by the Church. He afterwards removed to Kansas. From this time down, the succession of pastors can be easily recalled by the present inhabitants.
The early pastors to whom we have hitherto alluded, were of the Presbyterian and Methodist denominations. The Baptist Church was the next established, in the year 1829, under the fostering and loving care of Rev. P. D. GILLETTE. He was of French ancestry, and his own father resided at Cambridge, Washington County, about 40 miles, east by north, of the city of Albany, and 34 north of the city of Troy. It was a most delightful place for picturesque and romantic scenery. He was the oldest of his brothers; commenced the study of medicine with his father, who was an eminent physician. He joined the Northern Army near the close of the war of 1812. At the close of the war he went to Salem, New Jersey, became an assistant in an Academy, and a student under the Preceptor, Rev. JOSEPH SHEPPARD, who baptized him and led him into the ministry. He studied theology with Dr. STAUGHTON, of Philadelphia. He organized five Churches in the Chemung Valley and adjacent region; among these, at Reading, Horseheads, Elmira, and other places. These were made self-supporting by his own immediate exertions, and all are now highly influential. He toiled faithfully, early and late. He belonged to a family whose influence has ever been all-pervading with the Church of their adoption. They served their day and generation as pastors and physicians, and a brother still survives who is one of the most eminent Baptist clergymen of Philadelphia, and bright light in that Church generally. His labors here were crowned with success; sheaves were rapidly gathered into the garner of the Lord, and the Church placed on a firm foundation. He built the present residence of DORUS HATCH, where he resided until he removed to Horseheads, where he died March 28th, 1845.
At the close of the pastorate of Rev. P. D. GILLETTE, in 1836, Rev. H. C. VOGEL was called to take charge of the Church. He was here for several years, and attained a wide influence in community; he was educated at Madison University, possessed rather a flowery style of oratory, and was quite fascinating as a speaker. He finally left here and went to Rome, NY, where he still resides. He was a Chaplain in the army during the war. During his pastorate here, he was in kindly accord with pastors of the other Churches, and the exchanges were quite frequent between the Presbyterian and Baptist; his acquaintance was, therefore, more general among Churches here, than was the case with his colleagues. He was eminently a social man, and was well known personally, through the entire community.
Rev. DEMAS ROBINSON was next called, a man of fair ability, who served the Church with much acceptance for several years. During his ministry here, he married a sister of the FITCH family, so well known here, for his second wife, having lost his first during his residence. He was well educated, and esteemed a good preacher, and popular with his congregation.
Rev. Z. GRINNELL was an original character, and to quite an extent self-educated. His preaching was rather homely, but directed to the hearts and consciences of sinners; he had a decided influence in his Church and Congregation. His work was blessed by many conversions. We believe he is now in Pittsburg.
Rev. E. W. DICKINSON succeeded; a man of liberal views, an influential preacher, and one who won general esteem, and by his education and experience exerted a great influence over the Church; his talents were better than the average of clergymen, and his preaching was attended with marked effect.
Rev. J. G. BINNEY was a man of pre-eminent talent, who supplied the pulpit a year or so, when compelled to leave his mission-field in Burmah, until he could recruit his health. He was a man highly educated, and a highly polished and still popular speaker. His preaching is pronounced by many who heard him, to have been equal to any pastor ever settled over an Elmira Church. The climate did not quite agree with him here, so he went South, to Georgia, where he remained until sufficiently recruited to return to Burmah, where we believe he is still laboring. His work told greatly with the Church. He was a deeply revered and loved pastor.
The Episcopal Church was organized by Rev. JOHN G. CARDER, who was Rector of a Church at Ithaca, at that time. Soon after Rev. Mr. CLARK was settled as Rector, and remained two or three years in the Parish. The congregation met in a schoolhouse in the Park, located between the present Congregational Church and the residence of B. VAIL. He was an excellent linguist; had been a professor in some school or College. He was a man of fair abilities, and well-liked.
Rev. RICHARD SMITH was the next Rector; he was a man of good talents, was pleasing in his manners, wrote a plain, substantial sermon, and possessed a good delivery, but rather lacked force. He went from here to Erie, Pa., where, with some exceptions, he has resided since.
Rev. GORDON WINSLOW was here for three or four years. He was much, esteemed, and very popular. His Rectorship was one of marked ability. He became Chaplain in the Army during the Rebellion, his son having entered as Captain; while returning home with his dead body, he accidentally fell from the steamer, and was drowned.
Rev. KENDRICK METCALF was Rector from 1842 to the time of the installation of Rev. STEPHEN DOUGLAS. The latter was settled for a year or two; he had talents of a medium order.
Rev. B. F. WHITCHER was Rector for about the same period; he was not brilliant or deep--a man of the moderate order, and lacked practical sense; he was the husband of the celebrated "Widow Bedott," and soon became quite unpopular, being the first to disclose, very unadvisably, the nom de plume of his wife. When that became known, the feeling grew more urgent to have his services transferred to another parish. He left and went to Whitestown, where his wife soon after died. After this event he became a communicant of the Roman Catholic Church.
Rev. WASHINGTON VANZANDT was next, transferring his Rectorship from Rochester. He was a very spirited and popular preacher, a man of extended influence throughout the parish. He could enchain his congregation from the start, and hold their strict attention to the end. He was an elegant talker, an imaginative and flowery writer. His whole Rectorship showed eminent powers. He at last lost the confidence of the Church, and was invited to resign after a residence of about three years. He went to Seneca Falls for a year or two. He lectured about the country, after this, upon various topics, edited newspapers, and is now, we believe, residing somewhere on Long Island.
The above completes the hasty sketch of the earliest pastors, who were settled here over the various Churches, not pretending to allude to those who have been well known for the past 15 or 16 years. There were many of them of the most marked ability, and left a lasting influence for good on the community wherein they labored. Whatever attainments have been made in good morals and religion, are owing to their careful, faithful and laborious ministrations. Many of them already have their reward in Heaven, and the rest are still toiling on in the full expectation of the Immortal Joys.
Of the hardy, self-sacrificing men who did so much for this Valley and present City, in the shaping of thought and civilization, there are very few representatives left. The grave now hides away all that was honored by their earnest, stately tread of conscious manhood, and covers all mortality of those patriots and pioneers. Their descendants have reason to boast of what they accomplished, their virtues and probity, and feel their own hearts beat in a noble emulation. Upon the arrival here of the first settlers, only a few years had elapsed since the adoption, of the Federal Constitution by the American people. The hardy pioneers rallied around this as the anchor of their hope, with a determination and firm resolve to uphold it as the indissoluble bond of the old Thirteen States, in one common brotherhood and Union, and with equal agreement to frown down any parricidal arm which should be raised against it. A doubt expressed of its stability, or the honesty and patriotism of the venerated men who framed it, verged closely on High Treason against the common weal, and he who dared its utterance would have found the community ready to give him a warm reception. It was the Government of general choice, and there was a mutual compact to uphold it. When party lines began to be drawn, no one doubted the patriotism or honesty of his neighbors and all aimed at the public good, although differing as to the method of reaching and ensuring it. There was the one absorbing purpose of advancing the general welfare. Hardly half a dozen years had passed since the time when those fearless men who pledged their "lives, fortunes and sacred honor" to uphold the immortal Declaration of Independence, had redeemed the solemn promise, and the Thirteen Colonies had assumed their rightful place among the nations of the earth, as free and independent States, with the assent, too, of the haughty Briton.